Friday, July 31, 2009

What do we do with Kolko?

He's been arrested, had his day in court, and, having plead guilty, Yehuda Kolko is trying to get on with his life.

This summer, he took a rental at Pine Estates, an upstate community connected to the Yeshiva of South Fallsburg. According to the Jewish Star, Kolko is under the protection of Rabbi Tzvi Abba Gorelick, the dean and owner of the Yeshiva and Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, the rosh yeshiva. Some residents, however, want him out:

On Kolko’s first Friday night there, a summer resident aware of Kolko’s history confronted him in the shul during Maariv and told him to leave the neighborhood quietly, a witness said. When Kolko refused, the man interrupted the tefilah to announce from the bima that Kolko was a child molester and posed a danger to children. When congregants protested, the man at the bima, said to be a student of Rav Dovid Feinstein, replied with multiple Halachic sources to support his action, one of which was Masechet Chullin 8a, which discusses the need to be strict when it comes to matters of danger.
The next day, the Star continues, Kolko received an aliya. How to explain this schizophrenic reaction? Simple. Some of us think he's evil incarnate, and without hope of redemption while others say he's paid his debt (infuriatingly, the Star reports that Rabbi Elya Ber isn't convinced Kolko was guilty in the first place. I doubt we should expect any better from the man who led the campaign against Slifkin.)

I'm not sure what the right answer is. Certainly, Kolko shouldn't be allowed near children, but is it correct to harass him? Do we ban him from our neighborhoods and deny him any semblance of a normal life? I know the man has been accused of the most heinous of crimes, and I believe he's guilty, but at what point do we say the debt has been paid? How do we make him live now?

Search for more information about child molesters and the rosh yeshivot who love them at

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