On November 12, 2021, Haaretz first reported that several women alleged that popular author Chaim Walder had sexually assaulted them for years, in some cases starting when they were children. Soon after, many more people came forward with similar accusations. And on December 27, 2021 Walder was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, lying next to his son’s grave.
This all took place approximately a year ago. Earlier that same year, in March, police opened an investigation regarding allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of Zaka founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. In April of last year, Meshi-Zahav tried to kill himself and fell into a coma as a result, dying about five months ago.
Before these two cases emerged, there seems to have been a culture of denial in many segments of the Orthodox world. For numerous reasons, there was often reluctance to report sexual abuse to the police; religious media outlets would pretend that it simply didn’t exist. And those who did report sexual abuse would sometimes be ostracized by their communities.
Many people wondered if these two high profile cases would spur serious changes regarding sexual abuse in the Orthodox world. Now that some time has passed, it’s important to hear whether attitudes towards sexual abuse have moved forward in a helpful direction. In order to learn more, Scott spoke to Shana Aaronson, the executive director of Magen.
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Music: “Happy Rock” by bensound.com