A Brooklyn Hasidic rabbi is under investigation for promoting child marriage

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 9: Pedestrians walk near the Yeshiva Kehilath Yakov School in the South Williamsburg neighborhood, April 9, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. New York City has ordered all yeshivas in a heavily Orthodox Jewish section of Brooklyn to exclude from classes all students who aren’t vaccinated against measles or face fines or possible closure. The order comes amid a recent outbreak of over 285 measles cases in Brooklyn and Queens, most of which have been concentrated in the Orthodox Jewish communities. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Shira Hanau

(JTA) — A Brooklyn rabbi is under investigation for allegedly arranging marriages between children as young as 15 years old.

The Forward reported Thursday that the New York Police Department and Administration of Child Services are looking into the accusations against Yoel Roth, who runs Yeshiva Tiferes Hatorah in the Williamsburg neighborhood as well as a community in upstate Liberty, where many of the young couples he allegedly has married off now live.

Frimet Goldberger, a writer who grew up in the Hasidic community, posted about the practice earlier this month, sharing a picture of a newly engaged couple: The girl is 17 and the boy is 15.

“I am sharing this photo so you know what underage forced marriage looks like,” Goldberger wrote.

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While men and women in Hasidic communities typically marry young, marriages are generally not done before the age of 18. In New York state, one must be 18 years old to marry, though a 17-year-old can marry with a court’s permission.

According to the Forward, Roth believes that boys should be married off at a young age to prevent them from masturbating. Former followers of Roth said he arranged marriages without permission from the parents of the bride and groom, and often does not allow parents to decide the date of the wedding or even to know the age of their child’s future spouse.

Roth’s secretary, Shaul Indig, denied the claims to the Forward.

“If you do something good, there’s always people who criticize you,” he said.

The NYPD and Administration of Child Services declined to provide specific information about the investigations to the Forward.