With the second day of the three-day Confronting Violence and Abuse Conference in Yerushalayim winding down, I find myself processing a swirl of conflicting emotions.
Gratified that an event of this scale is taking place, but heartbroken at the number of shattered lives it took to overcome our collective denial that problems of this nature exist in our beautiful Torah society.
Pride in the talent, energy, and the commitment of the 500+ attendees to the safety and well-being of our children, but more than a bit overwhelmed at the complexity and magnitude of the challenges we face (have a look at the Conference Program for details).
The one thought that kept running through my mind today, though, is that members of our community should take comfort that the pressing issues of our day are being squarely discussed and addressed by rabbinic leaders and mental health professionals working together to provide a better future for our children and grandchildren.
It is important to note that this conference is designed to make meaningful change by combining theory and practice. Each session ends with a short, "call to action," where the participants and presenters draft their recommendations to the conference attendees and eventually to the public at large.
One small example of turning theory into practice: Today's session on establishing institutional policies regarding the safe boundaries of post-high-school Yeshivos and seminaries students, resulted in an exchange of best practices and sharing of existing materials that some presenters and attendees currently use.
In 1997, the founding chairman of Project YES, Dovid Weldler visited the Novominsker Rebbe shlit"a to seek his guidance and blessing. As he got up to leave, the Rebbe warmly shook his hand, gave him a beautiful Bracha, and told him, “I sleep better at night knowing that you are working to solve these problems.”
With that in mind, my message to Jewish parents/grandparents worldwide is, that while none of us at the conference are deluding ourselves to think that our communal problems are now gone, you should sleep better tonight knowing that hundreds of talented and devoted people are working to solve them.
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