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Alleged Walder victim dies in apparent suicide, days after author took own life

Friends of young woman say she was distraught over ‘how some tried to protect him and whitewash the story’

Illustrative: Police officers near Jerusalem's Old City, on December 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative: Police officers near Jerusalem's Old City, on December 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A young woman who was said to have been an alleged victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Haredi author Chaim Walder was found dead in Jerusalem on Thursday, apparently after taking her own life.

Walder, a popular ultra-Orthodox children’s author who was accused of sexually abusing women and children, was found dead in a Petah Tikva cemetery on Monday, and is also believed to have killed himself.

Friends of the young woman said she had become distraught in recent days as some parts of the Haredi establishment feted Walder after his death.

According to the Walla news site, one friend wrote on social media that “she ended her life because her wounded soul could not stand the celebrations that were held for him.”

Another friend told Ynet: “It is possible that Chaim Walder’s story flooded her with difficult feelings when she saw how some tried to protect him and whitewash the story.”

The young woman was laid to rest on Thursday afternoon.

Chaim Walder. (Wikipedia/דוד25)

In reporting on his death, ultra-Orthodox media largely omitted the sexual assault allegations against Walder — which were first published in the Haaretz daily — and did not mention suicide in obituaries.

The Behadrei Haredim news site described Walder as a “well-known writer and educator,” and highlighted a chain of summer camps he started. The obituary did not mention the abuse allegations or suicide.

The top story on the Haredim10 news website called Walder “the man who influenced an entire generation of children.” Much of the article focused on his denial of the allegations against him, and on the work he did within the community.

It noted that the “tragic incident” of Walder’s death came after a Haaretz report accused him of “alleged serious misdeeds.”

The Kikar Hashabbat ultra-Orthodox site mentioned the allegations, toward the bottom of Walder’s obituary.

Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau came under fire for paying a public condolence call to Walder’s family.

On social media, some lashed out at Haaretz’s Aaron Rabinowitz, whose award-winning reporting first brought the allegations against Walder to light.

When the allegations first came to light last month, a number of ultra-Orthodox entities severed their ties with Walder, a resident of Bnei Brak. Walder was removed from his position at the ultra-Orthodox radio station Radio Kol Chai and the Otiyot children’s magazine said it would stop publishing his stories.

Walder’s books were also removed from the shelves of the Osher Ad supermarket chain and the Jewish bookstore Eichlers Judaica in Borough Park.

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