Monday, May 22, 2006

'I'm there for everybody' - Dr. Aviva Weisbord

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'I'm there for everybody' - Dr. Aviva Weisbord
By Luke Ford - May 21, 2006

Baltimore Jewish Times Editor Phil Jacobs writes in the May 19, 2006 issue:

Dr. Aviva Weisbord has been there for everybody for almost 25 years, working with her patients in her psychology practice.

The truth is, Dr. Weisbord, the wife of Ner Israel Rabbinical College's Rabbi Beryl Weisbord and daughter of the late rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Yaakov S. Weinberg, and community pillar Rebbetzin Hannah Weinberg, has never not been there for this community.

But now that status is going to take a huge, perhaps more public, change.

As of June 1, Dr. Weisbord, who is known for her warm, friendly smile, will start as the new head of the Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League (JBBL) and its Jewish Addiction Services program. JBBL is a constituent agency of the Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

Aviva Weisbord is a member of the human race. She's not an angel. It's impossible for her to have been there for everybody over 25 years. A single overstatement, wherever or however it occurs, has the power to destroy the credibility of a story in the mind of a reader (E.B. White).

Phil, if you feel you are possessed of the truth, simply state it, do not give it advance billing (E.B. White). "The truth is..."

One thing that Phil Jacobs does not mention is that Aviva Weisbord is the sister of accused sexual predator Rabbi Matis Weinberg.

I'm not arguing that this should disqualify Dr. Weisbord from anything but it is certainly relevant to a story on her.

The pioneer for reporting on rabbinic sex abuse, Gary Rosenblatt, writes in The Jewish Week May 9, 2003:

Dr. Aviva Weisbord, a psychologist in Baltimore and sister of Rabbi Weinberg, said she and other members of her family are working toward establishing a two-tiered mechanism to deal with sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. Allegations would be addressed to a group of distinguished rabbis, she said, who then would appoint trained professionals to investigate and make recommendations, which the rabbinic body would then act on.

As a form of checks and balances, Weisbord said, it would be understood that if people were not satisfied with the results, they could go to the civil courts or the press.

Weisbord acknowledged that there was ingrained resistance from some of the rabbis who have been approached. They recognize the need but have been reluctant to sign on,� she noted. It will have to be done one by one.

Phil Jacobs is the facilitator of a support group for men who were sexually abused. It meets at Sidran Institute, founded by former Awareness Center board member Esther Giller, a successful writer for grants.

I believe that the first meeting for a Ner Israel-supported set of such support groups was at Hannah Weinberg's house, Aviva's mother.

These support groups are part of a reaction to the Samuel Juravel case, which the Baltimore Orthodox community leadership covered up years ago (when there were numerous accusations about Juravel's predatory behavior with boys).

Phil Jacobs, along with Gary Rosenblatt, were given the story of Vicki Polin's 1989 appearance on Oprah before anybody but never published anything on it. About six months after Phil and Gary had the story, I was given it by Yori Yanover and, after ascertaining the transcript's accuracy, immediately published it.

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau has a daughter who (along with others) accuses Eisgrau of sexual abuse:

My father said that he wanted to help me and would take me to see a psychologist if I came home with him. He took me to his friend, Dr. Aviva Weisbord, who agreed to see me as a favor to him. (Apparently he had helped her with one of her children who had been having issues.)

Dr. Weisbord should never have taken me on as a client due to her obvious conflict of interest. She allowed me to come to her house during the course of therapy and sleep over. She violated confidentiality by meeting with my parents against my wishes. She violated confidentiality by telling people that I had been a client of hers and that in her "professional" opinion my father had not abused me.

During the course of my treatment with Dr. Weisbord she and I both realized that I had been sexually abused. She kept asking me about my uncle, Goldberger, whom I had contact with as a young child. I did not remember any specific instances of him abusing me. I did not tell her about my father. She was very willing to believe that my uncle, a convicted sex offender, abused me. But I knew she would not believe me about my father. She made it clear that she trusted and respected him. At some point she realized that I was hiding something. She told me that there were serious boundary issues in my family. That there were things that I wasn't sharing with her, and that she did not want to hear. She told me that she was ending our relationship and sending me to someone else.

Even though Jewish Week Editor Gary Rosenblatt broke the Rabbi Mordecai Gafni story, he chose to concentrate on charges against Gafni from about 20 years ago, rather on the abundant evidence that Gafni still acted like a creep (which I quickly published on my site after Gary's article broke open the dam of evidence against Gafni).

When Rosenblatt, who got first crack at those who said Gafni sexually abused them approximately 20 years ago, recently tried to talk to these women again, but they wanted nothing to do with Gary, saying he'd burned them the first time round.

What was and is important about Gafni is not primarily how Gafni acted 20 years ago, but his unchanged pattern of bad behavior (not just sexual bad behavior) that's continued to the present and was enabled over the past 20 months by such rabbis as Joseph Telushkin and Saul Berman as well as the Stephen S. Wise temple leadership.

Through his first column on Gafni, Rosenblatt, due to his earned prestige in much of Jewish life (he's a scholar in residence at various synagogues and is widely called "Mr. Jewish Journalism"), prompted people of good will to take the attitude of letting bygones be bygones with Gafni.

From a post to the Jewish Survivors blog:

I personally believe that prior to trusting people like Chana Weinberg, she will need to make both private and a public apology to the survivors of her son Matis Weinberg, and also the survivors of the other cases her and her late husband covered up. I would love to hear Aviva Weisbord apologize to the Eisgrau survivor for breaching confidentiality.

From another post in this thread:

The problem is that a lot of people in the [Baltimore] community are afraid to go to police. They don't want to go against the ravs of the community. If they don't comply their children will no longer be able to go to schools of their choice, as their children get older they won't be able to get a good shudduch (match for marriage).

Going to goyisha law enforcement would take power away from those in leadership roles. You would be considered a rasha!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Luke Ford for succinctly summarizing this issue.

He writes, "I would love to hear Aviva Weisbord apologize to the Eisgrau survivor for breaching confidentiality."


May 22, 2006 9:30 AM  
Anonymous Come on already said...

Aviva Weisbord said:
"Allegations would be addressed to a group of distinguished rabbis, she said, who then would appoint trained professionals to investigate and make recommendations, which the rabbinic body would then act on.

As a form of checks and balances, Weisbord said, it would be understood that if people were not satisfied with the results, they could go to the civil courts or the press."

Excuse me! Are we still living in the dark ages? Weisbord is still suggesting that the rabbonim of Baltimore handle allegations of sexual abuse? Have they not learned from the past. They should be advocating that people immediately contact either child protection
services and or law enforcement.

If our rabbinic leaders had a forensic background in conducting criminal investigations, the know how to collect evidence and trained to conduct victim sensitive interviews -- maybe I would think differently.

What a scam!

May 22, 2006 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Phil Jacobs attached himself to Aviva Weisbord. I wonder how long that has been going on. Is the Weinberg/Ner Israel influence what kept Phil from writing stories about sexual abuse in the past? Especially when the abuse had ties to the Ner Israel / yeshivish crowd?

Who influenced Phil not to write about the TI (Torah Institute) Principal? Who influenced him not to write about Binyamin Fleichman (the famous photographer)? The list can go on and on.

May 22, 2006 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Not A Friend of Chana Weinberg's said...

Did you notice that over two months have gone by and there has not been a single article in the Baltimore Jewish Times regarding Shmuel Juravel?

How many months or years will go by before Phil Jacobs will let his readership know the truth?

May 22, 2006 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clean up your own act Aviva Weisboard, before you try to help other people who have been abused! You have a lot of nerve thinking you can serve on a board of any kind dealing with this issue! You knew about Eisgrau for YEARS now and have done NOTHING!! So what if "Rabbi" Eigrau is your friend.
Why are you protecting him? Why are you seeing your friends kids for therapy to begin with?? Have you ever apologized to Eigrau's daughter for that particular breach of ethics? Why can't you take responsibility for your damaging behavior? Why should anyone who is truly concerned about survivors listen to a word you have to say?

May 22, 2006 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Allegations would be addressed to a group of distinguished rabbis...who would then appoint trained professionals to investigate..."

Who would these "distinguished rabbi's" be, Aviva, Heinemann and Hopfer? And who would be the "trained proffesionals?" You? What a joke!

May 22, 2006 1:37 PM  

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