MembersWhen God’s Love Becomes a Dilemma

How allegations of sexual abuse leading to a tragic suicide rekindled the debate over how we deal with those who fall from grace

Chaim Walder. Photo: CC BY-SA Yoninah Creative Commons

A highly regarded ultra-Orthodox author of children’s book was accused of sexual abuse and rape by several women who alleged that they were minors at the time. After it was reported, the Israel Police opened an investigation into the allegations. Later he was found dead near his son’s grave after apparently taking his own life.

Chaim Walder was a celebrated author of many popular children’s books and a children’s advocate in the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. He was a recipient of the Prime Minister’s “protector of the child” award.

When news of the affair reached the Orthodox community two weeks ago, it sent shockwaves throughout the Haredi communities, which are still struggling to come to terms with the realization that a man who is one of their own, and contributed so much good to so many, has fallen so far. Sex scandals and even suicides are not uncommon in every society, religious or otherwise, but given that Walder had such a deep impact on an entire generation of children, religious Jews...

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