Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Kethuboth: 11a - 11b

On 2 April 2009, The Jewish Chronicle told us this:

"A strictly Orthodox rabbi is due to be sentenced on Friday after being convicted of molesting his daughter. Some of the attacks took place in the UK.

Brooklyn Federal Court heard that Rabbi Israel Weingarten, a member of the Satmar sect, had started abusing his daughter when she was nine years old and had moved his family from America to Israel, Belgium and Britain in order to avoid detection.

Weingarten was convicted of five counts of travelling outside the country to have sex with a minor and could face at least 20 years in prison.

The daughter, now 27, has changed her name and left Orthodox Judaism, but came forward and identified herself in open court as the rabbi’s child. She appeared at the trial wearing a trouser suit and her hair loose, an appearance which she said her father would find unacceptable.

The rabbi, after dismissing his lawyers, elected to defend himself, calling on his daughter’s siblings to give evidence against her, and cross-examined the girl to the point of tears. She told him from the witness stand: 'My feeling from your molesting me was utmost fear and blackmail and years of torture... didn’t I get hit enough?'

After the verdict, the daughter said being questioned by her father was 'like being molested again.' She added: 'I wish he wasn’t my father.'

She told jurors that once she grew up she had hoped 'to forget everything that happened to me,' even though her father had warned her she 'would never be able to prove it.' But she went public at the urging of her mother, who was embroiled in a custody dispute with her father.

At one point Weingarten, now divorced from his wife, claimed that she had fabricated the abuse allegations as part of the bitter break-up. He also tried to bring three of his younger children to the witness stand to testify that his ex-wife had committed the abuse, but Judge John Gleeson refused to permit this.

In the late 1990s, while the family were living in Manchester, Weingarten’s activities came close to being uncovered, which led to a Greater Manchester police officer travelling to New York to give evidence at the request of the FBI. Inspector Charlotte Cadden, who manages the Bury Division’s intelligence unit, travelled to New York and took the stand to testify at the trial.

Inspector Cadden became involved in the case in February 1999 while she was working at Salford CID and was asked to investigate a report that Rabbi Weingarten was attempting to abduct his daughter from her Manchester school and take her to Belgium against her will.

Rabbi Weingarten was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault after the victim told Inspector Cadden that her father had been sexually abusing her for years. However, no prosecution was made at that time as all of the offences appeared to have taken place outside the UK.

The FBI learned of Inspector Cadden’s previous involvement in the case and, in January, asked her to travel to New York to give evidence at the trial. She was accompanied by her former colleague, PC Rob Longman of Wigan Division. Inspector Cadden said:

'I, PC Longman and the victim were cross-examined by Weingarten, which must have been a horrendous experience for her. The FBI arranged for us to meet the victim after we had given evidence and she said that we had literally saved her life by getting her away from her father, which was very emotional to hear'."
Rabbi convicted of molesting daughter

Nice guy, huh? And we’re supposed to pity ALL the poor Jews? I feel sorry for his daughter but the pervert? I feel about as sorry for him as I would a lavatory seat crab.

On 2 August 1997, The Jewish Chronicle reported thus:

"Police were called to Stamford Hill, the heart of the strictly Orthodox community in London, during the weekend, when bricks were hurled at a house, a car was attacked by a crowd armed with metal bars, and a family was forced to leave its home.

Police reports said over 100 people were involved in disturbances on Saturday and Sunday nights. The violence flared during demonstrations by strictly Orthodox Jews against the sentencing of 18-year-old Stamford Hill resident Eli Cohen for indecent assault against a five-year-old girl.

Trouble started early on Friday evening when a brick smashed a window at the home of the girl's family, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

As Shabbat ended the father of the family was warned that demonstrations were likely. His wife left the house and drove away, keeping in touch with her husband by car phone.

‘I was in the car, together with two daughters of a family friend, when a large number of men stopped cars in front of me and behind me and then took metal bars to try to smash the windows,' the mother said.

One man who witnessed the demonstration outside the family's home said: ‘The street was crammed solid with people. The crowd were chanting ‘moiser', (a Jew who gives evidence against another Jew to a non-Jew) and ‘get out of town’."
The Jewish community of Stamford Hill was furious for two reasons:

Firstly, that charges were brought against a Jew for something that many Orthodox Jews do not regard as a crime. Secondly, the little girl's parents had committed the unforgivable sin of mesira by reporting the rape of their daughter to the Gentile authorities.

The Orthodox Jews who went on the rampage in Stamford Hill did so because one of their own was under attack and the penalty that the authoritative compilation of commentary on Jewish oral law, The Talmud, prescribes for a Moser, a Jew who gives evidence against another Jew to a non-Jew, is death. The fact that Eli Cohen is a child-molesting paedophile was not an issue.

As for the 5-year-old girl who was molested, this bunch could not have given a toss about her. In the unedited versions of The Talmud: Kethuboth, 11a-11b, it says this:

"When a grown up man has intercourse with a little girl, it is nothing, for when the girl is less than this it is as if one puts the finger in the eye, tears come to the eyes again and again, so does virginity come back to the little girl under three years."
When confronted with the kind of Talmudic guidance and logic as that found in Kethuboth, some liberal-minded Jews can't actually stomach what they find. As Jane Litman found, when faced with the teachings of the ancient rabbis, the odd Jewish innocent responds by arguing that they couldn't have possibly meant what they wrote.

In her September 2000 essay, Working with Words of Torah, Litman tells us this:

"The background sound in the small library is muted but intense. Pairs of scholars lean over their talmudic texts whispering energetically, trying to puzzle out the meaning of the particular sugya, passage. The teacher directs them back toward the group and asks for questions. One student raises a hand:

'I don't understand verse 5:4 of the tractate Niddah. What does the phrase ‘it is like a finger in eye,' mean? The teacher responds:

'This refers to the hymen of a girl younger than three years old. The Sages believed that in the case of toddler rape, the hymen would fully grow back by the time the girl reached adulthood and married. Therefore, though violated, she would still technically be counted as a virgin and could marry a priest.

It's an analogy: poling your finger in the eye is uncomortable, but causes no lasting harm.’

There is a collective gasp of breath among students. Their dismay is palpable. They do not like this particular Talmudic text or the men behind it. But its authors, the talmudic rabbis, hardly wrote it with this particular group of students in mind, mostly thirty, and forty-year old women in suburban Philadelphia taking a four-week class titled ‘Women in Jewish Law,' at their Reform synagogue.

The questioner persists.

'I don't understand. Are you saying this refers to the rape of a three year-old girl?'

‘Or younger,' the teacher responds dryly.

'I don't see how it says anything about rape and hymens. You must be mistaken. I don't believe the rabbis are talking about rape at all. I think this statement has nothing to do with the rest of the passage.'

The teacher (I'll admit now that it was me, a second-year rabbinic student) responds:

'Well, that's the common understanding. What do you think it means?'

The woman is clearly agitated.

'I don't know, but I do know that it couldn't be about child rape.'

This is week three of the class.

The woman does not return for week four.


I find Ross's model helpful when addressing sacred Jewish texts that are violent or xenophobic, that speak of child abuse, human slavery, or homophobia with gross insensitivity.

Like so many of my colleagues and students, I often drift confusedly through denial, anger, grief, rationalization; sometimes reaching acceptance, sometimes not."
There are bits of The Talmud that come to the rescue of the Orthodox doubter. If the violated child is of non-Jewish origin paedophilia does not seem to be regarded as too much of a sin. Thus, in Abhodah Zarah, 37a, it says: (in the unedited versions)

"A Gentile girl who is three years old can be violated."
The pre-emininent Jewish historian, Israel Shahak, also suggests that the ancient Jewish sages were pretty forgiving of the believer who forced himself upon a female of any age, as long as that female was not a Jew. Thus, in his magnum opus, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years (1994), Shahak says:

"According to the Talmudic Encyclopedia: 'If a Jew has coitus with a Gentile woman, whether she be a child of three or an adult, whether married or unmarried, and even if he is a minor aged only nine years and one day, because he had wilful coitus with her, she must be killed, as is the case with a beast, because through her a Jew got into trouble.

The Jew, however, must be flogged, and if he is Kohen (member of the priestly caste) he must receive double the number of lashes, because he has committed a double offence: a Kohen must not have intercourse with a prostitute, and all Gentile women are presumed to be prostitutes'...

This does not imply that sexual intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman is permitted, quite the contrary. But the main punishment is inflicted on the Gentile woman; she must be executed, even if she was raped by the Jew."

Now, if that hasn’t caught your attention you should put this book in the bin, switch on the TV and settle down for a lesson from the heirs of those who wrote the above.

Esther Rantzen, Marjory Proops, Clare Rayner, Miriam Stoppard, Vanessa Feltz, Ruby Wax, Rikki Lake, Jerry Springer, Larry King, Sally Jesse Raphael, Irma Kurtz, Doctor Ruth; Ann Landers, Abigail Van Buren and a host of other Hebraic advisors, who all know so much better than you how you should live your life and conduct your affairs, are always ready and willing to instruct you. The ancient Jewish sages and all of those listed above are much more closely related to the rioters who found the prosecution of a Stamford Hill paedophile so infuriating, than we are.

The politicians and the mainstream press never told you any of this, now did they?

Remember, folks, the point of my bringing this material to your attention is not to convince or to evangelise, it is to get you to begin to investigate. Once you have begun to seek the truth for yourself a major battle has been won. Once you have begun to question what you previously took for granted, you are already waging war.

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