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Mint-colored city buses and sherbet mid-rise apartment complexes with undulating facades.
They were insular and defiantly anti-secular, clinging to traditions that may have protected their community in a medieval world but in modern America would lead to tragic consequences for many of their youngest, most vulnerable members.
Twelve-year-old Ozer Simon hadn’t grown up Hasidic, but after his parents divorced, his mom became a , a secular Jew who has “returned” to religious ways, and enrolled him at a yeshiva.
He immediately fell behind because the other kids had been studying Hebrew since they were toddlers, so when Rabbi Joseph Reizes, a new teacher recently arrived from Brooklyn, offered to tutor the child, his mother jumped at the opportunity.
A parent “informed a principal that his son was inappropriately touched during a private tutoring session with Reices [ many requests to speak to someone about this issue and stopped responding to email questions after an initial exchange.
Through its lawyer, the school sent a note stating that to answer more questions would “compromise its legal and religious obligations.” Reizes did not respond to requests for comment.)When contacted by the child whose parents brought the complaint to the school in 1996 didn’t want to speak about it publicly, but other students from that class say Reizes long had a reputation for inappropriate behavior.
But when she asked Simon how his first lesson went, she could tell “something was really wrong.” Simon told her the rabbi hadn’t taught him anything; instead, he’d asked the boy to lie down and take a nap. The next school day, Simon’s mother went to Rabbi Avrohom Korf, principal of the boy’s school, and told him what had happened.