New Yorker: Out Loud

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A Sex-Abuse Scandal in a Hasidic Community

November 4th, 2014

Episode 397 of 447 episodes

The Hasidic Jews of Borough Park, Brooklyn, rarely interact with outsiders—they rely upon their own education and justice systems and see their extreme insularity as a means of self-preservation. But Rachel Aviv, a staff writer, spent months among Borough Park’s Hasidim for her story in this week’s magazine, about a man named Sam Kellner who was ostracized after he accused a prominent member of his community of molesting his son. On this week’s Out Loud podcast, Aviv talks to Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of newyorker.com, about the practical and moral complexities of reporting the story. She describes the lengths she went to in order to interview Hasidic men—buying special clothes, finding meeting places that wouldn’t violate the restriction against men and women meeting behind closed doors—and what it was like to discuss sexual abuse with men who rarely interact with non-Hasidic women. Aviv acknowledges the dangers of a community policing itself, but adds, “I hope that the story also shows that there’s a lot of courage within the community.”

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