The Time Chaim Walder Gave My Daughter a Present

The Time Chaim Walder Gave My Daughter a Present
13 years ago, my then first-grader Maayan came home from school one day bubbling with excitement. Her school had hosted a celebrity guest that day, one of her favorite writers: Chaim Walder! And that hadn’t been all.
My oldest daughter, then a 5th grader, told me that during his presentation, Chaim Walder had asked all the girls what they wanted to be when they grow up: “A nurse!” “A teacher!” “A lawyer!” girls called out. And then one little girl called out, “I want to be a mother with a lot of children!”
Chaim Walder, my oldest daughter told me, got a big smile on his face: “Who said that?” he asked, “That is so wonderful! Incredible!”
And her classmates pointed out my little Maayan, whom Chaim Walder proceeded to call to the front of the auditorium, took out a copy of his book Kids Speak 3, wrote her a personal dedication, and handed it to her as a gift.
How tragic that today this story that once seemed so sweet and innocent makes me absolutely shudder from a string of impossible what-ifs. What if Walder had taken my daughter to a separate room and touched her inappropriately, even sexually assaulted her, G-d forbid, as he did so many others over the years?
Today, my youngest child, Yoni, came home from 1st grade and told me matter of factly, “Chaim Walder committed suicide yesterday. He took a gun and shot himself by his son’s grave. Because he did bad things.”
Thanks to Chaim Walder so many children, like my own, who’ve grow up on his books have gotten introduced to all sorts of new words over recent weeks: adultery, sexual assault, rape, and now suicide.
Which reminds me that Chaim Walder’s victims weren’t only the girls, women, boys and men he took advantage of and sexually assaulted over the years. He had many other victims as well. First and foremost, his own wife whom he betrayed so many times over the years. The ex-husbands and devastated children of the married women he conducted affairs with, leaving in his wake broken homes and lives.
And I think also, on a certain level, among his victims were you and me and our children, his loyal and trusting readers. We entrusted Chaim Walder with our children’s hearts and minds and souls, And he proved himself unworthy of that trust, thus betraying us and our children. Over and over again.
And now Chaim Walder is dead. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Blessed be the true Judge.
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  1. words such as להלבין פנים and lashon haraa…. no police investigation, just words which may – or may not – be true. no hint of a word that maybe the rabbis and others involved should have handled things differently…. maybe B”H he did not harm your daughter because he didnt harm children. Maybe all those books that have helped soooooo many chikdren actually did come from a good place….

    • I’m attaching some links so you and others can read about statements made by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu who leads the beit din that was handling Walder’s sexual assault cases.

    • YES COMPLETE Loshon hora. Please don’t use your platform for this. Please please please take this down.

      • As per R’ Moshe Meiselman: There is no lashon hara in this case. We are obligated to be mevazeh Chaim Walder.

        • Rabbi Meiselman erred. All this shame is only permitted in order to prevent the sinner from sinning further and harming others. Any public exposé that does not directly protect any victims from further harm is forbidden and certainly doing so after his death, is absolutely forbidden. Therefore, continuing to publicize this matter in newspapers, radio, internet, etc. has no substantive value and should be avoided.

          I am not saying anything new or my own opinion. This was part of the message of the Gadol HaDor, HaGaon HaRav Gershon Edelstein shlita. Unfortunately, for the rank and file of our nation, very few paid any attention to his directive.

          Aside from this perspective, there are a number of glaring holes in the whole story as spread and disseminated in the secular media, especially Haaretz, which is out to bash religious Jews and Jewry wherever it can.
          1) If the alleged perpetrator is a Bnei Brak resident, why is it necessary for the matter to be raised in a Safed Beis Din, instead of in Bnei Brak.
          2) A Beis Din is convened to adjudicate the case, Mr. Walder is not present, and NO ruling is issued. All we have is rumours about what they discussed. No ruling has to date been issued.
          3) It is rumoured that there were many instances where Mr. Walder committed adultery with a willing woman, such that the conclusion of a Beis Din was that the woman became forbidden to be married to her husband and cannot marry Mr. Walder. It is alleged that there are rulings from Beis Din to that effect, publicly available for viewing. This is absolute rubbish. The only such document that has been presented is one where all particulars are blurred out and only the words “she is forbidden to her husband and Chaim V.” This has no legal value whatsoever. On such a document the full name of the adulterer must be written out. In this case his name was Chaim Eliezer Valder, not Chaim V. A cursory examination of the Bnei Brak telephone directory will reveal a number of family names that start with V with Chaim as the husband and also, there are THREE Chaim Valders listed. So, which man is this document meant to shame?
          4) It is alleged that his abuse stretched over 20 years. However, not one police complaint was made by anyone.
          5) It is alleged that Torah scholars knew about his abuse for years. And nobody thought to embarass him then and to ban his books then, to prevent further abuse.
          6) In general, sexual abusers, when confronted with media reports and even substantive evidence, are unconcerned and go about their daily business as if they’ve done nothing wrong. In contrast, those who are innocent of wrongdoing are badly hurt by the reports. This may be the case here.
          7) Even if Mr. Walder is guilty, and no evidence of his guilt has yet to be presented in a legal manner. But even if he is guilty, there is no reason to throw out his books. The books are incredible educational tools. If we are to throw out all books written by authors that are guilty of terrible sins, why do such volumes still grace our shelves? For example, the Book of Josephus, revered by scholars throughout the ages, was written by a renegade Jew who collaborated with the Romans. To give an idea of how bad that is, the Halacha states, even for today, if such a Moser exists and you pass by the guy next to a deep pit, you may push him in and take away the ladder, and let him die there. There is no such ruling for adulterers or molesters. But we continue to keep his book on our shelves.
          8) I believe Rabbi Meiselman or his son are not good readers. I have made it my business to look in a number of Chaim Walder books and I have found G-d’s name in every one. He had 80 books, so look harder.

          There is no ruling found in any of our books of responsa that allows for shaming a molester in the press. And until there is a ruling in Beis Din as to his guilt, all the rumours and innuendo with no present substantive beneficial purpose, are just rumours and innuendo and should be treated as such.
          If there are victims, they should be given every opportunity for healing. If there are victims, they might be victims of someone else’s crimes, and we should chase after the real criminal and put an end to his activities.
          Thank you for reading.

  2. I agree with Tova

  3. I think a very important lesson to take from this whole story is that many people try to paint a person evil or good. And people are just so, so complex. I am so happy we are not HAShem and we do not need to decide who is a tzadik and who is a rasha and who is a benoni.
    The famous Oscar Schindler cheated on his wife many times (also after the holocaust) but saved thousands of Jews.
    Martin Luther King Jr as well, did so much for freedom and Blacks, but also had allegations of disloyalty to his family and abuse.
    Another famous person in the charedi world recently was accused of such horrible crimes yet has saved hundreds if not thousands of lives through zaka.
    And now Chaim Walder…
    I did not make myself the judge and I am not pro silencing victims.
    But what I do think we should all take from this story:
    1) we MUST teach our kids that suicide is something assur and there is always, always help. Suicide is very rampant these days – especially amongst young adults… they need to know that there is always a solution and help and the solution is never suicide.
    2) we need to teach our kids about abuse & safety and speaking up right away if G-d forbid someone harms them. I heard from a big chinuch Rav that we should speak about these topics at least once a month.
    3) we have hilchot yichud for a reason. I go to shiurim by a well known Rebbetzin and she said with a lot of pain that although she is not a Rav and cannot pasken, she advises all women and girls NOT to go to male therapists and doctors. There are too many stories of females who were taken advantage of. Also not to be alone with any Rabbi!! There are many female doctors and therapists and even though it might be easier for some women to connect to a male therapist, each woman should try her best to avoid this.
    There are just too many stories….

    May HaShem keep us all safe.

  4. Please delete this. How can you spread such Lashon Hara. You don’t know anything for sure.

    Be grateful for the beautiful lessons he taught our children and the beautiful message of being a mother to your daughter. Is this hakaros hatov!!!

    Who made you bother judge? Judge others how you would like to be judged.

    Please delete this article. Shame on you. Does his blood not call your name

    • This Message is for Sarah. It sounds like Gd forbid you are cursing Chana Jenny when you say “does his blood not call your name.” A Jew who curses another Jew is Terrible, but it does something also in Shamaiem. it summons down demons to surround THE PERSON WHO CURSES. SHAME ON YOU. YOU MUST ASK FORGIVENESS TO CHANA JENNY – SHE SHOULD LIVE TO 120 HEALTHY AND HAPPY. ZIEN GE ZUNT ZIEN & SHTARK. AMEN. Now, regarding chaim, he clearly sexually abused many women, and men. Chana Jenny is just sharing the news with us. I do believe he had free will, but not as much free will for someone who does not have these sick desires. everyone does have free will though. but clearly he was a very, very sick man. really, this information about him should have come out years ago. a regular Policeman should have been told. but there is also a sickness in this community where people “protect” the ones who should NOT be. For your best interest, you must apologize to Chana Jenny. Thankyou.

  5. Why would it be easier for a woman to connect with a male therapist?

  6. BH no one Gd forbid is suggesting abusers shoukd not be punished. many are unaware that all thise complaints are anonomous… this i am sure makes things easier to fike a complaint. on the other hand, the person being blamed is nit therfore given the opportunity to know who and what is the complaint against him.
    the thought keeps going thru my head that years ago a nazi Domyenuk was given such a fair trial in Israel, and yet Chaim Wailder who helped so so many jewish children and adults was guven so ridiculously less. we have to take a hard look at ourselves, how honestly we are standing – assuming there would be absolutely no reason a woman would fabricate a complaint of abuse and at the same time quickly assuming he must be the most perverted villian of all times

  7. Tova, women can and do fabricate and falsely accuse. And I was hoping against hope that he was innocent. However, it seems we can only conclude that he is guilty as charged.

    I just read all the links provided by Chana Jenny.

    Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu says he and his colleagues listened to many testimonies and verified them. He says he and his colleagues listened to recordings of Chaim Walder speaking inappropriately with women/girls. He says he and his colleagues spoke with husbands of women (now divorced)…

    Do you think Rabbi Eliyahu is making this all up?

    • Exactly my thinking as well. Several rabbis have out to say he is guilty and his books should not be kept in homes. Saying this is Lashon HaRa is saying also that those rabbis are guilty of Lashon HaRa. Are you aware, Tova, that t his is in essence what you are publicly saying here? Why is that ok but we should not judge CW?

      Sometimes I feel the reactions are less about CW and more about the difficulty of many people to accept frum people can be wrong and make mistakes. It is easy to think life is black and white and it is comforting to believe that people who speak well and are highly regarded can’t do horrible things. But we can’t know what challeges they have had. Anyone can be corrupted. We need to stand up to evil deeds and protect victims in a fair way. CW was given a trial in Beth Din as is proper to do, not just condemned without evidence.

  8. Thank you Chana Jenny for posting this.You put into words exactly what I was thinking, and I am exceedingly grateful to you for having the bravery to do so.

  9. Amalia Wolman

    Those that exonerate him, will take back their words. He committed terrible acts, broke up homes and I’m just sorry that he wasn’t shamed personally in the Beit Din……. If your friend was murdered by an author of great renown, would you want his books in your home???? His books should be removed from bookstores, libraries and homes!!!!

  10. Thank you for sharing the above!!! By closing our eyes we only hurt ourselves!!! People are not all bad or good, which is why it is hard to believe… he might have done some good acts but his lack of self control and selfishness has hurt many innocent people, who he was in the power to help… please don’t deny, and close your eyes to facts… 22 people from all ranges dont get up and scheme together!! By denying, you support all violators, as that was his and there clame… no one will believe you!! So let’s believe and take a stand let’s scream, no!!! Let’s support the groups in klal yisroel who are fighting the sinners and supporting the victims!!! Donate to them, be grateful for there acts of heoroisim… loshon hora does not belong here… he was warned to repent… he did an Avera and chose not to do teshuva!!!

  11. To the woman who said something like “his blood should not call your name” , to me sounds like a curse. You should definately ask Chana Jenny for forgiveness. A Jew who curses another Jew, so in Shamaiem, Deamons are summoned to come down to the Jew who cursed. that is definately not a good thing. and you dont want that, so you should be ashamed of yourself, and definately ask mechiela to Chana Jenny- she should live to 120, healthy and happy. Zien ge zunt Zien & Shtark. (in english , she should always be healthy and strong.) She is simply sharing the news with us. This is an extreemly serious issue, so I dont even know if this would fall under any laws of loshon hora. some people kill themselves after being sexually abused.

    Regarding chaim, obviously he had a serious sickness. I do not believe it was a mental illness. that can not be controlled. I think he had a level of free will- I would say less then a person who does not have those desires, however I think he could have stopped himself. The problem with the orthodox community is that we “protect” sexual predators, to save their “name”. when really he should have been behind bars 20 some years ago. that is the truth. I am a baltchuva, and in the secular world, thats what would have happend. I do believe the Torah is the truth, and I am happy I became frum, basically Gd is perfect, the Jews are not. There was a man in his 50’s with children and grandchildren in Brooklyn, and he was sexually molesting children in the mikva. so he was just kicked out from one mikva to the next when complaints started coming in. eventually one of the childrens mother called the police and he was arrested, and has been in jail ever since, I belive on Rikers Island. to me, this is not a religious person. A religious person has fear of Gd and punishment, in this life or the next, plus he was doing this in the mikva??? thats the holiest place! unbelievable. so these innocent, chassidic children had to go to court and testify. it was scary for them, but they did it. It was alot of children, and some teenage boys as well that he abused. again, the frum community was protecting him , his “name” whatever B.S. a criminal is a criminal, period. and if they hurt someone else in whatever way, they can not be free anymore. they gave that up. they have to be locked up, period.

  12. I am horrified to see comments of here suggesting CWs innocence. This makes me feel so scared and unsafe to be living in the community where women defend a sex abuser and deem him worthy of the benefit of the doubt. You are contributing to a community wide issue of sweeping sex abuse under the rug. You obviously did not do the research. The victims must be believed. And CWs books must be thrown out. He had us all included in the abuse bH budding behind the name of his famous books and having us support him by purchasing the books and being his fans. He exploited children who trusted him with their private stories by publishing their stories to the world. He was an unlicensed “therapist“ who had no supervision and was able to hide behind his fame and power. Here are links to articles by two respected American Rabbis about this.

    • It’s really sick! shame there are people who feel for him. We are in a messed-up world where right is clearly wrong and wrong is right. it’s twisted. Thank God for those of us who still see that emes is still very much alive.

    • Sori, kol hakavod, yours is a voice of reason. There are too many in our midst who fail to realize the degree to which they may have been programmed by a chevra of uptight sticklers to feel and act holier-than-thou. But that’s not true anivus, rather it often denotes a lack in the middah of rachmonut.

      In fact it reminds me of “Stockholm Syndrome”. Stockholm syndrome is a coping mechanism to a captive or abusive situation. People develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time.

      Note that in the Torah it states: “those who have pity on barbarians will, in the end, become barbaric themselves.”

      It also states “that which is hated unto you do not perpetrate on others” A.K.A. the Non-Aggression Principle.

      Do you read me, all ye lecturing apologists, namely, Tova, Sarah, Solly and b? Must you persist in misplaced empathy, rather than reserving your empathy for victims who truly deserve it? Actually, victims mostly wish to be believed, much more than the superficial empathy of those who can’t begin to imagine what they’ve been forced to cope with. It’s why they prefer support groups consisting of fellow victims, as was the case with Holocaust survivors.

      By the way, the Walder story just came to my attention today. Boy was I shocked.

  13. Agree also with Tova. We don’t know what happened. Everyone has an opinion but opinions and news articles are not facts.

    We should not judge but stay very alert and teach our children what they need to know in order to never become a victim.

  14. Oy to all of us who have to read and hear what happened!
    It is easy to judge, but I have an idea, let’s use what happened/ might not have happened as a lesson for us all! Because it COULD have happened, and many thousands of children can tell similar stories. Sadly, I lived through my children’s loss of innocence in situations like the alleged victims have told. Let’s take a wake up call! Maybe his death will finally shock our community into doing more about this? Let him have a Kapparah by being the one, through his death to get us to be more pro-active, more vigilant, less naive and protect our children! Let this story be the one to free the children from fear of punishment if they DO tell us what happened! Let this horrifying tragedy teach the Rabbbis to listen to the families that cry out to them and take the most courageous steps to stop a perpetrator, and find help for the victims!
    And for those who have the chutzpah to say something against Rav Shmuel Eliyahu and the Beis Din of Rav Sillman may I say, how can you teach Emunas(t) Chachamim if you attack their opinions? I daven to have some of their strength and emunah!
    Remember what happened to Korach? Aren’t we “speaking loshon Hora” about him when we read the parsha? We read it to be warned lest we think to be like him, he is a lesson to us.
    What happened to the Eida- they didn’t hurt someone, just joined in. If we d sweep this under the rug may I assure you it will continue, and we will by not stopping it, and we will be punished for this, just like the 250 that died with Korach!
    When my son was abused I spoke out, and the teacher remained in the school, long enough to abuse others.
    We all have that choice, and I beg you all to stop judging and start teaching and protecting, and by protecting I mean the treasure you were given to protect. Assume that every child has heard about this story already so now is the time to start talking to your children about self protection, that it is always safe to come talk to you, and even if they are threatened by someone, you will protect them.
    Having survived this situation with my children I can tell you Gedolai Yisroel show compassion for victims and it is sadly more than some of us are showing. By saying it wasn’t true you are saying they are liars, and doesn’t that make you a bigger judge than Gedolai Yisrael?
    I apologise for any offence! I am totally hoping that we can make a change through lessons we have been handed. I pray none of you should ever be the one who says to their child “I wish I had known”. My children are in their forties and I still cry over having not known, and hope no other parent ever has to suffer such pain and guilt ever again.
    A few decades ago specialists dealing with the children that leave the derech found that over 90% had suffered abuse within the Kehilla.
    Don’t ignore the lesson while bashing or defending.
    My heart goes out to you young mothers that will have to have these discussions, may Hashem bless you with the insight you need!

  15. t’s easy for people to say what about him? what about his wife? what about his kids? It’s clear that his wife his kids and his own life didn’t matter anything to him. So how could anyone care for him if he himself didn’t care? Also heaven forbid that it was one of some of your children or your marriage that was completely destroyed because of such filth and hateful acts of not having any self-control. what is and has been said about this man is an understatement for those whom he hurt. Please if you feel like having a heart please do so for those who are hurting because of him.

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