Sunday, February 04, 2007

Call To Action: Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau and the Baltimore Jewish Times
Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau / Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer's - Glenn Ave. Shul

From: The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter

Allowing A Survivor Civil Rights - Awareness and Education

The situation described below has happened in several observant Jewish communities around the globe. I’m using the case in Baltimore as an example since it is the community in which The Awareness Center, Inc. is based.

As we all know there is rarely any witnesses when a sex crime is committed.

Two stumbling blocks advocates for Jewish survivors of sex crimes repeatedly encountering is the fact that according to halach (Jewish law) there needs to be two male witnesses to the crime and that women do not count as kosher witnesses.

There has been on going concerns in the orthodox community of Baltimore -- that those with power have been consistently more concern with the rights of alleged and convicted sex offenders then they have been with the rights of those who have been sexually victimized.

Many individuals in the Baltimore community feel that one of the reasons the Baltimore Jewish Times rarely writes about sex crimes is due to the influence of various rabbinic leaders.

Over the past five years I’ve had discussions with various rabbonim in the Baltimore community regarding a case that occurred over ten years ago. The child of an alleged sex offender was basically chased out of town. When asked about the case, various religious leaders stated that there was not enough evidence that a crime was committed. The problem continues to be that the religious leaders of Baltimore do not know what to look for in cases of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault.

In the case of the child being chased out of town, the rabbis questioned the survivor who was undergoing intensive treatment for a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder, and then questioned the alleged offender -- who denied the allegations. Unfortunately, the alleged offender was and continues to be a close friend of the rabbis who conducted the investigation.

For years the survivor in this case has been wanting to have contacts with siblings. Because of a decree made by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer this survivor has not been allowed to have contact with the majority of family members.

The survivor is basically in cherem (shunned, in excommunication). The Awareness Center is a strong supporter of this survivor and is asking everyone to contact Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer. Please request that he allow the survivor to have contact with family members. Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer can be reached at:

At one time the Baltimore Jewish Times was going to run this story of this survivor, yet suddenly backed down. One has to wonder if the rabbonim of Batlimore had influence of the paper back then and if they continue to influence the paper today in what news is shared in the Baltimore Jewish community.

A few weeks ago JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency) ran a series about clergy sexual abuse called “Reining In Abuse”. Many Jewish papers across the United States ran the series. Unfortunately, The Baltimore Jewish Times did not.

The following is a dialog I had with Mr. Neil Rubin, editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times. I also have to mention that the New York Jewish Week also did not run the series. You may also want to contact Gary Rosenblatt to ask why he decided not to run this vitally important series

After reading the dialog below I’m asking everyone to provide me with feedback.
  1. Do you think that The Awareness Center should ask everyone to boycott the Baltimore Jewish Times?
  2. Do you think we should encourage everyone to purchase a subscription and send letters as a subscriber to demand they start writing about sex crimes in the Baltimore community?
  3. Or can you think of other pro-active methods that can be utilized?
Remember the goal is awareness and education. They both are key if we want to end sexual violence!

Please contact the following individuals:

Neil Rubin - Editor, Baltimore Jewish Times

Gary Rosenblatt - Editor, New York Jewish Week
212-921-7822, ext. 215

Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer
Association of Orthodox rabbis in Greater Baltimore

Vicki Polin / Neil Rubin

E-mail exchange with the Baltimore Jewish Times
-----Original message-----
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 10:45:03 -0500
Subject: JTA Series

Dear Mr. Rubin,
I wanted to thank you for publishing the one of the many article from the JTA
series "Reining in Abuse". I think it's vitally important that everyone in
Baltimore is aware that it's not just the orthodox community that has
problems. It's a problem faced in each and very movement of Judaism.

The only way things will ever change is by our communities becoming aware of the issues so that we can start educating ourselves in hopes of preventing one more innocent person from becoming the next victim. For that reason I want to do what ever it takes to encourage you to publish the entire series.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I can be reached
at 443-857-5560.

In a message dated 1/28/07 5:19:59 PM, nrubin@ writes:

From: Neil Rubin
cc: Phil Jacobs

Thank you Vicki. I believe we posted the whole thing at our website over the course of a week.

All the best,

-----Original message-----
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 19:05:50 -0500
To: nrubin@
Subject: Re: JTA Series

Thanks for letting me know. I've only been able to find one of the articles.
Do you think you can send me the links? I also wanted to know if you are
you going to also publish the series in your paper?

In a message dated 1/28/07 8:42:07 PM, nrubin@ writes:

From: Neil Rubin
cc: Phil Jacobs

Our links are unfortunately not in great shape right now. But I will check.
I don't know what we will do in print as we're so overwhelmed with the need to write about local news and people. As you know, we've not avoided the issue (including writing about you).
-N (Neil Rubin)

In a message dated 2/1/07 5:15:14 PM, nrubin@ writes:
From: Neil Rubin

Hi Vicki. I added a few of the JTA abuse stories to the website (I believe there are only 2 of the five JTA articles on their site). They should be up tomorrow or the next day. I chose not to put in the one about the Awareness Center as we've obviously already written about that.
Shabbat Shalom.

In a message dated 2/1/07 10:45:30 PM, VICKIPOLIN writes:
Dear Neil,
I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised that you chose not to publish the entire series written by JTA in print and even more surprised your paper would exclude on of the artices in the series on your web page, especially since it's about an organization based in Baltimore.

The reality is that the Baltimore Jewish Times has not written anything about our organization since 2002. I am fully aware that your paper has repeatedly written articles about other Baltimore organization more then once.

Considering a few of the articles mention our organization, it seems fair enough to believe you would want your readers to fully understand they dynamics of what's going on when it comes to those who advocate for survivors. Do you mind letting me know why you feel the need to delete it from the series? I wonder if it's because it mentions the case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler. I am aware there are several of his relatives who live in this community. I also want to know if it is because the article quotes me as saying someone in the Jewish community of Baltimore spit in my face?

In a message dated 2/2/07 11:01:08 AM, nrubin@ writes:
We don't have room in print. The paper is smaller than it used to be due to what' s happening in the industry. If we had room, we could. We also didn't print JTA's series on the need for new rabbis, on the changes in Latin American Jewry, on GM's relationship with Nazis, on the Israeli-Jordanian partnership, etc.

Rest assured that we are not going to cover every issue that is important to everyone simply because we can't.

I'm comfortable with what we've done.
-N (Neil Rubin)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think YOU are Eisgrau's daughter.

Do you deny it?

February 04, 2007 1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You as in "jewish survivors of sexual violence."

February 04, 2007 9:42 PM  

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