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When the veil is lifted in New Square, you're not going to like what you see ...

aron rottenberg
aron rottenberg
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It seemed a fairly standard journalistic piece, passionless but devoted to the reportage of a set of facts-strictly business, and I have no quarrel with that.

The reporter describes the defendant, Moshe Taubenfeld, as a New Square fifty-five year old educator and father of twenty accused of molesting a young boy repeatedly over five years.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Taubenfeld, an accused child molester, is a "father of twenty". That intrigues me.

First, that he is a "father of twenty". That alone is noteworthy. Yasher Koach, Mrs. Taubenfeld!! I am not quite sure what it says about the defendant, however. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not mean to sound flippant but I'd love to meet Mrs. Taubenfeld and her twenty kids to get a sense of how each of them is growing up or getting along in life. By the way, I too am a big supporter of healthy and beautiful Jewish babies being born (my wife and I are parents to thirteen month old triplets) but I have to pause when I hear of such a man, a father of twenty, charged with a crime of this nature, and how sad it must really be for his wife and children.

Since the recent announcement that Grand Rebbe Twersky will visit Chicago from February 20-27, a great deal of information has been forthcoming about New Square, its criminal enforcement subterfuge and the case against Moshe Taubenfeld. Anyone familiar with cases like these will not be shocked to learn that the victim and his family reported the abuse about six years ago to community leaders, who discouraged them from going to the police.

Perhaps Taubenfeld's prowess is an indication that he fulfills other mitzvot with equal fervor (Wipe that silly grin off your face!) It may mean he has difficulty managing his sex drive in which case I feel very bad for Mrs. Taubenfeld or it simply may not be too unusual, especially in a place like New Square, "home" to the "Skvere Hasidim" led by the Skvere Rebbe, one David Twersky, who strikes me as an aloof and dark figure.

I don't know about you but something about this morsel of information reminded me of what outspoken American patriot Patrick Henry is reported to have said when asked why it was that he had not attended the Constitutional Convention. Because, he said, he "had smelt a rat'.

Attempting to approximate what they suppose Jewish life used to be like in mid-nineteenth century (and earlier) eastern European shtetlach, many regard the Judaism of New Square as cultish and hardly reminiscent of the quaint villages from the tales of Sholem Aleichem.

There has been much speculation that New Square, New York is a dark place that tolerates no deviation from strictly-enforced regulations. Try going to another synagogue other than the one endorsed by the Grand Rebbe and see what happens should you survive or ask Aron Rottenberg what befell him and his family in the middle of the night. Mind you this is the hair-raising story of a Jew who worked for the Grand Rebbe as his personal butler, charged with attempted murder, arson and assault against a fellow Jew of his own community, New Square, for having gone to a different synagogue. Was the Grand Rebbe involved? Well, no charges have been brought yet.

Oh, there is much more. I suspect the FBI will sweep down on New Square one of these days and, well ... take a fresh look at the title I chose for this piece or perhaps you will like it. We'll all have to just wait and see.

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