Anti-abuse rabbi run out of town

A rabbi who uncovers child abuse in strictly Orthodox communities says he feared for his life as he was chased by a group of 200 Charedi men in North London.

Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg, 58, was forced to flee from a Stamford Hill synagogue where he had been listening to a lecture last Thursday.

He ran into Manor Road, in the heart of the community, and was taken to safety after stopping a passing police car.

The rabbi, on a four-day trip to London from his New York home, said: "I was sitting in the lecture, where there were about 30 or 40 people, but I saw some taking out their phones and taking pictures of me. I decided it was getting too crowded, so I went outside.

"I went into the street and they started to follow me. I saw them sending text messages and calling more people. There were more and more crowds. I was about to cross the street and a car mounted the pavement.

"More cars came and people were following me, shouting. It was a riot.

"The police car turned into the street and as soon as I saw the marked car I started shouting ‘Police! Help me, help me!' The police asked what was going on and I said they were trying to kill me."

The officers took Rabbi Rosenberg to Stoke Newington Police Station before moving him to a hotel where he stayed until returning to New York on Sunday.

Hackney Police said: "Police saw a disturbance involving around 200 Chasidic Jews who appeared to be attacking somebody. Once he was removed, the disorder ended."

Rabbi Rosenberg claims to have led a campaign against the covering up of child abuse in strictly Orthodox communities for the past 18 months.

He runs a hotline in the US for youngsters to report abuse and appears on Jewish radio phone-in shows.
Rabbi Rosenberg said rabbis must "start facing reality".

He said: "Children are not toys. If you play with them you will go to jail. They should not give privileges to people with long beards.

"These things are happening all the time, but the rabbonim prefer to take a quiet road. "

Reports of the incident were posted on Jewish websites in America, prompting hundreds of comments. The majority attacked Rabbi Rosenberg's campaign.

Among the anonymous comments was one which said: "good - he is a pig", while others labelled him "a meshuggenah", "sick" and "mentally retarded".

But a more supportive comment asked: "Can someone please explain the warped rationale behind the attempt to lynch the man who is trying to bring child molesters to justice?"

Dr Asher Lipner, who counsels victims of abuse in Brooklyn, said: "Outside the Chasidic community no one has heard of Rabbi Rosenberg, but all the Chasidic communities know of his work."

    Last updated: 11:23am, July 31 2008