web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

NBC Misreports, Maligning Rabbi on Sexual Abuse Stance

In subsequent email correspondence with Berkowitz, the producer of NBC readily admits that Berkwoitz did not advocate that victims turn to rabbis instead of the police.
rc_hasidim

Photo Credit: NBC.com

NBC ‘Rock Center‘ did a story on Judy Braun’s book ‘Hush,’ which chronicles Judy’s journey to raise awareness on reporting and discussing sexual abuse in her deeply insular Hasidic community. The book resulted in her being threatened and shunned by her community.

Rabbi Avraham Berkowits was interviewed for the show. But when his views did not fit the story line, NBC deceptively edited his quotes adding grossly misleading voice-overs that implied he believes sex abuse crimes should be handled only by rabbis. This was all a lie.

video not available

 (Both the You Tube version and the original NBC Rock Center copies of the program were deleted by NBC)

The transcript of the unedited interview shows that Berkowitz said things like in his community “the Rabbis work together hand-in-hand with the authorities,” “deviants must be punished,” “they’ll be caught.”

Yet correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman’s voice-over narrative starts: “Last year, the Hasidic community could no longer deny its own problems, a young women came forward to tell police her rabbi, Nechamya Weberman, had sexually abused her for years. It was a rare instance of a Hasid going to outside authorities to report a crime.”

The frame then cuts to Berkowitz, who is seen saying: “The community leaders within are dealing with this.”

Snyderman’s narration continues: “Avraham Berkowitz is a local rabbi in the community and he says people are now acknowledging that sexual abuse is happening and insists that they can handle the problem themselves.”

In the next frame, Berkowitz says, “Whatever these types of crimes are, they have to be eradicated, and in order to eradicate them. We have to do it within the way the community knows how to solve its problems.”

In the actual interview NBC never even asks Berkowits whether he thinks abuse should be reported directly to the police, yet they superimpose his unrelated quotes after narrating that in the case of Weberman it “was a rare instance of a Hasid going to outside authorities to report a crime.”

As the full interview demonstrates, Berkowitz was discussing educational initiatives on abuse prevention, not the reporting of sexual abuse, and makes clear that rabbis should work hand-in-hand with the authorities.

In subsequent email correspondence with Berkowitz, the producer of NBC readily admits that Berkwoitz did not advocate that victims turn to rabbis instead of the police. But NBC edited the interview and added a narrated voice-over to imply that he was referring to handling reporting internally.

After I published an article for the <em “>Times of Israelhighlighting the inaccuracy, and after Berkowitz sent multiple emails to the producer of the show, Robert Buchanan, NBC finally agreed to remove the inaccurate segment from the Rock Center Website admitting in an email that because “some are misinterpreting your … [Rabbi Berkowitz] … comment- we are going to take the story off the web.”

NBC then issued an editor’s note clarifying the rabbi’s comments on sexual abuse: “In the story, he said ‘the community can handle the problem themselves.’ Rabbi Berkowitz says he was referring to the community handling efforts to prevent sexual abuse – not whether to report sexual abuse to police. He says he has always advocated reporting suspected abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies…”

Of course the editor’s note and clarification is not enough and conveniently leaves out the misleading voice-over narration. NBC damaged this rabbi’s reputation without taking full responsibility for creating a misperception about his views on reporting sexual abuse to the police.

After I published the story on the Huffington Post, with the full unedited transcripts, the YouTube videos running the segments were removed by NBC, as the following notice illustrates: “This video contains content from NBC Universal, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Any clergy preventing the reporting of sexual abuse ought to be condemned, investigated and spotlighted. But at the same time rabbis, like Berkowitz, who advocate working with the police, openly discussing the problem of sexual abuse and need for education, should be depicted as examples of hope and progress.

The Jewish Press Online Editor’s comment: The NBC website was updated on June 25, 2013 2:08 PM, with the following:

Editor’s note: We want to clarify a quote from  Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz that was included in our web story about sexual abuse in the Hasidic community.  In our story, we reported that Rabbi Berkowitz insists the community can handle the problem itself…

He said: “Whatever these type of crimes are have to be eradicated.  And in order to eradicate them, we have to do it within the way the community knows how to solve its problems.  ‘Cause sometimes when you come banging with drums from the outside, the community becomes more insular.” 

Rabbi Berkowitz says that when he referred to the community knowing how to solve its problems, he was referring to efforts  to prevent sexual abuse – not whether to report sexual abuse to police.   He says he has always advocated reporting suspected abuse to the appropriate law enforcement agencies and that “rabbis work together hand in hand with the authorities.”  He added that “these deviants must be punished.”  We regret any misunderstanding. 

Also in the web story, when we were reporting on the conviction of Rabbi Nechemya Weberman for sexual abuse, we included video of a man who is not Weberman.  This story also included a  picture of Weberman, shown here.  We apologize for the error.

About the Author: Eliyahu Federman regularly contributes to the Huffington Post, Algemeiner Journal and Jerusalem Post. The views expressed above are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “NBC Misreports, Maligning Rabbi on Sexual Abuse Stance”

  1. הודיה גוטליב says:

    Sue them. Maybe they will report the facts next time.

  2. Kim James says:

    unbelievable..yet not so much.. it seems that like a lot of media, whatever it takes for a story..at anyone's expense with seemingly no responsibility.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.
Four Notes on The Situation
Latest Indepth Stories
Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay is calling for an investigation of Israel's military actions in Gaza. (archive photo)

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

Rabbi Meir Kahane at the National Press Club ~ 1985

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.

More Articles from Eliyahu Federman
rc_hasidim

In subsequent email correspondence with Berkowitz, the producer of NBC readily admits that Berkwoitz did not advocate that victims turn to rabbis instead of the police.

Sexual Abuse

If children are old enough to be on the Internet, they should be mature enough to hear the word “sex” or “sexual” in the context of discussing abuse.

Notions of animal cruelty do not apply to fish under Jewish law, so by using a fish for the Kapparot ritual one would avoid causing unnecessary pain to an animal yet still have the benefit of using a live creature for the ritual.

There is nothing wrong with competition and testing the limits of the body, when it is coupled with mutual respect and ethical sportsmanship.

When Free Speech Collides with Hate Speech, Truth is the Remedy.

Two decades after the Crown Heights riots of August 19-21, 1991, the focus in much of the reporting on the anniversary of the violence centered on the importance of healing racial tensions, with the clear implication that the rioting was the culmination of long-simmering tensions between the black and Jewish communities.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/nbc-misreports-maligning-rabbi-on-sexual-abuse-stance/2013/06/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: