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Issue 194 - Human Problems
Protecting Our Children – Part Three
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

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1/30/08

Recommended Reading: The Monster Inside and Safe and Secure

Cognitive dissonance: “The uncomfortable tension that may result from having two conflicting thoughts (cognition) at the same time …that conflicts with one's beliefs (dissonance is defined as “lack of agreement, consistency, or harmony”)… In popular usage, it can be associated with the tendency for people to resist information that they don't want to think about, because if they did it would create cognitive dissonance. They usually have at least partial awareness of the information, without having moved to full acceptance of it, and are thus in a state of denial about it. (Encyclopedia Britannica).

In the late 1990’s, shortly after I began writing and lecturing about the topic of at-risk teens, a colleague informed me that Orthodox kids were selling significant quantities of drugs to other frum children. Here’s basically the way it worked: If you were an adult or teen who wanted to purchase drugs, you would go to designated pay phones in the Boro Park/Flatbush sections of Brooklyn and pretend to make a phone call. Then, using prearranged signals, you would indicate the type of the drug you wanted to buy. For example, placing a hand in your left pocket meant that you wanted to purchase ecstasy pills, while a hand in your right pocket signaled that you were looking for marijuana. Then, after you would flash hand signals informing the pusher of the exact quantity you requested, someone would approach you and close the deal.

After verifying from several sources that the ‘intel’ was correct, my colleague was faced with a dilemma: what to do with the information? After all, by going to the authorities, he would be committing mesirah, turning fellow Jews to the police. Additionally, we were raised to avoid anything that might cause a chilul Hashem – and having observant boys arrested for drug pushing would certainly be a colossal one. We decided that I would represent him and present the quandary to the leading gedolim of our generation, among them my great rebbi, Reb Avraham Pam z’tl, at a meeting that was to be held later that month on an unrelated matter. During their [private] meeting, I presented the information and was asked thoughtful, probing questions by the gedolim on a broad range of issues related to this matter. After a few moments of silence, the gedolim turned to Rav Pam, who was the eldest of the group and revered by all. With great pain in his eyes, he softly but firmly said, “Zei ale hobin a din rodef,” meaning that the pushers were presenting a clear and present life-threatening danger to the public and must be stopped at all costs. Then, like a Sanhedrin, they each rendered their p’sak, unanimously agreeing with Rav Pam.

My colleague shared the information with the appropriate authorities, an investigation was launched, and within six months several frum kids were arrested along with the ringleader, a 50-year-old Charedi man who was caught selling the drugs in the basement of a Boro Park shul, of all places. The arrests made headlines in the New York tabloids and were the lead item on virtually every radio station in the New York metropolitan area.

I mention this story in the context of the ‘Protecting our Children’ series The Monster Inside and Safe and Secure for two reasons. Firstly, to make public the da’as Torah of our gedolim as it pertains to setting aside mesirah issues when lives are threatened. And although I did not raise the issue of abuse in that meeting, I did receive clear and unequivocal p’sakim from gedolei rabbanim that verified abusers must be reported, as that is only way to insure public safety. (Note: I am not issuing a psak, merely sharing the ones I received. As with other matters, every individual who has a sheilah should ask his Rav and not rely on second-hand p’sakim.)

Another issue of great importance was the reaction of our community to the arrests – which I am sad to say, was a collective, “Wow, can you believe that? … Please pass the salt.” It is noteworthy that for many months before the arrests, several of us lectured to standing-room-only crowds in Brooklyn practically shouting that frum people were pushing drugs to our children.

We kept speaking about it, but people didn’t seem to get it. It took a while – and a few deaths of frum kids from drug overdoses – for people in our community to get their hearts in sync with the facts that their eyes and ears were telling them. It was a classic example of cognitive dissonance. After all, we were raised with the notion that these things just don’t happen in our Torah community. So, when we were faced with irrefutable evidence to the contrary, part of our minds just shut down, not willing to accept the harsh truth. But, as we are painfully realizing, the problems we face don’t shut down while we struggle to adjust to new realities.

In addition to the ‘standard’ cognitive dissonance described above, two factors contribute greatly to its staying power in our community. The first is the fact that we are, Baruch Hashem, surrounded by evidence of the astounding successes of our Yeshiva/Beis Yakov systems; thousands of wonderful, spiritual teenagers. How can the negative information we hear about compete with the superb things we see? Additionally, there is a virtual media ban in our charedi papers on any negative news. Few things add to the disconnect and cognitive dissonance more than hearing frightening things about an event such as the arrest of a frum drug dealer or pedophile in the secular media, while our papers completely ignore its existence. We ought to be enormously proud of the first factor, but I suggest that we must end the practice of the second.

The only way to combat cognitive dissonance is to discuss these matters in our public squares, painful as it may be; which is why Mishpacha magazine deserves our appreciation for publishing these columns. Trust me, I wish there was a more discreet way to do this, and if any of our readers have any suggestions for creating venues for this dialogue, please contact me with them. But in the meantime, I will continue to write these essays, as I feel that straight talk and education is the only way to significantly improve things.

In the darkest moments of our agonizing saga with the drug issue, I received a small measure of comfort and chizuk from a non-Jewish police officer who saw me close to tears during our discussions. “Rabbi,” he said softly. “Your community is close-knit and family oriented, so you were lucky to avoid the drug problem for an entire generation. The [19]90’s for you is what the 60’s was to us. This isn’t a Jewish problem, Rabbi. It is a human problem. It only becomes a Jewish problem when it is ignored.”

© 2008 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



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Parshas Mishpatim


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1. Sanhedrin     1/31/08 - 12:20 PM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

After a few moments of silence, the gedolim turned to Rav Pam, who was the eldest of the group and revered by all...Then, like a Sanhedrin, they each rendered their p’sak, unanimously agreeing with Rav Pam.

You posted this article the week of parshas Mishpatim where Rashi says on 23:1, "the pasuk is talking about dinei nefashos .. we begin from the side, from the least great among them, having them state their opinion ..."

so that it doesn't end up with the ketanim among them rubberstamping the leader's psak.


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2.     1/31/08 - 2:01 PM
Yehoshua

Mrs. Homnick: please don't nit-pick.

This is another excellent article from R. Horowitz.


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3. Beautiful     1/31/08 - 3:41 PM
Yardena - EY

This article is literally a wake-up call, and I'm sure I'm only one of many who'll benefit from reading it.

I also want to thank Mishpacha for allowing Rabbi Horowitz to speak out.

Very powerful, thought-provoking message. Thank you.


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4. how does it help?     1/31/08 - 3:44 PM
Anonymous

I will continue to write these essays, as I feel that straight talk and education is the only way to significantly improve things.

Have you seen that things have improved since we have begun to talk about them? I've raised this issue before, and in the Monster Inside you wrote a revealing and frightening comment. You provided a timeline of the changes in youth-at-risk and what has been done about the problem, and wonder whether you exacerbated the problem.


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5. Right on Mrs. Homnick     1/31/08 - 4:46 PM
rabbidw - nyc - rabbidw@yahoo.com

This is why I pay no attention to letters from many gedolim. One big name signs on, and the rest all act like Rush Limbaughs dittoheads. Some are flattered to be asked to join with the others, some have no idea what the issue is. Enogh of Gedolim and Daat Torah. Aren't there some issues that speak for themselves? According to Rav Hershel Schechter, Shlita, you are only required to ask when you have a question. If things are clear, you don't have to ask. And many times, the way the question is asked determines the answer anyway.


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6. do things get better???     1/31/08 - 5:19 PM
Yakov Horowitz

anon: (pls write a name, any name)

this is very different than what i wrote re schools and at-risk kids

and, my understanding is that the data in the secular world is that there is a spike in numbers when awareness is raised -- but that only because more people report who were in the closet.

then, after time, actual incidents go way down once people get educated.


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7. Open Our Eyes     1/31/08 - 6:00 PM
Suzy

Rabbi Horowitz you write

"We kept speaking about it, but people didn’t seem to get it. It took a while – and a few deaths of frum kids from drug overdoses – for people in our community to get their hearts in sync with the facts that their eyes and ears were telling them."

"It is noteworthy that for many months before the arrests, several of us lectured to standing-room-only crowds in Brooklyn practically shouting that frum people were pushing drugs to our children. "

What is this with us? We see what we choose to see?

How do we change this, become more sensitive, aware and willing to face up to things; and then change, to be more anovodik more able to see that these points are being addressed to.. ME...

How much can we hide from ourselves, poeple seem to be so removed from so much in life unable to be in touch with themselves their kids and families.

We prune the ability to change and work on Middos till it whithers and dies. Where is this going to take us? and what of our children, a generation who have learnt from us to not see the reality?

We must address this point of Rabbi Horowitz. Will we chas vesholom need a wake up call like 50 years ago, to remind us who we are and what our role in this world is all about?

Where do we start with this underlying topic, the undercurrent to all the major issues in our communities of being ostriches. Could it be Hashkofo?

In most schools in my community Hashkofo is not present. To be proud of who we, Am Yisroel (knowing what that means.)

Do you think this would be a starter point to facing ourselves and our insecurities, to open our eyes?

Rabbi Horowitz, I veiw your articules as Chizuk, and they are inspirational, they keep me thinking through the week. And remind me just how much I need to build that Kesher with my kids at all costs. May Hashem give you continued direction to be able to raise these important issues.


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8. Anon     1/31/08 - 11:29 PM
Dyavid - Monsey

His article peaked a 3 hour conversation between my wife, her sister and brother which surfaced 2 people that are dangerous and threatening to people in our community. Without it, we never would have spoken about it and would have never known from our siblings. We are already in touch with professionals and attempting to understand how to deal with it. These are not suspects, but factual.


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9. You seem to be suffering it from yourself     2/1/08 - 12:35 AM
Dovid H.

> ...although I did not raise the issue of abuse in that meeting, I did receive clear and unequivocal p’sakim from gedolei rabbanim that verified abusers must be reported, as that is only way to insure public safety. (Note: I am not issuing a psak, merely sharing the ones I received. As with other matters, every individual who has a sheilah should ask his Rav and not rely on second-hand p’sakim.)

Sorry, Rabbi H. I think you're suffering a bit yourself from cognitive dissonance. The "Monster" column generated countless examples of how the rabbonim are simply not qualified to deal with this stuff (whether due to incompetence, protecting their self-interests, denial, ignorance or something less blameworthy is as yet undecided), yet you still say that people should go to their rabbonim and ask a shaila when encountering an issue!


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10. oops. bad formatting     2/1/08 - 12:36 AM
Dovid H.

Sorry. Forgot my closing italics tag. You really need to get some preview functionality here.


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11.     2/1/08 - 2:43 AM
e - jerusalem

Dovid H., A person needs guidance from more than one person in these situations. A rav shouldn't necessarily be the only one involved, but when there's a halachic question, a posek is the only one who can answer. And there are some who do know how to deal with issues like these-you don't need to run to your LOR. The rav can (and probably should) discuss the issue with any mental professionals and/or law enforcement that are already involved in order to come to an accurate psak. Mrs. Homnick, that was my first thought, too.


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12. So which Rav?     2/1/08 - 9:06 AM
Dovid H.

I know that some Rabbonim are said to be qualified, but it's quite clear that many aren't. So how should anyone know who to go to? Everyone is silent about how they deal with this issue! Besides, most people are uncomfortable bringing a personal shalia to someone that they are not close to. But all this is besides the point - people should simply not be going to rabbonim for these issues! These are criminal acts. The rabbonim should be making a loud and clear statement that they support people going to the police! The very fact that people still are suggesting to handle these things internally is evidence that all this talk is not having much an effect where it needs to be.


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13. Mrs. Homnick-read in context     2/1/08 - 9:08 AM
Tzager - Brooklyn

Mrs. Homnick and others I think you need to read in context here:

"After a few moments of silence, the gedolim turned to Rav Pam, who was the eldest of the group and revered by all...Then, like a Sanhedrin, they each rendered their p’sak, unanimously agreeing with Rav Pam."

Do you think that in a room full of Gdolim it would be Derech Eretz for a junior Gadol to pipe up first? In this particular situation, where Rav Pam, who everyone knew took people's personal problems so seriously, was sitting there, it would be appropriate to let him have the first say. That is just Derech Eretz and Kavod Hatorah. And I really don't think that all our Gdolim are "yes-men." There are PLENTY of instances where they disagree. Just take the Eiruv situation as an example. Just because one leader approved it, you did not see everyone else rubberstamping it.

Now I am not saying that there are Gdolim that should stand up for what is right and don't. But for Rabbonim to defer to a Gadol like Rav Pam and allow him to speak first - that is just mentschlichkeit. And, by the way, I defy anyone who met Rav Pam to tell me that he did not love and treasure every Jewish neshama and would do everything in his power to protect them. Just as I know this - so too I am sure that everyone in the room knew this and therefore they trusted him to set the tone with a proper response.


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14.     2/1/08 - 10:36 AM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

Tzager - sounds like you're saying that you don't approve of the system the Sanhedrin used which Rashi describes!

Rabbi H. writes, "after time, actual incidents go way down once people get educated"

If you can prove it, fine. Otherwise I have no reason to believe it. I think we need to stop championing the "awareness helps" belief until such time that it has been proven to be effective. As it stands now, I am inclined to think (or believe, if you prefer) that it is either useless or, in some cases, harmful.

And how does awarness about this differ from awareness about kids-at-risk? In both cases (as well as articles and talks about abnormal eating patterns), awareness is promoted as vital to solving the problem, yet I haven't noticed anything being solved. Have you?


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15. Torah thought on abuse     2/1/08 - 1:03 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

You can usually tell what is on my mind from the divrei Torah that I write. On the website, please find a dvar Torah on Mishpatim that I wrote exactly one year ago -- as I was trying to help an abuse victim parent his children differently than he was raised.

http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=636&ThisGroup_ID=272&Type=Article&SID=2 The cartoon I attached to the dvar Torah stopped me dead in my tracks when someone showed it to me yesterday. If you cannot see it clearly, it shows a dad angrily pulling his son by the ear for some misdeed. And the father's right ear is oversized from being pulled on while he was a child. Sadly, this is what often happens. Untreated abuse victims just pass it along to the next generation.

Sigh.

The dvar Torah speaks to that in relation to the history of the Jewish people -- and the Torah's often-repeated message to us that we treat converts kindly. Gut Shabbos Yakov


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16. Positives and Negatives of Public Discussion     2/1/08 - 1:52 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"I think we need to stop championing the "awareness helps" belief until such time that it has been proven to be effective. As it stands now, I am inclined to think (or believe, if you prefer) that it is either useless or, in some cases, harmful. "

See the article linked below("Tackling a Shondeh"), where domestic violence and alcoholism are examples of how shining the light on a problem makes something less shameful("The idea of "shondeh" (disgrace) functions in the same manner as fear....The resultant hesitance of women to confide in a rabbi because they will be suspected of lying or even of being "meshugah" may have valid grounds").

Having said that, the above is merely my belief, which I am not in the position to prove. I agree with Jonathan Rosenblum's article in this week's Mishpacha("More Information Please") that we need quality and professional studies. Also, there are good possible reasons why not to discuss painful issues publicly.

I'm just pointing out that, somehow, one needs to alleviate the "Shondeh" factor. I once read a biography of an actor who admitted on television that he suffered from OCD; I'm not saying that would work in the frum community(shidduchim and all), but I think he did a good thing. In our community, when Dov Hikind interviewed Chassidic women married to gamblers, that makes others in the same situation feel less ashamed, and try to help themselves.

http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5758/spring98/shondeh.htm


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17. Some observations     2/1/08 - 2:35 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

I have three times reported alleged sex offenders to different government entities. I did not ask a "sheilah" to any rabbi on any of those occasions. I believed then, as I do now, that I could act independently in this area, where I am familiar with the Torah and secular-legal terrain.

In this 3-part series, there has been much hand-wringing on the role of our rabbinic leadership in this situation. People are agitated, no doubt, and in seeking to find solutions, we look at what went wrong in the past. The Winograd Commission in Israel, investigating the latest Lebanon War, just did the same thing; America had a 9/11 Commission; especially relevant is the Commission the Catholic Church appointed at the height of their recent abuse problem. However, the organized Jewish world has done no such thing with our abuse problem.

Yet....as much as I too am agitated over our leadership's response, I also recognize that we Jews are different. We Jews do not have intermediaries between us and G-d. We Jews also educate ourselves on the fine points of our law far more than any other nation or culture. Thus, Rabbi DW correctly writes, unless I have a genuine sheilah, there is no need for me or any other Jew to approach a Rav. I can act on my own. Surely, at times, I seek counsel, advice, guidance, and where my actions may affect others, I seek consent - I do not want to suffer the fate of Nadav and Avihu.

What I'm saying is that although I respect the views of many who write here with complaints about the leadership, at the same time, I say: DO SOMETHING YOURSELF! THE TORAH IS NOT A BOOK! JUDAISM IS AN ACTION RELIGION! THERE ARE 613 MITZVOS AND NOT SPILLING THE BLOOD OF YOUR FELLOW JEW IS ONE OF THEM!

You can take the May 2005 Resolution of the 1,000 rabbi-members of the RCA (which includes Rav Herschel Schachter, who personally approved the Resolution), that I posted in Part 1 of this series, and is available at rabbis.org, and thumbtack it to your shul bulletin board. You can do the same with Rabbi Horowitz's articles. You can form a political action committee in your shul and neighborhood. As I keep saying, we need, in New York, the following laws which will protect our children:

1. Mandatory fingerprinting and background checks of all school employees; 2. Mandatory reporting of all school abuse and neglect incidents; 3. Mandatory abuse and neglect prevention plans in our schools; 4. Mandatory school employee registration and discipline, after evidentiary hearing.

Passage of these laws will have a ripple effect to deter abuse and neglect everywhere, not just in the schools, but in our homes also. The word will get out. No tolerance for abuse, or we call the government, just like I've done three times. Just like Rabbo Horowitz did with the drug pushers.


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18. New Jersey and Florida     2/1/08 - 2:52 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

When Megan Kanka, all of 7 years old, was molested and murdered in 1994 in by a convicted sex offender who had moved into her neighborhood, 400,000 people in New Jersey demanded legislative action. The Legislature, 89 days after this horrific crime, responded with the first Megan's Law: local notification to the community when a convicted sex offender moves in; public convicted sex offender lists, now available on the Internet.

When a 12 year girl named Jessica was scooped off a Florida street in 1999, about two months later - beating the New Jersey record - the Florida legislature responded with a Jessica's law requiring GPS sattelite monitoring of all convicted sex offenders in that state.

Meanwhile, in the Jewish world, notwithstanding the articles, the lectures, the tapes, the lawsuits, the indictments, and convictions, I am constantly replacing my calendars without seeing any real change. Should we blame President Bush? The rabbis? After the Holocaust, some asked, Where was G-d? Others asked, Where was Man? I'm with the latter group. Where are We? Where are you? - as G-d asked Adom in Gan Eden. Ayeka?


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19. Uh-Huh     2/2/08 - 9:45 PM
Yossi (Joe) Izrael - Monsey

"The arrests made headlines in the New York tabloids and were the lead item on virtually every radio station in the New York metropolitan area."

I bet they all "forgot" to mention that the police was tipped off by frum Jewss, too.

Good points, Pasik. Only problem is, in frum circles the offenders don't get arrested in the first place...


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20. To Mr. Pasik     2/3/08 - 3:32 AM
Yardena

Very, very well-said.


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21.     2/3/08 - 9:01 AM
yoni

my first thought was also about the issue of the sanhedrin letting the smallest amoung them speak first, lest they be intimidated by the greatness of their collegues. Its simply an acknowledgement of human frailties, which everyone, even gedolim have. We jews do not believe in infallibility, and personaly I wouldn't trust the gadol who never publicaly admitted to a mistake and appologized. (of course assuming he'd been giving piskei dinim for a number of years by this point. I would hope that those who were still quite green behind the ears would not be making retractions immediately.)

but I just wanted to point out that sometimes its the mommies who are abusive and controling alcoholics.


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22. "Telling the bad news"     2/3/08 - 10:06 AM
Victim of rabbinic abuse and coverup

The refusal of our community to encourage or even tolerate the reporting of bad news, comes from the same motivating factors that contribute to other dangerous tendencies of denial:

1) The putting in cherem of authors who write books that make gedolim out to be human as opposed to the Artscroll "superhero gedolim comic books." Did you ever consider that if the Avos and Tzadikim in the Torah were alive, they would not get shidduchim and would certainly not have truthful biographies written (Avraham's father worshipped idols, Yitzchak's brother was an Arab, Yaakov's brother was a murderer, the Shvatim sold their brother into slavery, Moshe hit the rock, Aharon allowed the Egel, Deena was raped, etc)

2) The need for everyone to beg, borrow or steal money (literaly) to make weddings as fancy as everyone else.

3) The recent attack by our leaders on using the internet to openly criticize rabbis in a discussion of problems in our community (Agudah convention keynote address of 2006).

4) Our leaders' knee-jerk defense against any bad news REPORTED ELSEWHERE that they feel reflects badly on the image of our community. (See Agudah's spokesman's written response to the New York Magazine article about molesting in a yeshivah, and his response to the recent American Psychological Association's journal article that dared to say that Orthodox Jews are not immune to sexual abuse.)

5) The coverup of child abuse (physical, sexual and emotional) in yeshivas and institutions and the covering up of abusers by rabbis in shuls by prohibiting victims from reporting to police, which is in complete contradiction to the accepted psak halacha that molesters have a "din rodeyf".

6) Yeshivas not accepting any bochurim who are not "Metzuyanim," so average normal kids develop complexes that they are unwanted, and parents have additional chinuch stress in finding yeshivas for them.

7) The fact that if writers like myself would use our names publicly we would be attacked and hurt by people who cannot handle what we are saying. Here, I am not only worrying about my image, (although I am guilty of that, too) I am worrying about my safety and my ability to be taken seriously by a community that often "kills the messenger". Unfortunately, anonymity is necessary, even if someone is delivering a correct, or at least somewhat helpful message.

Some might not see the common thread in these problems so I will spell it out and invite comments to see if I'm on to something.

Our community is living and practicing its religion in a manner in which the most important ideal is to maintain an ideal IMAGE. The new Avodah Zarah is IMAGE. We all feel we must present the image of ideal. We must have as much money as everyone else, we must have children with the same kishronos as everyone else, we must have gedolim who acted and were as ideal as everyone else's gadol, we must have institutions that make no mistakes in hiring or not immediately catching molesters, we must have a community that HAS no bad news: No molestation, no drugs, no tax evasion or money laundering, no problems.

In truth, this is not a new type of Avodah Zarah. Like Shlomo Hamelech said, there is nothing new under the sun. The Chovos Halevavos in, Shaar Yechud Hamaaseh, and elsewhere, writes extensively on the issue of people serving G-d not for G-d's sake but for their IMAGE. For what other people think of them. He says that this problem in religoius practice is WORSE than idol worship in several important ways. For example: One who cares more about what people think of him than anything else is worshipping the Avodah Zarah of other people's opinions. This is like worshipping other people. While idols are a neutral, inanimate item to worship, people often sin against G-d, so it is much worse to worship them. Also, worshipping idols is practiced openly, whereas worshipping people is secret and only detectable (usually) in the hearts of those who are learning Torah and doing Mitzvos, and is therefore harder to combat.

Articles like Rabbi Horowitz's series on problems in our community, while tarnishing our IMAGE, force us to wake up and to start doing what we are supposed to do - serve Hashem and not the god of ideal IMAGE.


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23. one more point, question     2/3/08 - 10:11 AM
Victim of rabbinic abuse (cont.)

Although Rabbi Horowitz has been courageous beyond the norm (to the degreee of Nachshon) in the Mishpacha magazine, I believe there was no mention of the authorship of the article "The Monster Within". Was this also due to the inability of our community to hear bad news without attacking the messenger????


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24.     2/3/08 - 10:47 AM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

shining the light on a problem makes something less shameful

They may be true, but that has nothing to do with the claim that awareness solves the problem you are trying to get rid of.

re comment #22 point #6 - If you look at the student bodies of the Mir, Chaim Berlin, Torah Vodaas, Ger, Bobov, etc. you will discover that they are comprised of plenty of average bachurim. And anybody who wants to, can attend Lakewood yeshiva. So your general statement is incorrect.

If you'd like to say that yeshiva X (specify elementary, mesivta, beis medrash) only accepts boys with an alef average, and it's true, that's something else entirely.


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25. To Mrs. Homnick     2/3/08 - 1:15 PM
anonymous

I'm sure there are many average bochurim in many yeshivas. I learned in Lakewood, though, and when I was there, every bochur was "the best boy in Lakewood." I'm talking about high schools, and I don't have children, but have heard from MANY friends of the difficulty they have had in trying to get their kids into a good high school. I'm in the Litvish community, so I don't know about the Chasidish. I also have no way of knowing if my friends are exagerating.

As for your point about "solving the problem" with public awareness, I don't think anyone has suggested that public awareness will solve it. I think, though that from a logical perspective, human beings cannot solve a problem they are not aware of. The more people that are aware of the problem the more chance someone will come up with an idea to solve it. Also, the more people know, the more Tfillos we will have. Also, Tzaras Rabbim Chatzi Nechama, so victims will know they are not alone. Also, Rav Pam, and Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky spoke publicly on the issue (I believe the tape is available) with the expressed intent to lessen the shame for victims. Also, experts in the field say that educating children on the dangers of abuse is one of THE most important ways of prevention, and of making sure victims get immediate attention, lessening the effects of the trauma. Also, sweeping it under the rug gives molesters the impression they can get away with it and not worry that anyone will say anything (as Rabbi Horowitz wrote in his article "The Monster...".) These are some of the ways public awareness has helped and will continue to help. I can't give statistics for how it has helped, but I know of many cases of people who were helped by it, including myself. And however bad the problem is and whether its getting better or worse, I was taught to believe that the more Tfilla the better, although we don't always see results right away.

But, again, mostly public awareness can help, "Bderech Hateva", because the Jewish people have many great minds of all ages out there, and the more of them that are aware of the problem the better chance for finding a solution.


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26.     2/3/08 - 4:52 PM
Anonymous

In anonymous' (#22) comment, numbers 1, 3, and 4 were jabs at Gedolim (so what else is new at Rabbi Horowitz' web site? It's almost boring...).

The same author wrote,

"Also, Rav Pam, and Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky spoke publicly on the issue (I believe the tape is available) with the expressed intent to lessen the shame for victims."

Interesting.


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27. kosher drugs are not harmful     2/3/08 - 5:05 PM
HIGH - NYC - tzaddikgodol@thejnet.com


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28. Repeat question     2/3/08 - 5:34 PM
Chaya - Eretz Yisroel

First of all, for whatever it's worth, I thank Rabbi Horowitz for another excellent article.

I do not know how to contact Rabbi Horowitz directly, so I am asking a question I have asked before but still do not have an answer to:

Here in EY, the frum community simply cannot trust the law enforcement agencies. Therefore, what guidance can be given to people who have confronted/experienced incidences of abuse/molestation? What are they to do?


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29. To Chaya- EY     2/3/08 - 5:59 PM
cb

Why cant the community trust the police?


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30. In order to solve things one must get involved     2/3/08 - 11:37 PM
Sherree

"yet I haven't noticed anything being solved. Have you?"

I am sorry to say this but that is a very cynical attitude. We haven't solved the issues of cancer, kidney disease or any number of other issues either however with the help of more information being distributed more people are being helped on an individual case by case basis. And that goes for at-risk kids and abuse vicitms as well. Because people spoke up about issues such as at-risk kids and women being abused, people have spread awareness, education, understanding and assistance to families having these issues. If these subjects would have remained hushed there would be many more people suffering in silence.

Now do you understand how exposing these issues helps? Silence not only makes these issues seem shameful but uninformed uneducated "outsiders" make the most insensitive hurtful judgments and comments that add the most unnecessary and unwarranted immeasurable pain to victims and their families.

Maybe comments such as these are just the type of comments coming from the type of people who need a wake-up call to understand that we are in golus and all sorts of terrible things are happening to us. We are obligated as Jews because we are responsible for one and other to be informative and warn each other of the dangers this golus has brought upon us.

This comment in itself might be an example of cognitive dissonance.

On the other hand Elliot makes the most sense. Do you know why all these laws were inacted? It wasn't because the legislators just decided that state should have such a law. It was because the people it affected the most petitioned the legislature, joined forces and made sure that their government "heard them" and took action. They did not sit around and blame others. They said we should have a "law" like this and then made it their business to put one in place. Kol Hakovod to them and Kol Hakovod to Elliot Pasek for doing the same thing on behalf of the K'lal.


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31. to anonymous #26     2/3/08 - 11:55 PM
Anonymous

in anonymous 22's comments he took "jabs" at the Gedolim for the community's unwillingness to talk about its problems in public. He said this because Rabbi Horowitz was criticizing the public policy of the Charedi newspapers (Hamodia and yated, I assume for not dealing with these issues. Please correct me if I am wrong, but without any intent to "jab" anyone, who's opinion on this matter carries the most weight with these publishers, yours, mine, Rabbi Horowitz's or the Gedolim? just from my casual perusal of these publications I find that one of the most consistently reported on topic is the comings and goings of the Gedolim. This is their main topic of interest and that of their readership. I do believe that if the Gedolim wanted them to cover "bad news" subjects they would, and if they want them not to they won't. Am I wrong? Or is that question itself a "boring jab at Gedolim?" I apologize if it is for boring you, but I feel that Rabbi Horowitz made a good point about something in our community that must change and I don't see how we can effect that change without enlisting the help of the Gedolim. So far, it has not been forthcoming (again, no jab intended, and apologies if by now you are bored and falling asleep while serious problems in our community are avoided due to the cognitive dissonance of people who are bored of hearing about them.)


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32.     2/4/08 - 12:12 AM
Anonymous

Thankfully, anonymous 31, it is not Rabbi Horowitz who takes jabs at Gedolim, but rather discusses challenges of our community. If you need to see Rabbi Horowitz's personal views on degrading Gedolim, just scroll back to some of his comments on the issue- I think he makes himself quite clear.

And no apology necessary, no offense taken to your sarcasm, although I tend to doubt that this type of attitude will contribute to solving our communal problems.


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33. to 32     2/4/08 - 12:23 AM
Anonymous

Sorry for the sarcasm. But I didn't see R. Horowitz anywhere say that gedolim cannot be criticized constructively. As far as "degrading" them, I don't believe they would consider criticism degradation. They are far too humble for that. That is why Rabbi Horowitz has pointed out that our community needs to change. I was simply saying that as a community we often fall prey to the temptation to worship image, and that Gedolim being human (and seriously, no degrading or disrespect meant, really) they can also fall victim to this problem. I believe the Gemorah says that we get the leadership we deserve, so if we are doing wrong, we will not merit to have leaders who can correct us always. In this case Rabbi Horowitz is asking the whole community to change its approach, and I am simply pointing out that if we are ready to do so, we will need our leadership to encourage us. That's all I meant. No degradation intended. Ok, maybe some frustration. Sorry.


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34.     2/4/08 - 12:31 AM
Anonymous

To anon 326, who replied to anon 318 (Rabbi Horowitz, is it possible to have a feature wherein one may input their name once, and it is kept "in memory" by the site? As another "anon", we're confusing all of us, including ourselves :). And yes, I know we SHOULD be inputting a name each time...)

Anon, you wrote that "Torah Umesorah now HAS started a registry in which accused molesting rebbes are placed in order to investigate and protect schools from hiring aleged molesters who have not been cleared. I am NO posek, but if its good enough for the gedolim that advise Torah Umesorah...."

It's nice to see that now that some of the Gedolim swipers who degrade Kovod Hatorah are taking a (likely temporary) break, the real truth emerges. Another poster also wrote previously regarding a public tape: "Also, Rav Pam, and Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky spoke publicly on the issue (I believe the tape is available) with the expressed intent to lessen the shame for victims."

So perhaps it is us, the community and individual human beings, who are afraid of "getting involved", afraid of reporting molesters (for legitimate reasons, such as not tarnishing a family name by disclosing such a tragedy, perhaps), for the NIMBY syndrome, and for myriad other reasons that cause apathy or legitimate reasons to refrain from publicity (although this may conflict with the need to protect the public, of course). Perhaps the Gedolim have already made it quite clear to us, and it is we, the people, the community members, the community movers and shakers, and all the rest, who are derelict.


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35.     2/4/08 - 12:33 AM
Anonymous

Wrong thread, sorry, but it's the same topic, so please excuse :).


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36.     2/4/08 - 1:15 AM
Anonymous

To Anon 32,

Thank you for your sincerity. I agree that our community is ready to change, and if we need help, we know how to ask for it respectfully. Other organizations for the Klal have done so, and involved the Gedolim in a way that only enhanced and benefited the process.

But the blame game going on is not only not constructive, I feel it is simply wrong, and we are placing accountability on the wrong people. The Gedolim "are" Gedolim often because of their unbelievable immersion in Torah, day and night. Because of the wisdom and purity they have achieved due to their devotion to Torah and Hashem's word, they then are sought out by others to help solve problems. Not because they were "crowned as Gedolim", through some formal process. For example, the much mocked internet asifos were not concieved of and planned by "the Gedolim", they were the outcome of the concern of some very devoted Mechanchim who were experiencing the repercussions of unsupervised internet use by their Talmidim, and they, together with some COMMUNITY Askonim, shared worries and discussions. I know some of those involved, and know of their heartbreak regarding the Talmidim who have fallen prey to some of the temptations. No, I am not trying to say how wonderful the internet guidelines are- everyone should speak with their own Rabbi and put their own guidelines in place, as is appropriate for them. The Rabbanim have spoken, and everyone can act upon it in the way that is appropriate for them. But that's not my point. My point is (if you're still with me, I need to improve my brevity :)) that I am quite sure our Gedolim had but the faintest idea of what dangers the internet really contained, as they certainly didn't have it in their homes, and they are immersed in learning Torah, not following up on the latest trends. Those who think the Gedolim have some sort of "responsibility to the community" to follow up on the latest trends misunderstand what a Godol is- I mean a Godol b'Torah. They are most often great Roshei Yeshivah whose devotion to Torah and Torah learning is legendary, and who are SOUGHT out for their Torah wisdom. It is the community's job, if they need help, to contact the right people, set up high level meetings, etc, and if the right people include the Gedolim, that is what is needed. So the "internet Askonim" needed the Gedolim to spread the word about the need to protect yiddishe neshamos, and so they, through many late night meetings, lost sleep, and plain hard efforts, put together a plan, met with Gedolim, and of course, received their help. The Chofetz Chaim Heritage foundation, for Lashon Hara, has Gedolim giving words of Bracha and guidance.The Shalom Task Force, Counterforce, and other vital organizations have the Haskomos from Gedolim. So if the community needs change, and has the Askonim are ready and willing to take charge, like in all these other organizations, change will happen. Are there a large enough and concerned enough group of Askonim ready to undertake this vital task? I don't know. I hope so.

The Gedolim have spoke out. In public tapes, in approving the Torah UMesorah molestor database, in numerous individually given Psak as to the rodef status, according to the specifics of the cases brought to them.

So if we want to refer to Gedolim, we should do so with the recognition of where our part is, the community/local dereliction of responsibility, and make determined and organized plans and ask our Gedolim for help.

I think, as a Klal, we need more humbleness, and less shirking of our own duties.


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37. To Chaya #28 and cb#29     2/4/08 - 4:52 AM
Yardena - EY

First, to Chaya:

I was actually hoping that someone else with more experience than me would answer the question so I could learn too, but you're right, it doesn't seem to be happening, so I'll tell you the bit that I know.

I don't know what you already know, so please excuse me if anything seems condescending b/c I don't mean it to be:

1) In addition to the national police number, there should be a regular 7-digit number for your local station. You can try and find out whether any of those officers are decent and get ahold of him/her specifically.

2) Depending on where you live, the 106 number for security can actually consist of many frum Jews, or at least classier people than the police number. That's what I used when dealing with a case of suspected sexual wrongdoing.

3) You can find out about a police station outside your district that's good and call them. They may not like it, but because this is Israel, you can be very open about your reasons why and they'll understand you and may even do something.

4) If your community has a civilian guard, you can use them. This might be uncomfortable because they might know or be friendly with the people involved in a bad situation, but I've seen situations when it performed well.

5) Many communities have a Vaad Hatzniyus that can be utilized.

That is all I know. I'd like to hear from someone else who has more solutions.

To cb: Many Israeli policeman are extremely corrupt morally. Many enjoy violence. Some aren't Jewish and are from cultures that glorify the abuse of power. The police officers who have more decent personalities (and even the brutish ones) may not be very smart, leading them to be easily eluded or to mishandling a delicate situation. Just one of many examples, regarding the callous officers:

My friend lived in a predominantly chassidish neighborhood. (I say this only so you realize that when someone from there calls the police, the police automatically know exactly which type they're dealing with and proceed accordingly.) When my friend called the police because she heard her neighbor beating his wife, the police didn't come. But when her cat had kittens and the mewing in the yard really bothered another neighbor (who then called the police), the police came within minutes and removed the kittens, heedless of my friend's promises to keep the kittens in the house. When I asked someone who's dealt often with the police about it, she explained that their hatred of charedim causes them to act according to whatever hurts the charedim more, rather than according to the law.


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38. One more thing...     2/4/08 - 5:00 AM
Yardena - EY

I just wanted to clarify that some Israeli police officers ARE the ideal decent, repsonsible, brave law enforcers. But that ideal type seems to be a small minority here.


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39. My own experience with calling the police......     2/4/08 - 12:48 PM
Rachel J.

I must say the yeshiva world is living in total denial. Sometimes even if they see the problem they just don't do anything about it, (they've got all kinds of excuses, for ex. they have no clue how to deal with it, or let Da'as Torah get involved, we are tool little for such issues, we are not smart enough) & if you try to do something about it they talk behind your back, call you an extreme & paranoid person, or not very frum or come up with some other closed minded conclusions.

I recently had an incident I want to share with you. One of my kids (3rd grader) was threatened by one of the parents in the school, I am talking about a real physical threat, not a warning to scare a kid off. ...And this threat came out of nowhere, there were never issues between our kids, his kid is older than mine, whatever... Oh boy, did he mess with the wrong MOM.... Call me not so frum or whatever but there is no excuse for an adult/parent to threaten a little boy to a point where he would be afraid to go to yeshiva the next day. First, I called the parent to find out exactly what had happened, he first denied the threat but then I told him there were other kids that heard him say what he said, then he was very chutzpa & arrogant & said to me: "go do whatever you want" & then I gave a piece of my mind; second I did call the police without giving any names but wanted to know what my options were & I also called the school. I did other investigations & found out exactly who the guy is, found out if he has a Rov, called his Rov, who was obviously very much against involving the police, he called the guy a Ben Torah; I beg to differ. The guy is a lunatic & happenes to be born frum, I am really not sure about a Ben Torah. I told his Rov to give him my warning, that I was going to make a report against him & if he ever approached my son again I would have him arrested. The guy really got scared & had his wife call me & apoligize & say he would never ever approach my son, but he was too much of a coward to apologize himself. Fine, I didn't insist, didn't want to cause him more embarassment than he already got, he's still a Yid, BUT the safety of my son comes first. In the end I did not make the report, felt bad for the fool.

Needless to say there were comments flying the next day about a crazy parent who got another parent almost arrested, to a point where some kids approached my son & said they didn't like him anymore. I called Rebbe immediately & told him to deal with this right away, I didn't want my son to be affected any further by this. Trust me the comments among parents didn't go away, some were very proud that there're still frum people who have a healthy approach when it comes to protecting a little kid, & some closed minded individuals thought what they thought, I don't care much for their thoughts. I don't want to blame the school, but I do think that there should have been a mention of some sort to the parent body or the Board.

We are not taught to speak up, to complain, to ask for better, we are told to have hakaras hatov for what we get, & G-d forbid you should, you'll have a label on you. Unforunately, simple jews that we are, we fall for it. Don't get me wrong there are some brave ones among us who stand up for what is right despite the fears of being called names, but most of us just follow everyone else & do nothing. Molestation happenes in our yeshivos because we let it happen, we as parents let it happen. WE have done very little to stop it, it isn't just the Rabbonim & Gedolim at fault, it's us who follow blindly, G-d forbid we should question a Rov or a Gadol. I have seen a time & time again where a simple jew got an answer from a Rov & had a disasterous outcome, but he follwed blindly, whish is a frum thing to do, the Rov said... who was he to question. Question, it's your life, your children's lives, your future, not the Rov's. If parents demand a change the schools will accomodate, we have become very pareve people. Unfortunately, even when it comes to our children's safety. It's the sad truth.


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40. Just and idea     2/4/08 - 1:34 PM
Benzion Twerski

I have an idea (another one that came to me in the semi-awake state anticipating the ring of the alarm clock). We all sign contracts with our yeshivos and schools. I went back to review mine, and all I found were terms of what we, the parents, are obligated to the school. Tuition, building fund, insurance, transportation, book fees, etc. I failed to find anything else, and it appears as if there are no stated requirements on the part of the school.

The proposal is that school contracts must provide more detail about what the school promises to do to keep its end of the bargain. Here is a suggested list (knee jerk reactions, not carefully examined):

1 – Yeshiva Ploni will provide a full curriculum of classes (x hours of limudei kodesh plus x hours of limudei chol) 2 – Yeshiva Ploni will guarantee the safety of the child, protecting him/her in every way possible from injury or trauma. 3 – Yeshiva Ploni will provide information to every parent regarding its assessment of the child, should he/she require any additional assistance. This is above and beyond report cards and routine communications. 4 – Yeshiva Ploni will support positive and constructive social activities, whether during school time or outside of school time. 5 – Yeshiva Ploni will not keep any information relating to the child secret from parents. 6 – Yeshiva Ploni will guarantee availability of a faculty person, principal or designee to address issues of complaint. 7 – Yeshiva Ploni will maintain total confidentiality of any educational records as well as reports or incidents involving children. 8 – Yeshiva Ploni guarantees the integrity of parents should a complaint ever be made about a faculty member.

This is just a rapidly jotted list. Perhaps some of these are picayune, and some may be so obvious that they are understood. However, I found the experience in signing the existing contracts handicapping, in that it provided obligations on my part without anything stated by the schools. As any other parent, some of my experiences were positive, but others were not.

Just an idea. Any thoughts?


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41. to Benzion Twerski     2/4/08 - 2:49 PM
Rachel J.

I really like the ideas, now who's going to demand that it appears on our contracts. Maybe we should contact Torah Umesorah, because I doubt they'll listen to a simple jew, like parents who pay the tuitions.


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42. To: Dr. Benzion Twerski     2/4/08 - 5:07 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

:-)

:-)

:-)


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43. Mandatory Criminal Background Check Law     2/4/08 - 5:36 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

A new law making it optional for yeshivas - and all nonpublic schools - in New York State to submit the fingerprints of their prospective employees to the NYS Education Department for national criminal history background checks became effective July 1, 2007. It is being taken advantage by very few, notwithstanding that by utilizing the law, we at least avoid hiring convicted sex offenders and other dangerous convicted criminals. There are 500,000 convicted sex offenders in the U.S., and 25,000 in New York. Additionally, there are about 175,000 persons in New York who are either on parole or probation for all types of criminal activity. I do not know the number of convicted persons residing in New York who have completed their parole or probation, but I assume it is a worrisome number also.

As some of you may know, I was a little bit active in getting this law passed.

There is now a new bill which would make the fingerprinting mandatory, just as it is for the public schools, all school bus drivers, all child day care center workers, all nursing home employees, and other job sectors that deal with vulnerable populations.

The bill is officially endorsed by both the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Orthodox Union. The RCA Resolution, dated May 2005, which I proposed and drafted, is available on their web site at rabbis.org. Click onto Policies and Positions.

42 states require their public school to fingerprint and background check their employees, including New York. 11 states require fingerprinting and background checks for their nonpublic schools, including some big ones, where there are significant yeshiva populations, i.e., California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachussetts, Michigan. Not a peep of protest has been heard from any frum community in those states.

The bill passed the NY State Senate on June 19, 2007, by a 60-1 vote. It did not make it to the Assembly floor, however.

I expect the mandatory bill to be reintroduced in the current 2008 Session of both the NYS Senate and Assembly.

This bill presents a perfect way for our community to get involved. Judaism has a strong democratic element, as written by Rabbi Berel Wein, in a very illuminating Jewish Press article, which you can also easily search for and find on their web site.

For those who rely on Gedolim - and I'm happy they won yesterday - you can present the facts about the mandatory fingerprint bill, and the RCA Resolution, to a Gadol, and ask for a written endorsement. Indeed, you can collect Gedolim endorsements - a grownup activity better than collecting Gedolim "baseball" cards.

You can also make your case to any one or more of the Aguda Moetzes Gedolim, including, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, Rabbi Ahron Feldman, Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rabbi Simcha Bunim Ehrenfeld, Rabbi Yitzchak Feigelstock, Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levine, Rabbi Ahron Schechter. If I inadvertantly skipped anybody, someone should correct me here. Ask for a written endorsement.

Let's get the ball rolling.


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44. Moral regression?     2/4/08 - 5:57 PM
Sholom

I have to say that it is a concerning practice, however, to have to resort to the advice of the gedolim regarding issues for which common sense provides clear answers.

It should have been pretty obvious just how dangerous drug dealers in our mist are, and what threat they pose to a community. I am surprised that a rabbi considered it such a chiddush that hardened criminals can and should be turned over to American legal authorities, particularly when in our day we lack the necessary legal muscle in our own courts to deal appropriately with these people.

Gedolim are most valuable in providing answers to questions that cannot be answered by every Tom, Dick, and Harry. It may reflect an erosion of moral intuition to have to rely on gedolim for answers to questions an average person (outside of the "frum" community) on the street would have little difficulty answering.

I give this article 4 stars only because our community has regressed (in this fashion anyway) to the point that we need someone like Rabbi Horowitz to point out the obvious.


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45.     2/4/08 - 9:06 PM
Anonymous

To the self-appointed defender of Gedoliom: You are very judgemental in that you keep on repeating that anyone who complains about the Gedolim NEVER respected Gedolim or never went to them for Shailos or mocked their pronouncements. As others have said, many have lost faith Gedolim because they were let down - whether personally or through hearing stories galore about Gedolim or Rabbonim mishandling cases involving freinds and family.

Are some out there cynical in nature and wary of authroity? Yes. Might that make them more prone to Gedolim bashing? Perhaps. But you have entirely missed the point! The point is that Gedolim have been painfully SILENT on the issue of molestation. The fact that some of the "rabble rousers" might not be Lishmah enough for your liking is not relevant. When there is a FIRE, it needs to be put out! We do not question the character of the one dousing the flames with water. THat would be assinine. Yet, you are so bothered by the "bashers" who in your opinion have no right to bash Gedolim. You are getting carried away about "klainikeit," my friend.

By the way, dealing with this privately as you opine is the exact mentality that has led to all sorts of issues. We must address it head on even if it means Gedolim getting up at conventions and naming names of those leaders of Yeshivas who are responsible for the emotional and spiritual death of hundreds of precious talmidim.

You go on to say that the Godol is not hired. We can only expect a Godol to do something if we have a personal relationship with that Godol. I totally disagree. Gedolim do make major pronouncements as others have said. THey choose not to make a big deal about this particular issue. If the issue was important they would! Why? Because they recognize the clout that they have and that their message will be heard. It is time to speak up.

People out there are waiting and hoping that a leader will come to their aid. When this does not happen, the disappointment is great. As a result, some people begin to believe that all Gedolim are bad. Why? Because of the deafening silence. Shtikah Khoduah. If a true Godol would rise to the challenge, many people would have their confidence restored. They would realize that there are bad apples who call themselves Gedolim, but that the REAL Gedolim oppose them. I believe that we need a Nachson amongst our leaders who jump in against the wave of apathy and even coverup. This is what is sorely needed.

Regarding your positive experience, I believe what you say, but I think that you need to understand a few things. You had a relationship with this Godol which means that he "may" have acted because of his close relationship with you. Has he acted in other cases? This, however, is not my main point. The big issue that we are discussing is when Rabbis and leaders turn a blind eye, etc. when it comes to cases of CLERGY ABUSE. Sure they may help in a case of abuse by a neighborhood person such as your case, but when it comes to CLERGY, suddenly there is a different reaction - one of denial, looking away, blaming the victim, etc. I can go on and on. This is the critical point. When the abuse is committed by a Rebbi (which is even more difficult to bear by the victims then other abuse because of the additional painful reality of a Holy Man doing this to them), the Holy Men that the victims turn to for help re-victimize them. This has caused much anger and disillusionment amongst the rank and file yid. Your personal experience is not what we are talking about. Your Rav's favorable reaction does not in any way, shape or form reflect upon the issue that we are discussing. Consider you and your child very lucky that you did not come to your Rov with a case of clergy abuse. You may very well have suffered the same fate as the others did.


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46.     2/5/08 - 12:40 AM
Anonymous

You actually posted this once before, Anonymous. Not sure why you copied and pasted/posted it again?

We're way ahead in our conversation here, and your complaints have been addressed in a number of other comments in posts throughout the threads.

Please keep up with the dialogue.


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47. Elliot & Dr. Twerski     2/5/08 - 3:25 PM
Sherree

Elliot, on the same concept as you stated and Dr. Twerski remarked on, maybe you can speak a little about the school's legal liability addressing some of the things Dr. Twersky spoke about. Whether or not we sign a contract with the school, there are certain things that are understood as the responsibility of the school and therefore the school has insurance to cover them in certain situations. They are legally liable to protect and defend our children from (correct me if I'm wrong) the time they get on the school bus until the time they get off the school bus.


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48. Duty owed by a school to a child     2/5/08 - 4:44 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Sherree -

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I've copied and pasted this excerpt from a legal brief I recently wrote, for the NYS Legislature:

"Statutory mandated fingerprinting for nonpublic school employees, essentially a type of child-protection legislation, would be entirely consistent with long-standing common-law principles. As stated by the U.S. Supreme Court in, Veronica Sch. Dist. 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646, 654 (1995), '(W)hen parents place minor children in private schools for their education, the teachers and administrators of those schools stand in loco parentis over the children entrusted them.' The private schools thus owe the same high duty of care parents ordinarily owe their own children.

Our New York Court of Appeals has written similarly, stating that a school owes a heightened or special duty of care to its students, by virtue of the transfer of physical custody of the children from the parents to the school. Pratt v. Robinson, 39 N.Y.2d 554, 384 N.Y.S.2d 749, 752-753 (1976); Hoose v. Drumm, 281 N.Y. 54, 57-58 (1939). Judge Cardozo also reminds us in, Finlay v. Finlay, 240 N.Y. 429, 434 (1925), that 'the Government is parens patrae for the protection of infants'.

Particularly instructive is this passage in, Binghamton City Sch. Dist. v. Peacock, 33 A.D.3d 1074 (3rd Dept. 2006), app. dism. 8 N.Y.2d 840 (2007), where the court wrote that New York possesses an, 'explicit and compelling public policy to protect children from the harmful conduct of adults (see e.g. Social Services Law § 384-b; Family Ct Act art 10), particularly in an educational setting (see e.g. Education Law art 23-B; Executive Law § 296 [4]). When an educator's conduct involves inappropriate contact with students who are minors, this policy gives the highest priority to protecting their welfare (see e.g. Matter of Shurgin v Ambach, 56 NY2d 700, 703 [1982].....).'"

In loco parentis is Latin, and literally means, "in place of the parent". Parens patrae, also Latin, roughly means, the Government is the Father over the children.

Several years ago, my daughter was on the school bus coming home from her Far Rockaway yeshiva when she noticed that somebody was missing. The driver made a U-turn, and they found this special child, 8 or 9 years-old, walking home. She had already traversed several uncontrolled, busy intersections, and crossed, all by her lonesome, THE ATLANTIC BEACH BRIDGE. The father told me the story, and I could see on his face that he felt too inconsequential to complain to the school, and was kinda asking me to do it for him. So I sent an email. To the school's credit, they did respond, and the bus monitor, who is supposed to count the children, was counselled, and reassigned.

Then there's the story about my son's yeshiva. A janitor was caught selling marijuana to some boys. Did they do a criminal background check on this guy before he got hired? Who knows. Also troubling is that my son told me the story, not the school.

Most nonpublic schools carry liability insurance. Assuming that they timely notify their insurance carrier when an accident or incident does occur, the insurance should cover the loss, and that includes claims for sex abuse, unless there's an exclusion in the policy. However, its worth noting that some insurance companies disclaimed coverage for many claims brought against the Catholic Church, claiming, among other things, that the Church failed to timely notify them at the time of the occurrence of all of their abuse incidents (this is called "late notice"). Last time I checked, about $1.5 billion had been paid by insurance companies and the Church to settle their claims, divided about two-thirds and one-third, respectively. Five Catholic Archdioceses have filed reorganization bankruptcy petitions. Multiple Church-owned properties have been sold.


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49. About Dr. Twerski's ideas     2/5/08 - 5:03 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Dr. Twerski has some very good ideas. The address to bring these ideas is not the doorstep of any Jewish organization, however, but to the State Legislature. The responsibilities of a yeshiva to children and parents needs to be clearly imposed by law. The yeshivas will not agree to any "Bill of Rights" for children - as exists, by the way, in the rules and regulations governing the New York City public schools. Before I approached the State Legislature requesting a fingerprint law, I asked our frum organizations to establish a State-wide or even national yeshiva employee background check program. You guessed it - nothing happened. Albert Einstein once said, A working definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Children need to be protected by strong, enforceable laws. There is no need for parents to continuously grovel to yeshiva administrators, and in the end, achieve nothing.


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50. Yaasher Koach     2/5/08 - 5:05 PM
GG - jerusalem

I just want to give Rabbi Horowitz a groisin Yaasher Koach for what he is doing. He is mamash a courageous yochid, who just might be saving the future of the jewish people and for sure is making a huge impact and change, where nobody else is! THANK YOU!


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51. There you have it!     2/5/08 - 11:23 PM
Sherree

So it looks like we have been around the block and then some. Elliot has made it as clear as can possibly be. Everyone must know by now what are legal rights are and who holds what responsibility. It has been over two weeks now that we have been discussing this issue and we should keep discussing this in open forums because it is a very important and pressing issue.

The conclusion that I have come to is this: Those who continually point fingers and play the blame game will continue to do so. Those who role up there sleeves and realize that it is in their own power to initiate action will continue to do so. The question is, after participating in this forum will those who have been partial up till now follow common sense guidance and leadership and support the efforts of individuals such as Elliot Pasek and Rabbi Horowitz and get involved in order to find appropriate, practical, productive and applicable solutions?


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52. To all the people pointing fingers     2/6/08 - 10:11 AM
Victim of rabbinc abuse

The people who are ponting fingers the most over here, are the ones who point fingers at others pointing fingers. Victims point fingers at the leaders who keep us from moving forward. Ask Elliot Passik. When Dr. Twersky suggested parents put pressure on schools (pointing fingers?) Elliot said practically that that won't work because the schools are impossibly in denial and refuse to change (also pointing fingers?) He suggested using the legislature and law enforcement. A wonderful idea for protecting our children from molesters.

The question I have is how do we protect our children from schools and community leaders who refuse to consider their safety? Working around them will not be good enough. We all know of rabbis and leaders who act "above the law." One famous one was recently arrested in an FBI sting in which a fellow Jew was forced to wear a wire to gather information on him. Is this the approach that Elliot Passik is suggesting parents take in order to get schools and rabbis to conform and obey the law?

I don't see what is wrong at pointing fingers at the poeple who are not only letting us down, but are CONTRIBUTING to the problem and must STOP. The only thing the average person can do is to ask them to stop, but what if they don't care? What can we do? Only our leaders can decide to change public policy.

Do you know how many letters to the editor at Hamodia and Yated Neeman there have been about the issue of sexual abuse in our community? They don't care about their own readership. That's because they have been indoctrinated by the leaders to keep to the policy that Rabbi Horowitz enumerated of only publishing good news. The ONLY people who could get them to change their policy is the rabbinic authority they rely on. They answer to NOBODY else.

The only thing us "klal" members can do is to lobby the gedolim. And I still am waiting for a response to the idea somebody mentioned of having a meeting with the gedolim and concerned parents to discuss issues like, rabbis being mandated like other professionals to report suspected abuse, news media letting parents know there is a problem, schools that continue to cover up molestation in their midst, community wide education and prevention programs that will ONLY go forward with the haskama of the gedolim, and so on, and so on. Even Elliot Pasik (who doesn't point fingers, chas v'shalom) is fighting AGAINST the Moetzes Gedlei Hatorah of Agudas Yisroel, which is using their tremendous political clout to lobby legislators AGAINST mandated clergy reporting.

so yes, I guess we can try to work upstream against the gedolim to get something done for our children, but I think, like another writer wrote that if we could somehow appeal to their consciences, and educate them and get them to act for victims and for our children, we could EASILY eradicate 90% of rabbinic, and school based abuse, thereby paving the way for victims to come forward and help eradicate the more genral problem. But as long as the gedolim are part of the problem, I believe I speak for many victims who feel that THEY themselves are viewed by the community as the problem.

For example, the rabbi who molested me is still being covered for by the yeshiva and the rabbis of the community. There was some media coverage of the problem, but because no victims were willing to talk to the paper, the article had no impact whatsoever other than to engender about 7 letters to the editor the next week defending the rabbi.

Why do you think the victims have not spoken to the paper yet? Is it because they don't care enough about the problem? As regular citizens they don't care about other future victims? Noooooo. It's because they have been advised corectly by friends, family, rabbis, EVERYONE that they will pay a price for being the whistleblower. That rather than getting a yasher koach from the community, they will be tarred and feathered for airing dirty laundry, and accusing a beloved rabbi.

Now, IF the day will come when at least SOME rabbis will care enough about the victims to come to their aid and stand with them, then here we will have a very simple way of protecting our children from serial predatory molesters. EXPOSE them. Simple. Everyone knows about it, the rabbis confirm it, and parents can keep their children away from Ploni. End of story. The Vaad Harabanim of Baltimore unamimously signed a letter which stated that this is the best way to help victims, BUT neither they nor anyone else has begun to do it. AND Hashem have mercy on the people who try to. The blogs? Attacked as making false accusations and criticizing Gedolim. The Jewish but non-chareidi newspapers? Put in cherem by chashuve rabbis, and called non- Jewish. Individual victims? Taken to Din Torah by chashuva rabbis and threatened to have ALL of thier children expelled from schools. Rabbi Horowitz's website? Not allowed to name rabbis, even if they are molesters. And not allowed to name rabbis that are actively covering up for molesters, even though the Rabbi himself writes that they are guilty of a terrible crime.

So, Sherree, and all others who want people to act and to stop pointing fingers, is that the only way we can solve the problem? By calling our congressman? Even that doesn't help, Elliot. It's naive. Do you know how many years it took to get the D.A. to try to extradite a serial molester from Israel? Do you know how much pressure from our community leaders he had to combat in order to do the right thing? Our community's priorities are really skewed and since we follow our leaders (mistake number one, possibly) only they can set a better course.

Let me finish with a joke. Cynical, but sadly based on some truth. Do you know why they alays put up signs when a chashuve rabbi comes to town, saying "Tzadik Ba Lair?".....Megan's Law!


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53. To Sherree     2/6/08 - 10:44 AM
Anonymous

Now that you have arrived at your conclusions that we should all roll up our sleeves and help by "getting involved", what exactly can we do???? If the ideas you are mentioning are culled from the above posters, I apologize, but I didnt get a clear picture. I'm still stuck on Dr. Twersky's post about how nothing can be done. What are you exactly suggesting us parents should do to protect our children? What does getting involved mean in practical terms? Email president bush? Email Rabbi Horowitz and E. Passik? What????


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54. Its sad that this has to be said out loud     2/6/08 - 1:36 PM
Sherree

"The question I have is how do we protect our children from schools and community leaders who refuse to consider their safety?"

It is sad that this has to be pointed out and said out loud. The parents are still in control of where we send our children, especially those of means and those with bright children. So I guess it begins with them. Get involved in the school, in the PTA and on the Board. If the school is not meeting the needs of the children look for another school. If the parents as a group, or the most influential parents as a whole decide to move their children out, the school will take note and do something about it. Those parents with influence wield power. Those do not have safety in numbers. If a vast amount of parents move their kids out or go on strike it makes headlines. The Yeted or Hamodia might not pick it up, but the NY Times will and so will the Post and Newsday. Insurance companies might also do a Risk Analysis of the school.

In addition, maybe pointing fingers at the Gedolim is the wrong thing to do. Point fingers at the wealthy askanim who keep giving money to these mosdos and demand change from them. Yell at them and beg them to stop funding Yeshivas, Rebbeim and mosdos who don't implement the proper reforms and safety measures in our school systems. If they stop giving money and funds, you can bet your bottom dollar changes will take place.

As far a newspapers that don't care about their readership, stop being their readership!!! Buy a different paper and cancel your subscription. How do you think the Yeted and Hamodia got started in the first place. People decided they didn't want to read the JP anymore for various reasons and started their own newspaper.

If you want to make a statement of your own, you can. When I started working in my neighborhood with at-risk kids, everyone said "how much can you really do, you are only one person". Well I have news for you, for one person I have accomplished a lot and made a lot of noise. If you want to do something you can. You can write Elliot or Rabbi H and let them know what community you live in. They can gather info on each community and possibly, if one of you volunteer to collect all the names and start a support group to work together, it can start from that point. The head of the group can keep in touch with Elliot and/or Rabbi Horowitz and/or myself for ideas and chizuk. That's the way to get started! Everyone can do something, we are not helpless individuals. That is how Megan's law got inaugurated and that is how the Amber alert got started. By individuals looking to make a difference.

There are many little drops of ideas and actions that we can do that will eventually fill up a whole bucket of accomplishments. Just because people refuse to change at the moment doesn't mean that we have to fold up our hands and give in to that. We can be as stubborn in our requests and our stand as they can be in theirs. Who said we have to give up our fight because they said "no". If you believe in what you are doing, never give up the fight. Hashem Yaazor!

Teach your children how to protect themselves. If you think your child is in danger go to the school and station yourself there until something is done. Even if you do not yell and scream. Just say I am watching my child because you are not. There are ways of getting around any situation by using your own common sense and seichel.

I am using the example that I mentioned earlier on a different thread where a Chabad women called in panic that they were not allowing her 7th grade daughter back into the 8th grade to graduate with her class. The child had a tracking problem with her eyes and the teacher convinced the assistant principal that the child wasn't keeping up, since she went out for tutoring during the class. The child and parents were devastated. How could you ask a child to find a new school for graduation year? It was heartless.

I went to the school with the mother to advocate for the child. I walked into the principal's office, Rabbi Ploni and asked him straight out. "When was the last time you spoke to the child?" He was baffled and blabbering all of himself. "When was the last time you farhered the child?" again he didn't know what to say? "So you will destroy this child on the say so of the teacher and the assistant principal without even taking the opportunity to check on this child yourself, a child who has been under your care and guidance the past "x" number of years. You have as much responsibility and obligation to this child as does the parent. I am sorry but that is not acceptable. I insist that you call the child in right now and farher her." And so he did. He opened up the chumash to where the class was holding and asked her questions which she proceeded to answer. You see she had a problem reading, the words floated on the page, but she listened to everything that was going on around her. Because she had this disability, the teacher treated her as if she was stupid which she was not. She graduated with her class the following year and was happy to find a new school for High School.

The point is that when we find a challenge we have to stand up to the challenge and look deep within ourselves to see what WE can do about it. How CAN we protect OUR children. Never mind what our neighbors do and others do. Our neighbors might put their children to bed at 10:00pm when we know that our children need to go to sleep at 8:00pm. So what is it that WE need to do for our own kids? What do we need to teach them and what should WE ourselves do.

I was driving car pool for my boys one legal holiday when my oldest son was in 5th grade and my 2nd was in 3rd in a Chasidish yeshiva in Boro Park.

One of the kids in the carpool mentioned that Rebbe knocked out a kids tooth the prior day by swinging his belt the buckle side out. I was appalled. I asked my younger son, did the Rebbe ever touch you? He said "No". I asked the other boys did the Rebbe ever touch them, they shrugged their shoulders in a non-answer. I let the subject drop and continued the ride. I dropped them off at the front door and continued down the block where I parked. I came in the back door and observed the class through the door. The class was a zoo, kids climbing on the chairs and roaming around the room. The Rebbe had no control of the class. After observing for about 15 minutes I knocked on the door and asked the Rebbe to step out. I asked him about the previous day and the "accident". I told him that I noticed what was going on in the class and asked if that is the normal order of the day. I told him that kids can be tough and the job is harder than it seems. I then told him it was his choice to be a Rebbe and no one forced him to do so. If he can't gain the respect of the children and control of the class it was no one's fault but his own and not the kids. If he ever touched any of the kids again I would have the police down their so fast it would make the Rosh's head spin. He said he would never touch my son. I told him he didn't hear me clearly. I repeated if he ever touched ANY of the kids again, I would call the police. I then asked him if he knew who I was. He said I was so and so's mother. Then I said, I am also the President of the PTA and that I was going straight into the Rosh's office to repeat the conversation we just had which I did. There wasn't any more incidents with that Rebbe.


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55. To Sherree & Elliot Pasik     2/6/08 - 1:42 PM
Rachel J.

To Sherree & Elliott Pasik,

What are we doing? Do you have a plan for us parents? Because I also didn't get a clear picture here. We are ready, with our sleeves rolled up just give us some real practical advice. Let's rock & roll....

But until then, I suggest we each look out for our own children's safety, investigate anyone who will be with your child one on one, find out information, don't be afraid of community calling you extreme, paranoid, or whatever, who cares, it's your child, isn't that the most important thing in your life. And trust me, if there is some sicko around you & your child, knowing that you're an "extreme" parent, they'll stay away from your child.


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56. New Newspaper?     2/6/08 - 2:09 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

"As far a newspapers that don't care about their readership, stop being their readership... People decided they didn't want to read the JP anymore for various reasons and started their own newspaper. "

Interesting idea. I am wondering if a niche could be fulfilled with another newspaper, perhaps a bit to the left of Mishpocha(which I generally like) as far as topic covered, and where Charedi writers' essays appearing elsewhere would not be edited for whatever reasons, but still catering to some of the Yeshivah world and even beyond.

On the other hand, online forums provide an alternative to the current print papers, so this may be a practical solution in of itself; online may be a better place to discuss ideas that don't make it into print papers, and in this way, there could be "shalom al yisrael".


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57.     2/6/08 - 2:50 PM
Anonymous

Sheree,

You make many valid points and I commend you for your activism. However, I think that while in theory you may be correct, practically it is a different story. Many of us have been led to believe that the Gedolim are the answer to everything not to mention that many who have gone up against Daas Torah have been smeared, etc. Of course, if we would join together as parents we would make change. There is no doubt that you are correct. However, you dismiss the finger pointing as out-of-hand when in reality those doing the finger pointing have avery legitimate gripe. Some, not all Gedolim, play a major role in creating the current atmosphere of hush hush or coverup. The unbelievable ramifications that would be felt if one leading Godol would speak out... This is where those finger-pointers are coming from.

Additionally, not all parents are activist personalities. You may claim that anyone can do it if they just make up their mind; however, the type of activism that you talk about (confronting Rabbayim and principals)is difficult for most people. I commend you for doing just this, but you are setting high expectations. On the other hand, you have set the bar for the leaders quite low...

Your viewpoint is valid in a general way which is that when something is broke, fix it! However, the dynamics here are difficult. As means of comparison, take a neighborhood where there are drug pushers ruining the neighborhood and assume there is a corrupt politiician who allows it to happen. Most people are not going to become activists and confront the drug dealers. However, they still have a very valid gripe against the leader/politicians who are covering up. They expect more out of the leaders. It would be very unfair to accuse these people of finger pointing. Same here.


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58. Abuse     2/6/08 - 4:23 PM
AK

Hi, When the ways we deal with children who screw up becomes more empathetic, when we beegin to perceive that punishments, consequences etc are a disrespectful way of dealing with children , that problems can be dealt with through problem solving we are setting up an atmosphere which cannot tolerate abuse. Whether we are talking about ' punishment lite ' , like detentions , we are still using coercision and power and the we are travelling a road that can lead to abuse. If we want to advocate for kids , how about more compassionate ways of dealing with them.


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59. AK     2/6/08 - 5:17 PM
Sherree

Would you like to show compassion for the abusers too and say that you would rather problem solve than have them face consequences? Isn't problem solving part of the consequences they should face? Well there is one known abuser being extradited to the US after spending more than 20 years in E"Y. He had more than 20 years to problem solve and so did his victims however the victims would like to see him face some consequences. How about meeting him at the airport and having a nice discussion with him Alan? I imagine the victims would rather we have a rally at the airport and let him and others like him know that we will not tolerate his actions, even if it takes years to bring them to justice. And the consequence for actions such as his is not to make Aliyah and start over in Aretz Hakedoshah!


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60. Tachlis     2/6/08 - 9:22 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Dear Chaverim,

I've genuinely enjoyed this remarkable and productive conversation. As several have recognized, however, it needs a tachlis.

I've been to this point before. Generally, most people run away when I ask for help. Perhaps its because I'm a lawyer. Many people are either cynical at what lawyers can accomplish, we're not trusted, people are afraid of us, etc.

Over the past couple years, you can't imagine what I and my very small circle of friends have accomlished. Victim of Rabbinic Abuse (comment 52) writes as follows: "So, Sherree, and all others who want people to act and to stop pointing fingers, is that the only way we can solve the problem? By calling our congressman? Even that doesn't help, Elliot. It's naive."

I appreciate your sentiments, and at one time I would have agreed with you. Not anymore. I have seen with my own eyes what drive and zealousness can do. Having failed to persuade the organized orthodox world that we need to set up a system of background checks and other protections, I wrote one long letter to N.Y. Governor Pataki in March 2005, and a second long letter to the N.Y. Legislature in December 2005. The result was a new law, passed in June 2006, authorizing all nonpublic schools - including yeshivas - to fingerprint their newly hired employees.

I kept pushing, and the result was a bill making the fingerprinting mandatory. It passed the State Senate in June 2007; but it did not get to the Assembly floor.

What does this mean? That we need to work harder. And fingerprinting is not enough. I also persuaded the 1,000 rabbis of the RCA that we need mandatory abuse-incident reporting; mandatory employee registration and discipline; mandatory abuse prevention plans. That Resolution gives me and us great credibility in Albany.

A one-man show is not enough, and it is one more sign of a dysfucntional community. As I wrote before, enraged communities in New Jersey and Florida, spurred on by horrible child rapes and murders, have speedily enacted strong child-protection laws there. Additional multiple examples exist. Catholic parents have formed many organizations, the two largest ones being SNAP (Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests), and Voice of the Faithful. I have spoken with some of their leaders. They are wonderful, courageous people, and I admire them greatly. Many of their children, like ours, are broken souls, and even suicides. These Catholic groups have achieved huge results in many state legislatures.

The New York scene is different. We are a large, and very political state. Not everything is done in writing, and out in the open. That which is in writing needs to be read between the lines. There are reasons why New York, notwithstanding that it has 500,000 children in the nonpublic schools, probably has the weakest laws in the country for protecting those children.

Yes, I have a naive believe in the power of reason. I have a naive belief in the power of education. At times, it has taken me far. At other times, I have grown frustrated, but a quitter never wins....

Our people walked into gas chambers with Ani Maamim and Shema Yisroel on their lips. My father volunteered for Army service at the height of World War II, crossing the Pacific while followed by a Japanese submarine. My great grandparents were murdered in a pogrom while my grandmother took shelter in a church. Our ancestors immersed in frozen lakes in Europe.

I'm sure that there is not one Jew here who cannot relate similar acts of heroism in their family histories.

And we fathers and mothers can't organize, and write letters, and petition Albany for passing basic child protection laws? To assure that the janitor and the the English teacher and even the rebbe - Hashem yerachem - is not a convicted sex offender?

As I've written several times in Jewish Press articles, there are solutions. We need to organize ourselves into an authentic N.Y.S. Yeshiva Parents Association. Indeed, there are wonderful, influential people in State Government and prominent legal circles who very much WANT us to organize and become an authentic voice. I know this - I've spoken to them. Right now, as a lawyer, I am representing that we have a loose network of parents, but that is hardly enough. We need some muscle. We need credibility. One lawyer working in his den at midnight and beyond is not enough. We need a nonprofit corporation. We need officers and a board. We need advertising and literature. We need conferences and speeches. We need a day when we get in our cars, and we drive to Albany, and we lobby, just like the Catholics and everybody else does. We need - perhaps most important of all - a genuine web site, where we stake out our positions, where people can sign a petition, where key legislators can be emailed. We need to address not only abuse, but also the yoke of tuition, and kids at risk, and secular studies. And, you guessed it, to do this, we need a moderate amount of money, for protecting the 100,000 Jewish children attending New York State yeshivas, and the overall half-million attending all of our nonpublic schools.

Sherrie, Dr. Lipner, Dr. Twerski, Victim, and everybody else - such a project can't be done alone. It needs a moderate amount of money. In our multi-billion dollar orthodox community, that should not be a problem, and I'm serious. It should just be a question of will. Do we have the will?

I'll close by quoting Dr. David Pelcovitz, the psychologist who spoke at the separate May 2003 Torah U'Mesorah and RCA Conventions on our child sex abuse problem. This is almost the exact quote: There have been an unconscionable number of suicides in our community committed by child sex abuse victims. When I heard this tape, listening in my car, I started to veer off the road. Hundreds of rabbis and mechanchim heard these words FIVE YEARS AGO,and still, look where we are today.

Anbody should feel free to contact me for this tachlis.

Chodesh tov.


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61. How to bring about change     2/6/08 - 10:36 PM
Sherree

To Rachel J, you are correct we each have to look after our own children. To Anon 57 you will be very surprised to know that I was the most shy reserved person one can ever meet. It was this particular Rosh yeshiva that insisted that I get involved with his yeshiva and become Pres. of the PTA. I fought and fought and shied away to no avail. He knew my hubby's family and insisted and would just not take no for an answer. He knew my sister-in-law who had done more than her fair share for the yeshiva, but as her son grew she graduated out. She told me I might as well give in to him, because no one ever said no to him.

It was he who taught me to advocate for my own kids, by getting involved in the yeshiva. It was by spending time in the building, meeting the staff, learning the ins and outs, where I was able to see how I could offer my own experience and knowledge, where I can ask other parents to volunteer their expertise or share their knowledge. Because I was involved in that Yeshiva, I also got involved with my daughter's school. My kids started volunteering me for class mother and school trips. I learned from my kids, and I learned from the schools themselves.

It was this Rosh that taught me, if you want to promote change you can't do it from the comfort of your own closed doors. This same Rosh carried my oldest son into pre-1A within his own two arms after handing him a licorice stick, and told me "its OK mommy I've got him, I'll take it from here. He'll be fine you can go home now." He also walked my second son into Pre-1A by the hand and my son said "its OK mommy, I'm fine you can go now!". This was before he cornered me into PTA.

His daughter was both my sons' kindergarten morah. The best one any child can ever have. And that is the reason my sons wound up in a Chasidish yeshiva in Boro Park. Because of this woman, also because I wanted them to "teitch" in Yiddish.

Some of you ask what WE can do. I am going to say a few things that many of you are not going to like. Here it goes:

We need to re-prioritize our lives. We "undervalue" our children and take them for granted. We ask are the schools doing background checks and they should. But are we? We take in housekeepers and maids right off the boat or right after they walked through the borders barely even speaking the language. Our homes are full of construction workers, repairmen, handymen, etc. Many of them let in by non-english speaking housekeepers who have not had background checks. Are we always at home with them? Have we done any background checks on them? Even if they are frum Jews how do you know you can trust them with your kids? We hide our money and our jewelry, our most expensive items from our household help, but our most valuable gems, our children are left out in the open to their influence and only Hashem knows what else.

How many robberies do we hear of that claim to be inside jobs? Are you getting my message? What are our priorities?

How many events and simchas do we really need to go to? We are insulted if we are not invited and yet we probably would not even recognize the host of many of the simchas we go to if we saw them in the street. But we have to go, because we "must be seen" where everyone else has been invited and is going. We must go to the latest restaurant and see the latest movie and show. We must go to the greatest concert and hear the most popular lecturer. Who is minding the kids? Did you do a background check on the babysitter? How old is she/he? Who is coming with them? How do you know what is really happening in your home when you are not there? You don't! And yet, we are not "choosing" to decline invites just to stay home with our kids. We are choosing to accept and not insult anyone except our kids. Everyone and anyone is so much more important than our own kids. What is wrong with just answering "thank you for the invitation, but I have a prior committment" and mean it.

We are the most social Jewish community of all times. Even the frumest of the frum, the ones you would least expect to mingle, we find sitting together as 3 or 4 couples in restaurants out for the evening. It is really surprising.

Recently a chasidish young woman asked me for help. She said her husband asked her if she wanted to go with another couple for a weekend retreat to the mountains, they were able to get a house. I told her that I thought it was inappropriate for them to mingle with another couple in that way and it was bad role modeling for the children. She put her foot down and did not go.

Another example of bad role modeling is forgetting that Hashem is everywhere not only at home, he goes along with us on vacation and so do the mitzvos. I know that if I walk in a very frum community I might be looked upon as modern. Many of my clients don't believe that I am wearing a sheitel (it looks that good). Yet while I am here in Miami getting my snood soaked in the pool wearing my swim dress and completely covered while at the same time refusing to swim while there are men in the pool, I am shocked to see just how many yeshivish and chasidish women have no qualms about mixed swimming and worse..taking off their robes and just swimming in a bathing suit, or small tee shirt all the while making sure their hair is covered. What kind of role models are we? What do you tell the teenagers who are blasted about tznius in school yet see this while visiting their grandparents on vacation? How can you walk around the pool area undressed and uncovered in Miami, yet be so careful not to expose an inch of skin in NY?

We really must start getting our priorities in order if we want to make changes for the betterment of our children.

The Rabbonim made Takonos on how one should make a simcha. Maybe it would have been more useful to speak to the heart of the K'lal and say how many simchas do you have to ignore your children for? If you would politely decline more invitations there would be a lot less grand standing. Is it really necessary to have 3,000 guests at a Rebbe's simcha? Is it really fair to a 17 year old Kallah to be displayed in front of thousands of guests? If only the nearest and dearest would accept invitations and others would understand that it is more important for them to actually be home with their children than to go out every night, then simchas and events would be more controlled. People might feel obligated to invite the whole shul, but that doesn't mean the whole shul must attend. I know of couples who can't afford to pay rent or tuition but if the Rebbe is making chasunah in E"Y he is going to find some way to pay for a plane ticket and go leaving behind a wife and "x" number of children to fend for themselves. Does this make any sense?

Eight year olds are walking five year olds to school or to the corner store. Can they protect themselves or their siblings from harm? They might be the oldest in the family, but they are still babies. And how many times have we complained that we have seen babies left in carriages outside of stores all alone for anyone to just grab and run away with? Yet these complaints are still being sung for the last 35 years and society has gotten much sicker than 35 years ago.

Men are either working or learning, women are either working or shopping. Who is raising the children? It is no longer the norm to be a homemaker or a stay-at-home mom. Now don't get me wrong, I am not blaming the parents if they have to work to pay the bills, I am just showing you how we have shifted our priorities and how things are spiraling out of control.

Girls' schools are advocating marrying only learning boys and getting careers so they can support their husbands in learning. Who is advocating that mothers are supposed to raise and be mechanech their own children? No one! Not only are parents paying huge tuitiion bills but add to that enormous tutoring bills since kids don't get the attention and pre-school stimulation they used to get from stay at home mothers. On top of that we pressure our kids to be "metzuyanim" because being the best "they" can be is just not good enough.

When "tattys" finally come home from work instead of spending a few quality minutes with the kids helping to put them to bed or reading them a bedtime story they are rushing out the door to attend a shiur or meet with a chavrusah. That is wonderful and they will get a tremendous schar for it. But what if they put it off for just one hour so their children can benefit from their time, their love and their chinuch?

Once we re-prioritze our lives and make our children the most important priority in our lives, maybe then we can actually accomplish some changes. When we can actually prove that our children come first before anything else then we do have the power to stand up to authority and demand change.

In the mean time there are things that can be done for those who wish to do them. You can forward Elliot's legislation to your school or Yeshiva. You can start a telephone campaign calling into the school asking about their practices and policies in regard to background checks of their employees. You can send letters and petitions to the Board of Directors of the Yeshiva. When you get a letter in the mail asking for Tzedaka from a Yeshiva, send them a response with a copy of Elliot's legislation and ask them what their practices and policies are in regard to this matter. Return envelopes are usually enclosed.

When you get a phone call from the telemarketers ask them this question regarding practices and policies for that particular organization. Hundreds of phone calls are made each night. If everyone asked them this same question, the organizations/yeshivas will start hearing what the K'lal wants to know instead of getting pledges for tzedaka. That is how us "small" people can get our voices heard.

If you are afraid of calling your own Yeshiva call your neighbor's Yeshiva and have them call yours. Your child cannot get kicked out of your neighbor's school!

Maybe we should protest at the airport when this well known abuser comes back to the states. If anyone has any idea when and where that will be, I will be back in NY in March. Elliot, please let me know if we can organize a legitimate protest and I will be there. This person was already "outed", we are not the ones who will be publicizing his name or his actions to the press. It is already well known and has been for over 20 years. So I think that it would be only fair to the victims of this man to give him the welcome home he deserves. It matters little if we come face to face with him, we should still be awaiting his landing in the states with a protest of his abominable actions. Maybe that would send a message loud and clear on our stand in regard to sweeping things under the rug.


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62. Elliot     2/6/08 - 10:52 PM
Sherree

Elliot, I will be back in NY in March. I will be happy to meet with you then to see how I can help.


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63.     2/6/08 - 11:07 PM
Anon 57

Sheree,

I really agree with much of your saying. We definitely need more people like you. Your point is well-taken that you were able to grow into the role that you now have. I still take issue, though, with your going a bit easy on the leaders. In your last post, you wrote about the very good experience that you had with the Rosh. I would like you to think about this for a bit before answering. Is it possible that your good experience, which is quite unusual in terms of the openness that the Rosh displayed (Halevai there would be more like him), has colored your opinion of those who are complaining about the leaders? Might you somewhere deep inside believe that your experience is one that others should model after forgetting that many here on this blog have been burned by their Rosh or Godol? What if you had been burned by a Rosh or Godol? Would you so loudly protest the finger pointing as being unproductive? I think not.

Please think long and hard about what I am saying as I think there is much validity to it.


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64. Meeting     2/6/08 - 11:24 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Sheree - Looking forward to meeting you.

EP


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65. Anon 57     2/6/08 - 11:57 PM
Sherree

"Please think long and hard about what I am saying as I think there is much validity to it."

There is very much validity to what you are saying. However, I think you missed the fact that I have gone head to head and toe to toe with many Rabbonim that I don't agree with. I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in and for what is right. There is one Rosh in my neighborhood who called one parent after only one phone call from me which his secretary fielded and asked "Why is Mrs. B hounding me?" He didn't even hear what I had to say, he just heard I wanted an appointment to speak to him about this particular child. As a matter of fact the secretary was so caught of guard. She said so many of the child's family members were calling maybe we should have a family meeting. I said "I accept when should we come?" She was flabergasted. She didn't know what to say except for "um, um, um, a, a , a.....I'll get back to you."

There were many Rabbonim who voiced their displeasure with the editor of the local newspaper after one of my articles was published. The editor has since told me on many occassions that my articles are very "controversial". I seem to stir up trouble and many of the Rabbonim don't find much favor with me. Then there are others (mostly shul Rabbonim) who respect and admire me, and are happy to work with me because they understand that I work for the benefit of the children. Most of those in my community have helped me fundraise when neccessary to assist the kids I am working with.

So it is not a matter of sticking up for Rabbonim or Roshei Yeshivos because I have fond memories of this one. It is a matter of accepting accountability and responsibility. Doing first what I can before asking anyone else to do what they can.


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66. Observation of Fingerprinting     2/7/08 - 11:42 AM
Sherree

I am wondering why mechanchim who are parents themselves do not volunteer for the fingerprinting program. It will only promote a safer environment for their own school age children, and does not single them out in any way. There are many other working environments that require fingerprinting.

When I was just 17 years old one week before graduating High School, I was called into the school office. The secretary told me there was a representative from the Secret Service on the phone. They were looking to interview candidates for a clerical position. I thought she was pulling a prank and joking with me. She was an older European woman and promptly said "I don't joke!, they are looking for honest reliable emplyoees, pick up the phone and take down the information." I quickly went to the phone and spoke to the man. I had never taken the subway to Manhattan myself before and had no idea how to get around the city (different times back then) and so my mom came with me to the interview and waited in the lobby.

There I was this frummy girl in a room with all these men asking me all these questions which I respectfully answered. Do you know what was the real thing that really differentiated me from them? I was the only one without a gun. They accepted me and said I had to do two things before I started the job. One was to take a Civil Service exam and the other was to get fingerprinted. They arranged for me to take the exam and gave me the address, they also gave me forms for the fingerprinting and told me to go to my local police station.

Off I went with my mom for the exam which was basically a typing test and when I got home my father took me to the local police station to get fingerprinted. Believe me it was not a pleasant experience at 17, but the cops just smiled at me as if it was no big deal and congratulated me on my new job.

If you want to know what happened with the job read on. I got a call a week later from another agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and was told to report to work the following week. As naive as I was, I told them there was a mistake I am supposed to work for the Secret Service. They said, that's their problem, my test scores came in as a grade 4 step 1 and they had an opening in the legal dept. I'm theirs. I start next Monday. The Secret Service had an opening for a Grade 3, Step 1. I worked 3 weeks in the Legal Department of HUD and then went straight into the Directors office where I worked for 2 years. The catholic Director appreciated and respected the moral and ethic training I had and lived by and recognized that in my work.

Second round, as a mother and wife struggling to make ends meet as my husband started his own business, I like many others got caught up in the "rope chain" business almost thirty years ago. For the privilege of poking our eyes out, gnarling our fingers by picking up the tiniest of gold links with a small pliers and placing them between our forefinger and thumb while twisting wire around them, for the sheer pleasure of making $10 a rope. In order to be "accepted and trained" to do this, and since we were be entrusted to take home a bag of gold links once again I had to have my fingerprints taken along with my photo.

In many of the highrise office buildings thumbprints are used instead of ID cards and keys as a means to access locked areas. Fingerprinting has become an accepted means of security.

It would make sense for staff members in any given school or yeshiva to discuss amongst themselves the validity and common sense value of promoting this safety measure in their local schools. Once they are in agreement or at least the majority is, they can contact Elliot or Rabbi H and have someone come down to the school with the appropriate kits to get started. It is by no means and accusation, or a suspicion of them. It is a way of saying lets do whatever is necessary to put policy in place. Personally I dont' understand why any Risk management company or any Insurance company would cover a school that does not have these precuations in place. It is a poor risk in my opinion. Almost all liabilities policies have a sexual abuse exclusion and a separate sexual abuse/harrassment policy must be purchased for obvious reasons. When I worked in the insurance industry it was like force feeding Yeshivas to purchase this policy. They insisited it was a waste of money since no one would sue them on this claim, they had a way of handling things on their own. They also said no one would sue the Yeshiva for anything, it is just not done.


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67. To Sherree & Elliot Pasik     2/7/08 - 12:12 PM
Rachel J.

Sherree, You said everything I've been wanting to say for years. We think alike, what can I say. And yes we should protest at the airport when they bring this (pathetic) individual back to the states. If you find out any details please let me know, I'll get some other caring parents & others to come. I'll be in touch if I find out any info.

Mr.Pasik, You can reach me at kgs@nyc.rr.com I am ready to help.

Chodesh Tov to all.


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68. Need your email address     2/7/08 - 8:58 PM
Elliot Pasik - efpasik@aol.com - efpasik@aol.com

Sherree, Can you send me an email so that I can send a joint email to you and Rachel?

EP


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69. To Sherree about insurance     2/7/08 - 10:38 PM
Dissillusioned and Sad Beyond Words

"They said that nobody would sue a yeshiva. It's not done."

Newsweek ran a quote from a Catholic priest who was a lawyer who warned them before the first suit that they could lose a lot of money on sex abuse lawsuits, and was told that "nobody would dare sue the Catholic church." The quote was run in Newsweek the week that the law suits ruled against the church had exceeded ONE BILLION dollars!

I hope that this is not what it takes in our community. But the 40 million in suits against Yeshivah TT, seems to be just a start. Are other yeshivas getting scared yet?

And why is it that we need law suits and legislation to get our institutions of teaching Torah values to do the right thing? Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture? Deena dMalchusah Deena should be necessary for paying taxes, not for protecting Jewish children. I don't get it. I don't get the parents, and I don't get the yeshivas, and I don't get the rabbis. Someone, help me out here. I'm not a Baal Tshuvah. I grew up frum and went to the finest yeshivas. It breaks my heart the cruelty and complete lack of concern for children in our community. Even if R. Horowitz is right that its a small percentage of molested kids that were molested in school, but what about the thousands of kids who have been physically abused by rebbes, not to mention emotional abuse. I personally know of many guys who were beaten savagely in yeshivas. One friend of mine told me about a kid in his yeshiva having his eye knocked out. And I know of 2 cases of boys being locked in closets for hours. And there was a famous case in Los Angeles of a mother coming to confront a rebby for hitting her kid and chasing him around the room in front of all the kids who were cheering. Of course the rebbe was not fired.

Hamodia had an article earlier this year, when Rav Steinman was here from Israel, and spoke to all of the mechanchim in Los Angeles. He was asked if you are allowed to humiliate a child publicly to teach him/her a lesson. He said no.

This, according to Hamodia was newsworthy to report. I don't understand. But that's not all. One principal asked "But what about if the child is particularly obnoxious? (Can you embarrasss him then?)" And Rabbi Steinman said "Still, no".

Can you believe it? This is a principal quoted by name, not ashamed to publicly ask the question!!!

I think Rabbi Twersky was right, when he told me that our chinuch system has to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch. Certainly, if the law suit wins, parents will be forced to start another "top yeshiva" in Brooklyn.

What do others think?


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70. Chinuch System     2/8/08 - 9:48 AM
Sherree

Unfortunately Rabbi Twersky is right on many levels and for many issues not just this one. The proof is not in the number of success stories we hear about. The proof unfortunately is in the number of tragedies we have, and they are way too many.

B"H there are many students who continue on to be great Talmidei Chachomim. However, if the chinuch system would be reorganized and revamped we would still continue to have many students and most probably many more students continue on to be great Talmidei Chachomim. So when judging to see if the system works, we must not look at the success rate, we must look at the failures, and failures are just not acceptable especially since our Torah has already built in ways and means to avoid it.


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71. To Disillusioned     2/8/08 - 3:09 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Agreed. Our school system needs a sea change, which is caused by an earthquake so strong that the contours of an existing sea are radically changed, and/or a new sea is created. Much of our school system - an oxymoron - is dysfunctional. In truth, the child sex abuse problem is a symptom of the dysfunction. The roots of mismanagement run deep, and extend elsewhere -economic and social. Existing institutions are incapable of addressing the problem. Government intervention is required, as is the presence of a new Jewish group, more democratic in nature, and less elitist and autocratic than existing institutions. Our school failures not only fail many children, but the ripple effect extends to such miserable indices as a 50% intermarriage rate, and 90% of American Jews not being orthodox. Many Jews want nothing to do with us. I wrote a lengthy article for The Jewish Press, "Resolving the Tuition Crisis", page 1, January 2006. It can be searched for and found on their web site.

We parents need to organize. Like workers forming a union, to get decent wages, safe work conditions, health care.


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72. In plain English     2/9/08 - 9:25 PM
Sherree

Elliot has guided us to the RCA website: www.rabbis.org. If you take the time to look at this site you will note that it has over 1,000 members. In order to become a member you have to "have orthodox semicha" and you have to be accepted after you apply. If you look at the Policies and Positions section you will clearly find listed among other things "May 1, 2007 RCA Seeks to Combat Abuse of Children by Applying Public School Standards to Nonpublic Schools".

This policy is stated clear as a bell, right out in the open for everyone to see. Additionally "We reiterate support for our 2005 convention resolution, Criminal Background Checks for Workers with Youth... RCA Encourages All Institutions Dealing with Jewish Youth to Conduct Criminal Background Checks on Employees, and Advocates Legislation Requiring Same".

So if we are going to claim that Rabbonim and Gedolim are doing "nothing", please refer back to the above. There are at least 1,000 orthodox Rabbonim who stand behind the above resolutions, policies and practices.

Let us take what they have already said and work with Elliot and Rabbi H, and others willing to speak out loud to affect positive change and reform. Let us speak to our local Rabbonim, show them the above, and ask them for their help with our local Yeshivos. Let us publicize the RCA resolutions. Let us ask them to advertise it in the local Jewish papers and post it where it can be visibly seen. Maybe even on websites such as "onlysimchas.com" and Jewish blogspots that are visited by thousands of clientele.

Statements and resolutions such as that of the RCA will promote concurence from other organizations such as MASK, Madreigos, the OU, Our Place, Ohel, HASC etc. The more organizations that get behind these resolutions the more acceptance the governtment will have when the legislation goes up again. There is power in numbers. But it does take effort and organization by those that want to see this happen.


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73. Elliot - online petitions     2/9/08 - 10:37 PM
Sherree

I have a few ideas running through my head. One is an online petition. But one that is broken up into sections so that people can easily look up and reference who is backing the proposal. I feel it is important to separate the petition into Rabbinic support, organizational support, Physician by type of practice, Therapeutic, etc. Even Schools and Yeshivas that choose to.

Individual supporters who are willling to state their professions can then be categorized as well. So if individuals sign the petition and state for instance "teacher" as profession it will make quite a statement. A list of pediatricians, lawyers, psychiatrists, Rabbis, etc. will also make a statement. And then individuals by neighborhood. As the lists grow, more people of all backgrounds might be moved to join.

A mailing would have to be sent and it might be possible to get someone like Dr. Lipner, Dr. Twersky or Dr. Pelcovitz to help with that through Nefesh. You yourself must have a society for attorneys, and so on. The form must ask for a release to add their name to the online petition or they can go online and sign up there. Of course as you mentioned before we would need someone to create the Website and create this petition for us, as well as a way and means to break it into categories. With the RCA's approval we can have a link to their resolution on that website.

The most important point however is to show by recognizable alphabetized category the people who are willing to promote and endorse this legislation.

If we can accomplish this in NY State, it will spread to other states accross the nation and then hopefully globally. As the petition grows and more and more recognizeable names are listed, Yeshivas/schools will begin to realize as well as politicians, that we mean what we say and we are not going away. There is a real issue and a real need, we are getting organized and we are gaining power, we will not back down. The more visible we become the more "real" we are not just as we say in Yiddish "just luft".

When I used to hear about the "RCA" it was an almost phantom organization. It had nothing to do with me. But now when I checked out the website, I saw profiles on many Rabbonim who I know. I was surprised to learn that there are over 1,000 members. I was impressed by the names I actually saw listed and how everything was organized. It is very impressive. We have to be very impressive. We have to be as organized. What would it mean to you to see a list of Rabbonim endorsing your proposal? What would it mean to you to see a list of pediatricians or therapists or attorneys? What would any of you think if you saw lists and lists of various categories of professions endorsing these concepts?

There is one more thing I would post on the website and add to the information sent out with the petitiion and that is all the other industries that require fingerprinting and background checks of employees. If it is not unreasonable that other industries seek high security then why shouldn't we who are looking to keep our children safe seek the same.


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74. The yeshiva contract     2/9/08 - 10:41 PM
Benzion Twerski

I shared a conversation with a master menahel over Shabbos. Here is my description of the conclusion.

I began noting the proposal that I posted several pages ago that the school contracts need to contain more than the cost of tuition and extras. But it should spell out more of the school’s responsibilities. Rabbi X found this idea interesting but amusing. He stated that it would spell out the obvious, but that the reality is that the existing contracts do not obligate the yeshiva to anything. He wanted to know if this would place the yeshiva in a position of liability for not following its commitments. I wondered why this is perceived to be a problem. His response was that he would personally not hesitate to do this for his yeshiva, but that he would expect others to balk at the notion.

One comment was that a yeshiva is a business, a private enterprise. No one wants to see their business as liable, and no one wants to pay a price for their shortcomings. In many cases, the yeshiva represents a kehila, and this means that all or most talmidim are going to be sent there. Matching a talmid to the yeshiva is not even a consideration, unless there is a specific difficulty that makes the mismatch unbearable. This is mostly true for the chassidishe yeshivos. This leaves behind a problem in its wake, because the talmidim are never subjected to a selection process (which is well deserving of scrutiny – it seems to present more problems that solutions), and it is common that talmidim are enrolled who belong elsewhere. Any behavioral issue becomes paramount, because the school is unprepared to handle it. Many academic issues become problems that go beyond the scope of the yeshiva. With these situations being far more common than one would like, it is equally common for yeshivos to fail to meet the mandates that one would expect, such as those listed on the hypothetical contract that binds yeshivos to its student and parent bodies. Who, in their right minds, would set themselves up for lawsuit so easily?

It was an interesting discussion. I feel privileged to know this menahel, as he is different and atypical from most others I know.


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75. Sherree & Elliott Pasik     2/10/08 - 12:40 AM
Rachel J.

I know of someone very good who can design & create the website for us. He did it free of charge for many non-profit organizations. I am sure he will help us out with this project. Please let me know if I can be of help.


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76.     2/10/08 - 9:49 AM
Anonymous

When yeshivos have a selection process, there are bitter complaints. When yeshivos don't have a selection process, there are complaints (not as bitter). So maybe we need to stop whining and acknowledge that nothing will make us happy and start focusing on the positive.


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77. An Email just sent to me - another measure of perception     2/10/08 - 10:54 AM
Sherree

A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the Harvard University President's outer office. The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods, country hicks had no business at Harvard and probably didn't even deserve to be in Cambridge.

We'd like to see the president," the man said softly. "He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped. "We'll wait," the lady replied. For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would finally become discouraged and go away. They didn't, and the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always dreaded.

"Maybe if you see them for a few minutes, they'll leave," she said to him. He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn't have the time to spend with them, and he detested gingham dresses and homespun suits cluttering up his outer office. The president, stern faced and with dignity, strutted toward the couple.

The lady told him, "We had a son who attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard. He was happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him, somewhere on campus."

The president wasn't touched. He was shocked. "Madam," he said, gruffly,"we can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery."

"Oh, no," the lady explained quickly. "We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard."

The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, "A building! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical buildings here at Harvard."

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. Maybe he could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, "Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don't we just start our own? " Her husband nodded. The president's face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.

Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford got up and walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California, where they established the university that bears their name, Stanford University, a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about.

You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.

A TRUE STORY By Malcolm Forbes


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78. PREVENTION     2/10/08 - 1:44 PM
cb

I think that prevention is the key.

Its great to make laws and implement them but teaching children - can prevent sexual abuse - KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!!

Speak to the children, in schools, at clubs and at Avos Uvanim - get the message through!

On another note, while backround checks are a great idea are any of you aware that the scariest part of perperators are those that we dont know about???? Yes! Those people that may be smiling at us at the grocery, offer to help you when you break down or joke with you at Shul. That is why prevention is so important, speak about it, tell your children to beware, teach them to stick up for themselves, not to be so trusting!!!


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79. fingerprinting     2/10/08 - 2:32 PM
Anonymous

So maybe our entire society should be fingerprinted so we can catch the teenaged predators and the uncles and cousins. No, I'm not serious. But I am quite perturbed at the idea of forcing all morahs and rebbis (and counselors?) to be fingerprinted. It may be becoming more and more common to be fingerprinted but that doesn't make it more palatable to me. It treats everybody like common criminals and that, I think, is a crime. And if the rebbi or cousin never dealt with the Law, having their fingerprints helps gornisht.


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80. Prevention     2/10/08 - 3:04 PM
Sherree

Anon #78 - prevention is the key and as parents we have to take whatever precautionary and preventive measures we can, most importantly educating our children on their own protection.

Anon #79, or maybe we should each make a reassesment and re-evaluate our own moral code so that big-brother doesn't have to watch us. If we can really internalize that Hashem is always watching us so that we don't give in to the Yetzer Harah and do dispicable things to people who are vulnerable to our strength or authority, maybe we wouldn't need to look for others to place restrictions and police our actions. But unfortunately we are not on the level of tzadikim in this olam, so for now we will have to deal with the reality that guidelines and gedarim will have to block people that are weak and cannot fight their yetzer horah and eventually when these gedarim help those who don't have the strength to fight on their own, and we can elivate ourselves to a higher standard and madreigah then we will not have to look for other sources to help us follow the truth and emmes that the Torah teaches us.

If the K'lal feel encumbered by these gedarim I am sure they would feel less so if they knew a victim of these unfortunate circumstances and knew how very small a price this is to pay to save someone else's child from such abuse and humiliation.

Of course we can't stop this abuse in the home by moving foward with this legislation in the school. But because we can't help in one area does not mean that we should accept that our hands are tied in ALL areas.


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81. Petition for change     2/10/08 - 3:37 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

First of all, I had to be fingerprinted when I did work for the Board of Education. It was really no big deal, and I did not feel like a criminal. It made me feel that I had a responsible job, and that society took my work very seriously. So I don't think that it is a problem of Kavod Hatorah to ask Rebbeim and Morahs to do the same. Many yeshivas have already begun doing so, and Torah Umesorah's recent memo to principals highly recommends it.

However, some of the comments posted here are more germaine, as they deal with the limitations of background checks. While it is an obvious and definitely needed addition to our community's arsenal for protection, background checks in yeshivas most likely miss protecting the vast majority of abuse cases, which happen by adults who are not employed by schools.

I think the idea of a petition is wonderful, and I would be happy to present it to Nefesh to gain signatures of clinicians. Maybe Rabbi Horowitz and others would be able to present it to Rabbis, or maybe the RCA would have some of their 1000 rabbis endorse it. I would love to see a section for parents interested in protection of their children and for Torah Umesorah to send it out for the parents in their network of schools to sign.

However, what exactly is it that we want to say in this petition? Is mandatory background checking enough? No. Should we require every school to set up a system like the RCA's and like the public schools have that involves transparency and oversight? Should rabbis be mandated reporters? Should we have a public registry for known sex offenders that frum parents (not only principals) can check to protect their children? When should members of the community report attacks directly to police, and when must they ask a "shayla"? Under what circumstances and with what method should they publicize the danger of a known predator? How can we as a community best use our will to "force" pedophiles and offenders into treatment and to monitor them and make sure that they remain there until their risk is manageable? How do we define manageable risk?

These are all questions that all of society is dealing with as it struggles to decide about stiffer jail sentencing for molesters, the real value of registries and Megan's Law, and the value of treatment and rehabilitation versus incarceration.

Keep in mind that contrary to public opinion, although there are some offenders that are very difficult to "cure," others are more manageable. That is correct. Many offenders will not reoffend after treatment, and many can use ongoing treatment as a way of staying safe. Furthermore, as the director of the Yale University Center for Psychological Trauma pointed out recently, when you send an offender to prison, the chances are that they will get severely traumatized through physical and sexual abuse including repeated rape. This exacerbates their illness, and when they are released, they are even MORE likely to commit a crime again.

So there are no easy answers. One key factor to addressing the problem of traumatized children was reported in today's Haaretz online in a scientific study of adolescents who had been physically and/or sexually abused. The risk for symptoms of PostTraumaticStressDisorder was mostly affected by the type of support that children got from adults when it happened. Because of this finding, the Israeli government is considering spending more money on "postvention" than on prevention approaches. Considering that it will never be possible to prevent this crime totally, a systematic response that empowers victims is clearly a necessary part of the solution. And considering that the average time it takes for any child to report sexual abuse for the first time from when it occurred is SEVEN YEARS (according to research reported by Dr. Pelcowitz) our community has a long way to go in making victims feel safe enough to reach out to adults for help. It is not good enough for parents to teach their children to let them know if someone touches them. The children want to know what exactly will happen if they tell? What can we as a society tell our children collectively? We do not have a great track record for helping them, as Rabbi Horowitz's articles have delineated. How can we change that?

Getting back to the idea of a petition, if someone would word a well thought out and considered public policy, drawing on the ideas of the RCA, Elliot's ideas, some ideas utilized in a program presented at NEFESH last year by the Los Angeles rabbinic community, systems established by organizations like the Catholic Church and the Boyscouts that have learned the hard way about the need for systemic change, we should be able to get a consensus together to use in confronting our legislators, our schools, and our community at large to begin to make changes that would create more safety for our children.


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82. Asher     2/10/08 - 8:29 PM
Sherree

Great!!! Well what seems to be in order is a committee together with Elliot as mentioned earlier which consists of a Rabbinic perspective, a legal perspective, and a clinical perspective who can discuss all these issues and come up with the correct aspects of the petition. Firstly the backing of the RCA's resolution, Elliot's legislation and whatever still needs to be covered.


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83.     2/10/08 - 11:16 PM
Anonymous

It was mentioned previously that Torah Umesorah has set up a registry. Is this true and can someone provide more detail?


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84. Torah Umesorah, leaders, et al     2/11/08 - 12:35 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Dear All:

I was AWOL from my website for the past 10 days or so as my wife and I took our daughter to the west coast for mid-winter break, and I've been catching up on work ever since.

-------------------

As you may know, I keep saying that the abuse situation (and other festering communal issues) is not (only) the fault of our leadership.

We, as community members, have failed to reward those who have the courage to deal honestly with these matters.

Let's set aside abuse for a moment and take the issues of drinking/smoking/drugs/gambling. each of these 4 are very real challenges our kids face. now, just imagine if a 'mainstream' dean or rosh yeshiva decided to do drug testing, or did sessions with his talmidim about the ills of gambling, smoking or drinking; or (gasp) brought in someone from GA or AA to speak to his talmidim.

you and i know what would happen. he may as well close down his school. why? because the thinking is, "If he addressed these issues, he must have a problem in his school." (and by inference, those who are silent, must not have the problem in their schools.)

(BTW; the heavy drinking among our bachurim is totally out of control, and there are gambling rings in brooklyn run by mobsters from the former soviet union that are packed with frum kids every night of the week. I wrote about this 3 years ago in the jewish press)

so, we actually reward under-the-carpet-sweeping and punish the pragmatic addressing of issues at hand.

my friends, WE are to blame, not (only) our leaders.

back to the abuse matter; If one of our heimishe mosdos did staff fingerprinting, the whispers would start and turn into shouting -- "school X has a problem. they even are fingerprinting their staff members!" I'll bet that people would run away from that yeshiva faster than from one who is accused of covering an abuser for decades!!

------------------

For the record, Torah Umesorah drafted a 3-page addendum on sex abuse which was prepared for yeshivos to add to their employee contracts. It was released at a session on abuse at the torah umesorah convention that i attended several years ago.

at darchei noam, where i serve as dean, we added the addendum to the contracts the very next year and have done so since. In fact, each of our staff members needs to sign that he/she has reviewed the sex-abuse addendum as part of his/her contract.

I never took a poll, but I'm afraid that many mosdos do not use the addendum.

Why? Because WE as parents have sent strong messages to school heads that we don't want proactive steps to be taken, and we will turn our backs on those who do address matters.

We cannot keep pushing (all) the blame off on our gedolim. Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky s'hlita spoke very firmly at that session about abuse prevention and pushed mosdos to speak to their employees about do's and don'ts for interaction with children. (FYI; this was well before the high-profile incident with the rebbi from a brooklyn yeshiva.)

I'll be glad to email anyone a copy of the abuse addendum. Drop me an email at yhdarchei@aol.com.

Yakov

(aren't you glad to have me back -- rested and feisty??)


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85. Rabbi Horowitz     2/11/08 - 12:53 PM
cb

Yes Rabbi, life without you was unbearable.

Thank you for your comments!


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86.     2/11/08 - 1:31 PM
M

Let's set aside abuse for a moment and take the issues of drinking/smoking/drugs/gambling. each of these 4 are very real challenges our kids face.

I think "our kids" is too general a phrase. What % of yeshivish or chasidish kids face these challenges and what do you mean by having to face them? Do you mean that the average yeshivish or chasidish kid is tempted to do each of these four things on a regular basis? How regularly?

just imagine if a 'mainstream' dean or rosh yeshiva decided to do drug testing, or did sessions with his talmidim about the ills of gambling, smoking or drinking; or (gasp) brought in someone from GA or AA to speak to his talmidim.

I would not mind a session or two about the ills of those vices. I would definitely mind drug testing. If a child is acting out in school and the principal suspects drugs, he should contact the parents and discuss this with them, perhaps insisting that the child be tested before being allowed back at school. But the entire school? I think that would be a major chutzpa and a major chinuch blunder. the heavy drinking among our bachurim is totally out of control

Rather than hit the panic button, could you give some facts and figures and sources for them?


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87. R Twerski - constructivist vs traditional education     2/11/08 - 3:15 PM
Ak

your list might bring schools in line with public schools with regard to resources for challenging kids but still leaves kids with no education in the wider sense of the word , not become life long learners, not aquiring a love of learning. The educational philosophy of the school , fostering progressive and constructivist education will be more defining to the type of education our kids will receive. I should hope that the limudei kodesh already reflects a ' constructivist ' approach. We need to discuss what type of education we want - traditional or constructivist , sometimes I get the feeling that limdei kodesh is adopting the secular ' traditional ' approach.


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88. responding to "M"     2/11/08 - 9:02 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

re the smoking/drinking matter, I do not have any hard numbers, but there are many yeshivos, especially in eretz yisroel where more than 50% of the bachurim smoke. don't take my word for it; ask some boys yourself.

as for the drinking, here is a homework assignment: ask the next 3 hatzalah mmebers you see how many times they have been called to tend to a bachur who was ill or worse due to a dangerous level of drinking. then, count the hatzalah members in your community and tell me if we have a problem. (BTW; i've written many columns on this subject. do a search for drinking on my site)

or; i can invite dr twerski to respond, sharing his take on these 4 challenges.

and, i did not suggest that we do random drug testing in our schools. but i think it would be a good idea for at least one person in each high school to know what kids who are on drugs look like when they are high or coming off a high. then, test those who fit the pattern.

-------------

M:

I read my post and it seems to have a bit of an edge to it.

Sorry if that is the case. That was not my intention

YH


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89.     2/11/08 - 9:18 PM
Rachel J.

Rabbi Horowitz,

I am starting to think you are the only Rabbi who lives in the real world, so many others live in la la land. There are simply not enough words to thank you for what you are doing!

Hatzlacha


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90.     2/12/08 - 4:32 PM
M

there are many yeshivos, especially in eretz yisroel where more than 50% of the bachurim smoke.

In Israeli society, that is normal. Men in kollel smoke and certain roshei yeshiva smoke. When Americans go to Israel, they are exposed to a frum society that condones smoking. You can work on trying to change this, but I think it would be more effective if Rabbi Elyashiv and the Gerrer and Belzer Rebbes came out against it. For some reason, they are not.

ask the next 3 hatzalah mmebers you see how many times they have been called to tend to a bachur who was ill or worse due to a dangerous level of drinking.

I would like to know, are these bachurim part of chareidi and chassidic groups. Is this a recurring problem in Lakewood? In New Square?

i did not suggest that we do random drug testing in our schools

sounded like it though ;)

but i think it would be a good idea for at least one person in each high school to know what kids who are on drugs look like when they are high or coming off a high. then, test those who fit the pattern.

that's altogether different and I think it has to include the parents, i.e. say the child will not be admitted back to school without it.


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91. Rabbi Horowitz's comments     2/13/08 - 9:17 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Not only are schools afraid of talking about these issues becasue of thier image, I also heard a prominent Rav who WAS encouraging drug education in schools, say that nevertheless in certain chassidish yeshivas that are very sheltered, it could be a problem of exposing the kids to a bad behavior they don't know about, presumably putting them at risk for this behavior.

I get very frustrated by such short sighted thinking. I asked the Rav publicly if we should also stop teaching the Asseres Hadibros, because it exposes the children to adultery, incest, murder, stealing, idolatry, coveting your neighbor's wife, etc. Not all kids have thought about these issues until they learn it in the Torah. Presumably, the reason that we "expose" them to it is to teach them what not to do. What does the Rav think the drug education consists of, a how to party hearty show? "Look, kids, this is how much fun ecstasy is, why not try some?" Why is it any more dangerous to expose kids to what is out there with a thorough scientific, religous/spiritual, psychological and social explanation of the terrible dangers out there in real life then it is to teach them about murder, something I hope they are not exposed to in their community as well.

As for the school image problem Rabbi Horowitz describes, I kind of think the same question applies. If you teach about the Asseres Hadibros or about any aveira or bad midda, does that mean it is rampant in your school? That might explain why many schools allow certain bad behaviors such as bullying to go on unadressed, rather than admit that it exists in their school. But of course, all of these dangers need to be addressed in ALL schools so there should be no problem of suspected bad image, just because it is being talked about.

Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky has personally approved a curriculum for teaching kids about sexual abuse, that is being used in the vast majority of frum schools in Los Angeles. Getting not only the endorsements of these kind of Gedolim, but also their criticism of schools who are neglectful in teaching about drugs, alcohol, gambling, bullying and sexual abuse, would lessen the stigma attached in such school based intervention/prevention programs and would make it so mainstream that schhools would end up being embarrassed not to have it rather than to have it. As has been expressed extensively already on this site, it is not only the Gedolim's responsibility. If parents would think about it and be concerned about the dangers out there and understand the value of education on safety they could demand it of their schools, and they could "vote with their feet" by choosing the schools that showed the sechel to add this to their curriculum.

I think that either the Gedolim or possibly an organization like NEFESH (Orthodox Mental Health Proffessionals) or if a parents rights organization such as suggested by Elliot Passik and Sherree, could achieve this relatively easily. I asked Rabbi Dr. A.J. Twersky if he agreed that Nefesh should make a curriculum and a standard for safety education and then give public endorsements to those schools that follow it, and he liked the idea in principle. No school would need to be criticized, but parents could at least know if a particular yeshivah school had the "hechsher" of the leading group of frum clinicians. I believe (but am not sure) that was never implemented because many people at Nefesh felt it was not the place of clinicains to dictate public policy on education/chinuch issues. That while rabbis and parents would certainly do well to consult mental health proffessionals on these kinds of issues, it is still up to them to ultimatley decide what they want. But that would seem to leave it up to Torah Umesorah or to rabbinic leaders or to parents who organize to follow Reb Shmuel's lead in endorsing and encouraging schools to take on these issues. I don't know of a frum parents organization at this point, and I haven't asked any rabbinical leaders if they would agree with this. Rabbi Horowitz, do you know how the Aguda rabbis would feel on this issue?

Asher


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92. Philly?     2/13/08 - 10:24 AM
M

Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky has personally approved a curriculum for teaching kids about sexual abuse, that is being used in the vast majority of frum schools in Los Angeles.

Is it used in his own yeshiva in Philly? In the vast majority of frum schools in Philly?


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93. In Philly     2/13/08 - 11:22 AM
Andy - Wesley Hills, NY

It is a program for elementary school children. Philly is a high school.


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94. Philly     2/13/08 - 1:17 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

It may be true that the program is designed for elementary schools, but what are people waiting for to design a program for high schools? I think that there are a lot of high school kids have not learned these things in their elementary schools. What is everyone waiting for? And why only the elementary schools in L.A.? Why not in New York? At the Nefesh conference where the program was presented, all the New York therapists were wondering about this discrepancy.


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95.     2/13/08 - 1:28 PM
Anonymous

Because the laypeople in NY have not taken the advice and exhortations of Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky in the way that the laypeople of LA have.

The field is open for laypeople/Askonim to take action, and heed his words.


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96.     2/13/08 - 1:30 PM
Anonymous

It's understandable that the therapist of NY would not want to take on this burden, perhaps because of blurring of roles issues, perhaps because of other reasons.

So it is up to other community people to follow and implement the directives.


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97.     2/13/08 - 4:30 PM
Anonymous

If it is true that Torah Umesorah has set up a registry as someone earlier commented, why has this not be shared with parents? How can it be taken seriously when they do not communicate it with the parents? So long as they do not share it with parents, they are following in what they have done until now which is that THEY will handle things and leave us parents out. THat is a recipe doomed for failure as we have seen. If parents would know that the Torah Umesorah is serious and has established a registry, then, at the very least, when a credible accusation against a Rebbi is made, we can push to have his name on the registry. Perhaps they do not want us parents involved. They can boast that they are taking measures, but what is it really all worth if it is behind closed doors and there is no public awareness?


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98.     2/13/08 - 4:34 PM
Anonymous

Why is Kovod still given to the Rosh Yeshiva of a major Yeshiva who has personally been involved in the cover up of the molester Rebbi in his Yeshiva for 25 plus years? We all know who I am talking about.

Why is he welcomed with open arms into Lakewood - Ihr Hatorah? Why is he allowed to open a Yeshiva there and gain more kovod? Where is the public outcry?

When the issue is treif meat in Monsey, nobody hesiated to name the person involved. Are Jewish souls less important than Kosher meat?


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99. You sound like me re the monsey meats     2/13/08 - 4:55 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

to #98

yo ask a good question. i have no answer, only that (as i keep sayng) this is a parenting matter. if parents sent clear messages that they care about these abuse issues (and pulled kids out of schools that don't take this seriously, they would (finally) get addressed.

it goes back to the disconnect that i wrote about in this column.

I hate to joke about such serious matters, but I've been thinking that if we really want to stop abuse in our community, we should spread rumors that abusers are giving the kids lollypops without a hechsher or showing the kids baseball cards. That will get the abusers placed in cherem.

as for the monsey meats, here is what i wrote over a year ago in the jewish press, before the mondrowitz issue became such a public issue. (BTW; it boggles the mind that a monster like mondrowitz was allowed to live in peace for decades.)

http://www.jewishpress.com/displayContent_new.cfm?contentid=20473&mode=a&contentname=Parenting_Matters&recnum=0§ionid=14

I think it is a terribly sad statement that an individual who sold non-kosher food in my hometown of Monsey ran for his life the moment the story broke and was not seen since, while a fiend who molested both Jewish and non-Jewish children in Boro Park is living comfortably in Jerusalem while evading extradition. I am most certainly not promoting or condoning vigilante violence. But it would be a positive step forward when child molesters in our community need to ask for police protection for fear of being harmed by righteously indignant people. Incredibly, in that case, only the non-Jewish parents pressed charges. Here is the text from a “Nightline” segment on the subject: “The only victims who cooperated with the investigation were Italian. They were neighborhood boys who trusted the rabbi because he bought them gifts, like bicycles. Not a single Orthodox Jewish boy or his parents would talk to the police (Emphasis added). The statements of four Italian boys aged 11- 16, were the basis for the indictment against Avrohom Mondrowitz. He was facing eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a child, and five counts ofsodomy in the first degree.” I ask, “Are Jewish children less sacred and worthy of protection than non-Jewish children?”


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100. why?     2/13/08 - 5:09 PM
Anonymous

What's your explanation Rabbi Horowitz, for the silence on the part of Jewish parents of children who were molested? Do they care less for their children than Italians? Do they care more about protecting their son's therapist over protecting their children?

Or is it about protecting their children in a different way - not wanting them to be the talk of the town? You seem to think this reason is not valid. Why?


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101. Anon#100     2/13/08 - 10:12 PM
Sherree

Maybe it is because we have a tendency to quiet things not only to protect our "Frum" persona but for future Shiduch purposes. WE as a society have terribly long memories when it comes to shiduchim. There is always someone willing to bring up anything that happened in a child's past, whether or not it is relevent to the present.

In different cases it might have to do with the fact that the child himself would not be able to handle the public scrutiny on top of the already horrendous nightmare he went through.

However, that shouldn't stop US the public from responding and standing up for the silent victims. There should be protests in E"Y around his home supporting and pushing for extradition. There should be protests and rallies when he lands in the states and his trial should have the streets outside packed; as large an amount of people demanding justice for the victims as with a Rav's levayah. And when that happens, when that particular "osvarf" suffers the humiliation and degradation that he caused his victims, then it will be a public declaration that WE will not allow this to happen to our children, we will not look away, we will not turn a deaf ear because they are young and the perpetrator has falsely gained respect in the community.

Another question was asked earlier "how was this particular RAV allowed to open up a new yeshiva in Lakewood, how could he be honored" etc? I have two things to say about that. Was he feeling some of the heat in Brooklyn that he decided to open in another area where he can play and be more comfortable?

And the second of course is if there is no bochurim to attend the yeshiva there is no yeshiva. It is the parent's choice whether or not to "trust" the administration and send the child there. As is the Olam's responsibility to show such a person that we do not "honor" him and do not appreciate what he did.

People choose to do what they do, if we reward them with honor and absolution of their accountability and responsibility then we have no one to blame but ourselves. I believe he is manipulting the public now as much as he did then, and that is because no one is stopping him. He has the "right" to open up as many Yeshivas that he wants to. The question is will YOU honor him with your son's presence? As long as there are ostriches with their heads in the sand the cycle will continue to spin and the ball will continue to bounce. We as parents HAVE the power to make these decisions for our own children and families. We just don't want to realize it. When someone with his "experience" opens up a Yeshiva they want the "best" boys. Well it isn't hard to get the "best" boys into other Yeshivas as well. WE don't need him to run a Yeshiva for our children. There are Yeshivas opening left and right. They open on a small scale not on a grand level as he can, but they will grow, and they will grow on the premise of appropriate practices and policies.

I want to address those who will say that he did a lot of good, and so many wonderful bochurim emerged from his Yeshiva. This is true, bu we also have to give credit to the Bochurim themselves, their parents, and ALL their Rebbeim and teachers who taught them. Not just those who run the Yeshiva. Just because one has done good or is doing good that doesn't make him G-d and does not give him the right to put so many children in harm's way. There is no way of knowing how many children were actually effected and/or molested. And therefor there is no way of knowing how many incidents he himself could have prevented by removing the perpetrator from temptation and making sure he received the psychological assistance that he needed. Don't forget that this man was not only a Rebbe in this Yeshiva he ran his own sleep-away camp. That is a huge responsibility that this Rabbi/Administrator ignored. His maasim tovim do not outweigh the damage he allowed.

I want to emphasise one more thing that I was surprised to see. I want to point out how very hurt Rabbi Horowitz is about the Mondrowitz situation. His pain is very clear and obvious, since it was his own rules that we do not mention names on his site. The fact that he himself has bent the rules in this case shows us the severity of this particular situation and that it might be a good starting point for us to work from. The title of this article describes this individual and I am sure that much thought was given to him as the article was written. You can't think of what this man did and how he got away with it without breaking down in tears. I don't know anyone that doesn't know of him and his story even before it was publicized with the extradition.

If it were another type of monster we would band together to protest his arrival. We protested against Arafat and in my book he is a terrorist as well. He terrorizes young adults and children and steals their innocence. I use the present tense because we don't know what he did the past 20 some odd years in E"Y. Did he go for therapy or were there more victims?

As far as the other RAV, if it was a different industry he would be forced to retire. I am sure he can find a chavrusa his own age, or in retirement that appreciate his learning ability. I am sure he will continue to have a lot of nachas from his grandchildren and great grandchildren. And as far as I am concerned they are the only children that should benefit from his chinuch at this point in time.


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102. Mondrowitz     2/13/08 - 11:44 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

sherree:

the hurt you correctly read in my column about that evil monster mondrowitz was a result of my personal interaction with more than a few of his victims. (and I did have him in mind when I used the word monster in the title of the column)

some went on with their lives, some never married, some had their relationships shredded as a result of his murderous actions, and i suspect that at least one killed himself (that is unconfirmed).

mondrowitz is an evil, evil man. shame on all of us for allowing him to sleep peacefully in his bed at night for 20 years -- in yerushalayim of all places -- while his victims toss and turn in theirs.

throughout the entire brouhaha about the gay parade, i was tempted to publish a column (it is 3/4 written already) telling all those who were protesting the parade that they should protest outside that rasha mondrowitz's house -- as he caused more yiddishe kinder to become gay as a result of his peverted acts than 100 parades would ever do.

speech over.


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103. Words from the heart enter the heart...     2/14/08 - 5:11 AM
Yardena - EY

Rabbi Horowitz, your words totally gutted me. Thank you for not allowing us to remain asleep.

I live in Eretz Yisrael, though not in Yerushalayim. What can I do about this Mondrowitz fiend? Where is he working/learning right now?

(Until all the details were mentioned in this line, I actually had no idea who anyone was talking about when he was alluded to in previous posts. Okay, I still don't, but his name and that he's right here...Eew. How can I do nothing?)


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104. New Monsters in Lakewood     2/14/08 - 8:18 AM
Andy - Wesley Hills, NY

The reason that this Rosh Yeshiva was able to start a new Yeshiva in Lakewood is because, unfortunately, molestation is tolerated in Lakewood. Speak to the therapists and rabbonim. They'll tell you, as they told me, how their beis din does "so well" in "controlling" their too numerous, molesters rather than handing them over to secular authorities.

Yes, their rabbonim condone internal controls for known molesters instead of following the professional advise they have been given by the experts. It's sad, but true. This is one case where, unfortunately, the gedolim, are to blame.

So this fact has not escaped "that" rosh yeshiva. If molesters are quietly tolerated and their names are kept unknown to the Lakewood public, certainly he too, will be tolerated. It's a shame, and I pray that people will wake up to this.


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105.     2/14/08 - 11:51 AM
Anonymous

Yet, some years ago, when a Lakewood daycare in some veibel's home was shut down because molestation of the 2 year olds was going on, something about porn sites, they were forced to leave Lakewood. They ultimately found a home in Broolyn and the people on the block were well aware of who they were.

What would you do if you lived on that block and her children were in your children's class or school? Would you invite her children over to your house? Is it their fault that their father is a pervert? Could you or would you stop them from buying or renting a home in a frum community? Would you say their children should not be allowed into a Jewish school?


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106.     2/14/08 - 1:05 PM
Anonymous

Rav Horowitz,

As you did not hesitate to mention the name of the rasha Mondrowitz, as a loyal reader I feel it is my duty to stop beating around the bush and name the rosh yeshiva and molester that we all are talking about:

(Rabbis)Margulies and Kolko responsible for destroying perhaps hundreds of yiddishe neshomos nebach. By the way, Kolko is sick. Margulies, though, knew about this some 20 plus years ago when teenagers came and testified at a Bais Din. Margulies took over from there and ensured that the Bais Din proceedings went nowhere. He is directly responsible for the spritiual murder of anyone who was victimized since that time - and we know that there are quite a few. How on earth can Margulies be welcomed to Lakewood? It is getting harder and harder to stay faithful when such hypocrisy is rampant.

Why not publicly mention their names? This is part of the problem of coverup in that we think it is wrong to name the names of these dregs of society.


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107. Misplaced Honor     2/15/08 - 11:30 AM
Sherree

Again I will say that the Rabbonim choose to do what they do, and will honor their own peers for whatever reasons they have. And I don't know of the issues being spoken about in Lakewood, but I will still say this. If it is happening again in Lakewood as it happened in Flatbush and R'Solomon is allowing it to happen. The Olam still has the power to choose which Rabbonim they will honor and the parents still have the power to allow their children to attend yeshiva or not.

Just as R' Solomon kept the yeshivas closed till all students were placed, so should the parents keep the schools closed till all "molesters" taken to Bais Din, are removed from the school and the children are out of harms way. The parents as a group should go to the local police department and take out a restraining order to keep the perpetrator away from their children. This will take the onus off the yeshiva from firing him, but will not allow him to enter the school where the children attend.

I would need Elliot to explain the procedure because I am not an attorney, but if a parent went to court quietly to get a restraining order, it would not be publicized and the "accused" would be removed from temptation without a big scene. Unless of course he wishes to fight the court order publicly. That is the choice of the parent and the accused. If the parents are being "handled" as in the case in Flatbush. They have the choice whether or not to allow that to happen to them, or to take it a step further.


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108. Sherree's idea     2/15/08 - 12:45 PM
Parent of a Victim

Sherree, your last post was excellent and empowering to parents. However, there is one thing you kind of "fudged" over. You said that "when parents are being 'handled' like they were in the Brooklyn Yeshiva, they have the choice to take it further."

What choice exactly do they have? When the respected rabbinic establishment (i.e. the gedolim, the rosh yeshivas, etc.) back the rabbi who is covering for the molestor, and if a parent presses charges or "takes it further" in any way, they are attacked with mafia-like tactics. One parent just brought the issue to the attention of the hanhalla, and was threatened about the 'safety' of his children. The threat apparently was that if he did not keep his mouth shut, the Rosh Yeshiva would call all of the schools of each of this parent's children and get them thrown out. In order for the issue in this yeshiva (of molestation over a 40 year period) to be addressed at all, it took one brave soul to go to the goyishe media (New York Magazine) and to sue the yeshiva. This victim, who had carried his secret for 30 years, was a major hero for being the first victim to have the "chutzpah" to sue a Moysad of Torah in order to protect chidren. It helped him that Dovid Framowitz lived out of the country in Israel, because if he lived here his life would have been made into a second experience of hell (following what he went through as a child).

In the chassidishe community, I have been told by a victim that were he to go to the police about what happened to him as a child by a respected member of the community who is a continual threat, he would be shunned by all, would have to leave the community, which his wife doesn't want to do, possibly leading to a divorce.

So, no, Sherree, I don't believe that in our community individual parents have a lot of choices. Until there is widespread education and changing the "hearts and minds" of the masses, anyone standing up for their children has to consider the suicidal nature of confronting the establishment, the defensive tactics of rabbis circling the wagons, and the ex-communication of the community. Its like asking an individual Palestinian Arab in Gaza to do the right thing and speak out against Hamas.

I know of so many more cases. The woman who was sexually abused by a rabbi who takes advantage of counsellees, (NOT the one that has been outed recently in Monsey) who wants to take him to a beis din to pay for expensive therapy treatment for PostTraumaticStressDisorder. She has no legal recourse because the statute of limitations has run out. She has no community recourse because which Beis Din is going to believe her. She does know of a rabbi who is aware of the abuser's antics over more than a decade with several women, but what are the chances that this rabbi will testify against a colleague in a beis din?

I know of parents of a little boy molested by a rebby. The school fired the rebby and recommended treatment, for which of course he did not comply. The boy now sees this man on the streets of Brooklyn, and the man makes threatenting gestures to him. The parents DO get a court order of protection against him, not allowing him to come near the boy. But the poor boy wants his molester in jail, to feel really safe, and considering the risk he poses to others, it would be a good idea for him to be mandated for treatment or jailed. But the community rabbis and Askanim (rich people) are against the "shanda", will not back this woman, and because of legal technicalities the D.A. cannot help her. It's complicated, and I don't want to give too many details, but suffice it to say if her community backed her, it would be easy as pie to get it done.

Let's see, how about the parents of the victims of the "Monster"? For 25 years they suffered because he fled to Israel. It is true as Rabbi Horowitz pointed out that no JEWISH parent came forward at the time to help the police, but as the NITELINE investigation made clear, they were coerced by the community with rabbinic sanctions from cooperating with the secular authorities.

In addition, instead of the powers that be (Gedolim and rabbis) helping the police to have him jailed at the time, they found ways of encouraging and enabling him to flee to Israel, which has become (until very recently) a mecca for U.S., frum, child-molesters to retire to and continue their hobbies. In fact there are rabbis there that are, as we speak, HELPING THE MONSTER in his fight to avoid extradition. This was reported in Haaretz newspaper based on court transcripts. And there is NO public report of ANY rabbi even politely asking these protecting rabbis to let the victims have their day in court. NOT ONE Rabbi would Chas V'Shalom come out against another one for doing the wrong thing. (Unless it involves suing over the dynasty of a Chasidic sect, or multi-million dollar Kashrus Hechsherim contracts).

So, Sherree, and all others who put the onus on parents and let our leaders off the hook, I just want you to know that parents have already tried and learned that "You can't fight city hall." Or if you do dare to try, you had better have someone like Rambo (UOJ?) on your side. It is simply unfair to expect individual parents, or adult victims, to take on the whole communal system and authority and the weight of "Daas Torah" with no rabbinic backing, no Jewish media help, the threats of the establishment "mafia-tactics lies and coverups", ALL while undergoing a terribly personal traumatic situation.

This is not only a problem in our community. A newspaper report from Australia that studied children there, found a shockingly high rate of sexual abuse (although not shocking ot those who know about the psychological research in this country). What children's activists are saying though, is that coming forward and dealing with the law enforcement/judiciary system (testifying, etc.) is just as traumatic for the victims as the actual abuse.

This should not be the case, though in the community that follows ("pays lip service to") the Torah, where it says numerous times that the widow, the orphan and the convert have to be especially cared for because they have noone to look out for them. Victims of abuse are the exact same situation. Nobody in our community cares about them, making their struggle for saftey and healing that much harder.

Rabbi Horowitz's courageous publishing of his articles on the subject, and his amazing openness to creating a space here for us to talk about it, even though it is certainly not politically correct, is a real breath of fresh air, and like Nachshon Ben Aminadav's brave act, I'm sure it will lead to a Hatzallah for Klal Yisroel. I pray that soon, rabbis, askanim and the jewish media, will publicize this site so that every jew will know about the "monster" problem and what victims and parents of victims face. Then I'm sure Klal Yisroel, who are identified by their midda of rachmanus will surely awaken to their calling to help protect their children.


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109. Parent of Victim     2/15/08 - 2:21 PM
Sherree

I hear you loud and clear and that is why Elliot speaks of forming an organization so parents have a place to come to with ther cases and to people on the organization from various professional arenas such as politicians, attorneys, clinicians, Rabinic authorities, former victims etc. Such a group can and will gain a voice and power to protect, advice and defend the victims. Discussions as we are having here, are bringing people forward who are willing to work together to start things happening. It is horribly devastating that nothing has be done before to ban parents together and give them some power and safety in numbers. But that should not get in the way of us doing it now. The Rabbinic authorities have been using that tactic for years just as you claim, by putting groups together in bais din, and calling "all" the yeshivas and kicking out "all" the kids. Well if many of us or all of us would join an organized group of parents and adult Jews who advocate for the rights of children, abuse victims and prevention of future abuse victims, maybe we can take away the power that seems to currently be in play. No one stays in power forever, and if "we" are in the right, Hashem will help us in "our" efforts. I have complete faith and emunah that when yiddin ban together l'shem mitzvah and to protect the matanas that Hashem gave us, our innocent children, Hashem will help us and show us the way. He will bless our efforts and give us brocha and mazal to succeed.


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110. Sherree's bracha     2/15/08 - 4:22 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.d.

Amen.


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111. What about "Rodef"?     2/17/08 - 12:05 AM
Benzion Twerski

I have a single question to ask regarding the pattern of cover-ups that have prevented the secular courts from serving as a source of protection for our children.

Have we forgotten that the perpetrator of sexual abuse is qualified as a “rodef”? If we were to present the shailoh to any posek without using a name, we would arrive at rulings that guide us to get the monsters into jail immediately. Once we produce a name, we allow for defensiveness, and for the monsters to continue their exposure to past and future victims. Can’t we recognize this? Halacha does not support keeping these perpetrators free.


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112. I meant what I said in #103     2/17/08 - 2:54 AM
Yardena - EY

If I just picked up the phone and called the police on Mondrowitz, assuming that he was a warrant for his arrest in America, wouldn't that get things moving? Doesn't he have a file in America? That's the impression I got from this line of postings. If someone could just tell me what the situation is, I can go ahead.


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113. To Dr. Twersky     2/17/08 - 3:37 AM
Potential reporter

Obviously, halacha is clear on this issue. But as you posted Rabbis REFUSE to follow this halacha. Orthodox rabbis rejoice in attacking Reform and Conservative for not following halacha, and for picking and choosing. But as Rabbi Horowitz suggested, they do the same exact thing. If you told them that someone was passing out non kosher lolipops, or chas v'shalom baseball cards which breaks the halacha of bchukosehem, or something, they would have no problem in destroying someone's reputation for doing these things and not have rachmanus on his family. Case in point, the sheitel store that had pictures of ladies faces modeling sheitels that was forced by Reb Aharon Shechter to take them down or risk a boycott. No worry about the innocent children's loss of livelihood, or shidduch prospects. Only when it comes to child molesters is there a hallowed position in the rabbis refusal to act according to halacha and keep the children safe. So the average Jew like myself, has no rabbi to go to who will advise him to report, and if I am "caught" doing the mitzvah/aveira????? of trying to protect Jewish children, I have my own children's shidduchim to worry about. We live in a Kafkaesqe society. The hypocrisy and corruption is unequaled since the time of Biblical prophecy of terrible tragedy for our people. But we have no prophets now to set us strait.

My idea is that even if the rabbis don't want to follow halacha and hand over the roydef, could they at least take the step of davening for the victims? How about a Yom Tzom or Public Thilim as a way of showing solidarity. At least the molesters will see that they aren't as loved and appreciated as they must feel with all of the protection the accruse. Do you think the rabbis could muster THAT much sympathy for traumatized Jews who they failed to protect?

As for those of us who would like to report without facing the wrath of the whole community led by its rabbis, can you , Dr. Twersky, offer any advice? You already posted once saying that there is no way. Do you know of ANY rabbis who would back us up? Maybe there are some that are "closet" supporters of victims, waiting for us to act before they voice their support publicly. Do you know how many hundreds and thousands of victims are keeping quiet and suffering in silence because of their fear that these rabbis will not back them up? Studies show that less than 1 in 10 women in the U.S. who has been raped ever report it to authorities. That shows that community response and shame are problems everywhere. But in our small community, we could reverse this by sticking up for them.

A few years ago, there was an evening in Flatbush in which rabbis addressed victims. Tapes are available to the public, I'm not sure how, but maybe others are. First of all, it was not referred to as child molestation by name, only by hinting. Then, Rav Pam ZT"L spoke about a totally different subject, as if the organizers couldn't bring themselves to tell him what the event was about. Then Rabbi Reisman spoke about two cases of child molestation, that occurred at the hands of NON-FRUM people, insinuating to those of us who had been molested by frum people that what happened to us never did. He also answered a question about victims' sense of betrayal by saying that there was no betrayal involved in bad things happening to innocent victims. Then Reb Shmuel Kaminetsky told a woman who had been molested 30 years ago NOT to tell her husband because there was no way he would understand. The theme of the evening....Victims should not feel ashamed of themselves. The outcome of the evening, more shame and betrayal.

If not for the crazy bloggers, Kolko would still be molesting, Margolis would still be covering up, Mondrowitz would still be sleeping safe and sound in Yerushalayim with the child-porn they found on his computer and who knows how many more Jewish children destroyed, Colmer, the first Orthodox person extradited from Israel, would still be learning in the Mir Yeshivah running youth groups in which he was molesting children by having oral sex with them, and Rabbi Eiseman would still be the Mashgiach of Ner Yisroel in Baltimore, having since retired in controversy over his molestations.

The Agudah's reaction to the bloggers' success? Praise, gratitude, support? Of course not! At the keynote address of the Aguddah convention last year, the theme was the "danger" of the internet bloggers. As for the horror of 40 years of molestation by Kolko in Torah Tmimah and camp Agudah? It was referred to as "the one that slipped through our fingers", by Reb Matisyahu Solomon.

Uru Yeshaynim Misheenaschem. Until regular jews, and professionals, and rabbis step up to the plate, nothing will change. Traumatized parents, and traumatized victims cannot be expected to lead the way. They need help from the community. And like holocaust survivors who wouldn't speak of their experiences with anyone, because they felt that noone would believe or understand, victims have been neglected and abandoned by the community for so, so long that it will take something on the level of a Shindler's List blockbuster movie to make them willing to come forward.

I know of people who are working on movies about the abuse coverup that is being perpetrated on our people. But none with Spielberg's talent or credentials. Is there any other way we can reach out to victims?

Is there any other way we can reach out to rabbis and community members? What would it take for Agudas Yisroel to allocate 5% of their programming funds to help survivors of abuse with counseling, legal, and communal support? What about a statement from the gedolim in support and being mechazek the halacha of "Lo Saamod Al Dam Reyecha", mandating the reporting of a roydef by every single one of us.

I would like to report, but I've been told that the halacha of Chayecha Kodmim comes first. That in our community it is suicidal to keep the mitzvah of Lo Saamod. Can't we change that by teaching that reporters should be encouraged not attacked?


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114. RE: #103     2/17/08 - 9:30 AM
Yoel B

At last report Mondrowitz is in custody in Israel pending any final appeals he may make. Should the appeals be denied it is then the Israeli government's decision . Vos iz Neias quoted Haaretz as follows:

Israeli Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said the Jerusalem District Court approved the extradition order, but Mondrowitz has the right to appeal.

Court spokeswoman Tal Rosner said the state would make the final decision about whether to extradite Mondrowitz, who could appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against Sunday's ruling.

It is my understanding that certain rabbis continue to back his attempts to block extradition.


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115.     2/17/08 - 9:32 AM
Anonymous

At last report Mondrowitz is in custody in Israel pending any final appeals he may make. Should the appeals be denied it is then the Israeli government's decision . Vos iz Neias quoted Haaretz as follows: Israeli Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said the Jerusalem District Court approved the extradition order, but Mondrowitz has the right to appeal.

Court spokeswoman Tal Rosner said the state would make the final decision about whether to extradite Mondrowitz, who could appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court against Sunday's ruling.

It is my understanding that certain rabbis continue to back his attempts to block extradition.


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116. Correction of #114 and 115     2/17/08 - 9:35 AM
Yoel B

I couldn't get the quotation to close. The final comment about rabbis helping Mondrowitz fight extradition was mine, and was not part of the quotation.


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117. Potential Reporter     2/17/08 - 12:18 PM
Sherree

Since the RCA did step up to the plate with its resolutions. Is it posible to lookt to the RCA for some assistance?


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118. News Article - Mondrowitz     2/17/08 - 12:32 PM
Sherree

Brooklyn rabbi accused of sexual abuse loses extradition battle BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem and DAVE GOLDINER in New York DAILY NEWS WRITERS

Monday, February 11th 2008, 4:00 AM

Matthew Kalman Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz An Israeli judge ruled Sunday that a disgraced Brooklyn rabbi accused of sexually abusing children more than two decades ago can be extradited to the U.S.

Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, who fled to the Jewish state in 1984 to avoid prosecution, could now be headed back to Brooklyn within a matter of months to face sodomy and sex abuse charges.

"It's good news," said Michael Lesher, who represents several of the rabbi's alleged victims. "This order means he'll be on the way back to face trial."

Mondrowitz, 60, a married father of seven, could still appeal the decision to the Israeli Supreme Court, a move that could take nearly a year to resolve.

"There's still some work to be done," said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. "We look forward to bringing him to justice in Brooklyn."

Mondrowitz was arrested last year after the U.S. and Israel agreed to broaden their extradition pact.

The rabbi argued that the statute of limitations had run out on his alleged crimes.

But Judge Nava Ben-Or ruled Mondrowitz should not benefit from fleeing prosecution.

"When someone is escaping justice it is only fair and reasonable that this period of time is not taken into account," said Gal Levertov, an Israeli Justice Department official.

Dressed in a long black coat and yarmulke, the shackled Mondrowitz sat impassively as the judge read his decision.

His wife and children sat behind him, but were prevented by two guards from touching or talking to him.

"I'm very proud of my kids. I'm always proud of my kids," Mondrowitz said to his family as he was led away.

"We're proud of you, too," one of his sons cried out.

Mondrowitz was once a popular child psychologist and youth counselor in Borough Park, where he was especially well-known among Hasidic Jews.

He fled to Israel after several boys filed horrific complaints claiming he sodomized them after befriending them or taking them on outings to amusement parks and movies.

One of Mondrowitz's victims told Lesher he was pleased that the rabbi is one step closer to facing trial for his alleged crimes.

"It's been a long time to see any sort of justice," Lesher said. "We feel we are tangibly closer now."

dgoldiner@nydailynews.com


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119. Thanks, Sherree     2/17/08 - 3:37 PM
Potential Reporter

I hadn't thought of that because the RCA is not "yeshivish" and my abuser is in a black hat yeshivah, so I don't know how the politics would work there. A) They may not want to get involved, but it doesn't hurt to try. B) Their protection of me in the black hat community to which I belong, will not be as helpful as if a yeshivish leader would endorse my actions.

But it is a good idea, nonetheless, and I sincerely thank you. I will look into it, Bli Neder, and get back if I have anything to "report".


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120. Perspective     2/18/08 - 12:44 AM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

The abuse problem should not be viewed in isolation. It is but one symptom of our dysfunctional yeshiva "system" that does not, on a comprehensive basis, address abuse, tuition, and all the other issues. Things are so dysfunctional that a lawyer, such as myself, has to work nearly alone in seeking to put some basic laws on the books that will assure safety for our children - meanwhile, the organization poohbahs sit on their hands, or worse, oppose me.

I've seen a lot over the past few years. There are images in my mind I will never forget. On the good side, a few weeks ago, I was trying to persuade a major secular organization to support a New York mandatory background check law. It took a strong amount of legal work for me to get a seat at the table - heavy duty research and writing. Finally, the moment came for a formal meeting and vote - and I saw 18 hands raised in favor, and none against. It was a wonderful moment, as I saw 18 caring, concerned people take a stance for the greater good of society.

The group was eclectic - all religions and races,and I was the lone orthodox Jew. For the first time in my career, I wore a yarmulke in the course of work, because of the nature of the task. Two months before, wearing my yarmulke, I had to explain why my community could not get its act together for preventing child sex abuse. There is a deep split between the modern, centrist orthodox and the ultra-orthodox, was the best I could say. I felt a sense of shame and humiliation for my community.

Another defining moment came when, in a Chareidi newspaper, after the public revelations about the now indicted Kolko, I saw photographs of his Rosh Yeshiva being greeted warmly in Lakewood as he was opening a new branch there. I've learned the hard way how to realize who my friends are.

Notwithstanding the bad news, I am optimistic about the future. I like the fact that a good number of people here and elsewhere are communicating so intelligently. Even better, some seem to realize that a parents organization is a necessity, because there is a vacuum in the existing leadership addressing our issues. Sherree and I live approximately in the same area, and I hope to meet with her in the next few weeks - maybe more of us can also meet or computer talk, and such an organization can become a reality.


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121. A very pained parent....     2/18/08 - 9:29 AM
Rachel J.

I just pulled my kids out of a chareidi yeshiva because they made my boys learn Torah as a punishment. My older son stood up for my younger son who was being beaten up by an older boy. Nobody was hurt. So, the principal in his right mind said your older son should have looked for an adult, he should have left his younger brother being hurt & looked for an adult. So, all the boys got the same punishment, older & younger. Not only that they were given to learn our Holy Torah as a punishment but to top it all off they had to write the halachos & explanations of the portion that they learned 5 times over & over. My husband & I spoke with our Rabbonim, who are very well respected in our community, yeshivish & all, but apparently not big enough for this very big principal of this chareidi yeshiva, because he said to my husband point blank, "I do not care for your Rabbonim & Poskim, I don't care for the whole Gantsa Klal Yisroel" , my husband tried to explain to him that we do not oppose for the boys to have an assignment, even though I hold my kids did nothing wrong, but for the sake of damage control I understand some type of an assignment has to be given, we said let the boys write a composition or some other assignment, but he said to us very straight, "you are wrong, boys should learn as a punishment". And to top it all off, he said it to us in front of our children, My husband asked him more than once please let's go & talk privately but his arrogance & ga'avah took over, my husband walked out of there sick. The principal did not care to reach out to the boys, he was more interested in pushing his policy than anything else.

I am very interested to hear what others would do in our situation, would you let your kids learn & be turned off & have a horrible taste for learning the Holy Torah but go along with the principal's policy, (& I do mean principal's policy, the Rebbeim were very upset with the whole situation & so were some other people in the yeshiva, but no one says anything to the principal, it's a dictatorship) or would you stand up for what you believe in even though it might potentially hurt your children because of the change in schools.

We did speak with more than one Rov before we pulled them out of this school, everyone agreed that it might be hard for them to change schools in the middle of the year but in the long run you are teaching them a very important lesson.

My kids are starting new yeshiva tomorrow, I explained to the new yeshiva exactly why I left the other yeshiva, the principal of the new yeshiva assured me that he does not have such ugly policies, forcing boys to learn as a punishment.

I pray to G-d that my children will not be affected by this horrible incident.


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122. Rachel J     2/18/08 - 11:12 AM
Sherree

There must be terrible confusion on the part of your children. Firstly if your young son was being beaten and your older son saw this. Then can I assume that others saw as well and no one else tried to stop it but the older one? Did the principal not think to say that "someone" should have gone to get an adult? Was it just the responsibility of the only one who loved the child the most to choose either to stop the beating or to get an adult? Under the circumstances it would be interesting to hear your older son's perspective of why he felt he had to jump in at that moment and what all the other observers were doing at the time to either promote or dissolve the fight.

If the policy of the principal was to "punish" these boys by making them learn Torah, what was the policy of the principal in regard to the others who were beating up your boys to begin with? That is another question I have about the scenario because no doubt that is going to be another question the boys are going to have irregardless of the punishment itself.

Regarding the punishment which was unfair to the victim and his defender. This principal is obviously not a "menchanech" but a person who chose a job and a way for himself to make a living. Maybe he learned his particular way of teaching from his own father. If he used the relevance of a parsha from the Torah in reference to brotherly love and fighting, it would be understood why the boys would have to copy this particular piece over to gain an understanding why Jews don't fight with each other. Especially if all the boys involved were punished in the same way.

However, if he just used "busy work" to punish the children with, and obviously he doesn't understand that when the children have such a punishment without the enthusiasm of "learning" the parsha,seguah, or what-have-you, it goes over like yesterdays news and is forgotten as soon as it is read. It is just words and makes no connection one word to the other. It is an exercise in futility.

Obviously this man's need to be right supercedes the children's needs to succeed. His rules and policies are his way or the highway, and in this instance choosing the highway was in actually the absolute "high road" you could have picked for your children. Not every yeshiva is the right shidduch for your children. Even though there may be many mechanchim in the yeshiva that are very devoted and sensitive to your children's needs. If the administration is not, and will get in the way of your children's development and success, it is a no win situation.

It is good you found this out now, before HE had a chance to practice some other of his unique policies on your boys. You have good instincts and the fact that both you and your husband were on the same page with this was a very good example for your children that when they have an issue they can come to their parents with it and discuss it with them. They are not alone and do not have to navigate their problems by themselves. You are both good advocates for your childrn. Kol Hakovod to both of you!


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123.     2/18/08 - 11:12 AM
yoni

When I was in yeshiva, when we were punished we were either given a k'nas or made to copy (by hand) sections of the kitzur (which presumably we knew well, and at the time I could recite at least that section by heart) (and of course, we had to have every capital, letter, and punctuation mark correct, we couldn't fudge it at all, which kept my nose close to the sefer while copying.)

(mostly I was asked to copy the section of being modest and humble (not in the boy girl aspect)... in terms of not being pretentious. I am not sure he'd be pleased with the results of his labor.)


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124.     2/18/08 - 11:24 AM
yoni

and correct me if I'm wrong but wouldn't the proper thing to do be to reward the brother who saved the kid, expell the one who picked the fight (as halachicaly a jew who so much as raises his hand with the intent to hit another jew is a rasha) and also punish every single witness who didn't do anything?

I thought torah demanded us to save people who are being attacked by others. (and getting an adult would have (also) been a good idea, but 3 or 4 kids could easily stop just one other kid, especialy if they're the same age.) but he missed out on a wonderfull chinuch oppurtunity. No wonder incidents happen like the one with mrs. shear if this is what goes on in schools.


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125.     2/18/08 - 11:39 AM
Too long in Galus

Rachel J: You are not alone; other parents (us, too) have been through this exceptionally painful experience. Here is my hindsight, having been through school changes several times: You are probably still reeling from the incident at the old school--nevertheless your children are about to embark on a new chapter and need your presence of mind to help them adjust. Changing midyear is tough; don't expect too much from your kids until June other than to get accustomed to the new surroundings and expectations. Sometimes parents get overworked about their children's performance in the new school, maybe to prove that the transfer was justified. Don't go there--your kids welfare is the top priority, despite any pressures otherwise, even from the new school. Hatzlocha, and may you know no more tsures in your childrens' chinuch.


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126. Bad Experience     2/18/08 - 3:21 PM
Taayere Baal Habos

Rachel J, I do sympathize with you. If possible, poor performance by a yeshiva should not be tolerated. But, and I ask this with deference to Rabbi Horowitz's and this question really is directed to Rabbi Horowitz: is there a reason that the institutions in these cases not be identified? I understand that there are issues with accuracy and he said, she said, but why should not a public forum be created, where individuals can post egregious experiences. Let the yeshivas also have the opportunity to defend themselves as well. I also understand that there might be issues of Loshon Hara, so I'm just asking.


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127.     2/18/08 - 4:06 PM
yoni

Just to add to aboves question:

Isn't it not lashon hara if it serves a real practical basis and is usefull and need to know information, in the sense that it has practical ramifications to the person to whom it is being told?

this might also help pressure schools in to conforming more to espectations in terms of contracts about what the child is entitled to, etc.


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128.     2/18/08 - 4:52 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Taayere:

Was this your comment on the ‘monster’ column??

7. Sensitive subject 1/15/08 - 5:16 PM Tayere Baalhaboos

With all due respect, did you ask Daas Torah before you wrote this?

-----------------

If it is, why don’t you ask da’as Torah if we should be posting names of schools? (just kidding)

Seriously, taayere and yoni; schools are accountable, at least to some degree, as, at least in larger communities, parents have options. (although I realize that there are significant limitations on that.) I guess you can make the case that there would be value in naming schools, but I draw the line on that for my website.

I am already rather tolerant (many would say too tolerant) for what I allow on the entire ‘gedolim’ issue and other issues, I cannot allow it to become a free-for-all – especially since I do not have the time to screen comments.


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129. Modeh.     2/18/08 - 6:49 PM
Taayere Baal Habos

Yes, that original post was mine as well, and I must confess that post was more Lravche D'milsah.

Ether way, I perfectly understand your misgivings about negative information being bandied about without some sort of moderations.

But the more I think about, some sort of public forum for posting these issues and the ability for the Mosdos to respond in kind might go along way in informing the public and keeping some "independent" organizations in check.


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130.     2/18/08 - 6:57 PM
yoni

sorry rabbi.


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131. To name or not to name?     2/18/08 - 11:13 PM
possible solution

Elliot Passik and Sherree have suggested a parents organization to give parents more power to unite and stand up to powerful moysdos that don't acknowledge or feel a need to listen to individual families. If we are not going to name these corrupt moysdos here or anywhere in public (try getting something written about abuse in a particular yeshiva in Yated or Hamodia or even Mishpacha), then maybe a parents group would bring serious problems to the fore and the strength of numbers would force the schools to pay attention.

Rabbi Horowitz, to me it does not seem like it is enough to say that each individual parent has the freedom to change schools. It reminds me of what a friend of mine once said in defense of yeshivas in general. That there's nothing wrong with the system, but bochurim (and presumably parents) need to watch out not to get hurt. So we don't have to fix the schools, we just have to protect our own individual child from the damage that can be done to them in the shool? In some communities there aren't that many schools to choose from, and if you want one with your hashkafa (modern, litvish, chasidish, chabad, satmar, whatever) you really are limited even in New York City (Eer Hakodesh). Also, if you want a frum school that has a good safety policy about protecting children, you apparently have to start looking to really different hashkofos such as Catholic schools or some public schools which have been FORCED to adopt real measures to protect their students. So trying to pull your kid out and switch schools is not a viable answer for parents in the long run.

The problem with the parents organization idea is that nothing ever happens in our community without the haskama of the gedolim. People are just too lazy, afraid, unmotivated, non-thinking, etc. and too FRUM to advocate any change in our traditional way of doing things. The only way this idea of parents having more of a say, such as Elliot and Sherree argue for, or making mutual contracts such as Dr. Twersky has suggested, is if the "Gedolim"/Rabbanim approve, endorse, sign on, anounce and proclaim that this is allowed and encouraged. Otherwise we all know it will be business as usual.

When it came to the issue of human hair sheitels, or bugs in the water, or bugs on vegetables and strawberries, or the issur of the internet, or the need for more modest dress, or the issur of having pictures of ladies modeling sheitels in a sheitel store (which men go in there?), the rabbis speak and people listen. When it came to the takkanos about the chassunas and espenses, the rabbis spoke but noone listened, because the rabbbis themselves couldn't listen to their own decree, due to the need to go the weddings of rich supporters of their mosydos. But if the rabbis would speak on the need of parents to demand better for their children's chinuch, and to at least demand their physical and emotional safety, parents would listen and begin to unite for change.

If the rabbis would speak. Their silence is deafening.

I just saw a t-shirt that read "Procratinators of the world unite....tomorrow."


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132. addendum     2/18/08 - 11:23 PM
To name or not to name

Case in point. Big yeshiva in Brooklyn (not mentioning names) is exposed to have covered up child molestation for decades. Somebody asks a Gadol why he is allowing parents to continue to send their kids there. He says, and I quote, "If parents are crazy enough after all that exposure to continue to send their kids there, then what can I do."

I don't understand. If parents were crazy enough to allow their kids to use the internet, he would do something and has. If parents were crazy enough to allow their daughters to join the Israeli army to serve their country, he would do something and has. If parents were crazy enough to ffed their children unfiltered water, he would do something and has. If parents allow their children to smoke cigarettes, even, rabbis have denounced this. But if parents are REALLY CRAZY enough to expose their children to an extemely unsafe environment in which there are absolutely NO precautions taken against severe psychological trauma, and if it occurs it is denied and covered up, then what can he do?

If even a handful of gedolim would have even slightly encouraged parents to think twice and to choose carefully a safe school for their children, if they would have even expressed the slightest shock and dissappointment with the yeshivah for neglecting childrens safety for so long in such a criminally negligent manner, do you think that the yeshivah would still have the same full enrollment it has? Do you think it would be in the process of successfully starting a branch in Lakewood?

The silence is deafening.


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133. Some reactions     2/19/08 - 9:13 AM
Benzion Twerski

Some knee jerk reactions:

A text message circulating: “Eat all you can now. Rabbonim are almost finished with strawberries.”

This makes us wonder why issues of safety that should be paramount seem to be placed on the back burner.

Another hypnagogic image I had was probably triggered by the sight of a food package near a tape player. Each of these objects has a logo that indicated it was certified as to quality by some independent organization. The tape player was “UL Listed”, and the food package I don’t remember. These organizations are independent from the manufacturer, and their review concluded that the product meets some standards of quality.

Perhaps the organization of parents can devise a logo that schools and yeshivos can apply to a corner of their letterhead that attests to safety policies. I am sure such a concept would begin its existence with great outcry and resistance. After all, how can a lay group of parents offer to approve or disapprove what is done by the elite of chinuch? But as many innovations, perhaps it can succeed and mature beyond such a growing pain. Just another dream. What if yeshivos placed a clause about refraining from membership and support of such an organization as a criterion for enrollment in the yeshiva? Union busting? Or was I just denied a dream with a happy ending?


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134. Naming Yeshivos - sharing your experience     2/19/08 - 9:39 AM
Admin

There is a database of Yeshivos on rabbihorowitz.com (http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/Schools.cfm) which allows for the public to share their experience with Yeshivos and actually rate yeshivos. This site is viewed by many, many people and is very helpful to parents seeking an alternate yeshiva.

Warning in advance: The site will not allow judgmental statements to stand, like, "the menahel is a maniac." But an unemotional, well-tempered, statement of fact, like, "I removed my child from this yeshiva because Torah assignments were used as methods of punishment," or even, "I found the hanhalla inflexible in trying to extricate my son from a difficult classroom situation," will be allowed to stand.

Please use the database to share this information, but do not cross-reference this comment section, as that would be "crossing the line."


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135.     2/19/08 - 10:02 AM
Anonymous

There's some awful trolling on Yeshiva Mesillah, unrelated to the school. You might want to check it out and delete.


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136. An authentic yeshiva parents organization is more than possible     2/19/08 - 1:49 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

The concept of an authentic yeshiva parents organization has been written about before. First by me, in my Jewish Press article, "Resolving the Yeshiva Tuition Crisis", in January 2006. Here is the link:

http://www.jewishpress.com/displayContent_new.cfm?contentid=18371&mode=a&contentname=Resolving_The_Yeshiva_Tuition_Crisis&recnum=3&fromsect=2

In the summer 2006, we had a meeting, in Long Beach, and the Jewish Week asked to come and wrote a nice article, describing how we were addressing the abuse problem, and proposing a mandatory background check law. Unfortunately, despite trying very hard, I can't seem to get the link from the Jewish Week web site.

What I have now is not truly a organization, but more of a network, although I once got a letter from an important state official addressed to the NYS Yeshiva Parents Association. Our problems today do not need a loose network, and one very overworked lawyer kvetching out a few hours very late at night. We need a genuine, authentic, fully funded organization, approaching respectable foundations and philanthropists - and then we get a real seat not just at one table, but at at several in Albany, Manhattan, and Washington. The Catholics do it, the public school parents do it, the African Americans do it, but we Jewish parents don't. We should and we must, and we will accomplish.

"Possible solution" above seems to like the idea, but cautions that we need a hechsher from Gedolim. No we don't. Yes, we confer, we talk, we shmooze, with each other, with rabbis of all stripes, and if a real sheilah comes up, we ask a real posek, but above all we move forward. We get Resolutions, like I twice did, from the RCA. We circulate petitions, and we get laws, and regulations. We hold conferences. We address the tuition problem. The kids at risk problem. Everything. We did it for Soviet Jews, we can do it for ourselves.

A long time ago, when I was just out of law school, I was at a closing on a deal, and I started making too many picayune objections to the contract. The older lawyer across the table said, Any ordinary lawyer can break a deal, it takes a good lawyer to make a deal.

The same can be said about rabbis. Any ordinary rabbi can break a deal, it takes a real rabbi to make a deal.


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137. To Elliot     2/19/08 - 6:12 PM
Possible solution

I love your ideas and the way you express them. My pessimism is because so far you are only one man, and I don't see how you will fight city hall alone. Everyone is gonna say, we don't need that parents organization, we have Torah Umesorah to run our schools, we have Agudas Yisroel to lobby our government, I'm gonna give MORE money to some organization run by a lawyer without rabbinic backing?

If you could give me just a little bit of a gameplan of how you are going to get the chareidi "kool-aid drinking" crowd that still sends their children gleefully to a school that protected a child molester for decades, it would make my day. I just don't see how. I think it will take several more lawsuits, publicity in the goyishe press, maybe an expose on Bill O'Reilly about how the orthodox community's parents don't care about their children. I don't see what else will wake people up. Do you?


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138. One man?     2/19/08 - 10:44 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

I'm not "one man". Nor are you, Rav Horowitz, Lipner, Twerski, and every other pious, G-d fearing Jewish man who writes here. Nor is Sherree, Rachel, Mrs. Homnick, and every other pious, G-d fearing woman who writes here just "one woman".

You, see, my friend, I am a Jew under G-d, like you, and our friends. We also have a bren, as they say in Brooklyn. That's the difference between them and us. And we will succeed. Indeed, we're already winning - blei ayin hara :-) .


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139. Rabbinic endorsements     2/20/08 - 10:41 AM
Benzion Twerski

I have yet to encounter an organization, regardless of its purpose, that begins with rabbinic endorsements. In fact, I frown on the very thought of a haskomoh for an organization that exists in name only but has not done anything yet. Last week, I had an extensive meeting with a gadol that was focused on several issues, two being endorsements for two organizations. In each case, I was able to describe exactly what the organization does, who the players are, whom they use for shailos, and I extended invitations to attend and observe any of the functions so that a haskomoh is based on more than my word of mouth.

The purpose from approaching any Rabbonim at the outset is to impress on some of them the need to be aware of its existence and to refrain from knee jerk reactions to make an issur on it until there is chance to observe it in action. (That can happen.)

There may be communities that resist any recognition without the haskomos. Fine. So they will join the bandwagon later. That phenomenon is not strange to us. Go for it.


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140. One man w/ the help of HKB'H can & will accomplish a whole lot!!!     2/20/08 - 1:33 PM
Rachel J.

To #137 & others,

Please stop with your pessimism & questions. If you're willing to help then please offer your help, we need people w/ enthusiasm who stand up for what they believe in, we can't have pareve additudes who just follow the crowd & do as they are told w/out using their own seichel, I apologize for being so blunt. You don't know what the frum communities are going to say & what their reaction would be, don't assume what they are going to say. We are trying to do the right thing, we are not going against anyone, HKB"H will help us. I personally know of Rabbonim who will support us. We have no way of knowing that it's not going to work unless we try it first.


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141. Getting the ball rolling     2/20/08 - 2:22 PM
Sherree

Rachel is right, and Elliot has put the ball in play and it is up to us to get it rolling. Elliot has posted his email address and this is my suggestion. Anyone who is interested, anyone who knows anyone who is interested in joining an organized group of adults, parents or future parents, of various ages, stages, professions, experience and knowledge. Who are compassionate and passionate about keeping our children safe and in addition doing whatever we can to provide for them an environment of education both religious and secular that is based on "THE LOVE" of yiddishkeit, learning, doing chessed and doing mitzvos; being good Jews, being the best they can possibly be, using all the gifts Hashem gave them, etc...

Please contact Elliot by email and let him know where your interest lies, if you want to be involved in a committee or if you just want to be a member and support the organization. Please also include your locality and your profession, for reference purposes. It is between you and Elliot how much other information you wish to share, I trust his discretion.

Any Rabbonim who wish to join should contact Elliot as well or if they would feel more comfortable they can contact Rabbi Horowitz first.

As soon as we get together and review the information collected by Elliot, we will be able to email to the group what we are planning and if possible where and when we can set up a conference to meet. The ideas that can be parlayed at a round table conference can actually bring forth a good foundation for such an organization depending on the type of involvement gathered. If we can actually bring together various professional minds and hearts that can advise from their own perspective knowledge, experience and foresight, plans, policies and practices for our own organization can begin to be laid out.

What we need is to surround ourselves with positive energy to bring about change. The RCA, OU, BJE, Torah Umesorah, Agudah, Ohel, HASC and even Hatzlolah are all examples of someone's good idea that was not given up on, that was worked on until it came to fruition and the proof as they say is in the pudding. They are all institutions right now that wouldn't be if someone didn't come up with the idea.

Well I will give credit where credit is due. Elliot was the one that presented this idea on this forum. I just concurred with it as I hope many of you do, and I hope you will get many others to join as well.

Sherree


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142. Bren     2/20/08 - 6:06 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Sherree writes, "What we need is to surround ourselves with positive energy to bring about change. The RCA, OU, BJE, Torah Umesorah, Agudah, Ohel, HASC and even Hatzlolah are all examples of someone's good idea that was not given up on, that was worked on until it came to fruition and the proof as they say is in the pudding. They are all institutions right now that wouldn't be if someone didn't come up with the idea."

Nicely said. We're hearing a lot about the word "change" lately. From Obama, Hillary, McCain. Gov. Spitzer got elected on, Everything changes on day one. These accomplished people have a "fire in the belly". We call it "bren". Some of us may remember Sen. Hubert Humphrey, a liberal icon who became Vice President under Pres. Johnson. They called him the Happy Warrior - he had the fire in the belly. Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, founder of Torah U'Mesorah, had the bren - day schools in every city in America.

The surprising thing is - our own organization is doable. Just some organizing, reading, writing, phone calls, letters, emails, fundraising, and we move forward.


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143. What do you think will solve the problem?     2/21/08 - 6:09 AM
Rochel Geller

I thought Rabbi Horowitz's motives were pure. He said that according to stats, most sexual abuse is happening by friends and family . Many of the indignant comments are referring to victims of Rabbinic abuse - which is obviously high profile but mostly (at least statistically) not happening. So what are people now aiming for? Fingerprinting of Rabbis, teachers and janitors. Does this make sense? If the bigger problem is in or near the home, wouldn't a person with the right motives try to tackle the heart of the statistically bigger picture?

I'm even more bothered by Rabbi Horowitz now admitting that he was aroused to write the article as a result of his upsurge of indignity about that Mond. rat in Israel who may finally be indicted and sent back to the USA. Well, I thought people like Rabbi Horowitz were above this reaction phase (I'm sorry, I really don't mean to offend, I'm really very suprised and upset). I thought we should help victims of sexual abuse because we care about them, or about potential other victims. The outrage is not (or should not be) against ensuring that wicked people get brought to judgement - since the thing is largely out of our control anyway. As someone else pointed out, look how it took 20 years to get extadiction. So while Rabbi Horowitz seemed to imply, in earlier columns, that his intention is to help protect current and potential future victims from being abused, he points out later that part of his real motivation was anger and dismay at the lack of punishment and consequence (which means there is not enough of a deterrent, which he believes is largely enabling if not causing it to happen. Which I partly agree with - there has to be awareness of what is BAD. But I mostly disagree with, because we are not trying hard enough or powerfully enough in many other realms to get away from BAD).

Besides giving people more information, and advising parents to make kids more aware, which not done properly can spell disaster for many people; I have not seen many comments on this list that can be helpful to kids who have nowhere to turn. People who feel guilty for existing, for having problems, for not managing, for being victims. People who feel scared that if they turn for help, their lives will only get worse. People who lie and hide or go off the derech or go mad. What is being done for these people? To help those who have been victims and to protect those whose profile indicates they are likely targets. To intervene with families and begin a method of reaching and teaching that is empowering, that obviously makes people's lives better, so that the youth can feel safe to turn there.

All the organizations being suggested do not seem to have the direction of recognizing the roots of the problems, nor the focus of broad based protection. What is each person's motives? To right wrongs that happened to you, or your nearest and dearest? Impossible, they are in the past. To show you protest against Mond.? Who is watching and caring about your protest anyway, who isn't convinced already? To set up a powerful organization? Well, you don't have much power (yet). you say money is no object. In my experience, lack of it can be a problem :-). And the main problem is that you have the wrong goal, or at least a different goal from me. My goal is to make the Jewish world safer and friendlier to all the Frum Jewish children. Not safer legislature. Safer period. Safer from the kid's perspective and from a good parent's perspective.

When Sherree won very nicely against the teacher who couldn't control the class and hit a boy with his belt buckle, she won because he was basically a good guy with a strong fear of the police.

Most of the bad perps do not have such a fear. They may have a network of friends and connections, putting themselves in quite a safe position. They may not even care about going to jail. (only their immediate urge or control streak matters). So when you are dealing with hardened people or serial abusers, all the legislature in the world doesn't help. The only people it will stop are the basically good people who are just dipping a tippy-toe into badness until they learn a better way to deal with things - these are not the real scary baddies in the schools. And at homes, legislature doesn't much apply.

I say, (with intending to offend) stop getting carried away by strong fervor, fire in bellies, and bren. What the powerful politicians have which is getting them a lot of votes is money and connections, and an attempt not to mess up too many hairstyles or speeches. Whoever gets in, it's because Hashem wants them to win. Not because of their crazy meshugasen about change or staying the same. They are completely dependent on the people's approval. I really wouldn't take a lesson in power from them.

For a real powerful organization you have to have the backing of good sense. You have to follow the statistics that say that the main problem is away from school, and address your main thrust to fixing that problem. You have to care more about the victims than getting perps behind bars (it might be the way to protect the kids, but it can't become the main focus). And most of all, you have to envision how the org will look like in a few years time. Don't depend on it for a salary - you may even have to give up a considerable amount of your own money. Things that are done with mesiras nefesh have a kiyyum. But not things done as an alternative profession. Do you really have the time commitment?

Don't be like simon wiesenthal. Yes, I'm very glad he got the nazis killed or imprisoned. But you have your own personal and family life. I'm not sure you should give it up for this cause. Especially since I don't think it is heading in the right direction.

In my opinion, sexual abuse is only the tip of the iceberg with regards to the coercion, stress, anger and disillusionment that is going on in many Jewish homes today. If you envision an iceberg, with its nine tenths being underwater, you'll understand what I mean. Icebergs are dangerous, and icebergs are powerful. It would be better to melt the iceberg rather than try to lop the top of the iceberg off (the visible part of it). This is because, the underlying problem is not addressed. And icebergs are very hard and tough.

That nobody cares about the poor people. About the "nebachs". We're all too interested in showing off, and making money and being organized and on top of things. The little guys are the victims.

It's a question of Jewish heart of Love, of care. Of giving charity of giving time. Not giving MONEY so someone else in an org can be a one-hour mentor to an underpriviliged kid. BEING THAT KIND OF PERSON. You don't have to feel frightened of columns about sex abuse. You also don't have to feel frightened of dealing with frightened, scared, poor, unhappy friends and neighbors, students and people nearby. Life's not all about winning and keeping up with the "in" crowd.

There is no org that can take the place of genuine caring for those people that Hashem, with hashgocho protis, has put near to you in your life. Your own kids, your own neighbors, your own spouse or parents, or friends. People close to you are crying out and you go start an organization?????

I'm starting an Org right now. It's called "Help a Jew who's close to you". Yes those people who's related or lives nearby, whom you can't really be bothered with, or probably DO NOT LIKE. You don't like them because they are unhappy. They are unhappy because they're confused or hurt, and they can't get out of it on their own. HELP THEM. That's what we're in this world for. Our own consiounces.

Who's going to join my organization?


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144. withOUT intending to offend     2/21/08 - 6:15 AM
Rochel Geller

Please edit the line in the above piece which says "with intending to offend". I meant "withOUT intending to offend!". I have strong opinions, but I really don't mean to step on anyone's toes, or discredit others' opinions, I just wanted to add some opposite food for thought. (and I apologize for not expressing as clearly as possible, and my spelling of consciences!) Best wishes.


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145. mrs. Geller     2/21/08 - 7:44 AM
yoni

You're right of course.

But what are we supposed to do? what is anyone supposed to do when the abuser is the victim's father, or a brother? what are you supposed to do?

and by physical abuse, what are you supposed to do when the abuser is a little boy's mother? when she's hitting him because he's unhappy and difficult (mostly on account of her own neglect)?

and what are you supposed to do about the innocent family of girls who ar being verbaly terrorized by their father? and if he wont give a get?

and how are you supposed to heal the damage?

In secular society I'll tell you the first thing these kids run to: the opposite sex. When they're teens (or even younger) they look for relationships with the opposite sex for love, caring, safety and comfort, which they aren't getting at home. and where else should they look for the hugs that bring them solace? their sisters or brothers have as much on their plates as well and are in no condition (although solidarity helps), and you can't give them a hug because of negia rules, and in the case of boys even giving them a safe place to stay can be an issue because of yichud, what else can they even theoreticaly run to? (even though this is forbidden too, although to a much, much lesser extent, the difference of niddah and an actual arayah.) But when they can't do that and are blamed and considered dirty and wicked for it, what are you supposed to do?

and how are you supposed to keep them safe from their own family? if you call CPS and get the family broken up and the father/mother taken to jail, where will the children go? Most people won't take such damaged children in to their homes, I know. Even when a child is thinking alot about suicide and comes for a safe haven, the first thing people think is "i have girls in the house, I can't help you." or "how can I help you? my husband won't be home for a while and all of my older sons are in yeshiva, its an issue of yichud!" so how are we really supposed to help make it better?

Or better said, where do we go? where can we go?


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146. Response to #143 - An organization, but now what?     2/21/08 - 9:28 AM
Benzion Twerski

In response to Rochel Geller #143.

Rabbi Horowitz indeed stated that the abuse that emanates from within the schools is statistically lower. I question that statistic, not because I know differently, but because there are no formal studies that have numbers for anything. Our community does well in being difficult to study for incidence of any kind of problem. This is well known among those wishing to conduct epidemiological research of the orthodox Jewish population. We traditionally cover up, report inaccurately, and do all this in the name of preventing or avoiding chillul Hashem. Perhaps that is okay as far as halacha is concerned, but it renders our knowledge of the facts less reliable.

There is usually more drama involved when a perpetrator is within the personnel of a school. That is understandable. A school is expected to provide safety, and the opposite occurred. That is newsworthy, and causes great shame for many. It becomes discussion everywhere, except the media that seeks to omit such subject matter from the public view and to protect the images of mosdos and individuals.

The school situation also triggers a wave of resistance and backlash, which also become newsworthy. Check the histories of several events of the past several years. Such situations are most distasteful. A gadol described to me recently that such resistance as a shanda for the entire Torah world. With such extra attention, is it a wonder that it stands out more prominently that familial or other forms of molestation? Would a family molester have the same support to fight the victims in beis din and court? Is there a noticeable individual and organization implicated in the case of a family perpetrator that will get involved in defensiveness and backlash?

An important point is that organizations that focus on making schools more accountable will have zero impact on all aspects of child safety and protection issues. Working with children directly will have a broader impact. Addressing the handling of perpetrators will have an impact on those cases that have been reported (at whatever level – beis din, secular court, etc.) It will not serve as much of a preventive, as it will not stop incidents from happening.

The bren is useful, as it motivates the action. Doing something most comprehensive, to successfully eradicate the problem cannot be accomplished by a single organization, even with unlimited funding. There are several distinct approaches, and all need to be pursued to succeed in the result of our children remaining safe.


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147. to Rochel Geller #143     2/21/08 - 11:08 AM
Rachel J.

I am very surpised with your reaction....

Don't get me wrong, I do agree with some of the things you mention, but with your attitude nobody should be starting anything, why was Ohel started, couldn't we each help our neighbors & friends, we wouldn't need Ohel then, would we? why is there Tomchei Shabbos, Shalom Task Force, etc. Why is Rabbi Horowitz busy creating this website alltogether? Why are we even spending time writing on this website? Let's just go out & find all the misfortunate ones close by & help them anyway we can instead of waisting our time here, which most of the people that want to start some type of an organization to help parents & children already are going out of their way to help any way they can & creating such an organization is another way of trying to help the misfortunate people. It's not always easy to figure out who's miserable & who's not. Many of us have created organizations of your kind, "Help a Jew who's close to you", & therefore we are trying to start smth. for those who need the help, they'll have a place to turn to. Most people don't feel comfortable opening up to people close by.

And I really don't understand why you are so bothered by Rabbi Horowitz's comment? Do you not understand why Rabbi Horowitz & a lot of us feel an incredible anger towards the molesters? ...And yes we want them punished, we want to make sure that wicked people get brought to judgement, we want them away from society, from children.

Punishing the perps. is a very big part of helping those that were molested & abused.


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148. Rochelle Geller - THERE IS NO ROME FOR NEGATIVITY WHEN DEALING WITH CHILDREN     2/21/08 - 11:43 AM
Sherree

"When Sherree won very nicely against the teacher who couldn't control the class and hit a boy with his belt buckle, she won because he was basically a good guy with a strong fear of the police."

Not really Rochelle, he had a strong fear of a parent speaking out against his techniques and his lack of ability for handling and maintaining decorum in the classroom. He also feared a parent who had no qualms taking up the issue, which was not about her own child, to the Rosh Yeshiva's attention. He was also afraid of the PTA where other parents might hear of his particular form of "control" and then again he feared for his job, and of course the police.

To Rochelle and to all, one of my mottos is : THERE IS NO ROOM FOR NEGATIVITY WHEN DEALING WITH CHILDREN!

This concept of organizing for reform and change in "the schools" will be a stepping stone for the new organization. It will be the reason this organization is formed but it wont be the only issue the organization will address in the future. By having members, especially members on the active board from variious walks of life and various professional backgrounds, there is a lot of ground we can cover in helping, changing and assuring better education, and better opportunities to assure that children under the "chinuch" umbrella get on the success train, and that their talents are developed so that they can all be winners and the best they can be. The concept of "failure is not an option, must be changed to "success is an ongoing process while failure is a temporary stop on your road to success."

There are many issues that our organization can look at and define for change for the betterment of jewish children. Just because the issue of molestation and safety in the school is the first issue to get the ball rolling, it does not mean that issues of molestation in the home will not be addressed by the group of professionals that have gathered together and a plan might form to help those individuals as well. A subdivision or committee might form to help victims or parents of both situations. We might be able to work on both healing and prevention. We might be able to work on various issues of pain and development for any number of childhood issues, and keep going from there as other organizations have. We just don't know where we can go from this point. But from where I stand not trying is not an option.

So I disagree with your negativity and pessimism and beg you to look ahead towards change. I agree with you that each one of us should help our neighbors but collectively we can do more and should do more. Helping one neighbor is too quiet and not enough. Together we can do a lot more and cover more ground so I hope you can agree with us and join us. I know from my own experience that helping one neighbor quietly got something done. Walking into two yeshivas and letting them know that I was here to help, got a lot more done than I could have imagined.

Elliot, I came up with a name for our organization and I hope you will like it. I feel we need something strong and all encompasing. How do you feel about "The Jewish Advocasy Board"? If we just keep Parents in the title then people might assume that one has to be a Parent to join. What if you never had kids or you haven't yet. Should that keep you from having strong feelings on issues and joining? I am a student advocate and I feel that anyone who feels strongly and is willing to seriously roll up their sleeves and stand behind their thoughts, feelings, committments and convictions should be able to join. No one should shy away becasue of time constraints and fear of committment. That is silly and I am sorry that Rochelle felt the need to negatively display that concept. If you feel strongly about an issue, you make the time. Hashem helps you do that. If you feel strongly about learning, or raising funds for your shul or yeshiva you make the time. This is the same thing. It is chessed and it is l'shma. No one said anyone was going to make money or make a living at it. It is a non-profit organization. When it grows big enough to need a full time staff to handle the fundraising, etc. The fundraising itself will cover the office expense. Everything will fall into place. We will "pay our dues, like every other organization and go through the same growing pains" but then again we will stand and grow just the same.

Sherree


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149. To Rochel Geller     2/21/08 - 11:53 AM
Anonymous

Well, you got the expected negative reactions to your post, and I'm sure there will be more.

Please know that at least from one individual's perspective (mine), you are a breath of fresh air, and a voice of intelligence.

I found your comment not negative, but goal oriented. Keep on speaking out- perhaps, in some way, your clarity will bear influence, and truly help our children.


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150. A few suggestestions on how to help kids in difficult situations     2/21/08 - 11:58 AM
Rochel Geller

Written after Yoni's posting, addresses more recent posts at the end.

Yoni, thank you for your eloquent reply. There are a few issues lumped together, which are separate:

1) going to the other sex - or even the same sex, for comfort. It's a short term comfort. The real truth is that you cannot divorce your parents, if they have hurt you, then that hurt stays within, no matter how much or how many surrogate parents or lovers one has. A person has a very deep need for a strong and positive emotional bond with their parents.

2) a person in pain. How can a person help another who is in pain. The truth is that every person has the innate power to not internalize the pain of another person's hurtful actions. The sad truth also is that most people are not in touch with this power. We don't know what to do when faced with horribleness that we internalize it.

Let's remember that most abusive parents are not trying to hurt their kids, although they are certainly succeeding. Part of the pain therefore is the fact that we (the kids) keep trying harder to earn their love, to make them nicer, kinder, to give us more attention, and love. Part of the pain is that we think it is our fault that they did it and that it is in our power to change them. How we try. And how we get depressed and suicidical as we realize that our efforts would have to be way way above what a human being can do. A part of us realizes we can never be good enough or smart enough to make our parents different. So we go into a very deep depression. (By the way, I am just speaking generally here, as if I am the child, in a hypothetically difficult situation. Not all situations or children are equal).

Is the cause of this depression what our parents did? No. This is only the trigger for the depression. The real cause of the depression is the emotions we have internalized. For example, it is our inability to accept that our parents have horrible Middos. FACT. That they had children and are unable to give to them. FACT. And that some kids have a Gorel that that their parents won't supply their emotional, physical, or other needs. FACT. We can't accept that. It seems so wrong. It's so UNFAIR. It HURTS so much. We try every means to run away from facing up to the fact that Hashem made a world in which resources are VERY unevenly divided. It seems like He (if He exists) made a mistake. So sometimes we take revenge against Him. But that too isn't much of a raison d'etre. Eventually we run out of fight. We are helpless.

Esther was an orphan. Her father died in pregnancy and her mother during childbirth. The Megilla writes "ein lo ov v'em". At which point, the Medrash points out - "ein loh - yesh loh. A person who has no-one to turn to. Absolutely no-one. They have Hashem. Hashem helps them".

In my opinion though, they need to realize that they are helpless to get their parents love (if this is indeed the case). When they truly realize they DON'T have = then they DO have, because they get filled up with Divine love. But all the time that they are courting and begging for human love, instead of becoming independent of needing it, they are denying themselves the opportunity to feel love from Hashem.

(What about Marriage. It's not about neediness. You need to be strong internally to get married. A marriage designed on saving one another is not a very strong base for support. More on this another time, if you wish. You can't be codependent on your spouse. You can get advice from them, or physical help, but you have to be generally emotionally independent. If there is emotional neediness, especially if unacknowledged, both spouses drown each other, by mistake. It says in Shir Hashirim: Is she like a door or like a wall? If she's a wall, that is good, not if she's a door. This is how I understand these words: A wall has its support from below. They feel rooted and safe. This, BTW, is a basis for a marriage. A door has no connection to the ground, but only via someone or something else. This is a potentially volatile situation, for the individual, and particularly in marriage. Although, to be honest, many married people are not very grounded, and need to become so, in order to help their marriage flourish and become and feel good. They need to become not victimlike, and not dependent and not reactive.)

So am I advocating abandoning these children to Hashem? Absolutely not. Anyone who knows a kid like this and has a means to help should move heaven and earth - to help them - if he has a feasible, helpful way to help them. But lets' say you don't know an effective way to change their life circumstance for the better. And even if you do help them, you can never give them back their parents. Being a surrogate parent is not enough. They also need their real parents.

So what we can do. Is gently. And safely, and securely, help the child to recognize his situation and stop emotionally fighting it. Stop being codependent on their mother or father needing to change. Help them to learn to recognize patterns and take steps to protect themselves: (Ta goes crazy when he's hungry. I'll keep a supply of food in my room to offer him as a gesture of kindness) or (Ma hates bad manners. It has real negative connotations. I know it isn't so important on an objective scale, but to her it is, so I'll try to be extra considerate of this need of hers. And I won't take it to heart if I fail now and then) or (Dad goes beserk when I say I'm sorry. He interprets it as meaning that I'm NOT sorry. So I'll understand that, and I'll just hang my head humbly instead.) Please understand that I'm not advocating giving the kid coping strategies to prevent that "crazy man called Dad from losing his temper", which implies that there is no hope ever of creating a new relationship, but rather, I'm advocating teaching more specific understanding of the situation. To empower them. To help them see context, and not everything as one giant terrifying muddle.

Understanding the reasons for the bad temper, the triggers of the anger and the misconceptions that are keeping them recurring. So gradually, as the kid learns who his Dad really is - not who he'd like him to be, but who is actually is, and makes peace with the fact that Hashem can create people who have really bad Middos, and as the kid realizes we don't need parental approval to be happy, or to make good choices, and as he learns that he is not alone, he has friends, and that everything is not black and white, but shades of grey, and even multicoloured, - the kid can sometimes rebuild a new relationship on the ashes of the old.

Of course, the kid also has to find someway of diluting and releasing all the poisonous juices he has swirling around his body that were created throughout all his muddled youth, when he was too young and alone to understand. But with proper methods of releasing all this resentment (and it can be so big, mountains and mountains full) the person can go on to feel alive again. To live in the real world again. To access their own power and good spirits. Even while they are kids. Or when they are already grown up.

So what do kids need? Not a surrogate parent, but love. Someone who cares to really understands the child, the dynamics, and the parents. Someone who can show the children better ways to deal with the situation, and also to understand the child enough to have a good way of explaining that the child can accept. Or course also to save them if it is bigger than the kid can handle, whether temporarily or permanently. Gradually the child comes to recognize that neither is the parent someone they can eventually come to idolize nor is the parent someone who is totally unapproachable. In this way a new relationship of trust and communication can begin to spring up between the child and the parents. Which is what every child needs and craves.

All this, kindly neighbors and friends can try to do if they are suited for this task, at the same time as giving the hungry child meals and nice clothes and dignity and money and putting the parents in prison if necessary.

I'm not offering anyone a miracle two second cure here. It takes a long time to release so much pent up anger, one's body and brain are so full of slime and pus it is unbelievable. But bit by bit it can be released (if you believe in energy healing, I don't have a good enough solutions if you don't) and the person can feel normal again. Balanced. Straight. Even happy.

Of course the parents may even be affected too, but this is not the goal when helping the children. We help the children for the children's sake, we help parents for the parents' sake. And why do we help people? Because a healthy Jew LOVES helping others, in the dosage and methods that he is capable of.

Lots of times kids have the answers themselves. They just need a listening ear and a safe environment to be able to vent and vent and vent. They need to not hear "Oh my gosh how terrible" which causes them to panic further, but rather things like "what do you think happened before all this escalated" (so they can get some sense of proportion or context) or "what could someone do to improve things?" "would you like advice?" etc etc.

I hope that this long epistle is helpful, if you want further solutions, please let me know. I myself only became calm and confident with the help of energy healing.

(What do I mean by energy healing? It includes things like EFT and TAT and Emotrance. There's lots of free stuff on the web. But the heart of much of it is that we store memories in terms of their emotional content inside us, and if that emotional content is powerful whether unpleasant or even if it is pleasant, it often doesn't get filed properly. It affects our present instead of being buried with the past. The idea is that we find some way to directly access these improperly stored emotions linked to events and people directly, and then release them, try to understand them, argue with them, help ourselves feel safe in the present even if we didn't feel safe in the past, etc. then we can have emotional freedom from hijacking emotions. The subconscious mind has a direct access to this stuff and can actively let it go, if we give it permission to. It's a fascinating, newly discovered subject, and it would be wonderful if it is taught in schools. Some peole are better at it than others).

When we release our codependence on our our parents and our emotional reactions to bad things we have experienced we broaden our minds to learning new paradigms, new dynamics, new hopes and new opportunities.

Never ever use energy healing in a dangerous situation. If a kid is ill you go to a medical doctor. If someone is suicidical, they should go to an institution that can protect them from themselves, and take medication because the situation is out of control. But when everything is stabilized, energy healing can change the root cause of all these problems.

With regard to B Twerski's and Rachel J's postings above about putting a damper on the bren to create a new organization. If you feel it really can help make a noticeable change to the situation, then you should start it. I was only only expressing my opinion in doubting that it's the best way to make a change, or that change would reach the largest number of sufferers. The reason I am here online writing is for the same reason, because in addition to people who are physically close to me, who I can help, I am also easily able to write to the people on this site to help people help others so it seems it is another way of "helping a Jew close to you".

I am also a very direct person and I hate the idea of an organization which has so many extra stages before helping the people. Seems like so much energy being wasted. But obviously, organizations are able to do more than the individual, like Hatzolo etc, and can also fire and inspire others to act. I don't see additional Regulations being an effective step, but hey - I've been wrong before! So I apologize for the rejection.

Sherree. As I said, I apologize for the rejection and any implications. I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic, and focused.


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151. it's all in the family     2/21/08 - 12:17 PM
Anonymous

What's your explanation Rabbi Horowitz, for the silence on the part of Jewish parents of children who were molested? Do they care less for their children than Italians? Do they care more about protecting their son's therapist over protecting their children?

Imagine a horrible thing for just a moment. Imagine that you discover that your own brother, father or son has molested children. You shudder at the thought. How quickly would you run to the police? How fast would you organize demonstrations outside their house and denounce them to the media? Am I right in thinking that you wouldn't be doing this so fast, or at all?

Maybe the reason the Italians spoke up and the Jews did not is because calling our fellow Jews our brothers and sisters is not merely poetic. On a deep level, we are all one family, one entity. Would you denounce yourself to the world?


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152. Rochel Geller     2/21/08 - 12:18 PM
Sherree

"Sherree. As I said, I apologize for the rejection and any implications. I'm not trying to be negative, just realistic, and focused"

Rochel - realism is good and any one Jew you save is like saving a whole nation. So as they say "keep on trucking" different strokes for different folks. A thousand people like you, working with individuals can save a lot of kids, so please keep on working. Each one of us in our own way can help a lot of children. The more, the better.


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153. it's all in the family     2/21/08 - 1:34 PM
Sherree

A family's perspective - maybe that's because when it is a family's unfortunate and horrific issue, it is up to the family how they want to handle it. Even though it is an unimaginable albatrose on the family's neck, and an unimaginable prison that the victim is locked inside. It would be up to the victim to help to decide what should be done within the family and whether to let it be known outside the family confines.

However, when it is an issue that effects "other people's chidlren" that is a different ball game altogether and that goes from rishus achod to rishus rabbim. Hopefully the organization we intend to form, will offer discrete services to families and victims of familial abuse as well, in an environment where they have a safety net, input and a means of control so they have a comfort level of reporting abuse and a way of getting help in escaping, healing and prevention.

The problem is that when a person report abuse in a family they have to immediate choose sides and anyone that listens to their story, usually people who know them is immediately put into the position of choosing sides as well. If they had a frum, compassionate yet discrete organization that they could go to that would be able to listen, advise, offer services without choosing sides, accusing, removing family members, overturning their family life as they know it, but moving ahead one baby step at a time to help them see their options and allow them to make clear cut and long term decisions, which might not mean announcing their family members to the world or opening their family up to public scrutiny, they might also have a place to go to for safety and a good healthy successful future environment for themselves and other family members.

It all begins with that first step, the good idea, good intentions of well caring and well meaning individuals willing to give of themselves to make things happen. Lets face it. Some people do this kind of thing, others give money towards these kind of thing, some do the one on one thing. As long as we keep supporting each other for the future healthy outcome of the children of K'lal Yisroel at least we are in the same story book if not always on the same page.


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154. to anonymous #151     2/21/08 - 2:13 PM
Rachel J.

I don't think that is a fair question, what if you think for a moment, just for a moment, Chasve Shalom it was your brother, your sister, your child who was molested, would you have the same feelings towards the molester? would you stop & say to yourself: Oh, but we're all in the same family?

A family member that breaks the trust & hurts children, destroys lives, selfishly goes after his disgusting teivas, (or whatever it is, this sickness, but it's a real teiva) does not care for putting his family through the horrible shame, you have a question whether he should be put away?

Do I think prison is the answer? No! Prison does not cure this terrible sickness. These people are sick. There is no cure for molesters. But for lack of a better option putting them away so that others are not hurt seems to be a rational answer for now.

They should cut off a finger of their own every time they feel the teiva to molest a child, to remember that pain the next time they have the teiva to molest.


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155.     2/21/08 - 3:00 PM
Anonymous

Anon 151 wasn't trying to be "fair", he/she was trying to give some perspective here.


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156. a karov     2/21/08 - 3:37 PM
Anonymous

follow up to #151:

The Chidushei Ha'Rim asks - how come a karov - a close relative, is not allowed to testify? We understand that their testimony is questionable if they are defending a relative, but what if they are testifying against their relative?

The answer he gives is that they are disqualified as eidim because a person who testifies against his relative is not a mentch.


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157. How to Keep Our Children Safe - Download Audio     2/21/08 - 3:48 PM
Anonymous

I found free recordings of last night's lecture in Baltimore with Dr. Pelcovitz here - http://www.torahmedia.com/catalog_profile.php?pid=2726


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158. Amor vincit omnia - Love conquers all - sometimes     2/21/08 - 6:29 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Rochel Geller writes,

"That nobody cares about the poor people. About the "nebachs". We're all too interested in showing off, and making money and being organized and on top of things. The little guys are the victims.

"It's a question of Jewish heart of Love, of care. Of giving charity of giving time. Not giving MONEY so someone else in an org can be a one-hour mentor to an underpriviliged kid. BEING THAT KIND OF PERSON. You don't have to feel frightened of columns about sex abuse. You also don't have to feel frightened of dealing with frightened, scared, poor, unhappy friends and neighbors, students and people nearby. Life's not all about winning and keeping up with the "in" crowd.

"There is no org that can take the place of genuine caring for those people that Hashem, with hashgocho protis, has put near to you in your life. Your own kids, your own neighbors, your own spouse or parents, or friends. People close to you are crying out and you go start an organization?????"

Yes.

But I hear your point. You're right - there is not enough love in the world. In fact, if you read my Jewish Press article, "Resolving the Tuition Crisis", January 2006, I attribute much of our social problems to the removal of the Jewish mother from the home, and into the workplace - and we have yeshiva tuition to thank for that.

Nevetheless, we're not the Love religion. Amor vincit omnia is a Christian concept. There's a time to love and a time to hate. A time to caution a rebbe not to hit the kids, and a time to say, "You're fired", and call the cops. There's also a time to fingerprint.

You're somewhat at a disadvantace because I've become knowledgeable in the subject, so let me describe some essential facts. 42 out of 50 states require their public schools to fingerprint, including New York. Eleven states require nonpublic school fingerprinting, including some large ones: Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, marland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island. That's about one third of the country. Two separate federal laws, passed by Congress in 1993 and 2006, allow public and private schools access to the FBI national criminal history database. All of the Catholic schools are background checking their employees. But we Jews in New York State aren't - so just like those 11 states, we need a law.

I have not heard a word of protest from any yeshivas in the 11 mandatory fingerprint states. So what's our problem here in New York, at least on the part of some? The 1,000 rabbis of the RCA, on the other hand, have fully endorsed a NY nonpublic school fingerprint law.

Since 2001, the NYS Education Department has been processing the fingeprints of public school job applicants outside New York City. During the past 7 years, about 1,400 job applicants have been rejected because of their serious criminal histories. Think about how many crimes against children have therefore been prevented. Think also of the many convicted criminals who did not bother to apply for public school employment, because they knew they were going to be fingerprinted - the law has a deterrent effect also.

At the May 2003 Torah U'Mesora Convention, a session on sex abuse was held. David Mandel from OHEL described the sex offender treatment program OHEL had in place from about 1997-2003 - they treated 100 orthodox sex offenders during that time. 40 per cent abused 5 or more children. 40 per cent abused children under 12.

Dr. David Pelcoviz, the psychologist who specializes in the treatment of child sex abuse victims, and who at that time was the Director of Psychology at North Shore Hospital, described an incident in a yeshiva where a janitor had sexually abused almost an entire classroom of boys. When arrested, it was learned he was a convicted sex offender - nobody bothered to check.

Rav Gedalia Schwartz, Av Beis Din in Chicago, related a similar episode in Chicago that occurred at a kollel. A new man in town was seen inappropriately touching a child. A smart lady did a name-based criminal background check on this man, a university professor. He was a convicted sex offender from another state.

I have more crimes like this in my file to relate, involving our community and others, but my point is made. No matter what the numbers of abuse are in the yeshivas or homes, employee fingerprinting is a refuah. There is simply no rational basis for any human being to be against it.

Please take a look at your fingerprints. The lines you see there are called pappillary ridges, and they are formed into three basic patterns, loops, whorls, and ridges. These patterns, and the uniqueness of fingerprintings, was discovered by a genius Englishman named Sir Frances Galton about one hundred years ago. One of the infinite great miracles G-d has given us is fingerprints. No two sets of fingerprints have ever been discovered to be identical - not even for identical twins. Everything G-d created in this world has a purpose. Just imagine, 101 years ago, the genius Galton announcing that fingerprints will deter crimes, will solve crimes, will save lives and property. People would say, Galton, you're a meshugana, a village idiot. These lines mean nothing. But we Jews would have known better. G-d created those loops, whorls, and arches for a purpose - to identify people. Just a few years ago, it was a tedious task for the technicians to match fingerprints - it had to be done manually. Now, thanks to more geniuses, we have computer scanning that is nearly foolproof.

Sherree, I like the name Jewish Advocacy for a division, under the umbrella name, NYS Yeshiva Parents Association, to which everybody is welcome, because everybody is the son or daughter of a parent. NYS YPA immediately conveys, without any explanation, the roots and goals of our group. It gives us legal standing. It reminds the Government and everybody else that it is the parents who possess the original and natural authority over the health, safety, welfare, and education of their children. It gets us everywhere - into the state legislature, into Congress, into the yeshivas. It gives us "standing", an important legal concept.


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159. Sherrree's idea     2/21/08 - 6:49 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

I like your idea for a name for the group being more inclusive than something just for parents. However, I think yours sounds a little too broad. What about "The Jewish Advocay FOR CHILDREN Board" Or "The Advocacy for Jewish CHILDREN Board"?

By the way, please sign me up.

Asher


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160. I like the name     2/21/08 - 9:55 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Board of Advocates for Jewish Children (BAJC), or something similar, is a terrific name. It does immediately convey the goals of the organization, and it amply satisfies the legal criteria. Its more inclusive than NYS YPA. I like it.


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161. Difficulties of the Task     2/22/08 - 12:59 PM
Bnam Shel Kdoshim

The following is an indication of the difficulties ahead:

The Yeshiva World News Web Site has published several articles by Agudas Yisrael spokesman Rav Avi Shafran LOY"T denying that there are abuse problems in the Charedi communities in the U.S. In response to such an article

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/General+News/14859/Rabbi+Avi+Shafran:+What+Remains.html#comments

I sent them a comment linking to this Web site and the outstanding expert work and advice of Rav Yakov Horowitz LOY"T (sponsored by Agudas Yisrael) and other expert Torah leaders. They did not publish it; instead they are publishing inappropriate comments of denial and unwarranted self-congratulation.

On behalf of Klal Yisrael, we sincerely appreciate the Mesiras Nefesh of Rav Horowitz LOY"T and his distinguished colleagues. We hope and pray that the Ribono Shel Olam will grant you the required Siyata DiShmaya to solve these serious problems, and (in the spirit of "VeHaishiv Leiv Avos Al Banim, VeLeiv Banim Al Avosam") grant us the Geulah Shleimah BB"A.


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162.     2/22/08 - 1:12 PM
Anonymous

"denying that there are abuse problems in the Charedi communities in the U.S."

I will try to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you have difficulty in reading. Rabbi Shafran specifically, more than once, emphasized that abuse DOES happen in the Orthodox community, just like in all communities.

So your attempt to paint this as "denial" is either a willful agenda against Rabbi Shafran or reflective of a difficulty with decoding in reading or reading comprehension.

Try reading it again.


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163. Re: post 161 and R' Shafran's piece     2/22/08 - 1:12 PM
Anonymous

You must have missed this paragraph

"After daring to call attention to all that, I was roundly and strongly censured. One subsequent writer to the Jewish Week, utterly uncomprehending of the point about the number of study subjects receiving mental health treatment, claimed it indicated the precise opposite of what it did, and accused me of denying that abuse exists in the Orthodox community, although I explicitly noted in both my letter and essay that abuse exists in every community, including the Orthodox."

Please stick to the facts and end the blind rage.


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164.     2/22/08 - 1:17 PM
Anonymous

Perhaps you missed this one?

"None of which, of course, is to deny either that abuse exists in the Orthodox community (as it does in all communities) or that all communities, including the Orthodox, have a responsibility to put effective measures into place to prevent it. But the fact of its existence in the Orthodox world is no justification for drawing unwarranted conclusions about its extent there."

And labeling a dissenting view "blind rage" only lends silliness to your tirade. Amused I am, though...

Specifically when, this very moment, there is a total of ONE (1) comment thus far on the YW thread. So the many "self congratulatory" comments are a figment of your imagination as well. Be patient, son, your comment will appear too, in due time, I'm sure.


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165.     2/22/08 - 1:24 PM
Anonymous

And perhaps, by mistake, you missed this one too:

"although I explicitly noted in both my letter and essay that abuse exists in every community, including the Orthodox."

Whoops. I guess Rabbi Shafran is not such a villain after all.

But if one finds it too difficult to scroll ALL the way to the comment section, it is oh so much easier to resort to sheker and write "They did not publish it; instead they are publishing inappropriate comments of denial and unwarranted self-congratulation" instead of realizing that there is only one comment published so far. Oy vey.

Try to contribute to the dialogue in an intelligent, and most importantly, honest manner, so we truly can help end abuse in our society. Lying and distortions is exactly what ENABLES abuse in our society.


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166. to 163     2/22/08 - 1:26 PM
Anonymous

I apologize, thinking the "blind rage" comment was from our dear distorter from post 161. Please be mochel.


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167. Re: "Blind Rage"     2/22/08 - 1:32 PM
Anonymous

I was the one who used the term "blind rage", and although your criticism assumed it was not me, it's a point well taken for myself - I shouldn't have labeled it as such. I apologize. The misreading was very disturbing and I lashed out. I do however believe that much of the distortion that exists in the reign in abusers crusade is a result of a blindness of sorts.


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168. Bnam Shel Sheker     2/22/08 - 1:38 PM
Anonymous

Shameful distortion and outright lies is the bane of every society. The one who distorted Rabbi Shafran's article, including obvious sheker, is hopefully embarrassed at how easily he was shown lying (this was the best: "instead they are publishing inappropriate comments of denial and unwarranted self-congratulation", when there is currently one comment on the thread) but how about all the times that we don't realize how easily someone is lying? That is scarier.

All the yeshivishe words in post 161 don't make one pious. The flattery to R' Horowitz doesn't make one more believable- R' Horowitz is much too dignified to be swayed by such "raid".

161 ended:

"On behalf of Klal Yisrael, we sincerely appreciate the Mesiras Nefesh of Rav Horowitz LOY"T and his distinguished colleagues. We hope and pray that the Ribono Shel Olam will grant you the required Siyata DiShmaya to solve these serious problems, and (in the spirit of "VeHaishiv Leiv Avos Al Banim, VeLeiv Banim Al Avosam") grant us the Geulah Shleimah BB"A."

Here's an alternate ending, to counteract the piously worded hypocrisy of this paragraph: On behalf of Klal Yisrael, we sincerely appreciate all those who are honest enough to both confront our problems and not distort the words of others. We hope and pray that those who use fabrications and blind hatred will either muster up the dignity and honesty to truly be of help in the interest of correcting society's ills, or stay out of the way so the honest doers of our society can do the work they need to do (and there are plenty of the latter on this board, who are honest, intelligent, and are taking action to better our society).


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169. to 167     2/22/08 - 1:42 PM
Anonymous

I agree re the blindness.

I wonder if distortion and sheker is a product of willfull blindness, deliberate lying, or inadvertent blindness? I'm not qualified to determine the answer to this, but I hope that in any of the three cases, it's correctable.


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170. Baruch HASHEM for Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A     2/22/08 - 1:56 PM
Anonymous

As is so evident from Comments No. 162 and up, our community desperately needs a Madrich like Rav Yakov Horowitz SHLIT"A. In agreement with Commenter No. 162 (I too am a son and grandson of prominent Rabbanim), I find it unfortunate that Rav Shafran and these subsequent Commenters are engaging in "Emor HARBEI, VaAsei KLUM".

I too sincerely appreciate that Rav Horowitz (the Ribono Shel Olam shall grant him Arichas Yamim VeShanim and Harbei Nachas from his Mishpacha and Talmidim) is an exceptional Torah leader at a time when we desperately need him.


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171. About Rav Horowitz     2/22/08 - 2:33 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Rav Chaim Soloveitchik of Brisk, was once asked, What is the function of a rabbi, and he replied: “To address the grievances of those who are abandoned and alone, to protect the dignity of the poor, and to save the oppressed from the hands of his oppressor”.


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172.     2/22/08 - 2:56 PM
Anonymous

To 170-

Regarding "(I too am a son and grandson of prominent Rabbanim)"

Since you were referring to my comment, I'll mention that I'm not- a son and grandson etc. So what's your point? If you have something to say, say it. Not sure how that's connected to your "yichus".

Yes, R' Horowitz is wonderful, the posters who have indicated a willingness to confront and address problems here on the blog are wonderful, and in case you don't know him, R' Shafran is wonderful too.

What is not so wonderful is sheker. Remember what Morah taught you in Kindergarten? Midvar sheker tirchak...hum along.

Methinks the "emor harbeh" is coming from interesting quarters this thread.

Get with the program, join Mr. Passick, Dr. Lipner, Dr. Twersky, Sherree, Rachel, and others who are ready to tackle the issues with honesty and dignity. To drag someone like Rabbi Shafran through the mud in so deceitful a fashion is contemptible, and makes it obvious that you will never be part of the process of true and effective change. Just a Rechilus mongerer (not Loshon Hara, because to be LH, it needs to be true) who enjoys tearing Klal Yisrael apart.


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173.     2/22/08 - 3:07 PM
Anonymous

For all those amused by #161's childish lie, and are waiting with bated breath instead of tending to the cholent:

It is now 3:00 PM... and there is STILL only one comment posted to the YWN thread in question.

So... #161, hang in there, your comment will be posted too, when YW gets a chance to post the comments, and you'll soon forget this episode...

Next time...READ the articles CAREFULLY, use nuance in your comment so that you don't come off as having forgotten to read half the article, and be careful with your honesty. You might also wish to ask Rabbi Shafran for Mechilah...


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174. Need more time     2/22/08 - 3:13 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

I need more time to mount a defense for 161 - a good number for me, by the way, that's where Yankee (Horowitz) Stadium is located - 161st St. But I need more time. 161 has his points, if we read between the lines.

Good Shabbos, all, and don't forget to say Obama Madlikin tonight.


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175.     2/22/08 - 3:22 PM
Anonymous

Elliot, "points" are lost if the speaker/writer uses lies to get them across.

To most of us, that erodes any potential of credibility. Despite the possible merit of some "points".


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176. After Shabbos     2/22/08 - 3:24 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Got one foot out the door. I'll defend after Shabbos, IYH.


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177.     2/22/08 - 3:29 PM
Anonymous

Defend away, Elliot. I'm glad you're one of the "doers", and I'm interested in your comment, because you always have interesting things to say.

I wouldn't expect you to defend dishonesty, but you can certainly try. It's not like you, as you're usually a straight shooter... but nevertheless, if you found at least SOMETHING in the atrocious comment to defend, we'll stay tuned.

Shabbat Shalom!


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178. response to comment113     2/24/08 - 2:18 AM
another parent

If not for the crazy bloggers...Colmer, the first Orthodox person extradited from Israel, would still be learning in the Mir Yeshivah running youth groups in which he was molesting children...

I assure you that in this case (and possibly others), the credit should be given to the parents and children who called authorities- not to crazy bloggers!


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179. Comment No. 161: Difficulties...     2/24/08 - 11:13 AM
Anonymous

Notwithstanding the Chutzpadik comments that follow, I am in general agreement with No. 161, whom I recognize as a genuine Bnam Shel Kdoshim (from whose ancestors [Gedolim of past generations] TZ"L some subsequent commenters will be required to beg Mechilah for their snide remarks).

Let me state our areas of agreement:

1. It may be a violation of Lo Saamod Al Dam Reiecha for a spokesman of Agudah to repeatedly write and publish lengthy articles minimizing a serious problem, while NEVER providing any referrals whatsoever to help those Yidden who have been victimized! 2. We should not blame the editors of Yehiva World News for not publishing comments referring victims to this Web site and other sources of help within the Torah community. In keeping with their well-intentioned policy, they probably ask the author (Rabbi Shafran LOY"T) to approve comments prior to publication. 3. Again, unfortunately, we find Agudah speaking with a mixed voice.

Accordingly, we sincerely urge Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A and other Baalei-Chesed experts to please do whatever is necessary to unify Agudah and the entire Torah world behind a solution to this crisis: "VeYeiAsu Chulam Agudah Echas LaAsos Retzon Avinu SheBaSamayim."

Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A: In the spirit of "HaMaschil BeMitzvah, Omrim Lo Gmor", this is your challenge.


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180.     2/24/08 - 11:52 AM
Anonymous

Notwithstanding the Chutzpadik comment of #161, it is obvious to all good folk here at R' Horowitz' blog that lying will get someone nowhere.

Mechila definitely needs to be asked, by 161 and by 179, but I suspect they are one and the same...

Here's a suggestion (or two)

1. Ask someone for assistance, and READ the article again, or another couple of times. Perhaps then you will realize where your comment went off the rails.

2. In case you are experiencing difficulty with the wording of the article, CONTACT R' Shafran, and ask him to help you understand. That is a much better approach than doing what you did to him over here.

Hatzlachah!


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181.     2/24/08 - 11:54 AM
Anonymous

179, you seem to know 161 quite well. Hmmm.

You sound young, but please...


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182. Another Challenge for Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A     2/24/08 - 1:15 PM
Anonymous

Like Commenters No. 161, 170, and 179 (whom I privately confirmed as senior-citizen acquaintances of mine), I am shocked at the disrespect for Zkanim, Talmidei Chachamim herein.

Silver lining: This may be a Kiyum of "Dor SheBen David Ba Bo, Nearim Yalbinu Pnei Zekanim..." [Sanhedrin 97a]. We hope and pray that this is a sign of Ikvisa DiMeshicha, BB"A.

Nevertheless, we are certain that Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A and the other distinguised experts who participate here have a good solution: one based on Ahavah, in contrast with the Yirah remedy our Rabeeim ZT"L prescribed: the THREAT of a severe spanking.


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183.     2/24/08 - 1:48 PM
Anonymous

To # 182-

I think there is a problem here. Neither of the posts used names to identify themselves. The only identifying we got was a revelation that someone (161) thinks it's OK to lie to get a point across.

Perhaps you are another clone of his? We won't know. But to knock posters for not showing "derech eretz" to "talmidei chachomim" is more than absurd when these anonymous posters choose to go just that, anonymous. Just like I do. Perhaps I am a "talmid chacham" too (I am not). Or perhaps I am shocked enough to stand up for Rabbi Shafran's kovod (the only talmid chacham actually identified by name on this blog, for shame), when Chutzpadike posters like 161 shoot their mouth off before thinking, pretending that R' Shafran said things he did not, and fabricating all the "comments" on YW, which did not in fact appear, even to this moment. That is true Chutzpah, and yes, a kiyum of what Chazal has foretold.

This generation just keeps on getting lower.

In case you're not sure, I am just as concerned about abuse as you (in fact, I am involved in helping people, instead of shooting my mouth off about other identified innocent people, just to make a point)and abuse is a horrific blight on society. People who are doers will actually do something, while others will continue with shameful Rechilus and unmitigated Chutzpah to denigrate others.


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184.     2/24/08 - 1:53 PM
Anonymous

"Nevertheless, we are certain that Rav Horowitz SHLIT"A and the other distinguised experts who participate here have a good solution: one based on Ahavah, in contrast with the Yirah remedy our Rabeeim ZT"L prescribed: the THREAT of a severe spanking."

Let's start this wonderful approach by modeling it ourselves. A good start is to be careful before we besmirch innocent authors, by name. A second step would be to learn Sefarim by R' Wolbe, and other Mechanchim who have guided us in responding to the current needs of our youth. R' Horowitz is a good example of this.


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185. Request for Information     2/24/08 - 3:43 PM
Anonymous

There is no doubt that Rabbi Shafran's long-winded, defensive blogs are causing pain to our dear brothers and sisters who have suffered abuse. Apparently, he is not accepting constructive criticism through the Yeshiva World News Web site, where his writings are posted.

Would someone please provide contact information (e-mail address is best) to enable us all to properly discharge our obligation of HoChaiach ToChiach and, most impotantly, to urge him and his Agudah colleagues to refer victims to the appropriate Torah-oriented professional help!


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186.     2/24/08 - 4:01 PM
Anonymous

"There is no doubt that Rabbi Shafran's long-winded, defensive blogs are causing pain to our dear brothers and sisters who have suffered abuse."

Guess what? I'm a parent of an abused child, and I'm not feeling "pain" that Rabbi Shafran writes concise, well written articles as part of the Agudah. I'm one of your "dear" brothers and sisters too, and I resent am revolted at the Rechilus posted on this blog. Will you please get off your high horse and do something to actually HELP your "dear brothers and sisters"? Much appreciated.

"Apparently, he is not accepting constructive criticism through the Yeshiva World News Web site, where his writings are posted. "

As far as I know, the administrator of the YWN has nothing to do with R' Shafran, and doesn't take orders from him. He's smart enough to know what to post and what to put in the circular file, where it belongs.

"Would someone please provide contact information (e-mail address is best) to enable us all to properly discharge our obligation of HoChaiach ToChiach and, most impotantly, to urge him and his Agudah colleagues to refer victims to the appropriate Torah-oriented professional help!"

Are you a parent of an abused child, like me? Are you a victim yourself? If so, have you contactd the Agudah, to ask for a referral for "Torah orieneted professional help"? If you had, you most likely were referred to Rabbi Horowitz himself (Project YES is part of Agudah), or to one of the psychologists who are in touch with Agudah. I won't name them, because you can get the info yourself! What kind of business is this, telling people to discharge their obligation of HoChaiach ToChiach- what kind of agenda do you have?

Your pious words belie your slyness and underhanded holier than thou pomposity.

Lay down your silly and pretend pious rhetoric, join Elliot Pasik, Esq, Dr. Benzion Twersky, Sherree, and others who are actually willing to do things for parents like me, and most of all, please- grow up.


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187.     2/24/08 - 4:13 PM
Anonymous

By the way, Elliot, I totally understand your frustration that the Agudah hasn't endorsed your fingerprinting plan yet, although I haven't heard their side, so I'm not in a position to judge. But I totally hear you.

But all this has nothing to do with the allegation of Agudah not referring people to the appropriate people- they are not monsters, and these falsehood are only increasing the pain of people like me, who feel that others, instead of helping, are using this topic to further their own personal agendas or perhaps personal dislikes. This is painful, and such a topic should never be used as a bandwagon for people's personal axe's to grind.

To Elliot, Dr. Twersky, and Sherree- keep on doing what you're doing- I for one am grateful. And grateful also to the originator of this blog, R' Horowitz, whose insight and helpfulness have helped so many families through difficult times.


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188. Some Jewish Observ(er)ations :-)     2/24/08 - 5:21 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

I'm thrilled to see the intensity here, from all corners, and for the first time in a long time, I'm hopeful that something tangible is going to result.

The dictionary definition of "lie", is untruth with intent to deceive.

As a lawyer, my own working definition of "lie" is a material misrepresentation of fact, knowingly made with intent to deceive, for the purpose of obtaining a substantial benefit ("material" means important or significant). This is, also, roughly, the working definition of a civil claim for fraud.

Most lawyers use the word sparingly to judges or juries, particularly in civil cases, unless absolutely necessary, and our proof is irrefutable. Why? My own reason is the American culture, and even the Christian culture, and I mean that in a positive sense. Overlooking and forgiveness seem to be prominent and certainly easier in the non-Jewish cultures. Mavin yavin.

In the humble opinion of this frum lawyer, 161 did not lie in making the following statement: "The Yeshiva World News Web Site has published several articles by Agudas Yisrael spokesman Rav Avi Shafran LOY"T denying that there are abuse problems in the Charedi communities in the U.S."

The statement "denying that there are abuse problems" is incorrect, it is mistaken, but its not a lie, because of various circumstances:

1. There is no intent to deceive. Rabbi Shafran's article constitutes easily verifiable information, which militates against a finding of deceit,and in favor of a finding of simple error.

2. The comment, viewed as a whole, is opinion. No representation of fact, material or non-material, is made.

3. No benefit is sought. No money, no honor, nothing. Its just an anonymous opinion stated on a web site comment section, laid bare for others to comment upon.

4. Comments like these are written near-contemporaneously. First a thought, then you type. Indeed, that is the implicit expectation of other commentators. The Encylopedia Britannica is not being written here. Translation: we need to cut some slack, Jack.

5. The subject of child sex abuse generates, quite justifiably, great emotion, zeal, even bren. Properly directed, this emotion can generate positive change, but in the heat of the moment, we can expect that some advocate, somewhere, is going to trip and utter an error or two. In my profession, it will be considered a mitigating circumstance that a lawyer's misplaced zeal occurred in the heat of the moment during trial, as opposed to what should be a carefully weighed statement made in a written, sworn affidavit. So once again, we need to cut some slack...

Finally, I add that we child protection advocates should not be quibbling with each other. There are too few of us, as it is. We shold stay focused on the enemy, not on each other.


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189. Why are WE fighting?     2/24/08 - 6:25 PM
Rachel J.

"Finally, I add that we child protection advocates should not be quibbling with each other. There are too few of us, as it is. We shold stay focused on the enemy, not on each other."

Chazak Baruch!!!

I hope we are done discussing #161.


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190.     2/24/08 - 8:06 PM
Anonymous

Elliot, good try :). Not what we tell our kids regarding lying, but a spirited effort, nevertheless :).

I'm sure 161 won't try this again, and we can go forward with dignity, strength of purpose, and Yashrus as we need to.

Rachel J, I agree with you, to a certain extent. But when it is obvious that one or two are using this topic as a way to vent personal unrelated issues, it causes pain to those who are truly victims.

I too, hope we are done discussing 161, and hopefully, 161 is done with these antics.

Onward, to bigger and better things!


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191. # 185     2/24/08 - 9:07 PM
Former Member of Agudah

I join you in requesting an e-mail address for R' Shafran, to request that he consult with the Moetzes whether it is appropriate to squander the scarce, valuable resources of the Agudah on P.R.: funds that are desperately needed to help Acheinu VeAchyoseinu HaNesunim BeTzarah, R"L. Several Rabbonim with whom I raised this question have agreed with me that this is a serous concern: Why all the P.R. (which is not our way, but Chukas HaGoyim) on abuse? Why not referrals to and better funding of Torahdik help?

I left the Agudah under somewhat similar circumstances: When the local chapter was doing several things Kneged Halachah. I protested to their Rov (who agreed that what they are doing is Assur), but said he will not issue a Psak until they ask him. Many years later, I am still waiting!

The foregoing has not stopped me from asking private Saylos of individual Gedolim from the Agudah Moetzes, Tzadikim with whom B"H I continue to enjoy an excellent relationship.

While we know that Rav Horowitz has the Haskama and Brachos of the Moetzes, I have my doubts regarding some of the other Agudah activities.


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192.     2/24/08 - 10:32 PM
Anonymous

Like Rachel J said, can we please get back on track??

It's not the purpose of this blog to discuss the various jobs of Agudah. Positions in regard to abuse, yes. Personal opinions on if you think PR is Chukas Hagoyim? Why on this blog? Please bring your beef to the person in question, and let us get on with our topic!!! Thank you!!


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193.     2/25/08 - 2:34 AM
Agudah IS the topic

When Elliot speaks of being embarrassed at the legal conferences where he is the only orthodox jew sticking up for children, I understand how he feels. I feel that way knowing that the Agudah is the only religious lobbying group to side with the Catholics on stopping clergy from being mandated reporters of abuse. That's the Baptists, the Evangelicals, Reform Conservative and Modern Orthodox Jewish, etc. on one side protecting children, and the Agudah and the Catholics on the other protecting clergy rights. I believe even the Catholics have started to come around on this subject due to public pressure of their followers. But Agudah's followers seem to be intent on protecting their clergy and Jewish criminals at the expense of Jewish children. It is indeed humiliating to be a frum Jew these days.


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194.     2/25/08 - 8:00 AM
Anonymous

Agudah's particular position on this is what Elliot is referring to. Not Agudah in general. Agudah has done many things for Klal Yisrael, probably things you have no idea you are benefiting from. One of the things they have done is establishing Project Yes, which allows you access to Rabbi Horowitz.

If you don't like Agudah, that's your personal choice. No one has to appreciate everything. But please don't twist this blog to suit your personal agenda. It's unbecoming, and childish.


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195.     2/25/08 - 8:08 AM
yoni

To those of you who have suggested that I'm persuing a personal agenda, and that it hurts "real" victims, I will kindly ask you to hold your tongue.

The pallor and damage of sexual abuse is shared, with only minor variations, by a wide range of behaviors, from having alcoholic parents, physicaly or emotionaly abusive parents, neglect, and even to a much lesser degree, Parental divorce, whether acrimonious or not. These children have a large number of common features, and all share a wide range of behaviors, issues, wants and needs. One of the biggest of those needs is for emotional stability and love. Rashi states that a good and loving wife can heal the pain a missing mother, and I would add that this is true in the reverse as well, and it is also true for all the other adverse conditions I mentioned above.

But the most insulting thing, and the one which really shows just how much a part of the problem you are, instead of the solution, with your self righteous additude, is the fact that I AM ONE OF THEM! While I did not suffer the pain of sexual abuse, I did suffer from mild to moderate physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, (my mother dissapeared from my life beggining when I was about 4 years old until she came back when she started to afflict us with her) alcoholism (which led to my mothers beating me on occasion withe little cause, as well as her attempts to use my own illnesses to medicate me in to stupor and complacancy) and my parents ultimate divorce. While none of these issues were severe in my family, it really doesn't matter, once you've passed the threashold for abuse, the damage is done, increased severity doesn't factualy change things much.

So I KNOW what the victims are going through. I know it first hand, in a way that most of the people here cannot even imagine.

Does it not bother you that most children in the secular world, or even the chirstian world who are abused, one way or another, do not usualy completely abandon the culture they are from as do orthodox jewish victims?

Yes there is damage done by associations of the abuser, but the lions share of the damage to us is done by frum society's reaction to our persuit for those emotional needs: love and stability.

DO I think promiscuity is the answer to these things? NO! of course not, and it would be a gross disservice to those innocent victims for you to ascribe this view to me. What I do think, however, is that when these children start to persue some kind of loving relationship (and I do not think that it matters what kind, as long as there is some measure of physical affection going on. (from the time we are born to the time we die, people cannot survive without physical affection. It is our most basic way of knowing that we are loved, which is exactly why we worry about teens messing around int the first place) they are labled as "slut" or some other horrible epithet, whethey they are being careful to avoid going all the way or not. (I was, didn't stop people from calling me a cad, despite the fact that I've never kissed, held hands, or anything... and I've only had one singular short relationship in my life, although I have recieved much needed hugs from friends, something I stopped a long time ago.)

When you delegitimize their needs, do you seriously expect them to stay? When you call everything that does not sit well with you an "agenda" (which is exactly what people accused those who brought the abuse situation to light as having) are you suprised when they become sick of judaism and leave?

If I'd known what I know now, I would have never, ever been so stupid as to stay frum. It was a mistake! however, now that I'm 23 and almost on the other side of things, I feel like it would be a shame to give up up with the finishline in sight for me. But make no mistake that If I'd known what I know now, and additoonaly that it would be more than ten long years from when things started that I would have to remain alone, and feel guilty for persuing nothing less than being loved and cared for by someone, or for ever having persued it, I wouild not have been so stupid as to make that mistake, and I would have run, run in to the arms of the non-jewish girl who was chasing me and desperate to provide the love and warmth that I craved, whom I rejected because I wasn't interested in getting involved with someone I couldn't marry. Yiddishkei forgotten.

Doesn't it bother you that someopne could regard the choice to remain frum a mistake? I'm not saying that letting them be promiscuous is the answer, but there is a reason why child of all these catagories try so hard to get married at the tender age they do. The gemorah states that when one is young ones mother is the primary object of ones love, when one marries that object is one's wife. And what if one's mother is absent? doesn't care? is abusive and beats you for having needs or complaints? What then? Of course, most kids go looking for a wife (and this is stated from the boys persective, it applies equaly to girls).

But that is dangerous. Most of us wouldn't know a healthy and safe relationship if you beat us in the face with it, and actively run from them when they come, because they're terrifying, and I have to admit I think I've done some of this myself. A better answer is to find someone who can be surogate mother for us. I found one for a time, and it was tremendously helpfull to my healing, although I am not bereft of her, which hurts. Someone who can hold us when we're scared, and comfort us when we're in pain.

and while I will not presume to tell you how to accomplish that, I will point out that there is a preponderance of 30 something plus singles floating around, maybe they'd be interested in helping. Heaven knows If I'm still single when I'm thirty it would be a small measure of consolation to be able to provide some of the love and affection that these youngesters need. This is not halachicaly unmanagable, if anyone has the courage and forititude to step up the the plate, and ask the thirty somethings if they'd like to help, and to make it happen for them.

You might just see a decrease in the number of at risk kids, because the abused, neglected etc. might start leaving their ranks because they no longer feel like torah lables them as sluts, rashoyim and horrible people for having needs, and maybe, just maybe, you'd be able to stop the cycle of violence that often perpetuates itself with these kids when they marry and have children. (as wll as help teach them how to recognize someone who will be good for them.)


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196. To Yoni     2/25/08 - 8:19 AM
Anonymous

Yoni,

Everything you said in the previous comment makes sense. If you are the poster who is using this topic to speak Rechilus about a good person at Agudah, you are still wrong. (I don't believe you are though, because details the poster wrote about himself don't fit you or a twenty three year old.) So please don't assume that this dialogue was about you. You experienced abuse, and I am a parent of a young child who experienced sexual abuse. We both know pain. And we can't compare pain.

It is unfair to discuss a particular Agudah person in the context of this blog, particularly since he is not involved in the decisions that Elliot refers to. If someone doesn't like his job, or thinks PR is Chukas Hagoyim, that is a personal opinion, and doesn't belong on this blog. We, of all people, should be sensitive to issues the Chofetz Chaim writes about.

If someone wants to talk about Agudah's position, that is fine. But not about a particular person, or his job at Agudah. That's low, and we wouldn't want someone doing that to us.


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197.     2/25/08 - 8:47 AM
yoni

Anon I think I agree with that. :)


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198. Agree: Agudah IS Part of the Problem     2/25/08 - 9:53 AM
Frum Community Leader

Although Agudah is funding project YES under the leadership of our distinguished host, the Official Agudah and many of its members are in a Project NO: Not Our problem. The general perception -- and most likely, the reality, as well -- is that many known abusers are still Members In Good Standing of Agudah and are getting full "protection" from Agudah.

As a leading Torah organization, Agudah is obligated: (a) to appoint a Bais Din to investigate and ostracize the perpetrators; (b) stop its official spokesman from proclaiming how "I am gratified" by the current situation; (c) publicize within the various Frum communities where victims can seek Torah-oriented help.

As long as Agudah stubbornly maintains its position as an obstacle, I very seriously doubt there can be Hatzlochah in working toward a solution.

Because the victims and many of us trying to help them have no standing in Agudah -- as we are not members -- it is the obligation of every member of Agudah to convince that organizatiojn to consult with their Gedolim and mend their ways, IMMEDIATELY!


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199. The Agudah     2/25/08 - 10:09 AM
Sherree

The Agudah as a whole is a Rabbinic organization and it moves very slowly. It has definitely come a long way over the years but they, as an organization, will not change over night. There was an article in a recent Mishpocha magazine about the Novominsker Rav, the Rosh of the Agudah, who spoke about at-risk kids. He definitely put a big onus of responsibility on mechanchim, and charged them with loving their students as a father loves his own children for it is impossible to teach them otherwise. He also said most clearly that mechanchim must work with students and not remove them from the "klal".

To me this is a big change and very impressive especially coming from the Rosh of the Agudah. Now he might not have said it at the Agudah convention, and it might not be printed in Agudah material, but it was published and it means a lot.

It took years for such a Godol to start speaking about this issue in public, but it did happen. So I am going to agree that we don't know what the Agudah does behind closed doors, and what they are proposing to do in the future, while they are maintaining their closed ranks attitude to the public.

I have not begun to work on this problem with Elliot as of yet. But once our organization is formed and we have the right people in place on the board, and we have enough signatures on our petition, we will have a voice not only with government officials but a voice to be heard at the Agudah as well.

To Yoni,

I have been a surrogate parent to many kids, B"H. I have had much nachas from all of them and they have all become an extended part of my family. I have lived in my current neighborhood for 13 years and we had 11 boys living in our home for various periods of time during these years. I have also gained very precious daughters too. B"H I now have grandchildren from this group. I have to tell you a secret Yoni. It is not hard at all to love someone else's child because they or better yet, you are all Hashem's children.

I have truly never met a "bad" kid, all the kids I have come to know are great kids with bad or even terrible stories, issues and pain. With respect, love, understanding, compassion, sensitivity and time to listen we developed relationships that have lasted for many, many years. Together we worked on their relationships with their own parents and families. Some of these kids liked to hang out in my home because they felt it was just normal to make dinner with me, do homework at the table, watch a video, or sit and talk. They just felt at home. They were just looking for normalcy. Interestingly enough they would rather hang at my home till midnight than hang on the street.

So Yoni, you are right, there are a lot of people out there that can be surrogate parents and offer their love and attention to kids after school, help them with their homework, provide a normal atmosphere for them, give them someone to talk to, relate to, just hang with and feel normal instead of looking for trouble on the streets. It is what we refered to as co-parenting. In many cases parents appreciated the help and felt less stressed. Sometimes, they learn techniques from the surrogate because they feel less pressured to be doing everything perfectly on their own. When the surrogate or co-parent helps the child to understand that no one is perfect, and the parent is under a lot of pressure or stress, and teaches the child coping skills that they can practice at home, it is a win, win situtation. Not every home is as troubled as the one you described but many are just so stressed out that the child loses out. I do think however, that the job is better suited for older people in the same age category or even older than the parents.

So Yoni, thanks for sharing an unfortunate and painful story and bringing another good idea to the forum.

Sherree


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200. Mandate?     2/25/08 - 10:47 AM
Benzion Twerski

I am not sure if I am missing the point, or I had not yet had my second coffee.

Agudah may be mandated to establish a Beis Din to investigate and ostracize frum perpetrators and to publicize where to go for Torah oriented help. I do not question what the mandate is, though I know way too little about the history and mission of the organization, but these seem quite reasonable. However, I do believe that much more is needed, and this is one of the points of frustration.

There is no Beis Din in the frum community that has the authority to enforce a psak din. The individual who balks at appearing in Beis Din eventually merits a ksav seruv, effectively a cheirem. My experience is that this leads to a flurry of activity, but does not compel much by way of following the psak. So the strongest consequences produce a piece of paper that does not have universal implications or recognition. Does the recipient of a seruv get thrown out of shul and ostracized as halacha requires? I know that I have seen seruvim publicized, and personally avoided the individuals, but observed others ignoring the ksav completely. I do not believe that we are delusional about the enforcement capacity of Beis Din. What will another Beis Din accomplish, outside of being comprised of dayanim who are more experienced in dealing with this parsha?

As I stated in an earlier post, which I guess might have ruffled some feathers, we need to utilize the secular system for clout. With mesira issues, I am sure the matter is complex. Mandated reporter shailos have been answered, but the use of the courts for prosecution, incarceration, tracking, and removal from the community issues have not been addressed adequately. Baltimore kehila publicized a psak that the perpetrator should be considered a rodeyf. Has this resulted in any documented outcome? I don’t know, but I wonder. I would like to get better direction from our morei hora’ah about how we can use the court system appropriately, within the confines of halacha. Could the Agudah be part of that solution, perhaps. Maybe such a movement needs to involve other facets of the frum community leadership.

I do not believe there is anyone who is gratified by the current state of affairs. Hesitant to take bolder steps? Maybe. We, from the grassroots need to do lobbying here to help our leaders understand that safety continues to be an issue, and that we are doing too little to prevent damage to precious, innocent neshamos.


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201. Benzion Twerski     2/25/08 - 11:25 AM
Sherree

I agree with you, and lobbyist come in the form of organized groups such as Nefesh for clinical professionals, an association for Jewish attorneys, an other organized groups. There is power in numbers. That is why an organization such as Elliot proposed will help.


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202. Agudah IS the Key to a Solution     2/25/08 - 1:01 PM
Frum Community Leader

To clarify:

As a leading Torah organization, Agudah is obligated: (a) to appoint a Bais Din to investigate and EXPEL THE ABUSERS FROM MEMBERSHIP (as I believe OU and RCA have done); (b) stop its official spokesman from proclaiming how "I am gratified" by the current situation AND USING THIS AND OTHER MEANS TO DISCOURAGE LEGITIMATE COMPLAINTS; and (c) publicize within the various Frum communities where victims can seek Torah-oriented help.

As long as Agudah stubbornly maintains its position as an obstacle, I very seriously doubt there can be Hatzlochah in working toward a solution.

Regarding the Rosh Agudas Yisroel, the Novominsker Rov Shlita, and the other Gdolei Yisroel of the Moetzes, the problem is that they are being misinformed by the Agudah staff, who (in a misguided manner) are trying to protect members who have gone astray. Rav Perlow Shlita and the other Gdolim have numerous other obligations. Unfortunately, the time they spend on Agudah matters is minimal.

If a prestigious committee of long-time Agudah members were to meet with the Novominsker Rov Shlita and impress upon him the seriousness of the situation, we can be certain that he will make it a top priority at Agudah and direct the organization to act appropriately. This, in my humble opinion, is the pre-requisite for a successful solution. As long as known abusers remain Members in Good Standing at Agudah, progress will be difficult.


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203. Frum Community Leader     2/25/08 - 1:25 PM
Sherree

Well then, setting up an appointment with the Noveminsker Rav will be something we will make sure to put on our agenda. Are you interested in joining us we can use your help!


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204. Thank You, Sherree     2/25/08 - 1:44 PM
Frum Community Leader

Best wishes for Hatzlachah Rabbah! With you and the other Torah-oriented experts as leaders, I would prefer to remain a very interested observer.


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205.     2/25/08 - 2:48 PM
Anonymous

Can someone please explain to me what is an Agudah member? Meaning, as far as I know, they don't have a club membership with cards- what does someone DO to become a "member"? Is there a process for "becoming a member", and therefore a process for ejecting a member? Thanks


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206.     2/25/08 - 4:36 PM
yoni

Shaari, the point of mentioning the thirty singles is that A they're old enough that they are well more than twice the age of a 20 year old, and are at least 10 years older (possibly some what more) than an 18 or 19 year old, and with them you don't have the erva problems that you have with a married surrogate.

there are halachic solutions available to allow these women to hug and cradle these kids who need it so badly. (and I'm not even certain that this doesn't qualify as "lshaim shemayim" and therefore doesn't even need mikvah in order to absolve problems (see rema Evh"E 21 sif 5)(I think)(and the mefarshim clearly extent those qualifitcations to other sifim in that section)) These kids NEED hugs. Most people who've made any recovery from actual abuse (And not just difficulty, like not having enough to eat and hassled parents) I've ever heard from (adn I can't think of a single counter example) needed hugs, frequently from the opposite sex (and usualy in the sense of a surrogate loving mother/father figure... although victims of sex abuse frequently get this kind of paternal love very, very confused, and its a much bigger issue for them... many people have told me that I probably suffered from that too, although I have no recolection and cannot think of how such a thing could have happened.)in order to stablize them emotionaly enough so that they could heal.

they need it, and I think that we do a great disservice to these victims by denying this. There are halachic solutions to this problem, I'm not sure of the particulars, but I know that there are, and beyond that I believe very firmly that hashem wouldn't let this happen to them if there weren't.

But we CANNOT deny that they need this kind of attention and affection. Many of these children have been denyed it, and without this people don't grow properly. babies who are not held litteraly die, even when they're given everything else. People NEED This, they grow ugly and twisted and hatefull inside if they can't get it, and these kids have been denied it so long they need it even more.

They need this just as much as they need a safe and warm and loving home.

and we need to find a way we can live with to give it to them. Or don't any of you realize it?

I needed it, and I still do... I'm terrified of what might happen if I can't get it at all before I go on shidduchim... my friends are all terrified I'll take the first person who's remotely acceptable in desperation, but I'm on the end of that line. What I really needed even more, which was touching in order to protect me from when things were actively bad I got.

and I don't want to ever see a child go through such horrors without being able to run and get a hug from someone who cares, or maybe to be allowed to curl and and cry in a loving person's arms.

The difficulty I faced is passed, for me its just risidual pain and betrayal of trust, but for others its still real and current, and they NEED this kind of support, no more than they need a safe place. You can't grow up with out hugs and love and attention, you simply can't! you grow up all twisted and ugly and angry that way.

who knows, maybe thats the problem with the youth today, and we're simply not giving our kids enough hugs for them to be happy. I know I saw a peice of research that said that a person needs 11 hugs every day to be emotionaly healthy. I don't know.


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207.     2/25/08 - 4:54 PM
Anonymous

By "frum community leader":

"Although Agudah is funding project YES under the leadership of our distinguished host, the Official Agudah and many of its members are in a Project NO: Not Our problem."

And again by "frum community leader::

"With you and the other Torah-oriented experts as leaders, I would prefer to remain a very interested observer."

Very interersting! So an organization that is geared toward spearheading Askanus for the community (btw, Sherree, Agudah is not and has never been a Rabbinic Organization, it is a Askanus organization that goes according to Da'as Torah, beginning with the revered R' Moshe Sherer who always consulted with the Rabbinic advisors, but it is not something like the RCA or another Rabbinic organization), which funds and encourages Project YES is "not doing it's job". You like Rabbi Horowitz and Project YES, but you don't want to give credit to its funder, hmmm. Are you also funding Project YES? Or perhaps did you give a hefty donation to Agudah recently? Interesting. But, as a "frum community leader", you prefer to "remain an interested observer", when it comes to abuse.

In other words:

The Askonim who are already working for our community, in various arenas, should shoulder the blame for all of society's ills, while "interested observers" get to take a hands-off approach- not do the work, not get the blame. You should be ashamed of such a response. This is how you answer the pain of the victims? That you prefer to remain an observer? And you are a community leader?!

"The general perception -- and most likely, the reality, as well -- is that many known abusers are still Members In Good Standing of Agudah and are getting full "protection" from Agudah. "

Again, Mr. 161 (as is obvious from the writing style, it's the same Agudah basher over and over...how sad that some prefer to put down others instead of actually doing something...interested observer indeed), your perception is skewed by your vendetta against Agudah. That's fine, you don't need to like every organization, even though you and your loved ones have certainly benefitted from the legislation they have worked on. But Hakoras Hatov is not everyone's strong point.

However...libeling Agudah with such comments as "getting full protection" is a falsehood, and one which you are trying desperately to propogate. Why, I don't know, but if you aren't going to help, it's incredible how you would incur these aveiros by lying and rechilus regarding an organization which you apparently know little about. The internet is a public forum, and thousands of people may be reading this, and forming a horrific impression of Agudah based on your false libel. Where is your Yiras Shamayim? Or is that also something you prefer to remain "an interested observer" about? Do you not have any fear for the repercussions of your personal resentment against an organization?

"As a leading Torah organization, Agudah is obligated: (a) to appoint a Bais Din to investigate and ostracize the perpetrators; (b) stop its official spokesman from proclaiming how "I am gratified" by the current situation; (c) publicize within the various Frum communities where victims can seek Torah-oriented help."

You've reiterated this bile so many times, it's a wonder you haven't fled with your tail behind your legs, after being caught with your original lies. Agudah is an organization for Askonus, and their agenda is what they make it, not what YOU decide it should be. How about we set the agenda for "frum community leader", as you claim to be. Get working, set up an organization, and help victims. Agudah was never meant to be everything for everyone- it is an organization which tries to help out the public in various ways in which it has experience. They are not responsible for remediating all of society's ills. It has never claimed to be the address for all of our problems. I know, I know, you REALLY don't like Agudah. That's your personal issue.

"As long as Agudah stubbornly maintains its position as an obstacle, I very seriously doubt there can be Hatzlochah in working toward a solution."

Here's the more truthful version: As long as people who claim to be "frum community leaders" would prefer to remain interested observers rather than take up the battle for change, there are obstacles toward a solution. You don't even want to lift a finger, but have the energy to badmouth other organizations. For shame.

"Because the victims and many of us trying to help them have no standing in Agudah -- as we are not members -- it is the obligation of every member of Agudah to convince that organizatiojn to consult with their Gedolim and mend their ways, IMMEDIATELY!"

Surprise! Agudah works for all of the community, not a membership list. And I would hope that you would mend your ways, IMMEDIATELY, before the terrible Rechilus you are spewing brings you to the point of no return.

Elliot, Dr. Twersky, Sherree, Rachel J., and sympathetic (and experienced, unfortunately) commenters like Yoni- let us continue to do what needs to be done, brave new paths, stand up for victims, and ask Hashem that the L'Shem Shomayim of these efforts remain strong, undiluted by the agenda of others. As a parent of a victim, I am so grateful that there are those who are willing to step up to the plate, and speak up for our pain.

I hope that your new organization follows in the footsteps of Hatzalah, Shalom Taskforce, Agudah, the RCA, and others who have forged new paths and accomplished, each in their own area, with dedication and commitment. I think you will succeed.


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208.     2/25/08 - 5:00 PM
Anonymous

Yoni (now that I finished my long post above,207 :)

I read your comment, and you are so right. Touch is so important, almost as vital as food and drink. What you say about thirty somethings has merit. Although I do bless you that you yourself will be happily married by then, and not be able to do what you outlined, in that kind of way.

Nevertheless, you are sure to be able to help others, because you have such a deep and personal experience and understanding.

And I know that being told "you could help others" is small comfort when you need the love yourself. There are so many adults around that still need the love that should be their birthright from childhood.

You are a wonderful human being, and loving yourself is the biggest compliment- I hope you truly do treasure what you are, and give yourself unconditional love. May you always have friends that will "be there for you", and help you reach the place that you strive for. You will make a terrific, understanding husband!


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209. No. 207: Bnei Torah Do Not Shout & Intimidate Others     2/25/08 - 7:33 PM
Anonymous

Contrary to what you said, the Agudah is a membership organization. As a non-member, I am not welcome at their meetings, am ignored when I offer constructive criticism or suggestions, and do not enjoy their membership benefits.

I understand that it is relatively easy to become a member of Agudah. What the other posters and I have trouble with is the following:

Nearly all other organizations have a committee that investigates complaints against members and expels those who do not meet certain minimum standards.

As a leading Torah organization, it should be the obligation of Agudah to have a Beis Din that does exactly that: investigates complaints against members and expels those who do not meet minimum Torah standards. Failure to do so AND DISCOURAGING NON-MEMBERS WHO HAVE LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES FROM COMPLAINING can result in protecting Reshaim R"L.

While I agree that much good has been done by the Agudah over the years, this one serious deficiency can render it Yatzah Scharo DeHefseido.


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210.     2/25/08 - 8:14 PM
Anonymous

"Contrary to what you said, the Agudah is a membership organization. As a non-member, I am not welcome at their meetings, am ignored when I offer constructive criticism or suggestions, and do not enjoy their membership benefits."

Aha. So here is where the problem lies. Agudah does not take your suggestions. So you found a great place to vent: Rabbi Horowitz's blog. Specifically on the thread involving abuse. From what I have seen here of your postings, I'm not surprised that they don't take your "advice". I'm sorry about your ego, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.


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211. Agudah     2/25/08 - 8:31 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Dear All: I haven't been reading the posts here for a while. Here are some of my thoughts on the Agudah. Just like humans, institutions are less than perfect. And although I am a department head (Project YES) of the Agudah, I do not always agree with all Agudah policies. It would be unlikely for any thinking person to agree with any other thinking person on all issues, let alone a large institution like Agudah.

Having said that, Agudah was the place I turned to for help with the at-risk-teen matter 11 years ago. They boldly stepped forward and gave a live mic to an untested 35-year old (me) in front of over 4,000 people at a convention to discuss at-risk teens -- when no one was talking about this subject.

Many other pressing klal matters are addressed in Agudah forums -- parnasah, shidduchim, on and on. They also represent us in all levels of gov't with dignity and grace.

Those who have issues with their position on abuse should write a respectful letter to rabbi zwebel expressing their thoughts. I am quite sure that you will get a response. (You may not be happy with the response, but you can be certain that you will be heard.)

That is the way to help make change -- by working with the systems in place and moving your agenda forward.

Many people literally turned their backs to me in public, feeling that I was 'yeshiva-bashing.' But I continued to do what I was doing. I suggest that you do the same.

Respectfully

Yakov


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212.     2/25/08 - 8:42 PM
Anonymous

Thank you Rabbi Horowitz, for setting the record straight on Agudah. As a department head, you are a wonderful representative of that institution.

May you and all the other Askonim there go from strength to strength, in areas such as kids at risk, shidduchim, government issues, etc. Klal Yisrael is proud of you.

As a trailblazer, Agudah gave you the forum to do what you are doing. Kudos to the organization and to yourself for doing what may not have been "politically correct" at the time, or popular even now.

As Rabbi Horowitz said to those "doers" on this blog, take this example, and continue doing what you are doing, despite the naysayers. Those who disagree, or those who have other agendas, will slowly fall by the wayside with their inactivity, and you will see hatzlacha and nachas from your efforts, done lshem shomayim.


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213. Thank you, Rabbi Horowitz     2/25/08 - 9:57 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Thank you for the advice on how to stand up for what is right and not to worry what others will say. That is why Avraham Avinu was called Avraham HaIvri - because the whole world was on one side of an issue and he was on the other. We all need to hear that over and over. However, I would like to know more about how you got the Agudah to help you on one controversial issue, and why on this one (sexual abuse) it is so hard to get through to them. For example, I offered to bring a group of survivors to speak to any members of the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah to ask for help. But I don't know which one to go to. Survivors will find rejection very painful, and it would be best if there was at least a good chance of somebody being willing to listen. with their continual lobbying to stop rabbis from having to report to the police, and after their complete silence on the Torah Tmima tragedy and many others, it is hard to know if anybody really understands, or chas v'shalom if anyone really cares, and if so, whom? Any ideas? Kol Tuv, Asher


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214.     2/25/08 - 10:00 PM
Anonymous

Dr. Lipner,

Why don't you write to Rabbi Zwebel, as Rabbi Horowitz suggested? As a department head for Agudah, I am sure Rabbi Horowitz knows the right "address" for questions.

Rabbi Horowitz has assured you that you will be heard. Have you tried writing to Rabbi Zwebel before?


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215.     2/25/08 - 10:07 PM
Anonymous

On another note, it is important to bear in mind that each organization has its mission, and as much as we'd like it, an organization can't be everything to everyone, for all purposes.

For example, Agudah is an organization for Askanus, and has helped out many a workplace situation, involved itself in end of life matters, Shidduchim, Parnassah, and of course, Kids at risk. Torah Umesorah, on the other hand, was created for Yeshivos/Schools in our communities.

I am not sure why Agudah should be engaged in the tragedy of Torah Temimah, just like all the other organizations aren't. An organization geared toward the school situation is, and from what I have heard on this blog, Torah Umesorah has made efforts in that regard.

Since we really need an organization geared toward abuse in particular, and not just in schools, but abuse that happens in homes, community, also, it is the right thing for a new organization to form, which is what you and others are trying to do. May you be gebentched for this.


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216. Great Question     2/25/08 - 10:47 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Asher:

You ask a great question. What do I suggest??

Some quick thoughts:

"The Group", those of you who are discussing the (noble) notion of getting involved; need to think of what you would like to offer as a practical solution or improvement.

It is very important for victims to be validated and listened to. But I respectfully don't think that's the place to start.

when i started speaking about at-risk teens, i didn't ask for all kids who were kicked out of school to be heard (though that would have been an important thing to do). I went to our gedolim and suggested that we find them jobs, get night shiurim set up, get them vocational training, etc.

so think as follows -- what can we do to help prevent future abuse what can we do to help victims. on and on.

also, this is a very important point: our gedolim (leaders, whatever you call them) are not usually the ones to create the solutions to problems. that does not diminish from their gadlus at all. it is just the way things work. it is our role as askanim to come up with a plan (or 2) and ask the gedolim for their input and approval. i cannot stress how important this point is. not understanding this leads to frustration and the feeling that our gedolim 'are not doing anything.'

remember; YOU come up with a plan, bring it to the gedolim for their chavas daas. that is what i have always done with my YES work.

Example: I want to place out-of-yeshiva kids in jobs. i meet with a few roshei yeshiva to discuss this. one of them asks, "what is the process to see to it that kids who belong in yeshiva don't just pack it in at 15 years old and just go to work? together, we come up with a plan for dealing with this.

i'm typing very quickly and i hope my thoughts are coherent.

to sum up:

1) come up with some solutions 2) bring them to a gadol for his input, and BE OPEN to his input. 3) amend as needed 4) bake at 400 degrees for a few hours and ... hopefully you are on your way.

Yakov

some solutions could be 1) abuse prevention workshops for parents 2) materials for parents to explain this 'safety thing' to their children 3) school-based employee training .......


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217. and, by the way..........     2/25/08 - 10:51 PM
Yakov Horowitz

I think that all abuse victims would feel validated and heard if they saw that things were being put in place so that future kids are not abused like they were.


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218. Yoni - A hug is worth a thousand words     2/26/08 - 3:21 AM
Sherree

Yoni- I don't disagree with you. I can remember on three different occassions when boys of about 16 years of age walked right into my arms to give me a hug. Two right after they had given one to their moms, but were very happy and grateful to see me, and one in front of his dad.

Personally, I was thrilled that they trusted me even though they knew that I am very strictly shomeres negiah. They somehow did it instinctively knowing that I wouldn't reject them. Two were recovering from drug use, and the third was on his way to summer camp. I saw him off at the airport and he was more than grateful, excited, anxious, happy, scared and needed a hug. As he was hugging me I begged him to hug his dad too.

One Mom really frowned at me and disapproved completely. I asked her what she had expected me to do? Had she really expected me to turn away from him? I told her that I had considered him a "choleh" who needed healing and if he needed a hug from me as chizuk to continue with his drug rehab, stay behind while we left and went home, then so be it.

So Yoni, I understand completely what you are saying. I have not asked anyone if it is right or wrong. It wasn't planned and I didn't initiate it, but if it happens again, it happens. I have never refrained from hugging "my" girls and can understand that a boy needs a hug just as badly. We kid around about it, and I will usually instruct another boy to give a hug for me. But when a boy runs into my arms instinctively for safety or security I will not look at it as if he is a bullet aiming for my heart. One young man who has been my son now for the past 5 1/2 years keeps asking me when I am going to give him a hug. He is already 23 years old. I told him "under the Chupah". In front of his mother and his wife!


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219. Rodef tsedek     2/26/08 - 9:09 AM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Yakov Horowitz:

"I think that all abuse victims would feel validated and heard if they saw that things were being put in place so that future kids are not abused like they were."

______________________

This is an important thought. The Torah has a pasuk: Tsedek tsedek tirdof l'maan tichyeh v'yarashta es ha'aretz H' Elo-aynu nosson lach. Justice, justice pursue in order that you may live and you will inherit the Land that G' has given you. Perhaps its because justice is an intangible mitzvah, unlike, for example, shofar and matzah, people have difficulty performing it. How often do we tell people who seem to be involved in a petty dispute over a relatively small amount of money: Why are you bothering? What's the point? The person answers, Its the principle. We respond, cynically, Gimme a break, you're wasting your time.

I'm not suggesting a small claims court case every time you're out-of-pocket five bucks because a deal went bad. But sometimes principle does count, even for small cases. Justice, justice pursue...

We shouldn't tell real, hurting sex abuse or any other victims, C'mon, get over it already, without delivering any real justice.

I'll never forget a photograph I once saw of Jessica's father shaking the hand of Florida's Governor at a bill signing ceremony. Jessica had been kidnapped, raped, and murdered about three months before, and the father, with many allies, had vigorously campaigned for a GPS law tracking all convicted sex offenders. The father was leaning in sharply towards the Governor, jacket open, tie flapping, big smile on the face, arm and hand extended. Why was he smiling? His daughter's grave was still fresh. Then I understood the passuk, Pursue justice in order to live. Where there's justice, there's life. If Jessica's father had not been pursuing justice, where would he be? Perhaps sitting in a darkened room, shades drawn, sipping alcohol. Instead, he's with the Governor, writing laws for the protection of all children in Florida. G' bless him.

I also recall a story about Rav Yaakov Kamentzky in his youth. He was late for cheder one morning. He stopped to help a man struggling with his packages, a mitzah d'oreisa. When he walked into class late, the rebbe struck him so hard, he was knocked off his feet. Rav Yaakov was upset by this incident for his entire life, because the rebbe never asked him: Why were you late? He never heard the explanation. The young Rav Yaakov was denied justice.

Achieving justice for victims of sex or violent abuse can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes, its monetary compensation, if possible. Other times, its a fingerprint law, and a mandatory reporting law for the nonpublic schools in New York State. And establishing a new organization to get the job done - without wasting time obsessing over what other organizations are or aren't doing about the problem.


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220. dear rabi horovitz     2/26/08 - 10:29 AM
bal tshiva

human problem: # 207 & other aggidinicks

disrespect. frend says ultra-orthidocks jews have superiority complecks? all orthidocks or only aggidinicks?


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221.     2/26/08 - 11:13 AM
Anonymous

Hi, #220 (BT)

I'm the writer of 207, and though you didn't direct your question to me, I wanted to mention that the disrespectful writer you mentioned did not say "Agudahniks", Orthodox, or I, for that matter have a superiority complex.

As twisting and agenda-driven as the comments were, they did not outrightly insult either "Agudahniks" or the Orthodox, so I don't think you need to worry.

Paranthetically, I'm not an "Agudanik", or at least I don't know what one is. I know of some of the Mesiras Nefesh that some Agudah members have been involved in, to help Yidden, including Rabbi Horowitz and other Askonim. But more than that, I'm not involved- don't go to the dinners, keep up with all their Askonus, etc. I do feel we should all have Hakoras Hatov for what Agudah has done for all of us, and in that sense, we should be "Hakoras Hatovniks" :). There are other organizations which deserve our Hakoras Hatov as well, including the OU organization. These are institutions that are here to help Klal Yisrael, without a profit motive, without servicing a narrow "membership group", just good old Askonus for the general community. We tell our kids to say "thank you". Shouldn't we do the same?


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222.     2/26/08 - 11:21 AM
Anonymous

"Achieving justice for victims of sex or violent abuse can be done in a variety of ways. Sometimes, its monetary compensation, if possible. Other times, its a fingerprint law, and a mandatory reporting law for the nonpublic schools in New York State. And establishing a new organization to get the job done - without wasting time obsessing over what other organizations are or aren't doing about the problem."

Elliot,

May I put in my two cents? I'm glad you're doing what you're doing, and something does need to be done. But I truly hope that the organization you are forming will address abuse at large, and not primarily in the school sytem, which are high profile but I strongly suspect much less prevalent than in other settings. Rabbi Horowitz's suggestions were so on the mark and clear thinking- please consider them, and realize that legislation, although wonderful, is not the primary key to abuse prevention. It makes headlines, true. Please don't narrow your focus in such a way though, as that will detract from the effectiveness of the organization before it even starts.

Perhaps you could meet with Rabbi Horowitz to flesh out some more ideas regarding this.


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223. To: 222 and your 2 Sense     2/26/08 - 11:34 AM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Yes, yes, yes, and more yes. And Yes to Project Yes. No to the YES TV Network - bittul z'man - even when the Yonkies are playing.

We've met, and we've spoken. I hope to meet you and speak to you 2. I hope to meet with everybody. I like everybody. Except for a few people, and we know who they are.

I'd like the organization to address all of the global issues affecting our children - tuition, health, physical fitness, abuse. We will be a genuinely Jewish organization. Pleasant, happy, joyous, filled with a sense of purpose. Genuine Jewish brotherhood will be present. Our minds will be occupied on how to serve G-d as best as we can. We will move forward. Ideas and even dreams will be encouraged. Plans will be engaged. Jewish democracy will be demonstrated. We will open and close our meetings with Tehillim, and Zemiros.

And if I hear one more word about that other organization I'm going to walk around my office and ask if anybody has a pill I can take.


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224. Anon #222     2/26/08 - 12:10 PM
Sherree

You sound like someone we can use. Do you want to join?


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225.     2/26/08 - 12:58 PM
Anonymous

Elliot and Sherree,

As a parent of a victimized child, this whole thread has me reeling a bit, and bringing back things which I wish I didn't have to think about. I am honored by your invitation, and would like to help, but for now, anonymously. I'm not ready yet for public involvement. Perhaps I could help edit written materials, which can be done over email.


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226. LiChvod HaRav Yakov Horowitz LOY"T     2/26/08 - 7:38 PM
Anonymous

Re: 220. dear rabi horovitz 2/26/08 - 10:29 AM bal tshiva

human problem: # 207 & other aggidinicks disrespect. frend says ultra-orthidocks jews have superiority complecks? all orthidocks or only aggidinicks?

LiChvod HaRav Yakov Horowitz LOY"T:

BiMechilas Kvodchem. Although the above was addressed to you, I apologize that I cannot resist repeating a humorous, fictional anecdote from the late Orthodox Jewish comedian, Reb Yom Tov Ehrlich A"H:

Before the Ribono Shel Olam gave the Torah HaKedoshah to us, he offered it to the United States of America. The president of the U.S. asked: "What's in it for us?" To which the Ribono Shel Olam responded: "Kabeid Es Avicha VeEs Imecha." The U.S. president then replied: "Sorry, that's not our thing. Man, we don't respect nobody!"

Seriously, some the Bnai Torah participating here and elsewhere have -- unfortunately -- taken on the negative characteristic of their Gentile neighbors: disrespect. Because Americans tend to be chauvinistic and -- LeHavdil Alfei Elef Hadalos -- Orthodox Jews are chauvinistic, the negative tendency (i.e., Yeitzer HaRa) may be strong among our brethren.

In conclusion: As a Mamleches Kohanim VeGoy Kadosh, we are obligated to demonstrate respect toward every other human being!


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227. Respect     2/26/08 - 9:05 PM
Anonymous

"In conclusion: As a Mamleches Kohanim VeGoy Kadosh, we are obligated to demonstrate respect toward every other human being!"

Yes. Absolutely.

If I may, I respectfully request of Rabbi Horowitz that posters who submit comments that derogatorily refer to others by name, be it authors, Gedolim, or any other identifiable individual (I'll leave out outright Reshaim, for which the laws of Lashon Hara/Rechilus may not apply), be asked to refrain, and their posts edited.

Although this is a very welcoming blog, posts that cross this line should be subject to greater moderation activity.


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228. Anon # 225.     2/26/08 - 10:54 PM
Sherree

Understood, please keep Elliot's email in your contact list so you can keep up with us to see where we are holding.


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229.     2/26/08 - 11:23 PM
Anonymous

Sherree, I will. Thank you


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230. Mikveh     2/28/08 - 10:47 AM
Sherree

I was waiting for one of the men to address this issue, and am surprised that no one did. So I will tackle this issue and address it to Rabbi H and the other men. I am not going to let it die quietly either because I think it is very very important.

Some chassidish women brought it to my attention. They said that they dread when their boys go to the mikveh because it is a breeding ground for pedaphiles. The accidental bumping and touching is not quite that accidental.

The mitzvah for women of mikveh is a very private, tzniusdik, spiritual and for many embarrassing and uncomfortable one. However, it is done with the most privacy and most modesty as possible. On the other hand, the mens' mikveh, as I have been told has become something of a social club like a russian bath house. A place to gather and yenta. It is a place where children hear things they shouldn't, where loshon horah is spread, where people are literally seen and heard.

Is there any reason why mikvehs for men can not be built more in line with women's mikvehs? Why can't privacy and modesty be considered? Why can't there be separate mikvehs for boys with an attendant for security and safety purposes? Call him a lifeguard if you want, he should be fingerprinted and background checked as well, but he should definitely be there to monitor that the boys are safe.

Why should a mitzvah turn into a breeding ground for vile and viscious behavior and why has this area where it is obviously more likely for problems to occur not been addressed earlier?


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231.     2/28/08 - 11:38 AM
yoni

I'm not totaly sure... But I know that in the days I was in new york and could afford to go to the mikvah I made a point to go so early that there would be hardly anyone there, and showered before so as to make sure that I had to spend as little time there as possible. Both because it was cleaner there and because it was empty and didn't feel so tzniusdik when it was full...

but I don't know. And, personaly, I think there are a whole lot more reasons to be uneasy about sons going to the mivkah than just that... they're often not particularly clean after the first hundred guys or so.


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232. Mikveh     2/28/08 - 6:07 PM
Rachel J.

You are absolutely right, Mikveh situation has become a big problem. We have friends in a certain Chassidishe community, & my husband used to go to the Mikveh before Shabbos when we visit them. My husband says it's terrible what goes on. But you can't really say anything to them, the Chassidim have their own Roov that they follow, they don't listen to anyone else. There's no Agudah, RCA, OU, etc. there. They definitely WILL NOT go to the police to report any perp. The reporter will be stoned, his car will be damaged to point of no return & he'll thrown out of their ghetto (sorry, but that's how it is by most of them).


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233. Rabbinic help     2/28/08 - 6:38 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D. - lipnera@gmail.com

I am working with a group of victims of a rebby in a chareidi yeshivah. It is a similar situation of denial and cover-up to the one in Torah Tmimah. The victims would like me to find them a Chareidi Rabbi who will stick up for them and demand justice. Like Reb Chaim Soloveitchik's definition of a rabbi - someone who stands up to protect those who have nobody to speak for them. I have found some modern orthodox rabbis who are willing to get involved.

Does anybody know of a Chareidi Rabbi who would be willing to represent the victims in talking to the yeshivah or signing a letter asking the yeshivah to hear them out and do the right thing?

Just as Rabbi Horowitz has become a hero for starting this blog, there is so much room for a leader to defend victims. But it cannot be Elliot, or myself, or Dr. Twersky. It has to be a "gadol" of the stature of those who signed the ban on concerts, in order to get the attention of the yeshivah. Anyone have any ideas?


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234. To: Rachel J     3/4/08 - 2:34 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

Rachel, way back at comment 75, on February 10, you mentioned you know somebody who does web sites for non profits. Can you make the introduction, and provide the contact information?


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235.     3/10/08 - 1:26 PM
Anonymous

We are forming the Board of Advocates for Jewish Children. An organization that will promote the bill which is currently on the Assembly floor, for compliance of non-public schools to mandate fingerprinting and background checks for employees. We are also asking for voluntary compliance until this bill is passed.

In addition, we will be working in the future on other issues that effect the productive ability for the success and achievement of Jewish Children whether they are issues that stem from challenges in the home, school or due to financial or mental, emotional or physical issues.

We would appreciate a letter of support from you in forming and succeeding in our mission. Our board of directors will consist of individuals representing various areas of expertise in our community including but not limited to rabbinic, legal, clinical, medical, parental, and educational advisors.

Political support from our local officials will be sought and most appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids Count Foundation Sherree@belsky.us

Elliot Pasek, Esq. efpasek@aol.com


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236. A Request to ALL - I have also sent this to various organizations and politicians     3/10/08 - 1:29 PM
Sherree

We are forming the Board of Advocates for Jewish Children. An organization that will promote the bill which is currently on the Assembly floor, for compliance of non-public schools to mandate fingerprinting and background checks for employees. We are also asking for voluntary compliance until this bill is passed.

In addition, we will be working in the future on other issues that effect the productive ability for the success and achievement of Jewish Children whether they are issues that stem from challenges in the home, school or due to financial or mental, emotional or physical issues.

We would appreciate a letter of support from you in forming and succeeding in our mission. Our board of directors will consist of individuals representing various areas of expertise in our community including but not limited to rabbinic, legal, clinical, medical, parental, and educational advisors.

Political support from our local officials will be sought and most appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids Count Foundation Sherree@belsky.us

Elliot Pasek, Esq. efpasek@aol.com


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237. Correction of Eliot Pasik's spelling     3/10/08 - 2:08 PM
Sherree

We are forming the Board of Advocates for Jewish Children. An organization that will promote the bill which is currently on the Assembly floor, for compliance of non-public schools to mandate fingerprinting and background checks for employees. We are also asking for voluntary compliance until this bill is passed. In addition, we will be working in the future on other issues that effect the productive ability for the success and achievement of Jewish Children whether they are issues that stem from challenges in the home, school or due to financial or mental, emotional or physical issues.

We would appreciate a letter of support from you in forming and succeeding in our mission. Our board of directors will consist of individuals representing various areas of expertise in our community including but not limited to rabbinic, legal, clinical, medical, parental, and educational advisors.

Political support from our local officials will be sought and most appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Sherree Belsky, Director, Kids Count Foundation Sherree@belsky.us

Elliot Pasik, Esq. efpasik@aol.com


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238. Comment No. 237     3/11/08 - 12:10 AM
Anonymous

Sincere appreciation to Mr. Pasik, Mrs. Belsky, and everyone else involved in this very important effort.

Please do not limit this to New York. Any suggestions on starting chapters in other Jewish communities?


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239. Starting new chapters     3/11/08 - 9:40 AM
Sherree

As soon as we get this up and running, we will be able to advise others how to do it in other parts of the country. If you want info or to be kept informed please send us an email with your information.


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240. Board of Advocates for Jewish Children     3/24/08 - 10:24 AM
Sherree

Announcing the formation of Board of Advocates for Jewish Children. Initial Board meeting will be held this weekend. Congratulations to all those involved!


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241. open support groups!     3/24/08 - 7:15 PM
Goldy Rosenberg - Brooklyn, NY

I don't know that fingerprinting will necessarily help -- I don't see the public schools having a better track record than our schools, with all their screenings. There is more abuse in publice schools. However, what I feel is needed is support groups for the victims. Mt. Sinai was running a program called SAVI which helped some of the frum girls who went through the ringer. They have closed that program. We need to empower the victims to press charges, to know they are not alone and that they are NORMAL, that it is not their fault.


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242. To Goldy Rosenberg #241     3/24/08 - 9:15 PM
Benzion Twerski

Empower to press charges?!! The prevailing leadership considers that mesira. That means that all other children besides the victim will be expelled and never find a school or yeshiva that will accept them. That means being ostracized by major factions of the frum community. That can even mean jeopardizing your parnosoh, all because you sought to bring a criminal to justice, because you made an effort at removing a piece of garbage cloaked like a tzaddik in peltz from harming more children. I dare anyone to press charges against a true perpetrator without suffering the consequences and wrath of the establishment. It happens all the time. There is so much challenge to those who seek to get redress through use of courts that it is easier to shy away from it. Support groups are needed and useful. I still want every perpetrator tracked so that he stays away from chinuch forever. I do not want the concept of teshuvah abused by applying it here. The perpetrators can do all the teshuvah they want, and it is up to HKB”H to accept it. Since we mortals can never evaluate it, beis din can also not base a psak din on it, and nor should we.

I once discovered that one of my own children was almost a victim, when a substitute rebbe during the summer was fondling others in his class and tried to grab him, too. I had no idea what happened until many months later when he reacted oddly to something and my wife brilliantly took him to the side for a talk. This was more than 6 months later. I addressed this with the relevant menahalim, and communicated a message to the rebbe that he better stay away from chinuch forever. The consequence for not following this was my commitment to inform his new menahel, the parents of the children in his class, and his wife of his history. That would destroy him. To the best of my knowledge, he entered the business world. If that would not have stopped him, I was advised by several Rabbonim to simply report him and let the courts handle it. These molesters are rodfim, and they deserve all the wrath we can shower on them.


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243. To Goldy Rosenberg #241     3/25/08 - 6:29 AM
Sherree

The buz in Boro Park right now is that the Principal in the Australian girls school that ran back to Eretz Yisroel after being exposed for molesting her students was a known pedophile and had gone to Australia in the first place because she had run away from E"Y for the same crimes.

Her references when hired were exemplery, she was of the highest regard, the E"Y schools gave her top honors and top ratings. Obviously they were more than happy to get rid of her and have her placed far away from their own. Not a word of warning was obviously given and more children were hurt. A background and fingerprint check would have revealed her past and many children would have been saved from exposure to her sickness. If you haven't read the article, she tricked her students into sleepovers when her husband wasn't home claiming that she was afraid to be alone.

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