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An Open Invitation to the Williamsburg Community and An End of Year Request
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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12/27/12

Dear Readers:

Allow me to express my deepest appreciation to our readers who have emailed notes of support and encouragement over the past few days. All your messages were read carefully and very much appreciated, as were the online donations to Project YES many of you made as a show of support; professionally and personally. (Please accept my apologies for not responding; the volume was overwhelming.)

This website, and indeed Project YES overall, is committed to an open exchange of ideas and opinions on the real issues of the day.

We firmly believe that the sunlight of open discussion is a major first step in addressing the problems every society faces. (See two columns we published in Mishpacha on the damage caused by the suppression of dialogue and dissent Caring Enough to Dissent and Finding Our Voices ... And Names)

Look at the back issues of Pravda which were published in the 70's and 80's before Russia's collapse. They all describe "The Workman's Paradise" where no problems existed and the 5-year projections were all rosy. All throughout the same time period and continuing through these very days, American papers are brimming with discussions of all of our nation's messy and complex problems. But we are the richest and most powerful country in the world, and Russia is, ... well, you know how that ended.

In the interest of open dialogue, we at Project YES extend an open invitation to any of Weberman's supporters to join us in a lively and friendly discussion regarding the issues raised in the wake of his arrest and conviction.

Our offer is to post any essay or submission that respectfully addresses the issues brought to the fore by the Weberman trial. We will also send it to our worldwide email list and commit to responding to the points you raise in a timely fashion. The offer to present your view of things is not limited to the one submission. Rather, you will have a similar opportunity to post your thoughts on anything we may publish in response to your initial essay.

We respectfully ask that your submission answer the tough questions our readers have regarding the Weberman saga, along the lines of what we did in Clear and Present Danger and The Halo Effect where we began by articulating the issues our readers raised and responding to them.

Our only precondition is that your submissions address the core issues at hand. The anti-charedi bias of the press or lack thereof is tangential at best to the matter of child safety and Weberman's practices and should be addressed elsewhere. Fair minded people in Williamsburg and throughout the Jewish world want to know, for example, if those who are defending Weberman consider it appropriate and halachicly acceptable for a 50-year-old man to "counsel" a twelve-year-old girl alone for multi-hour sessions?

Taking a giant step back; I suggest that the time has come for the silent majority of decent, caring people in Williamsburg to step up to the plate, grab the microphone away from the extremists and engage in a respectful dialogue about this topic and the overall matter of child safety. We assure you that you will have the attention and respect of many thousands of readers worldwide should you address these critical points in a thoughtful manner.

I am fortunate to have many close friends in the Satmar Kehila and our family’s connection with Satmar goes back nearly 100 years when our great-grandfather Reb Berish Horowitz Hy”d (lovingly referred to as Reb Berish Vishever) composed beautiful songs every year for Reb Yoelish zt'l, many of which have become part and parcel of Shabbasos and Yomim Tovim in Satmar for five generations.

I really hope that our offer to engage in respectful dialogue is accepted. Wonderful organizations like Hatzala, Bikur Cholim, and Tomchei Shabbos have demonstrated how Jews of all stripes stand together shoulder to shoulder for the common good of our communities.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can similarly work together to keep our tayere kinderlach safe from the ravages of child abuse and molestation?

One final note; please.

At the end of each calendar year, we ask our readers to consider supporting the life-saving work of Project YES.

If you have benefited from the written content of this website, our free child safety videos, our parenting classes, teleconferences or audio posts, or if you have a daughter who participates in our One on One Program, and are in a position to contribute to our efforts, kindly consider making a gift online HERE or by mailing a check to our office: The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES at 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey NY 10952.

For the past few years, we have issued this request at year’s end in lieu of a fundraiser, in order that 100% of your hard-earned gift goes to sustain our projects. Our Bnos One-on-One program is providing over 250 middle-school girls in 40 NYC area schools with a Big Sister each week. We recently opened branches in Lakewood and Monsey and are planning to expand it beyond the Tri-state area this coming year.

Additionally, we have exciting initiatives in the hopper that we hope to make available to you in the near future; among them a read-aloud, downloadable safety book (The printed copy is B"H in over 18,000 homes to date), Yiddish and Hebrew editions of the print version, and an ambitious project we’ve been working on for some time - an interactive website to help you access personalized, expert advice on a host of parenting and chinuch matters.

Thanks for considering our request, and please accept our deepest thanks in advance.

Respectfully,

Yakov Horowitz



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Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

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