web analytics
July 30, 2014 / 3 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
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 »

Rabbis, Time To Flash Your Badges


“Officer, what’s your badge number?”

I’ve been asked that question countless times over the last 26 years. Almost always, it followed an unpopular decision. Always, it was accompanied by an unspoken message: “I’m letting you know I will hold you accountable for this decision.” And always, I answer that question in a direct, simple way: I give my badge number.

In fact, I’ve shared the right answer to this question with hundreds, if not thousands, of subordinates over the years.

After all, correct decisions may be unpopular, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong. So, I’ve found that my deft response to that question – mandated by NYPD policy – also helps me convey the unspoken message that I welcome scrutiny of my actions. The specter of being held accountable, by anyone, not only doesn’t threaten my self-image but it has always been part and parcel of my day-to-day values – an embedded value.

Accountability for one’s actions came to mind as I read a flyer full of bluster and threats that was recently circulated in Lakewood, New Jersey, against a hitherto respected rabbi. His crime? He chose to report the sexual abuse of his son to the police.

Let me not digress. It is lamentable that many still pounce on parents who seek to protect their children and our community from dangerous predators, but that is not the focus of this discussion.

Rather, I am particularly irked by the letter writer’s request that his reading public “excuse [him] for not signing this letter.” After all, he writes, the victim of his polemics may seek to have him prosecuted. Aveira goreres aveira (sin begets more sin), we are told, so readers are asked to understand how necessary and proper his cloak of invisibility is – a selfless act of self-preservation.

Not to me it isn’t.

Perusing the flyer, clearly written for haredi readers, one finds numerous comments pertaining to the honor of our Torah, the respect due today’s rabbis, the specific legal areas of our Shulchan Aruch allegedly violated, and the awesome desecration of God’s name caused by the abuse victim’s family. It decries their prosecution of the crime, and threatens additional censure and embarrassment of the family should the prosecution proceed.

Yet, with all the religious “weight” behind him, the letter writer prefers anonymity. Why?

Officer, what’s your badge number?

That question, or a permutation of it, should be asked by every individual who held this flyer in his hands. If the muscle of Torah backs this smear campaign, why the incredible lack of accountability? Surely, brilliant Torah minds can devise a micha’ah – formal objection – that makes the point without fear of prosecution.

Wouldn’t we all respect a well-constructed argument, coming from some of the stellar minds of the Lakewood yeshiva community? Isn’t that what leadership is all about?

Or is it instead about thuggery, threats, and intimidation? Do we dare allow a mob mentality to reign, even when dressed up as a defense of Torah? Let us all recoil in horror when witnessing tactics more appropriately used by underworld figures than Torah scholars.

In a recent e-mail exchange with a shul rabbi I know and respect, I was told that rabbis in leadership positions today “do not usually put their opinions out there, for fear of being overwhelmed with emotional backtalk.” I wondered how such individuals could be considered “leaders” at all. Isn’t leadership about ownership, about taking responsibility and accepting accountability?

Or is it about this Lakewood gangster, who can only print his diatribes from the shadows? Is this how we want to see Torah defended in an increasingly unsettled world?

If Torah is the ultimate truth – and as Orthodox Jews we believe it is – I hope I am not the only one who has difficulty understanding the lack of accountability that seems to permeate the haredi world today. Lakewood is known as the premier makom Torah in the nation. Why is this odious anonymous circular needed? Aren’t there sufficient rabbinical leaders in that city who are certain of their actions and willing to stand up and be accountable for them?

If this father is to be religiously censured for choosing a course of action he felt would best protect his child and community – and to be clear, I believe he is a hero and guiding light to us all – let Lakewood’s great rabbinic minds come out and say so openly. That may be an unpopular position outside the Lakewood community, but if Lakewood’s rabbis believe it’s the right one, then so be it. Let’s start seeing leadership and accountability, rather than some cowardly rabble-rouser preaching about chillul Hashem while lacking the courage to be accountable for his words.

I have a badge number, and I’m required to proffer it whenever asked. In 26 years, I’ve always honored that responsibility, and I cherish the accountability it instills in me.

Rabbinical leaders wear a bigger badge than mine – the badge of Torah. That badge may not have a number, but responsibility and accountability reside within it all the same.

It’s time for those who would be leaders to honor that responsibility. And for us in the community to start exercising our right to ask the questions that make the point clearly: Rabbis, your badge makes you accountable, and we’ll demand that accountability – each and every day.

Daniel Sosnowik, an Orthodox Jew, is a captain in the New York City Police Department, where he has served since 1984. He is a member of the board of directors of Survivors for Justice (www.sfjny.org), an advocacy organization for victims of abuse.

About the Author:


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.

No Responses to “Rabbis, Time To Flash Your Badges”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
U.S. President Barack Obama escorts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of the Oval Office
Pirated Phone Conversation of Obama Slamming Bibi from Unverified Source
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

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

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

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

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?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

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.

More Articles from Daniel Sosnowik

“Officer, what’s your badge number?”

I’ve been asked that question countless times over the last 26 years. Almost always, it followed an unpopular decision. Always, it was accompanied by an unspoken message: “I’m letting you know I will hold you accountable for this decision.” And always, I answer that question in a direct, simple way: I give my badge number.

    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/rabbis-time-to-flash-your-badges/2010/08/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: