Apr 27, 2010
May 2010 Convention Resolution:
Whereas we have become increasingly aware of incidents of the sexual and physical abuse of children in our community; and
Whereas, there have been a number of high profile cases in which Orthodox rabbis have been indicted or convicted for child abuse or child endangerment; and
Whereas the lives and futures of many of these victims and their families are harmed in significant ways: suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, inability to form healthy relationships, inability to develop healthy intimate relationships, etc.; and
Whereas many victims of abuse in our community still remain silent and do not come forward to accuse perpetrators or seek help for fear of stigma, personal and familial consequences, or perceived halakhic concerns; and
Whereas the Rabbinical Council of America has resolved through past resolutions its condemnation of abuse and its censure of abusers, and has affirmed, under the guidance and direction of its poskim (Rabbinic decisors,) that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse and in fact, it is halakhically obligatory to make such reports
Whereas reiterating this long held position can serve to provide pastoral and halakhic leadership, support, direction and affirmation to abuse survivors and their families and advocates.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America resolves that
• It reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.
• It reaffirms its halakhic position that the prohibitions of mesirah and arka’ot do not apply in cases of abuse.
• It will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.
• It will regularly evaluate the competence of its members in understanding and responding to issues of child abuse and initiate training and continuing educational opportunities for all of its members in this area every year.
• The members of the RCA address the issues of child abuse in their communities in at least one sermon, lecture or article within the next twelve months, and that contact information for local abuse services be displayed in a public place in all synagogues, schools, and Jewish community institutions serviced by its members.