Victim’s Father Determined To Break Cycle Of Abuse In Brooklyn’s Hasidic, Orthodox Communities

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The issue of child sexual abuse cuts across all ethnic and religious lines.

But some say in the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn, the problem is compounded by religious taboos that make reporting abusers to police very rare.

They say it is a secret and that children continue to suffer.

Mordechai Jungreis said he was victimized twice — once when his son was sexually abused by a member of the community and again when he was shunned trying to get him help.

“I told my wife right away this child is getting molested,” Jungreis told CBS 2’s Chris Wragge. “The perpetrator always  got support from the community.”

In the insular, tight-knit world of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, problems are taken care of internally. In all matters, including sex abuse, a rabbi is consulted.

Jungreis said he called many rabbis, but none helped, even though he said they knew about the alleged abuser.

“They knew how dangerous this guy is,” he said. “They never did anything to get him off the street.”

What made matters so difficult is that Jewish law forbids informing on another Jew.

But two rabbis told Jungreis he could get around that by bringing the boy to a therapist, who would legally have to report the abuse.

But when that happened, Jungreis was blamed.

“You get revenge, hell, torture, ostracized — you name it. What a family and victim is going through if you are reporting a Jew,” Jungreis said.

Ben Hirsch, who runs Survivors For Justice, an advocacy group for sex abuse victims in the Orthodox community, said that scenario keeps many abusers protected.

LINK: Survivors For Justice

“This is a mindset among very many parents of victims they know — that if they step forward to protect one of their children that the entire family is going to suffer serious consequences,” Hirsch told Wragge.

Hirsch said rabbis shouldn’t investigate sex crimes, but rather, the police should.  However, Agudath Israel, an Orthodox policy organization, said getting the rabbi’s OK makes it easier to report cases to authorities.

Hirsch said he doesn’t buy it.

“I know of many instances of coverup. I know of many instances where rabbis are stopping people from coming forward,” he said.

In Jungreis’ case, the alleged abuser admitted that as a child he had been molested and, Jungreis said, the cycle of abuse continued with his own son.

“Not only did he victimize him, he learned him how to be a perpetrator,” Jungreis said.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind has been a leader in bringing the problem out in the open.

“People’s lives have been destroyed and we don’t want the next generation to face the same thing that our generation has faced,” Hikind said.

Worst of all, Hirsh said, is the message from community leaders to its children.

“The children who are victims and are perceived to be collateral damage. Their focus is their power base, their focus is the community at large, the greater good, in their view,” Hirsh said.

Jungreis said, despite the cost, he is determined to help break the devastating cycle of abuse.

“You have a right to have a voice, you will have a voice. There’s no such thing as we cannot have a voice,” Jungreis said.

There have been 85 arrests in the community in recent years.

Thursday night, CBS 2 will take a look at why the Brooklyn district attorney is under fire for how some of those cases have been handled.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

  • Moyle Toucher

    Mordechai Jungreis says he has been shunned by his community after coming forward about his son being abused.

    By his community or by the cult that is hasidic and orthodox judism. Freaks!!

  • you should know,your an idiot

    If anyone,in any sect,religion,or mind set hides or protects a pedophile from prosecution,they deserve to be prosecuted themselves. All children need to be protected from predators regarless of your beiefs,unless your the offender!

  • Zerona Weight Loss

    Hi there, thanks for the article. I would be inclined to say disagree with your views in part, but overall, although overall I think you’ve made some valid points. I will read more if you decide to write on the topic.

  • Jacob Stein

    Maybe it is time to examine the Talmud, and the theology that spawn pedestry and permissiveness.

    I invite all of the readers to read, “The Invention of the Jewish People” by Professor Shlomo Sand, PhD, History Department, Tel Aviv University.

    It is time to end the denial and examine facts!

  • thejewishpoetess

    Mr. Youngreis, you are a brave hero. May you and your family be protected by Hashem. The Jewish people owe you a debt of gratitude.

  • Eileen Gretah

    I applaud Mr. Jungreis for his heroism. I hope others will follow his example. I have just finished reading “Unorthodox” by Deborah Feldman and she speaks about many cover-ups that go on in the ultra-orthodox communities. What a disgrace! Bravo to these two individuals for speaking out about the criminal behavior that has gone on in these communities for years.

    • One who cares

      There are good Jews and bad Jews, just as there are good Catholics and bad Catholics, good Protestans and bad Protestans, etc. It has nothing to do with a person’s religion but about who the person is to begin with. People are people and they have the same basic qualities. The ability to be good or evil. G-d created all men equal with the same right to choose between good and evil, between kindness and mean spiritedness, between generosity and stinginess, between holiness and sinning. We each have the right and the obligation to know the diference and to choose to walk on the right side of the law and moral code and values or ignore them for our own selfish internal needs and gratifications.

      It doesn’t matter what race, religion or color of skin you are, evil comes in all forms and in all variations and so does goodness, kindness, innocence and generosity. It just depends on who you are, how you were raised, what your moral compass is, and if you truly believe in G-d or you just walk the walk and talk the talk. The choice belongs to each individual. And when their time is up on this earth, each one, no matter where they come from will have to answer to their maker no matter who they believe it is.

      A Jew is NOT immune to human nature, nor to illness or depravity. WE (yes I am one too) are taught and trained through Torah and good deeds to not give in to those desires and temptations and to recognize them as the devil’s means of sabotaging us from our good deeds on this earth. We are taught to understand that we stand before G-d, the King of Kings, 24/7, and we must always conduct ourselves accordingly. Anyone who chooses to give in to those temptations and to the illness that permeates their minds, bodies and souls, are as human as any other sick individual of any other race, religion or color.

      We do our best to take care of one and other as any other community does, but we are NOT immune. We have the same challenges as others do, and our leaders are even more ashamed because we do try to uphold a higher standard, we do have a very high moral compass, and it breaks us when things like this happen in our community. Did they handle this appropriately? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Did they know how to handle it? Did they know what the outcome would be? NO! Generations ago when they first had to handle it, they thought children were resilient and they would get over it. They were wrong, very wrong. NOW that the findings have proved them wrong, they are still handling it wrong and they need to be forced to change.

      Mr. Jungreis is a HERO, in more than one way. HE has stood by his son no matter what the consequences were to himself and they were dire consequences. And in doing so, he has stood by countless victims and their families who were too afraid to do what he did. Kudos, Reb Motti. Your friends and neighbors did not give you an Aliyah for doing this, but I hope you feel the Aliyah you are getting from hundreds and thousands of neshomahs who support you.

      I ask one thing of the readers of this story. Ask your friends and neighbors to read this. Send this to all the people you know and ask them to write in and call CBS for a follow up. Don’t let this story die, make this being news that has hit this community since some tzaddik came to visit.

    • sk

      i am happy this man has the courage to stand up to abuse going on in the orthodox community however, regarding Devorah Feldman’s book, “Unorthodox”: there are people who tried to find out more information about the facts she wrote in her book. and Ms. Feldman was not able to prove all her statements. Ms. Feldman made up lies because she wanted to make the chasidic community look bad. This man who wants to break the cycle of abuse and is not doing it out of rebellion these are not teh same stories!

  • Tom

    Absolutely sickening. People who abuse children deserve no mercy in my opinion. They are demented and all who are involved, whether the actual abuser or one covering it up, should get the harshest treatment imaginable.

    I felt this way when it came out that the Catholic priests were doing it and now I feel the same with the Jews.

  • Seriously

    There is a commandment in the Torah to pursue justice, and remove evil from among us, and there is no problem with sending someone to the police who is an active danger to others. The Rabbis who don’t allow it really only do so to maintain to their own control (or illusion of it) of the situation. This is not Judaism, certainly not what God intended.

  • Are you surprised?

    They cover-up abuse, but do not allow girls to go on Facebook.

    • eva

      no connection. ONE school told its girls to get off facebook. its not a religious policy, it is something that school felt was neccessary and they can get back on fb as soon aas they graduate. why the heck that is news i will never understand.

  • snapjudy

    “The children who are victims and are perceived to be collateral damage”

    Sadly this is a very familiar statement, in many institutions children are considered collateral damage. Children are ‘people’.

    Mordechai Jungreis is to be commended for speaking up and making this public. He is right, all child sex abuse needs to be reported to the police, not church officials. The law enforcement are the proper officials to investigate crimes against kids.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511

    (SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
    SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc. Our website is

  • yankie

    Mr. Yungreis, I applaud your actions. These animals need to be put in cages. The Brooklyn D.A. Hynes is in on it too. He is bought off by the political muscle and voting block of the Hasidim. He makes deals with the Jewish sex offenders to go to “treatment” instead of prosecution. Victims families are harassed and intimidated into dropping charges and have no police protection. The DA tells them they can move out of Brooklyn if they feel unsafe! The Post exposed this recently, but nobody is doing anything about it. We need the FBI to lock these people up and keep our kids safe.

  • Dovid

    I was sexually assaulted by a rabbi at Ner Israel Rabbinical College in the nineties. The Yeshiva is still covering up for him. I was too ashamed and scared to report it to anybody at the time, but I have since learned that there are many other victims who have publicized it. I reported to the police but because of statute of limitations they would not investigate. But there are many other victims who have informed the Yeshiva, and they have swept it under the carpet, and the molester is still there.

    • eva

      in baltimore?

  • cruz

    The press is a culprit as well. Time and time again you hear of this type of abuse once. Rarely do you see any follow up from the press. The press should treat these monsters just like they do with the Catholic priests. Give them the perp walk. Follow up and keep them in the eye of the storm. Save others from this horror.

  • M. Delaney

    I applaud Mr. Jungreis and his courage to fight back against the status quo. In too many communities, whether they be religious or secular (Penn State) sexual abuse is covered up because it is mistakenly believed to be a reflection on the community itself, rather than the evil of one person. It is a healthy community that would expose the exploitation of our children and attempt to eradicate it from its midst.

    Mr. Jungreis, you understand the responsibility of being a parent and an advocate for your child. My hat is humbly off to you.

  • mitch

    I am in my upper 40s and was abused as a child by an Agudah Pirchei leader in the 1970s. Although never reported to my parents or authorities, I live with this until today. These perps deserve the death penalty!!!!

  • Asher Lipner, Ph.D.,

    It is really not that much different than the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution. When they do so with wisdom and integrity it works pretty well. When they do so with political corruption it is disaster.

    The contemporary halachic ruling of Rav Elyashiv and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aeurbach and many others is that the prohibition of “Mesirah” (informing on another Jew) does not apply at all to cases of abuse and crimes in which individuals are harmed. In fact, most hold that the law ONLY applies in countries that had openly anti-semitic governments (think Czarist Russia, or modern day Iran), but in America, where a Jew can have a fair trial like anybody else, there is no reason to forbid being a good citizen and reporting ALL crimes commited to the authorities is ok.

    The problem is not the religion. The problem is that many Orthodox Jews pick and choose which laws they keep. Kosher food? Absolutely. Shabbos? 100%. “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy brother”?…..not so much.

  • Asher Lipner, Ph.D.,

    Mr. Jungreis, Reb Motty, you are a true Jewish hero. I remember when you spoke to our group of 300 Jewish parents, during the National Jewish Week for the Prevention of Child Abuse. Rabbi Nochem Rosenberg was honored on that night in Boro Park, and he honored us by introducing us to you. You stole the show.

    Your love and compassion for your poor son, your passion for truth and justice, and your deep concern for the whole Jewish community, despite the fact that its leaders turned their back on you, is a model for what all Jewish parents were meant to be like according to the Torah.

    Shame on our leaders for bringing it to this. Shame on Agudath Israel for covering up and protecting molesters, not children. Shame on our community for standing silent. As Elie Wiesel has said, “Silence always helps the perpetrators. Never the victims.”

    But we are with you. The Coalition of Jewish Advocates for Children is with you. is with you, is with you, Jewish Parents for Safe Yeshivas is with you, Jewish Community Watch is with you.

    Stay strong. And thank you.

    • eva

      I was breifly married to a victim of abuse, it was only revealed to me when i told him i was expecting and sudeenly so many baffling and frightening issues with him became clear. as his story came out i found it it led to a psychotic break at age 13 and he has been mentaly ill ever since, that his abuse was hushed up and the abuser sent out of town. his mental issues became too much to overcome and 2 years after we divorced he was found ead, on yom kippur. accident or suicide was never determined for certain. these abusers and the coverups affect more than just the vitim. it began a cycle which led years later to my daughter never knowing her father.

      mr jungreis is taking action to protect all of our children in the frum community. its about time.

    • Yehuda

      Yasher KOyach! Asher!

      The Hot heads Don’t ask What Rav Alyashiv said, they like the fight,

  • Francine Freilich Litz

    Mr. Jungreis – keep on fighting for what’s right – keep on fighting for your son and all the children. Hashem is so proud of you for standing up for your son and all the children. You are doing what’s RIGHT.

  • respect all mankind

    I’m an orthodox jew, and nowhere in the Torah does it say you may not report another jew for molestation. This is a lie and misconstrued! I am proud to say that my Rabbi does not stand for this and has put many a perpetrator behind bars; hence saving many families from utter destruction. It is an obligation in the Torah to report perpetrators who destroy generations to come!

    • KPMc

      I think they are referring to “Mesirah”.

      And like most things with organized religion it all comes down to the beliefs and interpretation of flawed human beings.

      That can often be a scary thing for us secular folk.

      • its good to know

        Which is why we follow the Torah and observe its commandments.

  • sharon wolff

    How horrible. My heart goes out to the Jungreis family. I am proud Mr Jungreis is doing something about this. Sexual abuse is a crime, no matter what religion a person follows. Shame, shame, shame on the Hasidic and Orthodox communities for allowing this. I would like to know what The Torah says about sexual abuse. I would be it is forbidden. Shame shame on all of you Rabbi’s who cover up and ignore these crimes!

  • its good to know

    If anyones child is abused, you call the police. We did it many years ago and we suffered zero consequences. As for worrying what the community is going to do about it, your’e giving them way too much power.
    Stop focusing on what pleases your neighbors and start focusing on pleasing G-d. If you put your trust in Him, you wont have to worry about gossipy neighbors.

  • Indra Sinanan

    Too bad you didn’t have Dr Salamon on. He’s the expert who wrote the book Abuse in the Jewish Community

  • One who cares

    I have to commend Mr. Jungreis for coming forward. Firstly for reporting the crime against his son and secondly for publicizing the truth behind this terrible hypocrisy in our society. Punish the victim and support the perpetrator. Would this be done for any other crime? Would a thief or a murderer get the same support? Would the molester, thief or murderer get the same support if he weren’t a rabbi or a religious member of the community? Shame on all the protectors. The number of innocent victims amounts to tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands over the generations who could have been saved from this horrendous, disgusting, immoral and devastating fate had they understood what a horrific sin they were ignoring and virtually supporting and that their negligence would lead all the way to death.

    In this generation when we know and we can easily research the devastating and long lasting affects of abuse and molestation, to ignore this issue and/or protect the molester instead of the victim is akin to turning your back on the moral obligations that G-d places on you. You shout in horror if a boy should look at a girl or speak to her; you yell in indignation if a jew eats non-kosher; if a couple live together without the sanctity of marriage it is a huge sin, but this huge sin that the Torah considers an abomination can be ignored??? Can you really pick and choose which laws in the Torah you will uphold??

    SHAME on anyone and everyone who would ignore the suffering of victims of sexual abuse and would support and defend the perpetrator because they are one of the flock. They are not only molesters they are murderers. They are murderers of innocent souls, they are murderers of their spirit and their health and chase their victims into self destructive behaviors even suicide.

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