Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rape in School - Westchester, Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services In The Hot Seat

New York Post
New York Post
February 28, 2007

Staffers at a Westchester school for disturbed kids waited four hours to report the beating and rape of a 13-year-old girl - holding their own probe and even collecting forensic evidence, a furious police chief said yesterday.

Chief Louis Alagno declined to say that workers at the Hawthorne Cedar Knolls residential school in Hawthorne tried to cover up the rape, for which three boys in the program were charged.

But he fumed, "It was poor practice on their part. It complicated our investigation and made it more difficult . . . It's obvious we should have been notified sooner.

"I'm not certain it's criminal but it's certainly not advisable."

Court papers said the attack occurred at 7:30 p.m. Monday, when the boys, ages 15 and 16, dragged the girl into a vacant building while punching and slapping her. Then they ripped off her clothes and raped her, the papers said.

The three boys were later arrested and charged as adults with first-degree rape.

Alagno said the victim reported the rape to staffers immediately, but the school waited four hours - until 11:30 p.m. - while employees conducted their own investigation.

"When we got to the crime scene, they had forensic evidence packaged for us," the angry chief said.

Asked if evidence had been compromised, he said, "I hope not, but that is a possibility."

The school, which houses 104 boys and girls ages 8 to 18, is run by the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, a social-services agency.

The board later issued a statement that did not address the four-hour delay in notifying cops. It said: "We have informed the police of a disturbing incident involving residents at one of our facilities. We are conducting an investigation and cooperating fully with the police."

The suspects - (MINORS NAME REMOVED), 15, of Brooklyn; (MINORS NAME REMOVED), 15, of The Bronx; and (MINORS NAME REMOVED), 16, of Yonkers - were held without bail at their arraignment yesterday.

Update: Case of Rabbi Avraham Leizerowitz

Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Leizerowitz

I'm looking for verification that the following information posted in the comment section of another posting is true.
The Gerrer Rebbe forbids Avraham Mordechai Leizerowitz from engaging in any form of education or contact with minors. The alleged child molester and his enablers tried to get some Brooklyn Rabbis to vouch for his innocence and write letters of approbation but no rabbi would do anything of the sort.

The yeshiva where Leizerowitz taught in Boro Park has been busy this past half year dealing with an outbreak of sexual activity amongst the teens. Speculation has it that these are a direct result of Leizerowitz's little hobby. A battle is raging in the yeshiva over what to do with another 20 boys involved in immodest behavior aside from some dealt with earlier this fall.

When approached recently for comment rabbi Leizerowitz avoided discussion but when pressed he did not deny the facts but dismissed the questioner and walked away.

Rabbi David Olewski who as dean of the school Leizerowitz worked in is a mandated reporter by NYS law has rebuffed pressure to report these instances and has now been designated by the grand rabbi of gur to discuss puberty and other sexual matters with the gerrer boys instead of Leizerowitz. Looks like incompetence gets rewarded in gur. BTW none of the victims have yet to be offered counseling or apologies from the gerroristic system for covering up this mess for many years.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Can someone provide an update on the following cases?

I haven't heard much about the following cases in a while. I was hoping someone out there could fill us in?
  1. Rabbi Ephraim Bryks
  2. Rabbi Moshe Eisemann
  3. Rabbi Mordechai Gafni
  4. Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz
  5. Rabbi Avraham Leizerowitz
  6. Meyer Miller - The Kosher Butcher in Chicago
  7. Tuvya Sa'ar - Director- General of the Israel Journalist Union
  8. Rabbi Benzion Sobel
  9. Rabbi Tzvi Wainhaus
  10. Rabbi Matis Weinberg

Terrorist: "We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians in the territories,"

Gang rapes Jewish women as 'revenge'
Jerusalem Post
February 27, 2007

A gang of serial rapists has been prowling the North, raping Jewish women as revenge for IDF actions in the West Bank, police revealed Tuesday after arresting six suspects.

"We are raping Jews because of what the IDF is doing to the Palestinians in the territories," one of the six suspects told investigators from the Northern District Central Investigative Unit (CIU) during questioning. During their questioning and their brief appearance at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court Tuesday, none of the four main suspects indicated that they felt remorse for their actions.

Police said they were aware of four attacks carried out by the gang, but they believed there were probably other incidents that had gone unreported by the victims.

In all four cases, police said, the rapists' modus operandi were strikingly similar - all of the attacks were directed against young women who were waiting at bus stops or designated hitchhiking points in the western Galilee and the Haifa area.

In all of the cases, the attackers forced their victim into a car and drove together with the victim to an isolated spot, where they raped her.
All of the suspects are from the Galilee town of Bir al-Maksur, a Beduin village near the Hamovil Junction. The last of the four known rapes was carried out in a forested area just outside of the village.

The first attack occurred in April 2005, when a 13-year-old girl was raped at the Zevulun Beach in Kiryat Yam. In December of that year, a 19-year-old soldier was kidnapped and raped just outside of Kiryat Ata.

According to police, the gang attacked again three days later. In that assault, the gang allegedly kidnapped a 16-year-old girl who was standing with her friends at the Kiryon Junction in Kiryat Bialik. They allegedly took her to a grove near Tamra, where they raped her.

It was after the third attack, commander of the Northern District CIU Asst.-Cmdr. Menahem Haver said, that the police realized they were dealing with a serial rape gang. In that case, the teenage victim told investigators that one of her attackers told her the attack was in revenge for IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

Investigators managed to gather DNA from two of the crime scenes and began to search for potential suspects who fit the victims' descriptions. Haver said police approached around 170 youths who fit the descriptions offered by the victims, and elicited DNA samples from the suspects. Police said one of the tests appeared to offer a match to DNA found at one of the crime scenes.

But while police were investigating the first three attacks, the rapists struck again.

In November 2006, police say, the gang struck close to home, abducting and raping a 25-year-old woman who was standing at a bus stop on the outskirts of Bir al-Maksur.

At one point, police set up checkpoints and ambushes at intersections that they suspected the gang might frequent. At one of those checkpoints, police officers noticed an old, white car that resembled the car described by the victims. When the car approached the police checkpoint, its driver made a quick U-turn across an unbroken yellow line.

But police noticed the suspicious vehicle and initiated an undercover surveillance, following the vehicle back to Bir al-Maksur.

The suspects' arrests were released for publication by the Nazareth Magistrate's Court, which also extended the four key suspects' remands by 10 days. The remand of an additional suspect was extended by five days. A young woman from the village who is suspected of collaborating with the suspects was released on restricted terms.

The arrest of six residents of the village shocked the locals, who said the police's suggestion that the crimes were committed for anti-Israel reasons stirred up emotions even more.

Hasan Gadir, a village leader, said he called an urgent meeting with all northern local council representatives to be held Wednesday, in order to decide how to address the issue.

"We are shocked and horrified," he said. "This was a dark day for all of us and we cannot take its implications seriously enough. Our tribe is known for its good temper and spirit, and we denounce those youths' actions. We will never accept this sort of behavior. For us, this is worse than a murder."

Gadir said he spent the day Tuesday with Cmdr. Dan Ronen, Northern District Police chief, and at the detention center, where he met with the suspects and their parents.

"I don't know the suspects personally but I know their parents. They are all from good families, but none of us can even think why and how it happened," he said. "We are going to examine the cases more deeply and draw conclusions, so that this will never happen again. I took it personally and it made me sad and shocked. This village has made me proud in the past, and I hope I will be proud of it again."

Gadir's reaction was echoed by other members of the town.

"I read about it on the Internet and it made me upset," said Adel Hareb, manager of the Bir al-Maksur Education Department. "That doesn't add respect to our community and this kind of behavior is against our belief, culture and tradition as Beduins."

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Hareb said the village members "will support any punishment they receive, but I hope this turns out to be a mistake. I am sure that their family members denounce their actions just as we do," Hareb added.

Bir al-Maksur is home to 7,000 residents, most of whom are Muslims.

"This is a friendly and safe village which many travelers from all sectors enjoy visiting. It is too bad that irresponsible people can ruin, with a wave of a hand, what we have built with hard work, love and care," Hareb said.

Another resident of the village expressed shock at the report of the rapes, saying, "These kinds of crimes are shocking. We hear on the news about rapes all the time, and even if we cannot feel what the women who were attacked feel, this is just as terrible. Our village is a quiet place whose residents live in coexistence and friendship with all of its Israeli neighbors and I hope people don't hold it against us all."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ariela's Story: A Survivor of Shlomo Carlebach Speaks Out

Note from Vicki Polin:

When I first created The Awareness Center I was inundated by calls from women from all over the country (and the world) who disclosed that they were sexually abused by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach . I also want to mention that these calls came right before his Yahrzeit.

The callers often described the internal pain they felt each year that their synagogues were having a special Carlebach Minyon in his honor. Several women disclosed that they quit being religious, quit going to shul. A few even converted to other faiths as a result of being sexually victimized by Carlebach.

I am from an unaffiliated background. I'll be honest with you, when the calls first started I had never heard of Shlomo Carlebach. I ended up asking various rabbis for background information on him.

I was told that Shlomo Carlebach was an artist . . . a musician. . . someone who was responsible for bring hundreds if not thousands back to Judaism.

Due to the number of neshema's (Jewish souls) he saved it was enough reason for him to deserved to be respected. These same rabbis all acknowledge that Shlomo Carlebach had a little problem with loving women a little too much.

When asked what that meant, I was told "boys will be boys -- you know how musicians are, etc." Basically many were giving him an excuse for practicing clergy sexual abuse (professional sexual misconduct).

Finally one rabbi said something that I believe explains the reason for the volume of calls.

"Vicki, you have to understand some of the facts. Shlomo traveled a great deal, he was a Kiruv worker (Jewish outreach worker). Let's say Shlomo was "with" one woman a week -- times that by forty years. So basically that would mean he would have been with 2,160 women."

"The problem is that Shlomo most likely had a sex addiction. Knowing Shlomo the odds are he was with at least one or two woman a day; that would mean he was with over 14,600 women."

I have no idea if this rabbi statement was correct, yet I do know that over the last five years I've gotten more calls from survivors of Shlomo Carlebach, then any other one alleged or convicted sex offender.

Each and every one of the women who have been sexually violated by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach have a right to have their voices heard. For that reason I am sharing Ariela's story with you. Please note there is no way to verify her words, yet they are consistent with what others have shared.
Ariela's Story: A Survivor of Shlomo Carlebach Speaks Out
© (2007) by Ariela

It was a warm summer afternoon in 1974 and I was out in the back yard playing baseball with my brother when my mom called out, "Phone call, Ariela Hurry! It's a rabbi in New York!"

I raced inside, my heart pounding. A long distance call for me? A rabbi? Wow! Maybe it’s a response to my letter! When I heard a voice say, "Hello, Ariela; this is Shlomo Carlebach," I was filled with immense joy. My letter had not only reached him - a great rabbi, teacher, and musician - but he had read it, and been motivated to pick up the phone and call me, a lonely sixteen-year old searching for spiritual sustenance.

I had felt alone with my religious thoughts and feelings until the day a few weeks before when I had read a full-page interview with Rabbi Carlebach in our local Jewish weekly. I was thrilled to read what Shlomo said about the spiritual hunger of young people. Deeply moved, I felt compelled to write to Rabbi Carlebach and thank him for all he had said in his interview. I told him that I was seeking, and that I had many questions. In my letter I said that I imagined Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and other great spiritual teachers sharing a round-table in Heaven, discussing how best to help humanity. I had felt a little nervous writing that, but since he seemed to have such an open, loving heart I felt encouraged to be completely honest. And now he was telling me how special and wise I was! He asked me to introduce myself to him in person the next time he visited Vancouver. I looked forward to that. Maybe he could be my teacher, and I could come to know the Jewish faith deeply, and live it the way he did.

was planning a concert with At this time, although I had been brought up in a Conservative Synagogue, I was going by myself to the Orthodox synagogue because I hoped there I would find people living Judaism with more ‘kevanah’. I told my peers at this synagogue about Shlomo’s call. The Orthodox shulShlomo in the near future. "But be careful," my friends warned. "Shlomo is renowned for having many special female ‘friends’."

When he came to Vancouver I felt torn. I wanted to go up to him after the concert and tell him I was the ‘special and wise’ person who had sent him the letter; but I didn’t want to be duped by a man who was actually looking to satisfy his lust. So I stayed well back and observed him from afar. Yes, he clearly was hugging and kissing a lot of young women, and it made me uncomfortable. Disappointed, I chose not to say hello.

And so we didn’t meet in person until 1991. After high school I attended a Yeshiva for six months, and then married a non-Jew after my first year of college. I continued my spiritual search but to please my father I tried to raise my three children as Jews. My marriage was very unhappy, and at twenty-five I became a single mother. The week after my oldest child celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, Rabbi Carlebach gave a concert in the very same room in which her Bat Mitzvah had taken place. Invited to attend, I went expecting to enjoy his melodies, sing along, and share in the holy atmosphere he was so gifted in creating. During Shlomo’s concerts it seemed to me as if he broke down the walls between Heaven and earth, and made me feel as if we were singing at God’s throne, together with other beloved souls who loved God too.

Throughout the concert Rabbi Carlebach’s eyes often looked over at me and I knew he had noticed me. After the concert, as people filed past him on their way home, and he hugged them good-bye, he stopped me and asked me if we had met before. I explained that although we had never met, he had phoned me after receiving a letter from me when I was sixteen. "And how is it that we have not stayed in touch all these years?" he asked me.

He told me that we must keep in touch this time, that we needed to talk, and he asked for my phone number. I had not heard any rumors about Shlomo in the years since the last concert I attended. I was still hoping to feel at home in the Jewish community, and still filled with questions. So, hopeful that maybe now I had found my teacher, I gave him my number.

Very late that night, I was awakened by a call. I was stunned to hear Shlomo’s voice, "Could you meet me for breakfast at my hotel in the morning?" he asked. I told him that I had heard rumors about him and women. I told him that I was seeking a place for myself in Judaism, and that I would love to learn from him. I asked him if he understood that I only wanted to meet with him for those reasons, and he said he did.

I felt a lot like I had after my phone call from him seventeen years earlier, and in many ways I was still the same person: lonely, hopeful, yearning for God, eager to learn how best to serve Him, excited to have others to share the journey Home with, and excited to have a spiritual community. So excited I couldn’t sleep

I remember the beautiful sunny morning and the long bus ride to his hotel. When I got there he wasn’t in the lobby, and upon calling his room to let him know I was there, he asked me to come up to his room. Somewhat frightened, but ever hopeful, I went up and he immediately took me in his arms and french-kissed me. I felt disgusted and disappointed, but rather than simply leaving, I begged him to go back down to the lobby restaurant so we could talk over breakfast.

It is very hard in retrospect to admit to my foolish and incredibly naïve behaviour. It seems that my capacity for hope overrode my ability to believe what was happening. From my own past experiences I have learned to blot out parts of the picture that are too painful, and focus on that which is good. Life is so filled with pain that this is a common coping mechanism. I wanted someone to help me feel close to God. I wanted this very badly. And Shlomo was clearly close to God. His sexual impulses were, to my way of thinking, immoral, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have his gifts. He had incredible gifts: to make melodies, to sing, to touch hearts. But Shlomo needed help to overcome his addictions. The real tragedy to my mind is that his world-wide Jewish community didn’t hold him accountable for his sex addictions.

Shlomo went down to the restaurant with me but all his sparkle was gone. He had no words of encouragement or wisdom for me. He seemed tired and lonely; remote. I left disappointed once again.

And then the phone calls started. They were about every few weeks, sometimes more frequent and sometimes less. He called from all over the U.S.A, Israel, and South America. The calls were always past midnight, and roused me from deep sleep. He spoke about his sexual attraction to me, and asked me intimate questions about what I was wearing. He spoke about the exotic places he visited and how he’d like to be there with me. His breathing was heavy and labored. The scenario he described which disturbed me the most was when he talked about taking me naked into the mikvah in his community in Israel.

Why didn’t I get angry or hang up? It was the middle of the night and I was fuzzy-headed. I felt uncertain of my own clarity of mind. He kept telling me how special and incredibly spiritual I was and I wanted to believe him. He said he loved me, and he talked often about our getting married. I was lonely and wanted to believe that it was true: that I was special and wise and therefore able to help him mend his ways. Maybe we could be a wonderful, spiritual couple, I thought. I sent him many long loving letters to New York and to his Moshav in Israel. I always expected him to write back, but he never did. I told him over and over again that I needed him to teach me about Judaism. I told him that I needed to be in love with Judaism the way he was. I told him that after years of searching I still felt that I didn’t belong, and I was on the verge of giving up. I told him I was getting attracted to Christianity and that I was even considering being baptized. He said nothing to dissuade me nor did he ever offer me a teaching about Judaism. In fact, since he often spoke of marriage, we laughed about the idea of a rabbi marrying a Christian woman.

I invited Shlomo to stay with me in my home when he next came to Vancouver to give a concert. I told my children that we might have a rabbi staying with us. But when he came to Vancouver he never called or tried to see me. He avoided me, and didn’t even catch my eye at his concert. Finally I knew his love wasn’t sincere, and something was very wrong. I met another Jewish woman who had received similar calls to mine. I spoke to him about it the next time he called. "You need to make amends before you die. It’s not too late to own up to your problems and get help," I told him. He said he agreed with me; that I was right, he did need to do something before it was too late.

I don’t know if Shlomo made any amends to any of the people he hurt. I don’t know how it stands between him and God today. But I do know that the Jewish community let him down, and let down all those whom he hurt. They enabled his sickness to perpetuate itself because he was never called to account. And because of the blind eye that the Jewish community chooses to cast on Shlomo’s sins they choose to ignore those who were hurt, undermine their pain, and isolate them on the fringes.

I said earlier that because of my own suffering I had learned to blot out the truth and focus only on the good. It is a coping mechanism, but it is not living in the real world. The Jewish family has known tremendous suffering, and maybe they have collectively learned to blot out a truth which hurts, which is that Shlomo sexually exploited women. After much therapy I have learned not to blot out the truth, but to see it and let it guide me to good, healthy choices. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given Shlomo my phone number, or gone to his hotel room, or taken his calls in the night. I wouldn’t have written him letters or believed him when he spoke of marriage. I would have been safe from harm.

I made appointments to see two rabbis about what Shlomo did: one through my sister because she wanted me to get some healing, and one through a friend for the same reason. One rabbi thought it wasn’t very significant. The other was more sympathetic and told me he wouldn’t attend a Carlebach concert anymore. I wrote about what had happened to me and sent an article to the same local Jewish paper in which I had first read his interview. They didn’t want to publicize my experience. Even a woman I shared with at the synagogue I sometimes attended told me to let it go and concentrate on all the good Shlomo had done.

To this day I am very sad that Shlomo wasn’t compelled to offer me any encouragement in my spiritual quest to find my niche within Judaism. It is often said that he would do anything to save one Jewish soul, but he did nothing to save mine. I have been a practising Christian for the past ten years and one thing that comforts me in my church is that when a minister or priest is caught being abusive, the abuse is brought to light and the abuser is held responsible for what he has done.

Reconciliation is only available to those hurt by Shlomo if Shlomo’s community: the Jewish community, opens their ears to hear the truth. They must find the courage to remove their blinders, and apologize for having needed to believe in Shlomo more than they needed to stand in truth before God.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The girls had beat up the boys

From: Jewish Whistleblower

Quote from this blog:
According to the above article from Thursday's Ma'ariv, a Yeshiva bachur (no, not this one although maybe this one) propsitioned a seminary girl in a Hareidi town in Yesha. Yup, according to the story, it was a matter of S-x for Money.

She told her friends and classmates, they marched over to the Yeshiva, spotted the supposed felon, started yelling at him, his friends came to his aid and before you could say Jake Rabinowitz, the girls had beat up the boys.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Legal Dates Schedule for 2006-2007 (5767-5768)

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Legal Dates Schedule for 2007 (5767)
If you know of any court dates I missing or of other cases not posted please post them in the comment section.
  1. Mar. 6, 2007 - Rabbi Yehuda Kolko - criminal trial
  2. Date Pending - Rabbi Yehuda Kolko - civil trial
  3. May 2, 2007 - Moshe Katsav - Israeli President - impeachment hearing and criminal trial
  4. Unknown 2007 - Rabbi Mordecai Tendler - civil trial

Dates in 2008 and Beyond

  1. Apr. 24, 2008 - Rabbi Baruch Lanner - potential parole
  2. Oct.10, 2008 - Rabbi Israel Kestenbaum - probation ends
  3. Nov. 03, 2008 - Eric Dorfner (former BBYO counsellor) - eligible for parole
  4. Jun. 28, 2011 - Rabbi Alan J. Horowitz, MD - Post Release Supervision ends
  5. Mar. 31, 2013 - Rabbi Jerry Brauner (AKA: Yechiel Brauner) - probation ends
  6. Mar. 03, 2023 - Rabbi Richard Marcovitz - probation ends
  7. Unknown 2023 - Cantor Phillip Harold Wittlin - probation ends
  8. Unknown 2028 - Shmuel Juravel - released from federal prison

Friday, February 23, 2007

Case of Yosef Meystel, Samuel Juravel and Brad Hames

Today, Steve Is 25.
By Phil Jacobs
Baltimore Jewish Times
February 23, 2007

Editor's Note: It would be very difficult to write one definitive story on the issue of sexual molestation. With the clear understanding that there are many different, unique stories, we decided to tell the story of abuse through the experiences of one particular victim. This toxic problem is not exclusive to any one denomination of Judaism. It is, unfortunately, pervasive.
But we also understand that there is yet more to tell in the future, so this will be the first of an occasional series.

The teacher's son. *Steve was 11.

The yeshiva administrator. Steve was 13.

The attorney. Steve was 15.

Where in the World is Mordecai Gafni?

Where in the World is Mordecai Gafni?
(aka: Marc Gafni, Mark Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz -- and what ever new name he's going by today)

Rumors have been floating around for some time that Marc Gafni is currently residing in Salt Lake City, UT. The newest rumor is that he's living with a woman who has two children. If this is true please make sure law enforcement knows that he confessed to molesting teenage girls and recently fled Israel after confessing to abusing adult women.

Rabbi Gafni started his molesting career when he was 19. That's when he assaulted a 13 year old girl. When he was 24 he assaulted a 15 year-old and attempted to abuse a 19 year old. In his forties Gafni confessed to sexually abusing adult women.

Gafni has gone from Orthodox Judaism, to mixing eastern philosophy and Judaism to possibly moving into a Mormon community.

It's obvious this man needs help. Where ever he is please encourage him to enter into an inpatient program for sex offenders. Let's keep our girls and women safe!

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Testifying at Legislative Hearings

© (2007) By Bob Russell - Coordinator, SNAP of Maryland and Vicki Polin - Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.

Download article

If you are a survivors of childhood sexual abuse who is considering to provide testimony at legislative hearings please be aware of some the risks you may endure.

Please note that it is NOT mandatory that you sign the statement to testify, it is simply a request that you read and fully understand the risks involved in taking an active role in this legislative process.

In the past survivors who testified, shared a common experience -- the feeling of DEVASTATION, was moderate to severe. While providing testimony to make laws better is just and noble, yet it is also important to be aware of the risks. We all need to have support people in which we can debrief with immediately afterwards and the weeks or months afterwards. Doing so can help elevate the degree of devastation we may experience.

In an effort to warn each and every person who is considering providing testimony, it is suggested that you read and accept the statement below before agreeing to testify. The choice is totally yours and there is no expectation for you to publicly take a stand. There is the requirement that you put your own personal needs first. It is vitally important for you to take care of yourself!

  1. I acknowledge that I or someone that I love was sexually abused, as a child.

  2. I acknowledge that significant to severe trauma resulted because of that abuse (to myself or my family member, friend, etc.).

  3. My intention is to bring public awareness and attention to what has happened in the past.

  4. I believe that by speaking publicly, my testimony will enable me to seek some level of justice for my own personal victimization that I experienced as a child and endured over a lifetime (or that of someone I love).

  5. I understand that providing testimony could result in me feeling re-traumatized/victimized.

  6. I understand that there are very powerful opponents to this legislation that have significant influence on legislators in stealth like manner.

  7. I understand that no matter how wrong I feel they are, they still wield influence that is secretive, very well financed and have been historically successful in killing legislation to right this wrong and to protect future generations of children. I understand this is at the expense of current and future generations of children as well as the re victimization of myself as a survivor.

  8. I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE PERSONAL RISKS of feeling overwhelmed by sharing my abuse experiences.

  9. I understand that I may feel angry, sad, depressed and re-victimized should this proposed legislation not pass.

  10. I agree to have safe people in place to debrief with immediately after providing my testimony and for the months to come. These safe people can include other survivors, family members, friends and or a therapist.

  11. Above all else, I agree to put my own well being first.

With this understanding I still wish to testify in hopes of seeking justice for what happened to me as a child (or my loved one) and most important to ensure that I do what I can to protect future innocent children from harm in the future.





Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dangers of Spanking

What happens when parents spank their kids
By Ben Harder
Los Angeles Times
February 19, 2007

graphic When Murray Straus was raising his children in the 1950s and '60s, spanking was de rigueur in the American household. The Straus residence was no exception, with the father of two occasionally reacting to their misbehavior with a swat to the bottom.

But times have changed, and so has Straus' perception of spanking.

"If I knew then what I know now, I would not have spanked them at all," he says. "My research has convinced me that there should be no hitting -- never, under any circumstances."

Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, has long advocated doing away with spanking. And many psychologists and pediatricians also now say that parents should never strike a child. Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) has even promised to introduce a bill in the California Legislature that would make it illegal to hit those younger than 4.

Frequent and impulsive spanking is clearly detrimental, researchers agree. Other kinds of physical punishment, including hitting children with objects, are harmful as well. "Corporal punishment has really serious side effects," says Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology at Yale University and president-elect of the American Psychological Assn. "Children who are hit become more aggressive."

Yet the mildest forms of spanking have not been proved harmful. "A family that hits once in a while? The research is equivocal about that," Kazdin says.

What the research does show is that spanking is generally no more effective than nonphysical disciplinary techniques in instilling acceptable behavior, that its effects vary from culture to culture and that a greater frequency of spanking increases the risk of negative consequences.

Although some researchers say it can play an occasional role in supporting more lenient forms of discipline, Kazdin argues that spanking should be avoided even if it is harmless.

"It suppresses [misbehavior] momentarily. But you haven't really changed its probability of occurring," Kazdin says. "Physical punishment is not needed to change behavior. It's just not needed."

Reasons not to spank
Spanking can escalate toward physical abuse, potentially injuring the child, and can contribute to later emotional and behavioral problems, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's also less effective than alternative disciplinary tactics, and it's a hard habit to break, the organization says. Studies have shown that people who were spanked as kids tend to spank as parents, perpetuating the cycle.

During the last decade, a raft of studies showed that kids who get spanked are more likely than their peers to display behavioral and emotional problems later in life. The more frequently they're spanked, the more harmful the consequences tend to be.

In a 1997 study in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, for example, Straus and two colleagues found that 6- to 9-year-olds whose mothers spanked them at least weekly were more likely, two years later, to behave antisocially than were kids whose moms didn't spank.

The researchers interviewed more than 800 mothers and asked how often their kids did antisocial things such as cheat, lie, bully, deliberately break objects or act disobediently at school. Taking into account the degree of antisocial behavior that each mother said her child displayed at the beginning of the study, Straus' team concluded that spanking probably contributed to increases in bad behavior seen during the study.

Nevertheless, Straus notes, a "lucky majority" of kids who get spanked suffer no discernible harm.

Another 1997 study also linked spanking to subsequent antisocial behavior, and it additionally found that children who were spanked at the beginning of the five-year study were more likely to be getting into fights at school by the end of the study. (An exception was African American kids, who were less likely to fight if they'd been spanked than if they hadn't. More on that in a bit.)

Since then, other studies that have tracked kids over time have linked corporal punishment to higher rates of children later assaulting their parents and higher rates of boys assaulting their girlfriends years after they themselves were smacked.

Spanking "gives the message that force is a justifiable method of solving conflicts," says Daphne Bugental, a psychologist at UC Santa Barbara. "The child is learning a lesson: If you run into a conflict, use power, use force."

Adds Shari Barkin, a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville: "It teaches children that when you're angry, you should hit people." Spanking also appears to have a detrimental effect on the brain. In 1999, Straus found after a two-year study that 2- to 9-year-olds who were spanked developed less rapidly, judging from cognitive tests, than other children.

In a 2003 study, Bugental and her colleagues delved deeper, examining the effect of corporal punishment on brain chemistry in infants younger than 1.

Those who were spanked frequently, they found, showed exaggerated spikes in the stress hormone cortisol when they were subjected to a novel situation, such as being in the presence of a stranger after their mother had left the room.

"They were very easily frightened," Bugental says. "They tend to be more afraid of things generally."

By contrast, she says, "in the children who had not been spanked, there was hardly a blip" in cortisol. Researchers haven't yet determined whether spanking has similar hormonal effects on older kids.

Cortisol imbalances could potentially lead to impaired coping abilities, social and emotional problems and cognitive deficits, Bugental says.

In support of spanking

Spanking has its supporters, of course. A couple of swats to a child's behind has a well-deserved place in discipline when milder tactics fail, says Robert Larzelere, an Oklahoma State University psychologist who has been researching corporal punishment for more than a quarter of a century. Larzelere describes that circumscribed use of corporal punishment as "conditional spanking."

"It's better, wherever possible, to offer verbal correction and explanation," he says. "But then back that up, first with nonphysical consequences, and then, if the child acts defiantly, with conditional spanking."

For example, he says, if a child refuses to sit in a chair during a timeout, then a light spanking would emphasize the need to cooperate with that form of discipline.

"If it's used as a backup for the timeout, then the next time, the child is more likely to cooperate with the timeout procedure," Larzelere says. Parents "can then phase out the spanking.

"I think it's a minority of spanking that fits this conditional definition," he adds. "For [all] the usual ways that parents use spanking -- combining the good, the bad and the ugly -- its outcomes are neither better nor worse than any alternative."

The effects of spanking may depend not only on how and when it's meted out but also on the cultural context.

In a study published in Child Development in 2005, researchers at Duke University interviewed 336 pairs of mothers and children in six countries in Asia, Africa and Europe about discipline and behavior. They found that physical discipline seemed to have a stronger negative effect on children in countries where it was not the norm than in countries where it was practiced widely. Several other studies, including the 1997 one that found differences between African Americans and whites, suggest that cultural differences also influence the effect of spanking in the U.S.

"Spanking may be detrimental in some families but not in others," says Eric Slade, a social scientist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

In 2004, he and Lawrence Wissow, a pediatric and adolescent psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, found that white children who were spanked before the age of 2 were twice as likely as other white kids to have behavioral problems in school.

But spanking didn't appear to lead to misbehavior in African American or Hispanic children, the researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. "In minority cultural contexts, spanking could be more the norm and consequently less commonly perceived [by the child] as being harsh or unfair," Slade says. As long as spanking isn't perceived as unfair, he adds, "it could have a positive and constructive effect … and establish what the limits are on misbehavior."

Too often, researchers lump all kinds of spanking or even all forms of corporal punishment together, Larzelere says. Whenever an analysis links "spanking" to detrimental effects, he says, "conclusions are inappropriately made about even the mildest form of spanking."

But because researchers harbor ethical reservations about asking or even knowingly permitting parents to spank their children, few experiments have been conducted in which parents were given explicit instructions about how to use spanking to maintain discipline. "There will never be the gold-standard study," says Michael Regalado, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

And researchers disagree in their interpretations of the few such experimental studies to date, which clinical psychologist Mark Roberts and his colleagues at Idaho State University conducted during the 1980s.

In dealing with a few dozen rebellious children ages 2 to 6 -- whose out-of-control behavior had driven their parents to seek professional assistance -- the researchers asked some parents to spank kids who refused to stay on a timeout chair and taught others to briefly confine noncompliant children to their rooms.

In several such experiments, each approach worked about as well as the other, and both worked better than alternatives such as physically restraining the child in the chair.

Although spanking increased compliance with timeouts in those experiments, Roberts adds, it was accompanied by more crying.

"Since spanking demonstrates aggressive behavior to children, I recommend sending children to their rooms instead of spanking them," Roberts says.

Straus infers: "It didn't work any better, and it had an emotional cost."

Larzelere offers the opposite perspective. Spanking, he says, was one of the "best ways to enforce cooperation with the timeout. Even these very difficult children learned to cooperate."

Decline in popularity

Even without a law in effect, the popularity of spanking has fallen considerably in recent decades, at least among parents of school-age children.

"In 1975, we found that two-thirds of parents were hitting 13-year-olds" at least once a year, says Straus, who along with his colleagues has conducted a series of parent surveys. By 1995, that fraction had fallen to one-third. Moreover, in 1999, 52% of parents believed corporal punishment is sometimes necessary, compared with 94% in 1968.

Last month, in Clinical Pediatrics, Vanderbilt's Barkin published survey results detailing about 2,100 parents' disciplinary practices with 2- to 11-year-olds. Parents today, she found, more often reported using enforced timeouts or removing kids' privileges than they did spanking.

However, Straus says the prevalence of spanking among 2- to 4-year-olds has remained basically unchanged. As of 1995, 94% of them had been spanked at least once in their lives, according to surveyed parents. Children in that age range and younger would be covered by the proposed California ban.

But even opponents of spanking have reservations about the proposed bill. Criminalizing spanking could make it more difficult to root out corporal punishment, they say, because the threat of the law could dissuade parents from seeking help to change their disciplinary habits.

"It may drive [spanking] underground, and it definitely won't address the issues that parents need addressed to avoid spanking," Regalado says. "The bill should be framed to help parents who'd like help with their discipline practices."

Parent training programs were expanded in Sweden after that country banned corporal punishment in 1979, and in some other European countries that followed Sweden's lead. "I'd like to see legislation in California and everywhere modeled on Sweden's," Straus says.

"I'm not in favor of a law with criminal penalties," he says. The proposed California law "would do the very thing it wants parents not to do -- use harsh punishment to correct misbehavior."

As for maintaining discipline among Straus' progeny, no law is needed. His past use of spanking hasn't left his grown children with any apparent psychological wounds, he says, and neither of them spanks their own children. "They are among the lucky ones who have escaped the harmful effects," he says.

"If you do it rarely, the probability of harmful side effects is low," he says. But, he contends, the possibility of harm from spanking "is never absent. Since other methods of correction and control work just as well, why put that child through even that small risk?"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Murder of Jewish college students leaves their communities stunned

Carol Kestenbaum, left, and Nicole Schiffman

Murder of Jewish college students
leaves their communities stunned

By Jacob Berkman

February 21, 2007

NEW YORK (JTA) – Communities in New York, Arizona and Maryland are reeling after two Jewish college sophomores were gunned down at Arizona State University.

Carol Kestenbaum and Nicole Schiffman, both from Long Island, had been best friends since high school and were out celebrating Kestenbaum’s 20th birthday at ASU, where the Bellmore resident was an education major. Schiffman, of Merrick, had flown to Tempe from Maryland, where she was a journalism student at the University of Maryland.

According to reports, the two women returned to Kestenbaum’s apartment at an off-campus complex just after 4 a.m. on Feb. 18. Joshua Mendel, 22, had been waiting for them in the parking lot for hours with two loaded weapons. He was upset that Kestenbaum had warned his girlfriend, Alexandra Wake, 19, to stop seeing him.

According to police, Mendel fired on the two women without warning, shooting Kestenbaum in the head and Schiffman in the back as she tried to run. Mendel walked away from the bodies, then shot himself.

Police said Mendel was a student at nearby Collins College, a graphic design school. It’s not known if he was Jewish.

The three bodies were found in a line, with Mendel about 15 feet away from the women.

Kestenbaum and Mendel were pronounced dead at the scene. Schiffman died about an hour after the shooting at a nearby hospital.

“I have never seen such pain in anyone’s face as I’m seeing in the mom,” Schiffman’s aunt, Carolyn Cohen, told JTA in a telephone interview Tuesday from the Schiffman home in Merrick. “As much as all of us are in pain, the pain of a mom losing her daughter you just never want to experience.”

Schiffman attended several Chabad events with her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma. Kestenbaum’s mother is the president of the Reform Sha’arei Shalom Temple in Merrick.

Neither woman was particularly involved in the Chabad houses at their schools, but the Chabad network was instrumental in ensuring that their post-mortem Jewish needs were met, according to Cohen.

The families called Rabbi Shmuel Teichtel, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at ASU, shortly after they learned of their daughters’ deaths Sunday afternoon.

Teichtel went to the Tempe medical examiner’s office to make sure that in accordance with Jewish law, no autopsy was performed.

“There is a concept called kavod ha’met that the body came into this world whole and that it should return to the earth whole,” he told JTA. “Once you do an autopsy, you can’t do that.”

Teichtel then accompanied the bodies to the Sinai mortuary in Phoenix, where he, his assistant rabbi and an ASU student sat with the bodies and recited Psalms over them in accordance with the Jewish belief that a body should not be left alone until it is buried.

Chabad and the Hillel houses at ASU and the University of Maryland are working with the administrations of both campuses to provide grief counseling for friends of the women.

Teichtel accompanied the bodies to the airport, and they were flown to New York on Monday. The women will be buried side-by-side Wednesday.

Kestenbaum knew the assailant only peripherally. Recently, however, Kestenbaum had told her mother, Rita, that she had warned Wake, her friend and former roommate, about Mendel, according to longtime family friend Lori Fontana.

“It was just one young woman telling a friend, ‘He’s no good. He’s a creep. What are you doing with him? He is too possessive,’ ” Fontana told JTA in a phone interview from the Kestenbaum home.
But that’s the type of person Kestenbaum was, “just a lovely, lovely person inside and out, who adored all of her friends,” said Fontana, who has known Kestenbaum’s parents, Rita and Ronald, and her two brothers for 20 years. “There is a hole in this family now.”

The Kestenbaums will start a charitable foundation in Carol’s honor.

Schiffman was the youngest of three children of Ron and Cheryl, a lawyer and dental hygienist, respectively. She was remembered by her sisters in Phi Sigma Sigma as a good friend with a wonderful sense of humor and a beautiful smile.

“Only Nicole would fly thousands of miles across the country to be there with one of her best friends to celebrate a birthday,” Rebecca Stern said in a release from the sorority.

Cohen said the gap in the close-knit family will be immeasurable.

She recalled Nicole as one of the younger cousins who would stage plays and play tricks on her grandma Esther when the family came together for Jewish holidays, and as one of her favorite campers at Camp Lokanda, a Jewish camp in upstate New York where Cohen is a head counselor.
“At her bat mitzvah she sang beautifully,” Cohen said. “She was magnificent at her prom, and she was a beautiful writer. She was so beautiful.”

At the funeral, Schiffman’s family will read a poem she wrote titled “War.”

“It’s about life and the senseless loss of life,” Cohen said, choking up over the phone. “We are going to miss her. We are just going to miss our kid. She was our baby.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Honoring A Hero - Rabbi Yosef Blau Rabbi Yosef Blau
Over the last several months it seems like many bloggers are busy exposing the names of those who offend and also those who enable the offenders.

Today I felt like doing something different. I think we all need to be thanking and honor a rabbi who has dedicated zillions of hours talking to survivors and really doing something to make a difference. We all need to be thanking Rabbi Yosef Blau!

Rabbi Blau is someone who has been volunteering his own time to talking and listen to what survivors of sex crimes have to say. Rabbi Blau has really been there for so many. I don't know how he does this. All I can come up with is that for someone to be able to handle this sort of work they really need to have a support system standing behind them. For that reason I also think it's extremely important for us all to thank his wife Dr. Rivka Blau. She too deserves a great deal of credit.

Next time you see either Rabbi Yosef or Dr./Rebbitzen Rivka Blau, make sure to thank them for being who they are and trying to make a difference.

Below is a list of just a few of the articles that quoted Rabbi Blau. If you know of others please forward them so I can add them to the list.

Teaching Our Children Ways To Keep Their Bodies SafeTeaching Our Children Ways To Keep Their Bodies Safe

(© 2007) By Vicki Polin

I think it's a common problem in many observant Jewish communities that we are afraid to teach our children that the world isn't perfect.

We have no problem warning our children not to run out into the street. Not to touch a hot pan on the stove. Yet we are afraid to teach our children ways that might help them keep their bodies safe from a potential sexual predator.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or work with children please go to the following site: It's a program that's been around in the secular world for years that helps teach children about "good touch, bad touch".

One way that helps to teach young children about their bodies and keeping them safe is by reading. A good book for kids is "Red Flag Green Flag People: A Personal Safety Program for Children/& Coloring Book". This coloring book for kids has been around since the 1980's (I think?).

On The Awareness Center's web page we have several other suggested books you might want to look over that are for both adults and children
. If you can think of other books not listed, please forward the information to me.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller sent letter of apology as part of a court settlement

UCLA Hillel rabbi apologizes, settles 2003 case with woman journalist
By Gaby Friedman
Los Angeles Jewish Journal
February 16, 2007

Copy of faxed apology from Rabbi Seidler-Feller

A UCLA Hillel rabbi accused of accosting a freelance journalist in October 2003 has sent the writer a letter of apology as part of a court settlement.

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, UCLA Hillel director, was accused by Rachel Neuwirth of verbally and physically assaulting her outside Royce Hall, on the UCLA campus, during a speech by Alan Dershowitz more than four years ago.

The letter was part of a settlement reached by Seidler-Feller and Neuwirth on Jan. 19, 2007.

In the letter, Seidler-Feller wrote "I am deeply sorry that I hit, kicked, and scratched you and called you a liar. By taking these unprovoked actions, I have contradicted the pluralism, peace and tolerance about which I so often preach."

The incident occurred after Seidler-Feller approached some pro-Palestinian activists protesting Dershowitz's speech and invited them to an event featuring Suri Nusseibeh, the Palestinian representative for Jerusalem. Nusseibeh has been accused of encouraging Saddam Hussein to launch scud missile attacks against large Jewish population centers in Israel. Overhearing the invitation, Neuwirth started arguing with the rabbi, who then assaulted her. Neuwirth responded by calling him a "Kapo", a derogatory term used to describe Jews who collaborated with the Nazis in World War II.

Neuwirth filed a report with campus police the day after the incident, which occurred on Oct. 21, 2003, and the university turned the investigation over to the city attorney's office. She also filed a civil suit against Seidler-Feller and Hillel in November 2003.

In December 2003, the city attorney's office ordered Seidler-Feller to undergo a 36-hour anger-management course, and to pen a letter of apology to Neuwirth.

Neuwirth described that first letter of apology as "slippery," and pursued her civil suit, which was scheduled to go to trial in April 2007.

On Jan. 19 both parties reached a settlement, the terms of which have not been disclosed. However, Neuwirth told The Journal that it included a "substantial amount of money" in restitution, to be paid by Seidler-Feller and Hillel, as well as a new letter of apology.

Neuwirth also said both parties have agreed to not "disparage or denigrate" each other.

Seidler-Feller's attorney Joshua Pollack, an associate at Proskauer, Rose, LLP, would not comment on the terms of the settlement, nor on the length of the negotiation, except to say that "The matter has been resolved amicably."

Click here for previous stories mentioning Rabbi Seidler-Feller.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mordecai Tendler v. Bloggers (Jewish Whistleblower, Jewish Survivors, New Hempstead News)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Public Citizen logo
Public Citizen's response to Mordecai Tendler’s February 7, 2007 letter to the California Appellate Courts. This is regards to Mordechai Tendler paying legal fees.
Public Citizen Litigation Group
1600 20th Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20009-1001
(202) 588-1000
February 9, 2007

Clerk, Superior Court
101 North First Street
San Jose, California 95113

Clerk, California Court of Appeal
Suite 1060
333 West Santa Clara Street
San Jose, California 95113

Re: Tendler v. Doe
Santa Clara County No.1 06 cv 064307

Dear Clerks:

I respond to the letter from Mordecai Tendler that is dated February 7, 2007, but which he faxed to us on February 9. Tendler asks to be allowed to pursue this appeal without identifying all documents in the record (because he claims not to have all of them) and without payment of fees.

Although Tendler is currently proceeding without counsel, as he has every right to do, two separate lawyers began this case on his behalf – Patrick Guevara of Pleasanton, California, who appeared for Tendler in this court, and James Fleisher from Dayton, Ohio, who apparently brought Mr. Guevara into the case. Those attorneys would have all the records he needs to present a complete record on appeal, and there is no reason why Tendler cannot ask his former attorneys to provide him with such records so that he can be sure to have them included in the appellate records.

Tendler also asserts that he cannot afford to pay any fees on the appeal. He has not, however, submitted the sworn affidavit about his assets and his income that is required for in forma pauperis status. We question whether he can swear truthfully to that status. Tendler is from suburban Rockland County, New York, the nation’s ninth wealthiest county. See .... Although he was expelled by the Rabbinical Council and fired by his congregation over allegations of sexual misconduct, his wife Michelle apparently works as a realtor, he is the scion of a wealthy and important family, and our information from a lawyer in his community is that last week, Tendler hosted a wedding for his daughter (NAME REMOVED) that was catered for seven hundred sit-down guests. In the event, therefore, that Tendler submits an affidavit of poverty, we reserve the right to serve discovery and take his deposition to test the veracity of any oath that he swears on these points.

Sincerely yours,
Paul Alan Levy
cc: Mordecai Tendler

Scientists explain why incest revolts us

Sigmund Freud
Scientists explain why incest revolts us
Maggie Fox
Thursday, 15 February 2007

Revulsion and taboo against sex with family members is a natural instinct and isn't taught, say US researchers, whose findings challenges some basic tenets of Freudian theory.

Cognitive psychologist Dr Leda Cosmides from the University of California Santa Barbara and colleagues report their findings in today's issue of the journal Nature.

"We went in search of a kin detection system because some of the most important theories in evolutionary biology said such a thing should exist," says Cosmides.

"It should regulate both altruism and incest disgust."

The research team found that humans have an inbuilt system that does both.

"[Our] data shows that the degree to which we feel those things is governed by these cues that, for hunter-gatherers, predict whether somebody is a sibling. And it works regardless of your beliefs - who you are told who your siblings are," she says.

Cosmides and her colleagues tested 600 volunteers, asking them all sorts of questions jumbled together so they would not know what was being studied.

"We asked them how many favours did you do for this particular sibling in a month. We asked if this sibling needed a kidney, how likely would you be to donate this sibling a kidney."

And they asked about all sorts of ethical dilemmas, including questions about sexual relationships with siblings.

Forbidden fruit
Among the volunteers were people who had never shared a home with their siblings - for instance, full- or half-siblings born 10 or even 20 years apart.

What determined incest disgust and altruism was the same - how much time an older sibling spent watching his or her mother care for a younger one, or how much time the two spent together in the same household.

"If you co-resided with them for a long time as a child, you'd treat them as you'd treat any full sibling. This seems to operate non-consciously," Cosmides says.

Especially strong was the effect of watching one's mother care for a younger child.

"They would be very altrustic towards that baby and they'd be grossed out at the idea of sex with that baby as an adult," Cosmides says.

She says women are especially sensitive to this.

"One whiff of possible siblinghood and that's it for you if you are a woman," says Consmides.

The study contradicts the teachings of Sigmund Freud, who described Oedipal urges and conflicts, Cosmides says.

"He thought you are attracted to your relatives and your siblings and parents and it takes the force of culture and society to keep you from committing the incest that is in your heart," she says.

Friday, February 16, 2007

CALL FOR ACTION: Individuals Who Were Sexually Abused In Maryland Needed To Testify!


Who: Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse who were abused in Maryland
What: Needed To Testify on Senate Bill 575
Where: Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Annapolis, MN
When: Thursday, March 1st at 1:00 pm

Dear Friends:

I anticipate the number of emails to pick up as we get nearer March 1st and thereafter.

I spoke with Sen. Brochin’s legislative aid yesterday on several topics. One issue that I have been trying to get clarified is who should testify? Early on, Senator Brochin said that only MD residents should testify. After pressing the senator that may survivors that were abused in MD no longer live in MD but they would be directly affected by this legislation, shouldn't they have he opportunity to testify? He agreed. IF YOU ARE A SURVIVOR WHO WAS ABUSED WHILE LIVING IN MD, PLEASE MAKE THE EFFORT TO TESTIFY ON MARCH 1ST! YOUR TESTIMONY IS NEEDED. We are now getting down to the final 2 weeks before our hearing. It’s game time.

If anyone has any questions as to what to say in your testimony, please contact me. At this time, the most important thing to do is prepare your testimony, practice it, and KEEP IT UNDER 3 MINUTES. They will stop you if you go over your time limit.

Until next time,

Male Survivors - Hear Mike Lew On line

Victims No Longer: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse
Mike Lew, author of VICTIMS NO LONGER: The Classic Guide for Men Recovering from Sexual Child Abuse will be on Breaking the Conspiracy of Silence, an internet talk show hosted by Kathleen Brooks, Ph.D.

The talk show designed to both feature experts in the area of child sexual abuse and offer an arena for people who are concerned about this issue to discuss and share their experiences of courageously facing and healing this global epidemic.

You can listen to the show live on Wednesday, February 28 from 6pm - 7pm Eastern Time.
Click here. After that date and time Click here
Live Show Phone-in
Toll Free: 888-300-8626
Intl: 001-858-278-8921
Mike Lew is a psychotherapist and group therapy leader in the Boston area and co-director of The Next Step Counseling and Training Center. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Sally Jessy Raphael, People Are Talking and many other television and radio programs.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shlomo Greenwald )n Sexual Abuse In The Orthodox Community

The End Of Innocence
Confronting Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community
By Shlomo Greenwald
Click Here: to read the Jewish Press article
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vicki Polin says:
I want to start off by thanking Shlomo Greenwald who is the author of the Jewish Press's newest article --"The End Of Innocence", he's really done an excellent job on this well researched story about sexual abuse in the orthodox world. I also believe that the Jewish Press deserves a round of applause for having the courage to publish the story.

One of the major goals of The Awareness Center is to educate our communities on issues relating to sexual violence. For that reason I've gone through most of Shlomo Greenwald's article -- pointing out various issues that as a people we really need to be aware of and address.

We need to do our best to use correct terminology when we discuss those who offend. We need to be using the terms sex offenders, sexual predators, child molesters and pedophiles. We also have to be aware that we have men who beat their wives and also women who beat their husbands.

Other issues we can't over look is that we have parents who abuse their children, and children who beat abuse their parents. We even have a problem with Juvenile sex offenders, sexually reactive children and sibling incest. We are not unlike any other community when it comes to these sorts of issues and crimes.

Jewish communities (of all movements) have a major problem with mental health professionals who do not have the specialized training or experience in sexual trauma who are now calling themselves experts. The reason I keep pointing this out is because when survivors go to those who don't have the proper qualifications -- the survivors often end up being re-victimized. This makes their healing process that much more difficult.

Trust is already an issue for survivors of sex crimes. When a surviovr receives inappropriate treatment -- the survivor often has a difficult time reentering a counseling situation with someone new.

Another issue is the reality that Jewish newspapers keep quoting professionals who are not qualified to be answering the questions asked when relating to sexual victimization and or those who are sex offenders.

As stated in Shlomo's article -- in the orthodox world there are not many mental health professionals or rabbis with the proper training. Fortunately when it comes to issues of domestic violence the Torah observant world is catching up the secular world. Unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to sex crimes. The reality is that the orthodox world is still in it's infancy. For that reason I am asking that when information is needed, Jewish journalists go to those who are the true experts -- not just someone who is jumping on the bandwagon.

If any journalist is interested in a list of Jewish experts in the field of sexual victimization or those who treat offenders, The Awareness Center would be more then provide them the appropriate resources.

Another serious problem we are faced with is the issue of the treatment of sex offenders.

As we are all aware there was a failed attempt by Ohel to treat sex offenders. I'll be honest, I have also only heard complaints of their treatment program for survivors. For those of you who are not familiar with Ohel, they are an orthodox mental health center in Brooklyn, NY.

A few years ago Ohel jumped on the bandwagon and called themselves experts without the necessary education or training. Because they are a Torah observant agency, individuals automatically instilled trust in them to provide appropriate counseling and treatment. Unfortunately, many survivors ended up feeling re-victimized.

Those of us at The Awareness Center have heard too many rumors over the years of offenders getting off the hook because of the "treatment" Ohel provided them. Unfortunately, this is example of the charedi world trying to do the right thing, yet lacking the necessary experience or training.

I have to admit that it is great that the haredi world is attempting to do the right thing, yet it's so vitally important for rabbis and mental health professionals to be qualified to do the work they are attempting to do first.

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 Greenwald's article is 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.

One of the long term goals of The Awareness Center is to have a healing retreat center in which we can provide the necessary training to Jewish professionals and community leaders. The Awareness Center now offers a certification program to do just that -- what's lacking is the funding to get our program off the ground.

Over the years Rabbi Avraham Twerski has been an outspoken advocate in the areas of chemical addictions and domestic violence (women who have been battered by husbands). Unfortunately the fields of addictions and domestic violence are very different then working with survivors of sex crimes and those who commit them. A very sad reality is that when several survivors of childhood sexual abuse and also adults who have been sexual assaulted approached Rabbi Twerski for help, they reported feeling shunned and turned away. We all have our limitations in the areas we can be experts in. We need to be referring survivors to individuals who will not leave them feeling abandoned by someone they thought could help them.

I personally believe Rabbi Twerski is an extremely honorable man, someone who really understands the issues of domestic violence and addictions, yet when it comes to sex crimes he has his limitations. The same can be said about Rabbi Mark Dratch who is the founder of JSAFE.

One has to believe that the statistics of sex crimes in the orthodox world is the same as it is in any other population until it is proven differently. One out of every 3 - 5 women, and one out of ever 5 -7 men over the age of 18 are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. We need to be teaching our children about "good touch - bad touch" at a very early age. When we are teaching children the names of their body parts, it is vitally important we make sure our children knows the proper names of all of their body parts and not just their "head, shoulders, knees and toes".

Another thing that is helpful is to teach our children that the parts of their bodies that are covered by a bathing suit are very special and that no one has a right to touch them, except when changing diapers, when young children are being bathed or by a doctor for medical reasons, etc.

Over and over again when I mention the work of The Awareness Center many people start talking about domestic violence. They automatically ask if I'm connected to one of the local Jewish shelters. Organizations like the Shalom Task Force are excellent resources for battered women. The problem is that they are really not set up to handle survivors of sexual abuse/assault, parents of survivors, relatives or spouses of sex offenders or helping individuals making hotline reports. As stated in Greenwald's article they refer callers to frum therapist. Yet the article states there are not many orthodox therapists with the proper education, training or experience to be working with those who are facing the reality of sexual victimization.

Another issue is isn't really addressed is that sexual violence is
not a "woman's issue". It's a human issue that claims the innocence of survivors that are both male and female -- and that are adults and children.

Over the last several months since the case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko broke, The Awareness Center has been inundated by male survivors calling for help. I'll be honest with you, at this time we have more orthodox male survivor contacting us then orthodox female survivors. A major obstacle has been trying to find them appropriate help from those with proper qualification.

Shlomo Greenwald's article is very long and touches on many different topics. Due to time restraints I can't address all of them. What I do want to encourage is that if you or someone you know is a victim of a sex crime, the first step you should make is to report the crime to your local police department. If you are afraid to do this alone, contact your local rape crisis center and they will have a legal advocate go with you. A benefit of doing this is that you will become eligible for compensation from the victim witness program in your state. This program will help cover the cost of rape victim counseling for you and your family.

If you need a rabbi to give you permission to go make either a hotline or police report, contact The Awareness Center and we will put you in touch with rabbis we feel have are educated and experience in dealing with sex crimes.

If you need help finding a rape crisis center or need other resources please contact The Awareness Center. We will do our best to help you find appropriate resources in your community. We can be reached at 443-857-5560 or by e-mail at

Once again I want to thank Shlomo Greenwald for doing his homework and writing such an important piece. I also want to thank the Jewish Press for having the courage to publish it.

Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC - Executive Director

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