Sunday, April 15, 2007

Baltimore's Shalom USA talks about sexual abuse

Early this morning Phil Jacobs, Murray Levin and Yacov Margolese spoke out on Shalom USA.

The Show starts off with Phil Jacobs, senior editor of The Baltimore Jewish Times coming out as a Survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Phil states that he had to wait until he was therapeutically ready to write about the topic. He said that he doesn't care about the issue of lashon hara. The issue is about children being protected, that's the real issue.

Murray Levin is know for his photography business. He was profiled on page 16 of the Baltimore Jewish Times as being survivor of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro. What assisted him to go public is that there is people of a new generation being effected by the same offender.

Murray stated, there are people much, much younger then him going public. He had to fulfil his obligation of also coming forward. It's not just to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse, but every pedophile. It's our parents who have been effective, brothers effective. Murray said that he never told his family until a month ago. Murray is now 64 years-old.

DJ asked Murray, why couldn't he just move on with his life and let it go?

Murray stated his fear, embarrassment and shame were what kept him quiet. These are the same issues that keep other survivors quiet. He said he was not sure what to do when he was 11 or 12 years old. He then went on to talked about the statement put out by the rabbinical council of greater Baltimore. "The first sentence there is no subject more painful then the issue of sexual abuse."

Murray went on to say that the Rabbinical council only coming out now because there is shame on their side. Now we need to move past this and we need rehabilitation of survivors and the offenders.

DJ said that Murray looks like he's in fine shape.

Murray stated, what I've recognized in the last 6 months, we are effected in different ways. He was lucky. People abused in home never get a break. Every survivor is effective differently. It was burred deep inside me. I got a break because I wasn't being abused at home.

Yacov Margolese stated that, "I am a survivor of sexual abuse". Yacov got silent.

Murray said that Yacov is much younger then he is. This is a problem that is multi generation.

DJ said, Yacov
earlier started to organize a group of survivors. attempting to bring this issue to others in the community.

Yacov said, My abuse started when I was 4 at the mikvah. I don't know who my first offender was. It happened in NY. I moved to Baltimore at 13. I was abused again in Baltimore. This time my perpetrator was a woman, and then again by someone else (Shmuel Juraval).

We went to rabbis to get things fixed. I myself personally did not go to all the rabbis, others also went and were met denial. Most of the rabbis stated it's not molestation, the perpetrators are going to get married, he's going to yeshiva -- he's going to be fine, he won't molest again. No one who went directly to the rabbis felt they were being taken seriously.

Yacov went on to say: Today there is a tremendous lack of education. My parents also were clueless in how to deal with this. When Shmuel Juravel was arrested and convicted. I knew it was time to bring it back to our community. I knew it was time for there to be a change. I reached out to other survivors.

Larry Cohen, Shalom USA asked: What about the enablers?

Phil Jacobs said, it seems to be the big elephant in the room. How could people not know about all of this. What about people in authority who refused to act?

Larry Cohen said, Should these rabbis and community leaders who refused to act still be in leadership roles today?

Yacov Margolese said, a year ago survivors told their stories to a group of rabbis. About 20 people telling their stories on a Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

Phil Jacobs said, my abuse happened 30 - 40 years ago, you can't get the taste of fire out. In my case I can not go into a public bath room. My life Lisa practically has to walk in there with me. Who's a friend who's not a friend. Authority figures that's what it gets into.

Larry Cohen said, the Board of rabbi issued a statement. What about the non-orthodox movement. Is anything happening. This is not just an orthodox issue.

Phil Jacobs said, Children getting molested. Google Judge Hammerman. I wrote about him. He was connected to a reform synagogue.

Caller Rhonda: It took me a long time to say I was abused by my mom's friend. I was also abused by my husband while living in Monsey. My ex husband was molesting me. It was very hard for me to get it out.

Caller Rabbi Mark Dratch said, I have no idea how big the problem is. I talked to a woman was abused who was abused in the hallway of his synagogue. I deals mostly with halachic issues, which are important in the orthodox world. He continued on by saying lashon hara does not mean that we can never speak badly about anyone.

Yacov Margolese said: In the office of the Northwest Citizen's Patrol (NWCP), there is a wall with photographs of criminals, yet has no photos' of those who molest children. Instead they have been handling these cases in a quiet way. Yacov stated the letter from the Vaad is nothing more then a miracle. great step forward.

Murray Levin said: I want to mention that over the last Vicki Polin of The Awareness Center invited me to go to testify at a senate hearing. Ever since she's been mentoring me. the center. For anyone who needs help, the phone number of The Awareness Center is: 443-857-5560.

Caller Rabbi Dratch stated: Should someone go to the rabbis or the police first? This is a complicated question. I have a lot of respect with the rabbis I spoke to. I don't want to go against the rabbis of Baltimore. We have a letter from various rabbis saying that we are obligated to go to law enforcement first, prior to the rabbis.

Larry Cohen said: I'm very much confused with my feelings. Rabbi Ehraim Shapiro married me and my wife, got me my job. guided me in a positive way. People are torn on rabbis who do good to one, yet do horrible things to others.

Murray Levin: Briefly discussed a meeting with Phil Jacobs, Bob Glickstein and two of the sons of Ephraim Shapiro. During the meeting he asked the two sons if anyone in the family was molested. The sons said no, yet disclosed that one of their brothers had to take a new assignment away from teaching bar mitzvah lessions due to their brothers was molesting children.

Caller: Vicki Polin of The Awareness Center said that Murray Levin, Yacov Margolese, Bob Glickstein and Phil Jacobs should be seen as hero's for coming out and telling the story in the Baltimore Jewish Times. She continued on saying that when the four men walk into a room everyone should stand up and give them a round of applause.

Vicki went on to state that one out of every 3 - 5 women and one out of every 5-7 men are survivors of child sexual abuse. She stated a more recent study stated that 25% of all Americans are survivors of childhood molestation. Pedophilia is not about religion.

She said every parent should teach their children about good touch/bad touch. There are suggested books on The Awareness Center's web page for both parents and children of all ages. Parents need to teach their children that the parts of their bodies covered by a bathing suit are parts of their bodies that are private.

Caller: Rose said that the letter from the Vaad is just a paper. It has no meaning without an action plan behind it.

Caller: Max said the Jewish community is small. When we bleed on the tallis, everyone sees it. We are like the Catholic church. We all need to go you have to go to the authorities. We have got to get the predators out of the schools.

Caller: Moshe said my wife has been abusing our children for years. The rabbis of Baltimore, Child Protective Services, therapist and family courts have failed to protect my children. Last time my wife abused the children was on yom tov. She took a knife and cut his daughter. He's gotten no help from rabbis. Numerous
cases of the abuse reported. The courts and the rabbis have been impotent. What am I supposed to do?

Murray Levin said, Moshe it doesn't take place in your family, call Jewish times, Vicki Polin at Awareness Center, Yacov Margolese.

Yacov Margolese said, if you have or think you were molested. reach out to myself or other here or other resources.

Phil Jacobs said, let's keep the conversation going. Let's keep coming back and talking about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listened to the Shalom USA show. I was surprised that Vicki Polin didn't say more. She's really the expert in the area of sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

I was surprised Rabbi Dratch didn't know some of the basics such as how prevalent sexual abuse was in Jewish communities.

April 15, 2007 9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Phil, Yakov and Murray for speaking out as a survivor. I know how difficult that is. You have the courage I wish I had.

April 15, 2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am outraged when someone like Larry Cohen states he still has ambivalent feelings about a Rabbi Shapiro, a pedophile, especially when the pattern of victim statements is overwhelming, as in this case. If Shapiro had murdered these boys, would he have such mixed feelings? No. He would say Shapiro is a murderer and he would be EMBARRASSED to say he conducted his wedding! But because Shapiro murdered these boys' SOULS -- and no blood stains the ground -- people express ambivalence. To me, this ambivalence is reluctance to BELIEVE the survivors, a reluctance to ACCEPT the truth, to ADMIT that they were duped and did not know this person as well as they thought they did, that his public face was merely a mask he wore to better indulge his sinful, sexually violent, evil side with impugnity. I am certain that if Larry Cohen's own son had been molested by Shapiro, he wouldn't have such mixed feelings and go on to assert what a great wedding rabbi and career counselor he was! It reveals that we are FAR from a Zero Tolerance attitude when it comes to pedophiles who have power and status. Larry Cohen would have demonstrated that he "got it" if instead he said, "Wow. When Rabbi Shapiro got me a job, I never knew what a MONSTER he REALLY was. I'm so sad he did this to you." Wake up, people.

April 15, 2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Larry Cohen is being very honorable by saying he has mixed feelings. He's being honest. It's hard for someone to just switch gears when they liked someone and then learn someone is a monster. I bet if Rabbi Shapiro murdered someone, Larry would respond the same way. At first everyone is in shock. Give him a few weeks. Let him digest everything. My bet is as time goes on he will get to the stage of healing where rage emerges.

I think what Larry is going through is very similar to what the majority of the people in Baltimore are going through. It's a shock. It's as if a reality was just murdered and now they have to mourn the loss and deal with the fact that Ner Israel and the Vaad of Baltimore are human and make mistakes.

April 15, 2007 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you are right about the source of Larry Cohen's and others' "confused feelings" about Shapiro. Let's see if, "in a couple of weeks", people really ARE in a different place. My fear is that because Ephraim Shapiro is deceased, it will be easy to compartmentalize his case as an aberration, the unique, rare instance of abuse by a respected leader. Frankly, I am afraid that the "mixed feelings" issue runs so deeply that it means when currently abused children and their parents seek help, rabbis will STILL be inclined to give an accused colleague the benefit of the doubt to the extent that no real investigation or sufficient intervention is taken -- they simply identify too closely with another man who,like them, is a currently active rabbi, who is a peer, intelligent, someone they daven with and "does so much good". Rabbis who propose to deal with this issue differently than in the past have to understand that they, themselves, "can't tell" by their own adult interactions if someone is a predator; that predators thrive because they do evoke "mixed feelings." While the current sentiment within the community and its rabbinic leadership may be well-intentioned,they are woefully unprepared to deal with current abuse victims -- personally, professionally or psychologically. I fear that an on-going education program about child sexual abuse and predators needs to happen among the rabbis and other trusted leaders --and I don't see that any such plan exists. Perhaps that is what community advocates need to be pushing for next from their leaders.

April 16, 2007 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my suggestion is that if you have information regarding any of the rabbis in Baltimore covering up a case contact child protection services. I personally would also contact Vicki Polin at The Awareness Center. My bet is they will stay on top of things.

April 16, 2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to add the following:

Why not encourage the rabbonim of Baltimore to contact The Awareness Center. They have several different education programs geared for exactly this purpose. They even have a certification program that all of the rabbis should go through. Not just the rabbis in Baltimore, but world wide.

April 16, 2007 4:07 PM  

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