Shlomo Carlebach is the most respected frum sex abuser

carlbeach shabbatIt seems that the world proved the title for me on Facebook. I put that up as a status update and for the next day, people hashed it out, but the conclusion was what I originally wrote.  Although people seek to deny, debate about whether it’s right to talk about dead people in such ways, or try to cover up the bad with the good, the conclusion was that he’s pretty darned respected and it crosses all hashkafic boundaries. It wasn’t merely the Orthodox defending the Orthodox, there were perfectly reasonable irreligious folks trying to say things like “but he was such an inspiration” and “we don’t accuse people who can’t defend themselves”. I found it all terribly interesting, because no matter what you believe, there are dozens of documented cases with names. I grew up in the Carlebach Shul and we all knew about the sexual impropriety, we just ignored it, it seems there’s a whole world of people who wish to ignore such things and I think it’s crime to ignore abuse for it’s a very real issue in our community.

If you were to do a case study on the responses of people to someone who they are inspired by that gets caught doing something inappropriate, you should head over to the Facebook post, because the ignorance is truly amazing. People simply don’t want to believe it and they will make up excuses as to why we shouldn’t be discussing such things. Just because someone was inspirational and has passed on, doesn’t mean it’s not fair game to use them to further the cause of helping victims of sexual abuse. In my opinion, it doesn’t discount their good. A few months ago, some big Jewish philanthropist in New York died, they closed down the Belt Parkway for his funeral (he was that big a deal) but he had done some pretty scandalous things. Those scandals don’t discount the tzedaka he gave, nor do Reb Sholomo’s escapades with women and young girls discount his music, inspiration, and the thousands of souls he touched through his movement. It still doesn’t mean we should deny the wrong doing, there are plenty of great people who’ve done some shitty things. Just look at Dovid Hamelech if you want to someone viewed as a great man who did some really cruddy things in his lifetime.

Of course, I got some hate mail about being a douche and getting a new hobby, unfortunately those people don’t realize that the only way to keep me in business is to get hate mail. The difference between me and true Carlebach haters is that I love his music, the stories, and am very fond of childhood years at the Carelbach shul (did you know he was mesader kedushin for my parents) but that doesn’t mean we can’t look critically at him and use him as an example of the classic response to sex abusers, which seems to be denial. I used to think that denial of sex abuse was merely an ultra-religious “shove it under the rug” kind of thing, but once again I’m wrong. The responses to the Carlebach status featured responses of denial from across the religious spectrum. It wasn’t just the “religious people’ willing to deny and try to cover up his acts through the telling of all the good.

It appears that denial of sex abuse happens across the board, people who wish not to believe will go on in denial. Then there are those who wish to talk about the good, rather then the bad. I know dozens of families who became frum through Reb Shlomo, I sing his songs in the woods, I love his stories, but this doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge the bad. Death may wash away the sins, but it doesn’t mean someone cannot be spoken about. Dozens of people tried the whole “he’s dead and can’t respond” but if we talked about things that way, dozens of folks with evil sides would go unspoken about.

By talking about the past we learn about the future, besides there are probably dozens of people who are now being inspired by Reb Shlomo because they decided to google him. At least he stayed frum and didn’t go off the derech like his daughter…oh and I’m not talking about womanizing and getting nooky, I’m talking about pedophilia.

I can forgive the man for everything besides the 4 hour kabalas shabbos that many shuls now do whenever they have a Carlebach shabbos…

Here are some of the responses on Facebook:

The dead cannot defend themselves. Is it allowed to make such comments about Reb Shlomo?

These accusations are not new and each time an army of defenders of Shlomos name will come out of the woodwork to defend his name … JUST WATCH .

Who are we to judge others??? We are all sinners. Each and every one of us. Especially those talking Lisbon horah for the sake of having their 10 seconds of fame. Reb Shlomo only hugged those that needed it. He respected woman who did not need hugs. I grew up in his shul. I know!!!! Others you mention for sex abuse I agree.

Heshy I suggest you delete this post .

The ladies seduced him.

Post says” sex abuser”. Reb Shlomo had a fun life. We all want fun.

I’ve investigated it for years and it’s all a bunch of false accusations this is the most righteous person in our generation and all the Admorim or Ravs in any camp in the last hundred years comes close to what he was and did for all of us you just have no idea as many didn’t and don’t and will only know when they start reading his teachings and that doesn’t mean that because of that it’s okay for him to do things-They just did not happen and none of the people who make up these false stories are normal people I’ve investigated thoroughly

Nothing wrong with loving some ladies!! No one is all perfect anyways as long as its not a kid I don’t care any ladies were adults and responsible for whatever they do. 
we are all human and if I have 10 faults but manage to do one thing very well and affect (not touch) people’s lives in a very meaningful way then thats what I should be remembered for
my good deeds shouldn’t be erased because I have a few bad lapses in judgement in my private life

Jus because you are getting a lot of nooky doesn’t mean it’s abuse. It’s called getting lucky

Even if the accusations are true that he was a ladies man, a womanizer is not an abuser. I don’t understand how you could lump him into the same categories as anal rapists in the mikvah. Shameful post, Heshy.

There are accusations of child sexual assault

I wonder is the accusation that he actually sexually abused people? or that he just slept with his female admirers? There is a big difference between the two.

I think you can drop Satire from the name of your site, Frum people are pure satire, reading the comments on your wall is a joy.

Heshy Fried, if you have no evidence whatsoever about someone other than people yapping, which has a tendency to become a bunch of crap, but you post what may actually just be malicious slander, then psychologically speaking, you’re most probably a child molester. Wait, come to think of it, didn’t I hear that you are. I guess, according to your logic, you’re fair game & everybody should post that you’re a child molester; or am I missing something?

wait, what about King David? to be fair, if he lived in our days i’m pretty sure he would have gotten the same complaints. powerful people = big egos = can lead to lots of touching. its wrong. 
i don’t believe the stuff about Carlebach and underage stuff, but based on the numerous complaints of late-night calls and impromptu touching, i assume there is some truth to that. its bad, and i’m pissed that he hurt his positive message by either doing some of this or even allowing the perception that such claims would be believed. but his message can still be respected even if he did things wrong, maybe like King David.

The butthurt in the comments is so strong. Frum people really don’t accept realities, hm?

If nothing positive can come out of this then this post is now on my ignore list whatever is true or not about Shlomo lots of positive came out of his life which is felt to this day …..I will now move on .

Why is it that when a Rabbi does something bad, some of you close your ears and go “lalala!”. That’s not an appropriate excuse. You sound like people who claim icecream is good even though there is a huge cockroach in it, you pretend it isn’t there so you acknowledge the icecream only. And that’s how stupid some of you sound if you are being serious and not sarcastic.

The good things that people do/did don’t invalidate the bad things that they do/didt and vice versa.

good for you for posting this. The hypocrisy of shrugging off RSC’s abuse but expressing zero tolerance for those who did similar things is staggering. Nobody WANTS to sully his memory. We all love his music and message. But we can’t just paper over what he did to dozens of young women. Why is he held to a different standard? Why do we often call someone like Kolko a “monster” but make excuses so Shlomo can continue to be the teddy bear we remember?

interesting that you all decided to smear the man post mortem. I wonder what that does to your own profile before the “man”

For the folks above who are simply unaware, this is not about affairs he may have had with adult women. It’s about his fondling and groping of young girls, often in their early teens. This is not fabrication – there is ample and credible testimony from many now-grown women about their experiences when they were as young as 12 years old. These are not new allegations, they’ve been known for years. They first came out in a big way not long before the first Edah conference in 1999, and I remember it being referenced by a plenary speaker. There was a loud gasp from the room when she mentioned it, but no one accused her of making it up.

Rebecca Lieberman, you may not want the allegations to be true. None of us did. But there’s little question that they are true.

personally I think there is no more cowardly act that making accusations against a dead man

uri, perhaps it does, if the allegations are true. I wonder though, why everyone waited to seek this “help” until the man could not defend himself? me thinks it rather suspicious on part of alleged “victims” seriously, Dude, I hate abusers, seriously hate them. I also hate injustice. seems to me, this post mortem witch hunt reeks of opportunitstic one sided, hearsay based motives

Linda, speak with some of the victims and you’ll hear about how some of them did try to confront him before he passed away. Also, if you read up a bit on clergy abuse you’ll see that allegations often emerge after the abuser has passed because of the power dynamic involved in the confrontation and the effect that has on the survivor.

Yes, Linda, like Yaakov says, some of the women did try to confront him while he was alive but because of the power dynamic they were not successful in resolving anything.

I don’t know the answer but the reality is that now…it is between Rabbi Shlomo and Hashem. Debating it does not change it. If true, it does not lesson what he did do for the Jewish community but it shows the man was human. If false, it is wrong for us to be talking about it as he cannot defend himself. I see no reason for the point of debating it.

There is something called a statute of limitations. For many victims of sexual abuse by the time they are able to deal with the trauma the statue has run out. I mean if it is difficult to confront clerical abuse from a teacher in yeshiva imagine how much more difficult it is to confront when the person is an icon in the Jewish world.

People are asking why this is helpful. It is helpful to support the victims in their healing, and to educate and look to ways to protect children, young people and others, and to create ethical boundaries to prevent this sort of abuse from continuing.

Rav Moshe Feinstein ossured his music because of the allegations of sexual abuse. So, if Rav Feinstein believed it enough to ossur one mans music, I’ll take it as fact

It is really important to be aware of the side effects of the torah and derech of any gadol, and the work of the later generations is to offset all the problems bound up in traditional making of the Holy wonderful. It is worth knowing all the downsides of what a holy warrior did and does, because they are so bound up in the story of whatever they were doing that was awesome. Part of the greatness of Shlomo is/was the hope of overcoming the fear of loving/feeling/enjoying wrong. In the hopes of trying to find that, without a tradition of how to bridge it all safely, abuse happened and one of the best virtues of Shlomo, over the assholier of abusive rabbis, is how much he didn’t self-righteously deny what hurt people, as much as beg for understanding and sensitivity for the massive infinitude of human need. Curious and endlessly invested in and hopeful for what innovative sensetivity the attempt to build new bridges and awesomer temples demands, Shlomo is beloved because his abuses were the side effects of genuinely trying to make life, love, and Torah the fully expressed wonderful, to the point of not always noticing quickly enough what was too much for the other, especially (and maybe only) when they themselves didn’t have a language for making it clear even to themselves until it was too late, and violated feelings abounded…as opposed to ASSHOLES who just abuse authority, claim divine mandate, and make their victims feel guilty in the hopes of silencing them. It’s really a very different model, you see.

i really don’t care what he did in his personal life – I love his teachings and music – can’t we leave it at that?

Neshama C. wrote an important piece this week about becoming Reform and shying away from her Orthodox heritage… and now the “attack” on her father/upringing on your blog… you are a puplit for the man!

you are a douchebag for posting this. why in the world would you say that?

ask my mom about her experience with Shlomo sometime.

Furthermore, Saruk, & the rest of you ostensibly concerned about the welfare of supposed victims from several decades ago. Do you think so lowly of them that you think that they couldn’t locate each other & publicly proclaim that they were abused & specifically in what way. This thread makes me believe that some girls he hugged didn’t know he would do that & they felt abused or something at the time, but not that he touched girls sexually or something.

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