The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Final Thoughts on JM Predator

These are my final thoughts on the situation involving a prominent Chassidic musician who was arrested in Jerusalem for allegedly seducing 16 year old Chareidi girls into a drug and sex session and photographing them. The situation was first brought to blogging light by BloginDm and I have followed up here, here and here.

The reason I took up this story was because I saw an ad for a concert in Manchester, England in which this performer was featured along with two other prominent singers and I was repulsed by the thought that someone like that would be getting up in front of people and singing songs of Torah and tefilah.

Before my first post, someone very close to me exchanged emails with the promoter of the gig, asking him why he thought it was appropriate that this singer should perform in such a setting in light of what happened.

The initial response from this promoter was dismissive and flippant. Basically: I know he's done some stuff wrong, he's done teshuva and, anyway, who could resist when so many girls throw themselves at you. It was only after receiving this email and consulting with my Rav that I posted.

After my initial post, I received two types of emails. One admonished me for going public and "judging" this performer and the other, mostly from insiders of the JM music scene, confirming that this performer was an abuser of drugs and alcohol.

Subsequent to the first posting another reader with whom I am close exchanged another series of emails with the promoter, first informing him that this situation was getting bad press on the internet, then repeating the question and asking whether the promoter had consulted with the gedolim in Manchester regarding including this performer in the Manchester concert.

This time, the promoter addressed the situation more seriously. In a nutshell, this is his position:

He admits in a very general way that the performer has had issues with drugs and alcohol (although he has never personally seen it).

He says that the performer has done teshuva, has completely changed his ways and has consulted with "choshuver rabbonim" on the matter.

Finally, he says that the allegations of the sexual incident in Israel are completely false. He claims that the performer was set up by the Israeli Mafia acting at the behest of a rival music distributor who has a vendetta against the performer's father (who ditched this distributor). He says that despite repeated efforts, the district attorney could not find a shred of evidence and dropped the charges.

These are my final thoughts:

This performer has an apparently well deserved reputation for doing drugs and alcohol. That alone should preclude him from singing the types of songs he sings in the settings in which he sings them.

The fact that he is doing teshuva is admirable. Nevertheless, why would you thrust him right back into the exact situation that led him to his deviant lifestyle?

It is difficult to accept the explanation regarding the bust in Israel. Isn't it more likely that the Israeli prosecutors dropped the case because they couldn't get a sixteen year old chareidi girl to testify because doing so would ruin her life and make a shidduch impossible? What exactly does it mean that the Israeli Mafia set him up? Set him up in what? What would the distributer gain from seeing him ruined?

Interestingly, the promoter did not address whether they had asked gedolim in Manchester.

Finally, let me address the issue of "judging others". There is a big difference between judging others and making judgments. I am not judging this performer. That is for the Ribbono shel Olam only. I assume that this performer is a tortured soul and I feel for him.

We have all seen situations in the past where Jewish leaders did not make important judgments regarding educators who were abusing children. The results were disasterous. Many lives were ruined.

We are called upon to make a judgment whether it is appropriate for this performer, in light of all the circumstances, to be performing songs of Torah and tefilah and exposed to impressionable audiences.

I believe that this is something that independent people with Das Torah should be considering. Not concert promoters who were hoping the issue would just go away, are way too close to the performer and have a financial stake in seeing him perform.


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