(JTA) – Chaim Walder, an Israeli author of Haredi Orthodox children’s books who was accused last month of sexual abuse by several teenage girls, was found dead on Monday in an apparent suicide, according to Israeli media. Walder was 53 years old.
After a successful career as a columnist, radio host, teacher, speaker and most notably, author of the bestselling children’s book series “Kids Speak”, Walder’s career has collapsed in recent weeks after being charged. sexual abuse by several young people. women. The story of the alleged abuse came to light in a Haaretz investigation released last month.
In addition to his writings, Walder has also worked as a therapist and was honored in 2003 with the “Protector of the Child” award from the Israeli Prime Minister. Several women accused Walder of initiating sex with them when they approached him for advice, according to Haaretz’s investigation.
The reports of alleged abuse have sparked an unusually strong backlash within the Haredi Orthodox community, who often preferred to brush accusations of bad behavior under the carpet rather than publicly oust the attackers.
Just days after the publication of the Haaretz inquiry, Eichler’s, a large Jewish and Jewish bookstore in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, has announced that it will no longer sell Walder’s books. Walder’s longtime publisher, Feldheim Publishers of Nanuet, New York, tweeted that he would remove Walder’s book from shelves while the allegations against the author are investigated. Yated Neeman and Radio Kol Hai, two Israeli news agencies, suspended Walder from his company post over the allegations, according to Israeli news site Arutz Sheva.
On Sunday, a rabbinical court in Safed heard testimony from 22 young women about alleged abuse by Walder, according to Haaretz, the abuse dating back 25 years and occurring just six months ago.
Even though parts of the Haredi Orthodox world have decided to exclude Walder and his books from their lives, some have always ignored the allegations made against him. In reporting Walder’s death on Monday, B’chadrei Haredim, an Israeli Orthodox news site, made no mention of the allegations against Walder. The article ended with the words: “May his memory be a blessing.”
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