Haredi author Chaim Walder dropped from publisher amid rape allegations

The popular ultra-Orthodox author behind the 'Kids Speak' series, accused of raping minors, will take a break from public life.

 Chaim Walder in his office with a copy of his bestselling book Kids Speak (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Chaim Walder in his office with a copy of his bestselling book Kids Speak
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Israeli ultra-Orthodox author Chaim Walder has been dropped by Feldheim, the company that has been publishing his popular Kids Speak series for years.

"After consulting da’as Torah, we have decided to halt the selling of Chaim Walder’s titles while current allegations are being investigated," the publishers announced on Twitter. 

"We do not judge and sincerely hope he will be able to clear his name. We will continue to consult with da’as Torah as the situation unfolds."

Walder also announced that he is taking a break from public life following accusations levied against him of raping minors, Haaretz reported.

According to a statement released on the author's behalf, he will "take a time out from his public life to fight to clear his name and be with his family," according to Haaretz.

This comes after the books were removed from shelves at popular haredi supermarket chain Osher Ad and from the Borough Park-based retailer Eichler's, though a similarly named Eichler's in Flatbush currently continues to sell them.

Retailers are not the only ones moving to get rid of Walder's books.

In a halachic statement posted on Facebook, Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu noted that while these allegations have yet to reach the court, they are still serious, and one should not keep Walder's books in their homes or schools.

Keeping his books in schools while he faces these accusations makes Walder "a character who has legitimacy, and it is an educational disaster," Eliyahu noted.

"The Torah wants us to treat rape with the greatest severity there is and tells us that rape is considered murder. It is impossible to keep books at home by someone suspected of sexually abusing so many women," he said, stressing the need to make it clear that his actions have "no shred of legitimacy."

"I hope for his sake that the accusations against him aren't true," Eliyahu concluded. "But meanwhile, there are many women who testify that he has harmed them, and their voices cannot be ignored."

The author has also seen his talk show on Kol Chai radio taken off the air and his weekly column in the haredi newspaper Yated Ne'eman stopped.

Walder, who lives in Bnei Brak, is a well-known author publishing literature for children and young adults in the ultra-Orthodox world, with his series Kids Speak (in Hebrew - Yeladim Mesaprim Al Atzmam - Kids Speak about Themselves) selling over two million copies of his books in haredi communities across Israel and the Diaspora. The first book in the series became one of the top five best-selling books in Israel of all time.

Notably, one of his stories, titled "Stay away from strangers," deals with a minor being raped by an adult.

He has written over 50 books and is seen as having revolutionized literature for children, as his books allow the child to speak their thoughts and emotions aloud, and focus on difficult and sensitive topics. He also heads the Center for Child and Family run by the Bnei Brak Municipality, and is a certified counselor, working with children and young adults suffering from trauma and abuse.

However, he has been accused of allegedly engaging in sexual activities with minors, two girls aged 12 and 15, with a third testimony accusing him of regularly raping a 20-year-old woman, his therapy patient, as first revealed by Haaretz.

Since then, the number of women coming out with accusations against Walder number over 20.

Walder has denied these allegations against him, and his lawyers have accused them of being a "virtual blood libel" with "no connection to reality."