Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Film "Narrow Bridge" Being Shown in Baltimore and Washington, DC

Confronting Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community

Seating is Limited - Reservations Required!

There are two opportunities to catch the controversial, acclaimed film "Narrow Bridge", which has been making waves in the Orthodox Jewish community. it is the first film of its kind to break the silence on the issue of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.

Following the film there will be a panel of experts in the field of sexual abuse to answer questions.

These events are sponsored by The Awareness Center, Inc., (the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault). For more information call: 443-857-5560 or send an e-mail to
vickipolin @ aol.com.

December 18th - Washington, DC
Panel will include:
  • Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC - Founder and Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.
  • Nicole Jalazo, MSW, LCSW - Childhelp USA, Experienced working with survivors, including sexually reactive children.
  • Murray Levin, JD - Photographer, Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse, and Advocate for Legislative Changes.
  • Bob Russell - Legislative Coordinator, SNAP-MD (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
  • Rachel Steamer, JD - Attorney who specializes in representing survivors of child sexual abuse.

January 2nd - Baltimore Panel will include:
  • Mesa Leventhal Baker, MD - Medical Director, Baltimore Child Abuse Center
  • Murray Levin, JD - Photographer, Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse, and Advocate for legislative changes.
  • Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC - Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.
  • Bob Russell - Legislative Coordinator, SNAP-MD (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)
  • Joyanna Silberg, PhD - Coordinator of Trauma Disorder Services for Children at Sheppard Pratt Hospital.
Panel Members Bio:
Mesa Leventhal Baker, MD
Dr. Baker is on the advisory board of The Awareness Center. She has been board certified in pediatrics since 1991 and a Fellow of the AAP since 1994. She has held Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatric posts with the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda and the John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu. She is currently an Associate Professor in Pediatrics with the University of Maryland and a Special Consultant in Child Abuse to Sinai Hospital.

After working in private pediatrics and forensic pediatrics part-time for a year, Dr. Baker became the Medical Director of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center in 1998. For the past 6 years at the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, Dr. Baker has seen 600-700 children per year, to reach a total of well over 3000 forensic sexual abuse exams.

Nicole Jalazo, MSW, LCSW
Nicole Jalazo graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received her Master’s of Social Work from The Smith College School of Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts.

In the past Nicole has worked at Duke University Medical Center in the Mother-Baby Unit, High Risk Obstetrics Clinic, Post Partum Depression Support Group and practicing general outpatient therapy. She also worked at The Center for Child and Family Health, specializing in prevention, early intervention, research, and treatment of children whose lives are interfaced with the issues of maltreatment and mental health trauma.

After relocating to Charlotte, NC, Ms. Jalazo worked with sexually abused children and facilitated the Nurturing Parenting Program. She also served an agency representative to Pat's Place, which was a local child advocacy center.

Nicole relocated to New York where she worked as an outpatient psychotherapist with the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services. In June of 2006, Nicole began working for the Inova Kellar Center as a therapist with the Abused Children Treatment Services, working primarily with child survivors of sexual trauma. In August of this year Nicole joined the mental health team at Childhelp Children’s Center of Virginia in Fairfax, Virginia continuing her work with child survivors of sexual abuse and also has a private practice.

Murray Levin, JD
Murray Levin is a well known photographer in the Baltimore Jewish community. He is also a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. After 52 years, Mr. Levin finally had the courage to share his story with the Baltimore Jewish Times article, "Baltimore Confronts Sexual Abuse in Rabbinate". Since going public Murray has testified at the Senate committee hearing in Annapolis, Maryland and also at the hearing at the Executive Office of the Mayor - Council of the District of Columbia, for the Childhood Sexual Abuse Prevention Amendment Act 2007. Murray also attended the media event at Cardozo Law School in September, 2007.

Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC, ATR-BC
Vicki Polin is the founder and executive director of The Awareness Center. Vicki is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) in the state of Illinois and is a Board Certified Art Therapist.

In the past Vicki has qualified as an expert witness and provided testimony in juvenile court on cases related to childhood sexual abuse and neglect. She has presented educational and experiential seminars to community groups, universities, and at professional conferences on both a local and national level. Vicki served as a board member of several different not-for-profit organizations, which included VOICES in Action, Inc and Alternative Behavior Treatment Centers: For Juvenile Sex Offenders and Sexually Reactive Youth). Vicki also served on the planning committee of Jewish Women International (JWI) 2nd International Conference on Domestic Abuse.

Bob Russell
Bob Russell is the Legislative Coordinator of SNAP-MD (Survivors Network of Abusive Priests). Bob first disclosed publicly that he was molested by a Catholic priest as a child in July, 2001. To his credit, Mr. Russell became the force behind his school publicly apologizing for allowing the victimization to occur and also disclosing their role in covering up sex crimes. Bob also made sure that his school contacted every student that attended between the years of 1969-1973, in an effort to find other survivors. Back on March 6, 2005, Bob Russell's story was told in the Baltimore Sun's article: "After Decades of Silence Pain, a Victim Resolves to Stop Running from 'It".

Bob's activism continues to this very day by coordinating the legislative movement in Maryland to abolish the statute of limitations or granting "windows legislation" regarding the civil laws that govern child sexual abuse.

Silberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Silberg is the Coordinator of Trauma Disorder Services for Children at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and past president for the International Society for the Study of Dissociation. In addition to her role as a clinician, Dr. Silberg is an Associate Editor for
The Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, and sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Trauma Practice.

Dr. Silberg is the recipient of the Walter P. Klopfer Award, 1992, for outstanding research contribution and the Cornelia Wilbur Award, 1997, for clinical excellence. She is the
co-editor of the book Misinformation Concerning Child Sexual Abuse and Adult Survivors (Haworth Press, 2002). She has presented at 100s of professional conferences and conducts training workshops around the world on the treatment of traumatized and dissociative children. She has authored approximately 20 professional articles and book chapters.

Rachel Steamer, JD, Esq.

Rachel Steamer is a lawyer who specializes in representing survivors of sexual abuse. Notably, as an associate at the law firm of Ross & Rubino, LLP, Rachel was involved in litigating more than 100 cases in coordinated proceedings against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Diocese of San Diego. A graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Yeshiva University) in New York City, Rachel acted as chief research assistant to noted First Amendment scholar Professor Marci A. Hamilton, with whom she co-authored
The Religious Origins of Disestablishment Principles, 81 N.D. L. Rev. 1755 (2006). Rachel is admitted to practice law in New York.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great line up of speakers for the Baltimore showing. Do you know who the speakers will be in DC?

November 16, 2007 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Rabbi Yosef Blau - Review for the film said...

Dear Israel,

My wife and I saw the film on our computer yesterday and want to express support and appreciation for your work. It is a remarkable accomplishment for a young man working with such limited resources. I am unfortunately well aware of the problem of sexual and other kinds of abuse in the Orthodox community and of the denial that protects abusers and hinders helping survivors. I work at Yeshiva University in New York and will try to arrange a showing for our students. As you know better than I, film is a powerful medium of communication. Progress has been made in getting some acknowledgement that religious Jews, even rabbis, can be abusers but there is a long road ahead.
Younger rabbis are often more aware and this should lead to a change in communal responses. Your sensitivity to the mores of the community, no physical contact, profanity and sexual language adds credibility and will help in getting people to see the film. Copies of the DVD will circulate in places where no one will openly mention that there is a film. I learned this from Menachem Daum has put out films about the Hassidic world. In general people who have been abused should get professional help. Only a few can cope on their own even with support from family and spouse. Your film was true to much of the Orthodox world in Daniel's not considering it as an option.

Best wishes,
Rabbi Yosef Blau

November 20, 2007 7:56 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Michael J. Salamon said...

Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D. is the senior psychologist and director of the Adult Developmental Center, a comprehensive psychological consulting practice in Hewlett, NY.

The following is his response to a viewing of the film:

Narrow Bridge is a harrowing retelling of a situation that occurs much too frequently in our schools. As a psychologist who treats sexually abused individuals I can state that while the film is not a big budget production, it goes directly to the issues that survivors must deal with as they approach the developmental milestones of their lives. I recommend the film for training, education and treatment purposes and hope that we all learn to deal with this crisis in our midst.

November 20, 2007 7:58 PM  
Anonymous A Survivor's Review said...

The following letter was an written by a survivor of sexual abuse about her reaction upon seeing the film. She permitted us to post her letter on the site:

Hi Israel,

I watched your film twice. The first time I hated it. The second time I loved it. I think what happened was that at first it was too painful to let myself connect with it because it hit too close to home...Rabbi Kaufman [The rabbi in the film] could be my father. You look very much like my younger brother who looks a lot like me. I distanced myself from relating too much by picking it apart as a movie and noticing everything that could have been done better.

...I just finished watching it again and I thought it was very powerful. It made me cry...I know the feeling all too well of wanting to escape the pain and confusion... I was molested by my father who also taught me about Torah and Hashem [God] and it almost literally killed me...

You can forward this to your cast if you'd like. They might like to know that their work helped a survivor. You are very talented. I can't believe you pulled this off single handedly... meaning no professional help.



November 20, 2007 8:00 PM  
Anonymous Another Survivor's Review said...

This letter is from an anonymous man who is a survivor of sexual abuse. He permitted us to post his letter:

My plan for today was, taking apart my 8' x 14' Sukkah, but that changed as soon as I opened my mail box on Motzei Shabbes, last night. I was delighted to see your DVD.

I've watched it in entirely this afternoon. I finished about an hour ago, however I'm not ready to walk outside, my eyes are still not dried from my tears. It hit me with all my emotions, it moved me by force, and it touched me with compassion.

Great work. I would have never believed that this was not written by a fellow survivor or counselor, etc. it's so real. Thank you so much.

November 20, 2007 8:02 PM  
Anonymous Review from an anonymous man said...

...I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Only cried once, though [my wife] cried a lot more.

What can I say? To the extent that it helps survivors of any kind of abuse, amen to that. To the extent that it will wake the right people up to do something about this, amen to that. And to the extent that it helps non-survivors understand survivors, Amen to that too.

The only regret I have is that I don't think we can show it to the people that really need to see it, Chareidi [Ultra-Orthodox] Educators and Parents...

It was very classy of you to limit the story line to just really one explicit act of abuse, however, we know that there are worse stories out there...

November 20, 2007 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Vicki Polin said...

The Awareness Center will be bringing the film 'Narrow Bridge' to New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and other locations in the near future.

November 27, 2007 2:26 PM  

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