Sunday, September 30, 2007

When You’re An Incest Survivor and the "Windows" Legislation - By Vicki Polin

When You’re An Incest Survivor Download pdf
© (2007) By Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC - Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.

The article was originally presented at a News Media Event - Calling for State and National Laws Lifting Statute of Limitations of Survivor Lawsuits at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University, on September 25, 2007

"Window" Legislation - Power to Survivors of Child Sex Abuse

By ChildHaveRights

Message from Vicki Polin, Executive Director - The Awareness Center, Inc.

September 30, 2007

Years ago I worked with young children who provided testimony in court regarding their victimization. Victim advocates often help children through the process by scheduling a time prior to the court date for the child to walk around the court room and also meet the judge (if possible). By doing this, it helps to elevate some of the tension and anxiety a child might have.

Someday you or another adult survivor may decide it's right for you to file a civil suit against your offender(s). Without the "Window" legislation you may not be allowed to do so. We need your help to make it possible for you to have choice.

We need each and everyone one of you to help to make laws better in the United States, Israel, Canada and beyond. Not just for children, but for adult survivors too!

The youtube video (see link above) is being supplied in hopes of helping you and any other adult survivors of child sexual abuse feel more comfortable about speaking out at legislative hearings, by seeing what it's like to do so.

The first two slide of the video are difficult to read. Below is the text of the slides

ON Sex Crimes Against Children on both criminal and civil suits.

The news media even took place on September 25, 2007 at 11:00 am at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University - Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, New York, New York

It is estimated that one in five boys and one in four girls in America are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Most of the perpetrators are known by the victims. But, far too many of these crimes go unreported for many years -- only 10 percent of victims go to authorities -- and most of the offenders escape responsibility.

When victims finally -- and courageously -- speak up, they are denied justice
as arbitrary statutes of limitations prohibit them from seeking legal recourse.

Two states -- California in 2003 and Delaware in 2007, led by Sen. Peterson -- have enacted legislation that amends these arbitrary deadlines to enable both criminal prosecutions and civil actions against the perpetrators.

In California, "window" legislation, which suspended the civil limitation, helped identify 300 previously anonymous predators and enabled victims to seek justice again them. For the past several years, Assemblywoman Markey has introduced similar legislation in New York. It has passed in the Assembly, but has stalled each time in the Senate.

Statement from “America's Most Wanted” on the Windows Legislation

America's Most Wantedwalsh_capitol

September 24, 2007

Since the show's inception in 1988, America's Most Wanted has captured more than 950 fugitives, helping thousands of victims worldwide get justice. But justice isn't always possible for everyone.

“One of biggest frustrations for us,” says program host John Walsh, “is working on cases where the victims in some states will likely never see justice. Because each state in this country has its on criminal laws, often the statute of limitations precludes victims from ever seeing their attackers pay the price for their crimes.” In New York State, for example, sexual assault cases have a statute of limitations of 10 years, which hardly seems acceptable given that the national collection of DNA evidence is a relatively new initiative and it often takes years and years to get a match or a “hit” on a particular criminal's DNA.

John Walsh references a recent case profiled on AMW: A man named
Altemio Sanchez was wanted for a number of rapes and a number of murders in Buffalo, New York. The fugitive was eventually captured and has since been sentenced to prison for the three murders. However, even though DNA evidence linked Sanchez to more than a dozen rapes, none of those victims will ever get closure because the statute of limitations had run out. “It's time for Statute of Limitations laws to catch up with the 21st century,” said John Walsh. “Only then, will victims of crime have a true opportunity to seek and receive justice,” he said.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rabbi Moshe Heinemann's Drasha on Rosh Hashanah Dealing With Sexual Abuse?

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I keep hearing rumors that Rabbi Moshe Heinemann's speech on Rosh Hashanah focused on the issue of child sexual abuse. What I've been hearing is that he went on and on about how wrong Phil Jacobs and the Baltimore Jewish Times were to publish the series exposing cases of sexual abuse in the Baltimore Jewish community.

If anyone was there and heard rabbi Heinemann speak, please post a summary of what he said.

From what I've heard rabbi Heinemann still just doesn't get it and is still denounces the Baltimore Jewish times and the notion that survivors of sex crimes have any rights.

Below are a few cases in which it is believed that rabbi Moshe Heinemann, rabbi Yaakov Hopfer and the folks at Ner Israel have been involved in covering up crimes, silencing those who have been sexually violated and empowering the alleged and convicted sex offenders.
  1. Case of Rabbi Tzvi Axelman (AKA: Howard Axelman, Steven Axelman)
  2. Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
  3. Case of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann
  4. Case of Rabbi Benyamin Fleischman
  5. Case of Aron Goldberger
  6. Case of Brad Hames
  7. Case of Shmuel Juravel
  8. Case of Rabbi Yaakov Menken
  9. Case of Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro
  10. Case of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro
  11. Case of Rabbi Matis Weinberg
Below is the letter Rabbi Moshe Heinemann posted in his shul on May 9, 2007. Click on Image to make it larger.

Ohel on Child Molestation

From The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter:

Vicki Polin says:
On February 20, 2007 I wrote a comment regarding David Mandel writing articles on sexual abuse and being used as an expert, which can be read by clicking here:

What I want to reiterate is that:
Over the last several years various papers have quoted David Mandel as an expert in sexual trauma and offenders. Mandel is the chief executive officer at Ohel. The problem is that David Mandel's education, degree and experience is in business. Quoting Mandel on these issues would be very similar to the New York Times quoting Donald Trump as an expert in halacha.

One very important comment made by David Mandel in
an article written by Shlomo Greenwald is the fact that "very few people can treat it (sexual abuse/assault and offenders) because few therapists specialize in abuse."

The truth is outside the orthodox world there are many extremely qualified psychotherapist who have the necessary training and experience. Until orthodox professionals catch up to the secular world in their education in treating sexual trauma -- we need to utilize the best of what's out there. The goal is to help survivors heal and find ways that actually work in stopping sexual predators from re-offending.

A comment made by George at 9:52am September 23, 2007 on the Unorthodox Jew Blog
The Jewish Observer article is an attempt to paint themselves and their rabbis as active in preventing child abuse. In fact every single person including Mandel has been involved in covering up for the child predators. It's become fashionable and "in" to jump on the UOJ bandwagon. If you can't beat him, join him. I say screw you Establishment. UOJ beat the living daylights out of your cover, you guys are a bunch of no good bastards that deserve to be locked up.
Chava made a comment on this blog on September 23, 2007

Bravo, BRAVO To Vicki and George. This is an attempt to INTELLECTUIZE a subject by rabbinic quotes and thereby being ABSOLVED FROM DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT.

A group of us protested when Mandel was invited to my town to no avail.

Since sexual is an issue of Power and Control the leadership identifies with keeping the power in their court and abusing the public by creating the mythology that quoting Torah. They have refused to take proper action.

This is the same cloak of false respectability the sexual predators use to continue to abuse the powerless.

By: David Mandel - Chief Executive Officer of Ohel
(Published in the September 2007 issue of The Jewish Observer)

Abstract: A more open dialogue on the issue of child molestation is a key to prevention. It is not stranger danger; child molestation most commonly occurs by a person known to the child. By having a dialogue with your children on personal safety we can help prevent the victimization of children. By removing the shame and stigma associated with victimization, children, adolescents and adults will not be as fearful to report and to seek support. Perpetrators may be less likely to offend children knowing their community will not tolerate their behavior.

Child molestation in the Orthodox Jewish community is not a new phenomenon. This problem, as other social ills, has existed for generations and centuries. The problem of men (and some women) inappropriately touching children, young boys and girls was sufficiently recognized by our great sages. They addressed it in several responsa (Minchas Chinuch, Mitzvah 209). The issue of drug usage has also been commented on, Rav speaking to his son Chiya (Arvei Pesachim 113a). Is our community responding to this problem? The answer, in these past years, has been a resounding yes. Is it enough? NO! There is still so much to do.

Our Roshei Hayeshiva have publicly addressed the issue. In September 2000 at a forum titled “Let’s Talk About What Never Happened, But It Did”, Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlita, stated “such an evening brings this issue out from under the rug, and people who need help should seek it from a Rav, a psychologist or a psychiatrist”. Harav Pam z”tl, at the same forum on the issue of depression, spoke of bochurim who believed they sinned based on what they may have learned in divrei mussar, “Don’t let the past linger and paralyze you, don’t feel worthless”. The Rosh Hayeshiva was speaking to victims of molestation who have suffered, who have been burdened, who feel it was their fault. Thousands of tapes of this forum and of a subsequent forum in November 2001 have been disseminated by OHEL.

HaRav Avrohom Chaim Levin, Shlita, Rosh Hayeshiva of Telz Chicago, addressing several hundred principals at a Torah U’Mesorah convention in May 2002 on the issue of child molestation stated, “there is no more room under the carpet”. And most recently at Torah U’Mesorah’s convention in May 2007, HaRav Levin encouraged every yeshiva, day school and high school to address and respond to this issue.

In September 2003, Torah U’ Mesorah, the National Council of Hebrew Day Schools, under the signature of leading Roshei Hayeshivas issued standards and guidelines on prevention and response to child molestation. On the issue of mesirah, reporting, it states “such action may include, under appropriate circumstances, reporting to the civil authorities when the principal determines that there is reason to believe that inappropriate activity has in fact occurred, insofar as halacha and secular law require such reporting”. Professor Aaron Twerksi, Dean of Hofstra Law School, and OHEL were instrumental in working with the Roshei Hayeshivas of Torah U’Mesorah in preparing these guidelines.

Prevention of unwanted touch means parents speaking to their children. Children are unprepared and don’t know how to respond to these terrible acts which go way beyond the boundaries of yichud. Prevention involves yeshivas and day schools providing information and education, parents and teachers becoming more alert to red flags, and Rabonim addressing the issue in shuls. An educated, informed communal response by parents, educators, and Rabonim – three primary sources of information and learning for children at an early age – would lead to fewer children being hurt. Equally important, it could lessen the shame and stigma associated with being a victim of child molestation, which remains the primary reason for underreporting.

This is all not limited to a one-time conversation. A parent knows their child best, what and how many words to use – V’higadita l’vincha bayom hahu. Rabbi Yehoshua Fishman, Executive Vice President of Torah U’Mesorah, notes the primary responsibility for teaching children these personal issues lies with the parents. Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe z”tl, in Planting and Building: Raising a Jewish Child, describes how the Chofetz Chayim z”tl spoke with his sons at age fifteen (Feldheim Publishers 1999, pg 67). As Rav Pam z”tl said, there was only one Chofetz Chayim. It is up to every parent to determine at what age to speak with their child and how often to reinforce this message. Dr. Susan Schulman, a pediatrician in Brooklyn, describes prevention as speaking to your child about good and bad touch at a very early age, then again when they begin school, then again when they go on a bus, then again when they go to camp, then again when they go to a sleep-away Yeshiva. Hillel Sternstein, Coordinator of OHEL’s RESPECT Program on abuse, describes it as teachable moments.

Ninety percent of children who are molested know their abuser. Parents cannot speak about “stranger danger” with their young children and expect them to understand this also means not becoming a victim at the hands of a relative, neighbor or rebbe. This lies at the heart of the complexity of child molestation, being hurt by a person a young child or teenager knows, trusts, loves or admires.

Several yeshivas that wanted to hold seminars on safety and prevention from unwanted touch were reluctant to do so lest they be perceived as engaging in sex education or worse, stigmatizing themselves as a school with a problem.

Professional staff in OHEL’s school-based mental health program and in other well regarded organizations, such as Debbie Fox of Jewish Family Services in Los Angeles who developed a prevention model, provide this information to students, faculty and parents in dignified, professional, age appropriate ways and in lashon nekia (clean language). Yes, it is true that some children may be hearing concepts and words they don’t yet fully comprehend, that by engaging them at an early age we may be opening a door to more information than we would like. On the other hand, one can posit it is better for the child to learn in a structured, safe environment where they can ask questions and know they can turn to parents, a rebbe, morot or teachers to ask questions. This is a much better option than “learning on the street”.

Schools can incorporate these forums for parents into their PTAs, train faculty as part of an educational curricula day or a special workshop, and educate camp counselors during their summer orientation. Students in 5th through 12th grades can participate in prevention workshops. Ten year olds begin to hear, understand and experience life events and a new sense of self. Finally, a shul or community center or a group of synagogues and community centers can host a lecture on the issue.

In these discussions with parents and educators red flags are described, behaviors a child may display when victimized, and how to respond to the child. At community forums, Ohel disseminates information on thirteen stages a child may go through from being a victim to becoming a survivor and how best to develop a community protection plan. Often the question and answer dialogue becomes an integral aspect of the forum. There are several good handbooks and guidelines parents can reference. Examples include, “What do we say to our children who are molested? A guide for parents” by David Mandel and Dr. David Pelcovitz (, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children ( and more. OHEL also has an educational videotape that can be used by schools and community groups. The Task Force on Children and Families at Risk, a consortium of thirty social service organizations across the Orthodox community, has played a leading role in hosting seminars on abuse.

How prevalent is child molestation in our community? No one knows for sure. It is vastly underreported as it is in every community. For decades, police departments across the country publish crime statistics and asterisk sexual assault, a range of crimes historically underreported. This is not a problem restricted to the Orthodox Jewish community as some in the media portray. People, by nature, are private and modest. G-d instilled a sense of shame and guilt in us. People in every culture possess shame. It is a good trait. It is one of our characteristics that keeps us civilized. Indeed, contemporary “mandated reporting laws” were legislated to force licensed professionals who were viewed to be ignoring and underreporting these events, to make formal reports to child protection agencies.

It is widely documented that China and India, the world’s most populated countries, have experienced similar issues with regard to vastly underreporting and responding to child molestation. So too, Muslims, the Amish and countless other peoples across the spectrum.

Uncomfortable as it may be, we are now forced to be more open and confront this painful discussion; child molestation is a serious problem. Hundreds if not thousands of children, teens and adult survivors have been victimized. It is a problem in our community albeit at a much smaller number relative to the general population. We must embrace this discussion and respond on a communal level.

Dr. David Pelcovitz, a child psychologist and a leading expert in treatment of children who have been abused, notes the extreme rarity of a child self-disclosing s/he was a victim to this type of abuse. Children do not disclose due to a combination of fear, shame, loyalty and stigma. At varying ages, each of these issues may be internalized in the child or outwardly displayed in a different manner. And because most children are hurt by a person they know, these issues become embedded in the child’s psyche.

A primary reason a child does not disclose he or she was molested is fear. The child may be afraid of his or her parents’ reaction. The child may be afraid to speak lashon hara. The child may fear his abuser who may threaten to hurt him or his parents if he discloses.

A second reason children do not disclose is shame. The young child or adolescent may be confused about what occurred and is embarrassed about his involvement and response. The molester may have said to him he will tell everyone what they did together. He is afraid he will be made fun of by his friends.

A third reason is loyalty. To disclose that a person they love hurt them would be disloyal. As difficult as this may be to understand, remember, it is a person s/he likely knows and trusts, a parent, relative, neighbor, role model or other such person close to the child. These are all people the child has loyalty to.

A fourth reason children and their parents do not disclose is stigma. Does this require much explanation in our community? The stigma of shidduchim for this child or siblings becomes an overriding concern. Or it is the stigma of people saying ‘well, they’re a dysfunctional family anyway’.

Any one or a combination of these four factors would lead the victim to not disclose and to keep the abuse a secret and to intensify the painful consequences of these experiences. This person may hold the secret for years and decades. Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky was so moved to receive a letter from a 70 year old woman who, after sixty years, related for the first time of being abused as a young child by a relative that the Rosh Hayeshiva related this story numerous times.

Demonstrating support to a child or adolescent who has been victimized involves telling them you believe them, you love them and it wasn’t their fault. We cannot do this enough for our children under conventional circumstances, how much more important is this for children under extreme stress. This begins the healing process and the transition from being a victim, which is a passive term, to becoming a survivor, which signifies strength. Parents should neither overreact and blame their child nor deny them the opportunity to heal.

The overwhelming majority of children who are molested can and will, Baruch Hashem, grow up healthy and lead normal lives. Children, as Dr. Pelcovitz notes, are resilient and will be able to cope and deal with this as they progress and mature. They may never forget “the event” or the perpetrator, but they can move on. In the aftermath of the tragic events at Virginia Tech College, the murder of thirty two students, the resilience of the students and community was often cited as an important coping mechanism in the healing process.

A small percentage of children and adolescents are so traumatized they will need psychological treatment. This should be provided by a person with a specialty in this area, and not by a general mental health practitioner. They may require short-term treatment lasting several months or possibly several years. Girls who are molested as adolescents are especially vulnerable due to a sense of shame and pre-marital concerns. This becomes even more complex if the girl had been molested by a family member or a person she idealizes. These young women should receive professional treatment to help them cope and transition to marriage as they may experience relationship and communication problems with their husband. It is tragic that we may avoid seeking treatment to protect our children’s future opportunities for good marriages, only to see the problem surface again with greater complexity within the marriage.

How does a perpetrator succeed in luring children? A perpetrator works through a process called grooming. He cultivates a relationship with the child involving friendship and trust. He then transitions to a physical relationship first with a “light” touch followed by more physical involvement. Using incremental steps, the perpetrator gently gets close to the child’s mind and heart.

Perpetrators “look normal”. They have a variety of respectable jobs. Many are married and parents.

Perpetrators have preferences. Data available on several dozen perpetrators in our community is consistent with data on perpetrators in the general community. That is not surprising. Pedophilia, meaning love of children, is a psychiatric illness and follows a pattern. A pedophile is likely to be consistent in seeking out a young boy or a girl or a male or female adolescent.

A perpetrator will generally not stop on his own. Once again the data is consistent. The majority of perpetrators reveal they molested several children repeatedly. As time goes on the perpetrator may develop more complex rationalization for his deviancy. There are also men (and some women) who reveal involvement with a significant number of children over many years and decades.

Pedophilia is considered a treatable, manageable illness. Treatment generally consists of a comprehensive evaluation and weekly individual and group sessions lasting two to five years. A person must learn to behave differently, to modify or suppress their deviant interests and to be truthful. Treatment also incorporates the spouse who must work through her own issues of shame and guilt, especially if victims included her children. Rarely does a perpetrator self-disclose and seek treatment; they need to be pushed into treatment with some form of “stick” swaying them.

The public discussion in our community in recent years has directly resulted in greater disclosure by victims. This has resulted in evaluation and treatment of scores of perpetrators. It has become more safe for victims to disclose and for parents to seek help. This has been one of the most important and dramatic shifts in our community, a recognition that disclosure and obtaining treatment is more important than living with shame and guilt. More mental health professionals are developing a specialty in this area. At virtually every workshop my colleagues or I give on prevention and safety throughout the United States and Israel, at least one adolescent or adult will privately share with us their experience of having been molested. That several Roshei Hayeshivas have spoken publicly and encouraged victims and parents to seek help has been an enormous catalyst towards a communal attitude change. The most recent letter by the Vaad HaRabonim – Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore (Abuse in our Community - April 11, 2007) should act as a precedent for other communities to issue similar letters.

That most perpetrators do not go to jail is not a Jewish phenomenon. Former Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro was noted for her aggressive pursuit of pedophiles. In six years of sting operations, 1999-2005, she succeeded in the arrests of 111 men with a 100% conviction rate. The overwhelming majority received probation with only eight perpetrators sentenced to jail (New York Times, 10.13.06).

The shame and guilt of our communities that prevent our children and families from reporting these crimes to our authorities also protect the perpetrators. He is impervious to the community’s concern. A public discourse involving education and awareness, vigilance by principals, educators, youth and camp directors, drashas by Rabonim will inculcate a zero tolerance mindset into our community and inoculate our children. It goes without saying we need a system to protect children by preventing mechanchim and other educators whose harm to children has been substantiated from moving to another school to do more harm.

Several Batei Dinim have been established in major Jewish communities across the country to deal specifically with allegations of child and adolescent molestation. These batei dinim also rely on advice of mental health professionals who may be asked to interview the victim(s) survivor, evaluate the alleged perpetrator and recommend appropriate treatment. Professor Aaron Tweski and I have been privileged to meet with numerous Rabonim in the establishment of Batei Dinim.

It is most important to keep the perpetrator in the community under a watchful eye, not to push them out so they can move to another community or another city and continue their horrible acts. A perpetrator who discloses his wrongdoing, who actively participates in treatment and who remains under watchful supervision in the community has the best chance of not re-offending. If Chas v’Chalila he does re-offend, his treatment and supervision may limit the number of victims and the severity of the offense by detecting the re-offense sooner.

My colleagues and I at OHEL have been led by a Board of Directors whose vision and sense of communal responsibility has enabled us to speak publicly and develop services in this sensitive area. Ohel has been fortunate to have Harav Dovid Cohen, shlita, as our Morah D’asra. Our ability to speak with gedolei haTorah throughout the country provides hadracha and strength. This has enabled us to provide consultations to Rabonim, principals, yeshivas, day schools, and community groups.

When asked if I’m frustrated by all that isn’t accomplished by the glacier progress in this area, I respond, it took 5700 years to come to this point, we have to concentrate on tomorrow not on yesterday. As my colleague Hillel Sternstein points out, discussions on child molestation have moved from private midnight talks to daylight seminars that are open to the community. Yet we can’t dwell on or be satisfied with accomplishments. Children are being hurt every day. We must respond to them and prevent tomorrow’s child from being hurt.

The best way to stop perpetrators is by teaching children and encouraging a greater openness in the community, as has begun. Perpetrators who know that parents, principals, Rabonim and the community will confront them are less likely to hurt children. Children who know they can report an incident without being fearful, shamed or stigmatized may stop a perpetrator from hurting the next child.

It is now time to have these discussions with our children. Today. And in the future.

Achi Ben Shalom (Jewish Day School Teacher) Sentenced to Prison

Former El Cerrito teacher sentenced in incident with student

by Bruce Gerstman
Contra Costa Times
September 21, 2007

EL CERRITO -- A former El Cerrito private school teacher was sentenced today to 90 days in County Jail for misdemeanor assault and battery against a former student.

Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Leslie Landau sentenced Achi Ben Shalom, 53, to serve his jail sentence without the possibility of home detention.

A jury last month acquitted Ben Shalom of a felony charge of child molestation of a female student, but found him guilty of misdemeanor counts of assault and battery when he touched her.

Prosecutor Colleen Gleason said that the jury did not believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Ben Shalom had a sexual intent.

Landau also ruled that Ben Shalom must serve three years of county probation. He also cannot work as a teacher or in a position of trust with children and cannot possess pornography.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shana Tova - Please daven that all survivors of sex crimes find peace and healing!

When davening (praying) in shul, please daven that no more children are sexually abused, that no more adults become victims of a sex crime; and that all survivors (both adults and children) find peace and healing in this New Year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Calling All Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

If you are a survivor of child sexual abused, you are invited to a News Media Event - Calling for State and National Laws Lifting Statute of Limitations of Survivor Lawsuits

Event Sponsored by:
Professor Marci Hamilton
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University

September 25, 2007 at 11:00 AM

Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University
Jacob Burns Moot Court Room
55 Fifth Ave (at 12th Street ) New York City, NY

You must rsvp to or call 212-790-0237.

This news media event is a Call To Action on the National Grassroots movement for "Window" Legislation to retroactively suspend the statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse damage claims so that civil suits can be filed regardless of how long ago the sex crime against a child had occurred.

Speakers Include:
  • Professor Marci Hamilton - Law Professor and Victims' Legal Advisor, will talk about the growing national grassroots movement for legislation and her recent book that details the need for such legislation and identifies its rather surprising opponents.
  • Survivor Matt Conaty will tell why he worked hard to get legislation passed in his state.
  • New York survivors will speak about the need for similar legislation in NY.

If you are planning to attend the Event:

  1. You must rsvp to or call 212-790-0237.
  2. Bring a photograph of you at the age you were when your abuse began -- to hold up. It's helpful if you can enlarge the photo to the size of 8" x 11" piece of paper.

It is estimated that one in five boys and one in four girls in America are victims of childhood sexual abuse. Most of the perpetrators are known by the victims. But, far too many of these crimes go unreported for many years – only 10 percent of victims go to authorities – and most of the offenders escape responsibility. When victims finally – and courageously – speak up, they are denied justice as arbitrary statutes of limitations prohibit them from seeking legal recourse.

Two states – California in 2003 and Delaware in 2007, led by Sen. Peterson – have enacted legislation that amends these arbitrary deadlines to enable both criminal prosecutions and civil actions against the perpetrators. In California, "window" legislation, which suspended the civil limitation, helped identify 300 previously anonymous predators and enabled victims to seek justice again them. For the past several years, Assemblywoman Markey has introduced similar legislation in New York. It has passed in the Assembly, but has stalled each time in the Senate.

I Gotta' Love You Rosh Hashanah

WARNING: A Woman is singing

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

UPDATE: Case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko (AKA: Joel Kolko)

Rabbi Yehuda Kolko

Rabbi Yehuda Kolko accused of molesting boy
By Scott Shifrel
New York Daily News
September 13, 2007

A rabbi in a tallith, black hat and handcuffs was hauled before a Brooklyn judge hours before the Jewish New Year yesterday for allegedly molesting another boy at a Midwood yeshiva.

Rabbi Yehuda Kolko - already out on $10,000 bail on charges of sexually assaulting two other male students - rocked back and forth on his feet as his lawyer argued with the judge about bail on new charges that he molested a first-grader at the school in 2005.

"This is the holiest time of the year and to [increase] bail at this time is punitive," lawyer Jeffrey Schneider said, arguing that the charges stemmed from a malcontent who had it in for the 61-year-old Kolko. "[The higher bail is] just bizarre."

"Counselor, you chose this time to surrender him," Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Mullen shot back.

She raised the bail to $50,000 bond, $25,000 cash.

Kolko's wife, (NAME REMOVED), brought the cash within the hour and he was released in time to pray at evening Rosh Hashanah services.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jewish Survivors of Child Abuse - Surviving The High Holidays

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Surviving The High Holidays:
Jewish Survivors of Incest and Childhood Sexual Abuse
© (2005) The Awareness Center, Inc.

For many the high holidays are a time of year filled with wonderful memories of families getting together. Unfortunately, for survivors of childhood abuse (emotional, physical and sexual abuse), this can be a time for painful memories to reemerge. When this happens a survivor may find it safer to retreat, then to participate in holiday functions. It is important for each individual survivors to find what works best for them to stay emotionally healthy. It is vitally important each person to be kind to themselves with what ever decisions you make regarding holiday services. We all need to respect their decisions, especially if they decide not to participate.

If you know someone who is a survivor of childhood abuse, it might be a good idea to check up on them a few times over the holidays. Make sure survivors have invitations to meals. If they say no, it is important to let them know they can always change their mind and come at the last minute.

The holidays often mean that families get together, routines are changed, there is also the added stress of cleaning and preparing meals. These issues alone can be extremely stress producing. Unfortunately the reality is that there are parents who are already inclined to use their children as an outlet for emotions and urges. They are even more likely to do so when under the pressure of increased anxiety. Many survivors of childhood abuse report that they were abuse became more intense around and over holidays.

This is written as a reminder to all survivors: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

It is not uncommon for symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to emerge after times of relative remission and/or intensify in those already struggling. You may experience an increase in disturbing thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks. Thoughts of self-harm, even suicide, may be an issue. The important thing to remember is these feelings are about the past, that the abuse is over, and that it is of utmost importance for you to be kind to and gentle with yourself.

Over the years we have spoken to many adult survivors who find it very painful to even consider going to services at a synagogue. This is OK. Someday you may feel different, but if the pain is too intense, it is important that you do things that can be healing, that you set boundaries to do what feels safe for you.

One survivor shared that she felt uncomfortable not doing anything for the high holidays, so she'd rent the movies that had a Jewish theme to them. Another survivor would invite other Jewish Survivors over to her home and they would create a ritual that seemed healing for their services.

It's important to remember that whatever works for you is ok --know that you are not alone, not wrong, not bad for having second and third and forth thoughts about how to celebrate and if to celebrate the holidays. Look into yourself and see what you need, then do what you can to do it, and be kind to yourself for needing to make these adjustments.

Todah Rabah for Surviving!

Vicki Polin - Another Baltimore Hero!

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Vicki Polin
Another Baltimore Hero!

A lot of good things are coming out of Baltimore. I've received several e-mails from people who reminded me of another Baltimore Hero (besides Phil Jacobs) who has been volunteering her time full time for over five years. This hero's dedication has made a major impact not only in the Baltimore Jewish community, but also around the world. Let's not forget Vicki Polin. She is the executive director and founder of The Awareness Center.

If you see Vicki during this holiday season stand up and give her a round of applause. Let her know how thankful you are for the work she does. You can also send her a thank you note by clicking here.

Phil Jacobs: A Baltimore Hero!

Phil JacobsPhil Jacobs - Someone you should know!

For those of you who know Phil Jacobs please give him a call and thank him for writing such an important article and series.

If you see Phil during this holiday season stand up and give him a round of applause. Let him know how thankful you are for him writing about the truth! Click here if you want to send him a thank you note.
Phil Jacobs: A Year Like No Other

By Phil Jacobs,
Executive Editor
Baltimore Jewish Times
SEPTEMBER 07, 2007

Usually, when it comes to Rosh Hashanah, I have through my years here at the
Baltimore Jewish Times thought in terms of columns we call "Year in Review."

With the encouragement of Editor Neil Rubin, I’ve chosen to look at this year in review in another way.

This year, 5767, has been the most journalistically significant year of my almost 25 years here at the Jewish Times.

It started with a sexual molestation survivor named "
Steve," a young man of 25, who told me his wrenching story over three hours of coffee at the Pikesville Barnes & Noble. This wasn’t my first meeting, however, with Steve. That came six months earlier and resulted in no story.

Let me flash back further.

It’s May 7, 2006. About 20 of us are crowded into a study hall-type room at the Ohel Yaakov synagogue on Glen Avenue in Upper Park Heights.

It was the day of the Rabbi Herman Neuberger Memorial Dinner in New York, so most of the community’s Orthodox rabbis were there.

Seated among a room equally divided between men and women were Ohel Yaakov’s Rabbi Peretz Dinowitz, Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim’s Rabbi Shmuel Silber and Beth Tfiloh Community School educational director Zipora Schorr. They didn’t come to talk; they came to listen.

One by one, men and women began to tell their stories. Some in barely audible whispers, others in angry, tear-filled boldness. Most in the room were affiliated with Orthodoxy. They told their stories of molestation. It was the rabbi, the father, the camp counselor, Jewish singer for Orthodox children, the older brother, the boy down the street, the
yeshiva teacher who would impact their lives forever.

There was only one door, located in the corner of the room, but many of us wanted to run and run and run as far away as possible. The wounds were deep, penetrating open sores.

Some of the people were frum from birth, others were newly Orthodox.

Looking around, I saw many familiar faces, some fellow congregants. One young man was the son of my close friends.

Another man said that he didn’t know what difference any of this talking would make, that no one would do anything anyway to fix the problem.

After the last speaker was done, and the door was reopened, I bolted for my car. I picked up my wife and asked her just to get in and drive with me. We drove for two hours, past Hunt Valley into Pennsylvania.

I wanted to get clean somehow.

Steve had called about a week after the meeting. He was then a 24-year-old college student who had been molested by three different people. He was a yeshiva product no longer practicing religion. Against his will, "religious" people had unzipped his fly and molested his genitals.

That’s how he saw it.

I interviewed him, but never wrote the story. I couldn’t do it ... at the time.

I’d see Steve as the months wore on. He’d always ask the same question: "How’s the story going?"

It wasn’t until early February of 2007 that Steve and I met again. I asked to re-interview him from scratch.

On Feb. 23, the story "
Steve is 25" appeared in the Jewish Times. It was really how my year started. That’s because soon after this article, I was introduced to the numerous survivors of the late Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro.

Do I print the name of
Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, the deceased Talmudical Academy principal and spiritual leader of the former Agudas Achim?

I was asked not to by rabbis whom I love. I was told that the damage would be done to his surviving generations. I was also told that there was no way he could possibly defend himself since he was dead.

I could not run his name? There were so many people who were impacted by this man, so many people whose lives still involve shelling out
cash for therapy, who can’t have normal relations with other people, who are afraid of their own shadow.

Then came the tipping point.

A rabbi, a good man with whom I have spent years studying Talmud, and I met for our regularly scheduled Sunday morning learning session. That was two days after the story on Ephraim Shapiro appeared. That meeting can never be forgotten.

We never opened a Gemarah. We had been studying the laws of Shabbos.

Instead, the rabbi started by telling me that as far as he could tell only two people in his entire kehillah had even read the article on Rabbi Shapiro. It was as if that was supposed to convince me that the story’s impact was iffy.

He even said that it was the kind of story that the old-time Jews would read. He described "old-time" Jews as the people with "plaid pants and white socks on." He said that I should write a letter of explanation for my actions to
Rabbi Sheftel Neuberger of Ner Israel Rabbinical College or to Rabbi Avi Shafran of the Agudath Israel organization. My infraction: I didn’t ask a sheilah, or question, of any rabbis about Ephraim Shapiro’s name appearing.

The magnifying glass was now on me. Yet, I never molested anyone.

Meanwhile, the Vaad HaRabonim (the Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore)
mailed a letter to its community members condemning abuse in our community. The Jewish Times article was published on April 13. This letter came out on April 11.

In the letter, which was signed by 22 rabbis, including the one who became my tipping point, is this line: "Publicizing his status as an abuser — while causing enormous damage to his own family — may be the only way to truly protect the community from him."

The difference here: Rabbi Shapiro was dead. As one of the signers of the declaration said to me, "He’s lucky he’s dead."

Arrogance, not authenticity, has contributed to this problem of molestation. That any man, any rabbi, should feel that the truth should be buried at the expense of procedure is too difficult to bear.

My study partner was angry at me for not asking a question of whether it was proper or not to run the name of a deceased child molester.

Yet, we Jewish people have worked hard to preserve the names of the Nazis who killed millions of our dear ones. Indeed, we are thrilled when a Nazi, no matter how old or frail, is still apprehended and deported.

Yet another person calling himself "rabbi"
posted a letter in his synagogue banning this publication from congregants’ homes and questioning if we were even a Jewish newspaper or not.

Of course, he did not bother to call and discuss the matter with me.

Wow, now that’s leadership!

In yet another meeting, a Vaad member told me that he felt that while my intentions were honorable, I was doing more harm than good. The reason:
Older rabbis felt that the community was in a panic mode, almost afraid of its own shadow or who we would expose next.

So what have I learned in the year 5767?

That there are many hurting people in the Baltimore Jewish community who are connected to child sexual molestation? Yes.

That there are people who dress the part and talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk when it comes to protecting the safety of our children? Yes.

That there are some truly wonderful, brave people, some rabbis, some lay leaders, some survivors, who are not afraid of this issue? Yes.

I have learned a great deal this year. Has it been a sweet year, a healthy year? In many ways, yes.
We have a great deal to look forward to as we approach the High Holidays. It is the perfect time for our perpetrators to truly ask for forgiveness. It is a good time for our survivors to seek the beginning of a healing.

One lesson I learned over all other lessons this year: There are a ton of great, loving, courageous people here in Baltimore. I think the conversation of molestation can turn a corner now and get into areas of prevention and education. Our rabbis can learn from our survivors and our therapists.
And I think more and more of them are getting that.

May your year be filled with authenticity, not arrogance.

May you feel safe.

And may you prosper in the year 5768.

The Awareness Center's Rape Victim Advocates of The Year Award

The Awareness Center, Inc.
(The Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209

Rape Victim Advocates of the Year 5767 (Jewish calendar)
The Awareness Center wants to personally thank the following individuals and organizations who helped to make a difference in the lives of those who have been sexually victimized. We also want to thank anyone else we neglected to list.

  • All survivors of sexual violence(child sexual abuse, sexual assault, professional sexual misconduct, clergy sexual abuse) who chose to live instead of committing suicide. The Awareness Center also want to thank all survivors for doing what the can to make a difference in the world.
  • Victoria Balfour- for her dedication and determination in exposing the case of Dr. William Ayres and for offering hope to all of the survivors.
  • Rabbi Yosef Blau for his ongoing support to survivors of sex crimes and family members.
  • Professor, Marci Hamilton - for advocating for the civil rights of survivors of sexual violence, especially in cases of clergy sexual abuse.
  • Phil Jacobs and the Baltimore Jewish Times for stepping outside the box and producing the series on sexual abuse in the Baltimore Community.
  • Jewish Survivors Blogger - for advocating for survivors and offering a blog for and about Jewish survivors of sex crimes.
  • Israel Moskovits - for creating the film "Narrow Bridge." The first film to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse in Jewish communities.
  • Simonne Levi-Jameson - for surviving the holocaust and publishing her autobiography "Men or Rats." We also want to honor Dr. Levi-Jameson for her life efforts of advocating for sexually abused children.
  • Paul Levy and Public Citizen Litigation Group - for their efforts in protecting the civil rights of Bloggers who had the courage to speak out against Mordecai Tendler.
  • Murray Levin - for his courage for sharing his story with the world and his on going efforts to reach out to survivors and various individual in the Baltimore community.
  • Pat Noaker - For being a mench when it comes to talking to survivors of child sexual abuse/clergy sexual abuse. Pat is an attorney who specializes in representing survivors of child sexual abuse /clergy sexual abuse.
  • Rabbi Ze'ev Smason and the small group of people in St. Louis Jewish community -- for doing the right thing when a case broke in their community and creating a new organization that grants wishes for Jewish sexually abused children.
  • Rabbi Yaakov Siegel - for writing the article "Background Information and The History of Rabbinical Ordinations."
  • All of the women who have been allegedly sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by Jonathan Berkowitz. These women and their friends have notified The Awareness Center every time they found their alleged offender on Frumster or other Internet dating services.
  • The survivors of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann who had the courage to come forward and for their dedication to make Ner Israel Rabbinical College safer.
  • The survivors of Rabbi Tobias Gabriel who had the courage to come forward, and for their dedication to making this alleged sex offender accountable for his actions.
  • The survivors of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko for filing police reports and for the courage it took to file civil suits against both Rabbi Kolko and Yeshiva Torah Temimah (school).
  • The survivors of Rabbi Avraham M. Leizerowitz for filing police reports and doing what needs to be done to prevent any more children from being harmed.
  • The survivors of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro who had the courage to have their stories told in the Baltimore Jewish Times.
  • The survivors of Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro who had the courage to have their stories told in the Baltimore Jewish Times.
  • The survivor of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler who had the courage and strength to file a civil suit against her alleged offender.
  • The FBI, US Marshall's Office, Interpol and any one else not mentioned involved with tracking down Rabbi Alan Horowitz and put him back in prison.
  • Volunteers, The Board and Advisory Board of The Awareness Center for dedicating their time and effort in trying to end sexual violence in Jewish communities around the globe.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

More on the case of Rabbi Tobias Gabriel

Rabbi Tobias Gabriel
Toronto Congregation Rocked by Allegation That Rabbi Had Illicit Affair
By Sheldon Gordon
Wed. Sep 05, 2007

Toronto - In a case that has rocked one of North America’s largest Conservative synagogues, a woman who was taking singing lessons from an area rabbi is claiming that the rabbi seduced her. She is seeking a total of more than $1 million in damages from both him and the synagogue he once served.

(NAME REMOVED), 52, brought the suit last month in Ontario Superior Court against Rabbi Tobias Gabriel and Beth Tzedec Congregation for breach of fiduciary duty and for the pain and suffering that the alleged sexual relationship caused her and her marriage.

(NAME REMOVED) is alleging that the synagogue failed to properly screen Gabriel as an employee and that it breached its fiduciary duty “to ensure that Gabriel would not take advantage of Yona for his own sexual gratification.” The allegations have not been proven in court.

With 6,000 members, Beth Tzedec is Toronto’s leading Conservative congregation. Its membership includes much of Canadian Jewry’s professional and business elite. Gabriel was, until recently, one of five rabbis employed by the synagogue.

He has dismissed the allegations as “groundless,” and his lawyer insisted the rabbi will challenge them vigorously in court. In a letter sent last week, however, the congregation’s president told members that “the impropriety” likely occurred, but maintained that Beth Tzedec neither condoned the behavior nor bore legal liability for it.

The plaintiff’s statement of claim alleges that the synagogue had known that Gabriel “previously engaged in sexual relations with another married woman who was attending the Beth Tzedec Synagogue while she was grieving the loss of one of her parents.”

Gabriel, who was hired by the synagogue 13 years ago and is described on its Web site as “happily married,” has “resigned” from Beth Tzedec, according to his lawyer, Alf Kwinter.

“He was not dismissed,” Kwinter emphasized.

Both (NAME REMOVED) and Gabriel declined to be interviewed for this article.

Last week, a joint delegation from the Rabbinical Assembly, which is the international association of Conservative rabbis, and the Cantors Assembly, the world’s largest cantors’ organization, came to Toronto to meet with the parties involved and to conduct an investigation. At press time, their findings were not yet released.

The R.A. has a “zero tolerance” policy toward rabbinical impropriety, said its executive vice president, Rabbi Joel Meyers, “but the goal is not always to just say, ‘Sorry, you’re finished.’ As rabbis, we absolutely believe that teshuvah [repentance] is possible. The question is whether there is a commitment to changed behavior.”

According to the statement of claim, in July 2006, (NAME REMOVED), who was not a member of Beth Tzedec, was enrolled in a course for student cantors at the synagogue. She was the sole woman in the class given by Gabriel, and, according to a statement she has filed with the court, he became “friendly and flirtatious.” The rabbi kissed her in his office at the end of the course after she had given him “a small token of appreciation,” her statement of claim says. She then “fled” the office, “confused and shaken.”

The statement of claim alleges that the rabbi then phoned (NAME REMOVED) repeatedly while she was on a visit to Israel. He “pressured” her into seeing him when she returned. When they met, “Rabbi Gabriel began to kiss Yona and told her that he will take responsibility and that it would not be wrong to be intimate with him,” according to the statement of claim. He told her that “it is acceptable that she love two men.” The statement of claim alleges that the relationship progressed to sexual intercourse.

When asked if Gabriel acknowledges that a sexual relationship occurred, his lawyer replied: “Absolutely not. He has acknowledged nothing.” Statements of defense from the rabbi and the congregation are not yet due to be filed.

In his letter to congregants, Beth Tzedec president Shep Gangbar wrote, “Unfortunately, there is little doubt that the impropriety occurred.” While the synagogue “strongly affirms that such actions are improper and wrong,” it is not legally liable for the rabbi’s actions, the letter said. “Beth Tzedec has never condoned or tolerated such behavior and will never do so,” it stated. Gangbar and other synagogue officials declined interview requests.

But (NAME REMOVED) is arguing that the synagogue is far from blameless in the matter. Her lawyer, Simona Jellinek, told the Forward that if the lawsuit goes to trial, she can elicit testimony from another married woman who “many years ago” was also seduced by Gabriel while he was employed by the synagogue. “Beth Tzedec was well aware of what was happening, and they failed to put an end to it. Our case against the synagogue for negligence is very strong,” she said.

Jellinek said that her client’s emotional state is “very, very poor.” (NAME REMOVED) and her husband, who is suing the defendants for $90,000, have gone for counseling, “but whether or not their marriage will survive is unclear,” the lawyer said.

Gabriel was born in Bolivia to parents who had fled Nazi Germany. He has lived in the United States, Peru, Mexico, Israel and, since 1990, Canada. A graduate of Yeshiva University’s Cantorial School, he was hired as a cantor by Beth Tzedec in 1994 and was ordained as a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 2006 at the age of 62. He and his wife, (NAME REMOVED), have been married for 31 years and they have two married sons and a daughter.