Monday, April 30, 2007

Rabbi Menachem Goldberger of Baltimore - Speaks On Child Sexual Abuse

From anonymous e-mail

Rabbi Menachem Goldberger one of the signators of the letter, spoke about this in his Shabbos drasha on April 21, 2007.

He made the following points:
  1. We have to face this terrible matter straightforwardly. Speak to our children candidly about how to walk away from strangers, not to talk to them, etc. Even if that means that they lose some of their childish innocence, that's what's required.
  2. We rabbis didn't understand the depth of this problem years ago.
  3. We must engage mental health professionals who have a good understanding of these matters to assist us.
  4. Predators can be, and often are, teachers, camp counselors, family members---adults whom children know and respect.
  5. Knowledge is key. We must know who the registered offenders are and alert our friends and neighbors. This must be done.
  6. We must be concerned about false allegations, too.
  7. We rabbis here in Baltimore intend to adopt a plan moving forward so we can prevent this from happening again.
There was more, but that's the essential stuff (the speech was more than half an hour).
Nothing wrong with most of it, except I disagree with 2 thoughts:
  1. He should have mentioned that rabbis should be added to the list of offenders. It's not just camp counselors. Having rabbis on the list is most egregious.
  2. He should realize by now that these matters are way over his head (he, and they, admitted it in the letter and his speech), and all the other rabbis of the Vaad. So, please, no more plans about how NOW you're going to save Klal Yisroel. You had your chance. You don't get a second bite of the apple. Focus on other things. When child abuse crops up, alert the police , the DA, Child Welfare, and go back and study Torah. We'll all be better off.

National Center for Victims of Crime launched VictimLaw web site

The National Center for Victims of Crime launched VictimLaw , a comprehensive, on-line database of state, federal, and tribal victims' rights laws and protections, developed with funding from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

VictimLaw is a unique and groundbreaking resource, offering free, user-friendly access to information that until now has been difficult to locate. The database includes more than 15,000 victims' rights statutes (state and federal), tribal laws, constitutional amendments, court rules, and administrative code provisions. Future additions to the database will include state attorney general opinions and summaries of court decisions related to victims' rights. VictimLaw will offer regular updates to the information in the database.

Researchers can search under each of the following rights: the right to attend, to compensation, to enforcement, to be heard, to be informed, to protection, to restitution, and to the return of property.
VictimLaw offers four ways to search: by topic, legal term, jurisdiction, and citation. Visit at

The launch of
VictimLaw coincides with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, April 22-28, an annual observance commemorated in communities throughout the country.

For more information about
VictimLaw and opportunities to promote use of the database, please see

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Will Baltimore Shine The Light On Sexual Abuse?

I want everyone to know that even hundreds of miles away from Baltimore people are watching and talking. Many are saying:
Did you hear what's happening in Baltimore? I wonder if the same thing is happening here? Then they go on with their mumblings about this person and that person.
The Baltimore community is ahead of the rest of us. They can go one of two ways -- they can come up with a zero tolerance standard which was suggested by The Awareness Center or they can just go back to the way things have been. My hope is the community of Baltimore will take a leadership role in showing the rest of the world the appropriate way of dealing with sexual abuse and assault.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Rabbi Aron Boruch Tendler Moving To Baltimore?

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I've been hearing rumors that Rabbi Aron Boruch Tendler of Los Angeles is making plans to move to Baltimore to be close to his brother Hillel. Please note that there is already a Rabbi Aron Tendler living in Baltimore. I think this is going to make life very confusing to many. The Rabbi Aron Tendler who currently lives in Baltimore has never had any allegations of sexual misconduct made against him. He is a well respected member of the Baltimore community.

Rabbi Aron Boruch Tendler is the son of Rabbi Moshe Tendler and is the younger brother of alleged sex offender Rabbi Mordecai Tendler

The Rabbi Aron B. Tendler from Los Angeles has been accused of molesting teenage girls at the high school that he was principal. Rabbi Aron B. Tendler is close friends with another alleged sex offender by the name of Rabbi Yaakov Menken, who runs torah. org.

If anyone can confirm that Rabbi Aron B. Tendler is moving to Baltimore please post the information here. Also we want to know where he is going to move so we can warn parents of teenage girls to be aware.
Rabbi Hillel Tendler, Rabbi
Mordecai Tendler, Rabbi Moshe Tendler

Looking For Survivors of Bob Weisman (AKA: Big Bob) of Baltimore, MD

Phil JacobsPhil Jacobs of the Baltimore Times is looking for survivors of an alleged sexual predator by the name of "Big Bob" (AKA: Bob Weisman). Bob had an ice cream truck business in Baltimore, he was also an advisor for Kellam AZA and King AZA (A part of BBYO).

If you or anyone you know was molested by Bob Weisman contact Phil Jacobs immediately. 410-468-2711.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Email from JTA - Weinreb to stay at O.U.

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I wonder if rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is staying on at the OU has anything to do with the number of cases of sexual abuse breaking in Baltimore. Wienreb is from Baltimore. I'm told he still has a home there. Wasn't Rabbi Wienreb a part of the problem?

Weinreb to stay at O.U.
JTA (E-mail)
April 26, 2007

The Orthodox Union reversed course and extended the contract of Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, its executive vice president, for two more years. Weinreb’s contract was to expire this summer and a search committee had been established to find a replacement. The committee has since disbanded.

O.U. President Stephen Savitsky told JTA that the change was prompted solely by the need to undertake a strategic planning effort before hiring new leadership. But sources at the group said a groundswell of support for Weinreb, which began after it became clear that his departure wasn’t entirely voluntary, led to the extension until summer 2009.

Weinreb was brought on in 2002 to help the Orthodox Union, the largest Orthodox umbrella group in the United States, recover from allegations of sexual misconduct by a youth group leader. Weinreb, a rabbi and psychotherapist, is widely admired within the organization, but some feel he lacks the business acumen to lead the Orthodox Union, which runs the largest kosher certification business in the world.

Opposition to Weinreb’s departure is said to have formed after a January article in the Forward revealed that he did not want to step down. His contract extension was announced earlier this month.

Forward Article on Case of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

Show your support to survivors of sexual abuse in Baltimore - Buy at least one copy of the Baltimore Jewish Times! Also don't forget to make a donation to The Awareness Center, Inc.

Baltimore Roiled by Abuse Charge Against Late Rabbi

By Nathan Guttman
April 27, 2007

Baltimore - A series of exposés on sexual abuse at a well-known yeshiva is roiling the Baltimore Jewish community and inflaming the already strained relations between the local Jewish newspaper and the city’s sizable Orthodox population.

The controversy revolves around allegations in the Baltimore Jewish Times that the late principal of the Talmudical Academy, Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, may have molested Jewish students at the school and other youngsters who came to him for bar mitzvah classes.

In the wake of the allegations, local Orthodox rabbis have delivered sermons on the need to speak out against abuse and do a better job of responding to allegations that do arise. At the same time, the articles have upset members of the city’s Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox population who feel that the paper crossed the line by identifying Shapiro — almost two decades after his death.

Case in point is Moshe Heinemann, perhaps the city’s most prominent Orthodox rabbi and head of the Star-K kosher certification service. He signed on to a letter calling for more action in tackling abuse. Soon after, he also posted a separate letter in his synagogue calling on congregants to boycott the Baltimore Jewish Times.

“Based on last week’s vicious article in the Baltimore Jewish Times,” Heinemann wrote, “it is my opinion that it is totally inappropriate for this publication to be found in any Jewish home.”

Baltimore’s 100,000-person Jewish community is about 20% Orthodox — twice the national average. In contrast to other cities, the Orthodox in Baltimore — even those furthest to the right religiously — often engage the wider Jewish community and work closely with the local Jewish federation and its subsidiary agencies. The city has two Jewish Community Centers: one in the Orthodox neighborhood is closed on Saturday, the other remains open.

But the paper, with a circulation of 15,000, has become an increasing point of tension for many in the Orthodox community. Even before the sex-abuse controversy, Orthodox rabbis complained about the Jewish Times publishing marriage announcements of interfaith couples, advertising non-kosher restaurants and running ads with pictures of women whose outfits fail to meet Orthodox requirements for modest dress.

Now, in some Orthodox circles, with the publication of the recent articles on sex abuse, the sense of frustration is boiling over into anger.

“We were outraged by the way they dealt with the molestation case,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, a prominent rabbi living in Baltimore who heads up the Washington office of the ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America.

“The person who is accused is dead,” Cohen added. “We need to ask what good does publishing his name do and what harm does it cause his family.”

The author of the articles, Baltimore Jewish Times executive editor Phil Jacobs, also published a subsequent column defending the decision to publish. Jacobs argued that just as Shapiro cannot defend himself now, his victims could not defend themselves when the acts were carried out. In addition, Jacobs argued that making the story public was a needed step in helping the victims achieve closure. “For the survivors, Rabbi Shapiro is still very much alive,” Jacobs told the Forward.

One article quoted Murray Levin, 64, who took bar mitzvah lessons as a child with Shapiro. “Rabbi Shapiro was grooming me with French kissing and masturbation,” Levin alleged. Another survivor of the rabbi’s alleged sexual molestation, Bob Glickstein, told the Baltimore Jewish Times that even though decades have passed, he could still feel Rabbi Shapiro’s mustache touching his face.

It was more than a year ago that Jacobs first learned of a regular group of 20 alleged victims of sexual abuse who held a regular Kiddush on Shabbat afternoons. When he met with the group, the stories burst out, including ones about the Talmudical Academy, a widely respected institution within ultra-Orthodox educational circles, but best known to the outside world as the home of high-school basketball phenom Tamir Goodman.

“It was gut-wrenching,” Jacobs said, “there was a feeling that if we could have, we would kick open the window and gasp for air.”

More research, including conversations with victims, rabbis and mental health professionals, led to a February 23 cover story, which told the story of “Steve,” a survivor of sexual abuse in the synagogue.

The paper did not reveal the identity of the victim nor of the alleged abuser. According to Jacobs, the paper suspected that Shapiro was the rabbi in question but could not confirm it.

After the first article came out, a friend walked up to Jacobs and identified Shapiro as the rabbi in question.

Jacobs met with Shapiro’s sons and with several Orthodox rabbis. No understanding was reached — and Jacobs decided to name Shapiro in print.

In its April 13 edition, the paper published three testimonies of victims who alleged that they had been abused by Shapiro. The allegations ran under the headline “Rabbi, Teacher, Molester,” along with a large photo of the late Shapiro, who served as a rabbi at several local synagogues, in addition to his stint as principal and dorm counselor at Talmudical Academy.

The second story, which named Shapiro, ran inside the paper, with no mention on the cover. Still, it instantly became the talk of the city’s Jewish community. The paper was flooded with letters. “About 70% were supportive and 30% were against us publishing the story,” said Neil Rubin, the paper’s editor. No one, he added, has canceled a subscription over the matter.

In a tightly knit community such as Baltimore, feedback comes from all sides, even during off hours. When Rubin and Jacobs sat at the local Goldberg’s bagel shop, a person came up to them and said “me too.” In another instance, Jacobs was walking home from synagogue and people on a porch applauded him for the article.

Yet not all reactions were as supportive. When shopping at the local grocery store, a woman came up to Jacobs and attacked him verbally. He also received an e-mail suggesting that he and his family leave town.

Many rabbis in the Orthodox community have refrained from speaking to the press about the issue. But Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, of congregation Shomrei Emunah, delivered a sermon on the topic that appeared to shed some light on the thinking of the community’s leaders. Gottlieb, as well as rabbis at three other Orthodox synagogues, devoted his sermon to the need to speak out against sexual abuse.

The sermons were followed by a letter on the issue from the Va’ad Ha’Rabonim, the community’s main Orthodox rabbinical council. In the detailed appeal, titled “Abuse in Our Community,” the Orthodox rabbis acknowledged that mistakes were made in the past and called on followers to be aware of the issue of abuse. The letter called for educating children on the issue and advocated referring cases to “the authorities who have the expertise, experience and wisdom.” The rabbis also stated that they are in the process of developing a new approach to protect the community from sexual abusers. “We pray that Hashem spares us such tragedies in the future and that he grants us the wisdom and the courage to responsibly address the threats we face,” the letter concluded.

Sources in the Orthodox community said the appeal was ground breaking and reflected a sincere desire to uproot such conduct. Though the rabbis’ letter does not refer directly to the newspaper articles about Shapiro, sources said that the exposés were the trigger for taking on the issue.

Among those signing the letter was Heinemann, director of the Star-K kosher certifier. He did not respond to calls from the Forward. Several Jewish activists in Baltimore said that he has taken down the sign calling for a boycott of the paper.

As the Orthodox community in Baltimore struggles to adopt new procedures to address sexual abuse, other Jewish groups are also taking action. Shofar, a coalition of mental health and treatment providers in the Jewish community, convened Tuesday to discuss the new revelations about sexual abuse in the community.

Rubin and Jacobs estimate that more than 100 cases of abuse occurred, with more allegations pouring in about Shapiro and others in the community. As long as abuse allegations continue to flow, Jacobs said, the newspaper would keep running articles on a monthly basis.

The intensive coverage though has not sat well with everyone.

“What are they going to do next? Have a molester of the week feature?” Agudath Israel’s Cohen asked.

Jacobs and his colleagues, however, say that they have no plans of giving up. “If it keeps a perpetrator away, then we go on with it for as long as we can,” said Jacobs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Baltimore: A Time of Mourning and Healing - Case of Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

Baltimore: A Time of Mourning and Healing

by Vicki Polin, Executive Director

The Awareness Center, Inc. - April 25, 2007

Throughout the month of April, 2007 there has been a heightened awareness of child sexual abuse in the Baltimore Jewish Community.

On April 11th the Vaad Harabbonim's (Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore) published a letter that was sent to homes of many community members. Next came the Baltimore Jewish Times article exposing Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro's alleged past of being a serial child molester. Almost immediately after the publishing of the article, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann reacted by posting a sign in his synagogue banning the newspaper. The Awareness Center believes that The Baltimore Jewish Times is the only Jewish newspaper in Baltimore that has the courage to allow survivors of sex crimes an avenue to have their voices heard. The paper is helping to prevent any more children from being harmed.

With everything that has been happening in Baltimore, we cannot overlook the effect this is having on individuals who live in the community. The entire Jewish community of Baltimore has been put through a whirlwind of emotions.

I know for myself when a friend handed me a copy of the letter from the Vaad, my mood was immediately elated. I thought to myself, finally, the rabbonim of Baltimore are "getting it." I personally felt validated for the work I've been doing along with everyone connected with The Awareness Center for the last six years.

I went to bed that night with a smile on my face, but when I woke up the next morning with my joy turned to sorrow. I couldn't stop thinking of the survivors I know who have been sexually victimized. The number of years of pain and suffering they have been enduring by the lack of education and awareness in our community or any other community in the world.

I am not unlike other survivors, I felt like someone had died. I started wondering if the letter was just some sort of public relations stunt to show the world that our rabbis cared. I knew the article regarding Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro was coming out that week in the Baltimore Jewish Times. I also knew the rabbis knew it was going to be published. I hate being cynical, yet after working in the field for as long as I have -- it made sense not to trust the letter.

My reaction was to call all of the rabbis who signed the letter from the Vaad Harabbonim. I wanted to personally thank them for having the courage to sign and publish the letter. I wanted to meet with each one personally. I started leaving messages.

The first rabbi I made an appointment with was Rabbi Moshe Heinemann. The night before the meeting is when I learned of his letter, banning the Baltimore Jewish Times. When we met, I made it a point to discuss his letter along with many other issues. After the meeting I realized how much more education was needed in the community. This was just the beginning. At least the community finally admitted that there was a problem. That was a giant step in the right direction.

The most important issue we all seem to be neglecting is healing the community from the heightened awareness that there are individuals in our community that molest our children.

With the exposure of sexual abuse in the Baltimore community -- goes a loss of the innocence and a reality many of us wanted to hold on to. This is a major loss for everyone. The entire Jewish community of Baltimore is going through a period of mourning. The entire community has been traumatized. Many community members are in a state of shock.

Individuals, parents and families are now faced with the fact that there have been several community leaders they trusted who molested children. Many community members are also shocked to learn that many of their friends are survivors of criminal sex offenses.

The community is forced to be aware that many community leaders they loved and trusted helped to cover up these serious crimes. The community is also being forced to deal with the fact that some of the criminals may end up in prison, and could also end up on the national sex offender registry. All of this is a great deal to process in less then a month.

I've received phone calls and also various individuals have been stopping me on the street wanting to talk. I've been trying to explain that the reactions of the community is very similar to those who were hit by hurricane Katrina. Everyone is in a state of shock. It's almost as if a bomb went off and everyone is afraid that there may be another one. Many are experiencing what I like to call the "deer in headlights syndrome".

Several individuals in the Baltimore Jewish community have told me they are having difficulties sleeping at night or waking up from nightmares. Some are saying they are having difficulties concentrating, having difficulties making decisions, not being able to eat, etc.

When an individual and even an entire communities is traumatized it is vitally important for there to be an open dialog going on. It's important for each person to talk about what they are experiencing and to express their thoughts and feelings with those they trust. Everyone may have to do this many times over and over again -- for the next several months. The community is basically experiencing vicarious victimization (secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

I am suggesting that community members in Baltimore have gatherings in their homes with friends and talk about what they are experiencing. The Awareness Center is more then willing to help in anyway we can. Please feel free to call us: 443-857-5560.

Remember talking about it is HEALING!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"It takes a village to raise a sexual predator" -- Vicki Polin

Vicki Polin has said it a million times: "It takes a village to raise a sexual predator"

I think the rabbonim of New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles need to be aware that the problem we have with sexual predators is on them. The warnings signs were there, yet they choose to lead our communities to ignore them. It's been much easier for them to blame survivors of sex crimes.

It's vitally important that all survivors and parents of survivors to make police reports on those who offend. It's not up to our rabbis to conduct investigations. It is also important that survivors of sex crimes file civil suits against those who offend and also those who enable them to continue to rape our men, women and children.

It is time for all Jewish survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault, clergy sexual abuse, sexual manipulation to unite. There is power in numbers. Don't allow those who ignored our cries to divide and conquer us anymore. Start self-help groups in your community and start networking with others. We do not need to be alone anymore. Use the law of the land and not the politics of our religious leaders.

Case of Dr. Akiva Abraham (Clifton Park, NY)

Court won't return doctor's license

Associated Press
April 20, 2007

A mid-level appeals court has rejected the appeal of a Saratoga County obstetrician whose license to practice medicine was revoked in 2005.

Akiva Abraham of Clifton Park had his license yanked after it was determined he'd had sex with a patient in his office and in a hospital waiting room.

Abraham was also accused of falsifying medical records for several patients and failing to maintain accurate records.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court released their decision not return Abraham's credentials Thursday.

The decision says Abraham initiated sexual contact with a young woman suffering from anxiety and depression on the same day he was performing an abortion for her. The sexual relationship lasted for five months, and Abraham once forced the woman to have intercourse.

He also lied to a Department of Health investigator about the relationship and engaged in numerous acts of fraud.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Rabbi Harlig, Convicted Sex Offender - Michael Segelstein and US Rep. Shelley Berkley (Nevada)

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Rabbi Shea Harlig /Cantor Michael Segelstein /Rep. Shelley Berkley

Rabbi Shea Harlig has been doing everything in his power to support his friend - convicted sex offender, Cantor Michael Segelstein and discredit a rape surviovr. Segelstein is listed on the National Sex Offender registry in the state of Florida.
Dear Rep. Berkley,

I was shocked and disappointed to see the video of Rabbi Harlig praying on the House Floor of Representatives. You know what he has been involved in during the last 5 years and still he is honored.

A civil lawsuit proceeded with a criminal conviction and all the victim has gotten is revictimization over and over again the past 5 years and Harlig has been at the helm driving this horrific experience even deeper into the depths of hell. Someone allowed a perpetrator to pray on the House Floor. Victims have been asking to speak on the House Floor for years.

When is it our turn?

When will we ever get justice within the court systems in the United States? Justice comes few and far between - like in Segelstein's conviction but justice must come every time for victims of sexual assault.

Giving Harlig the opportunity to pray on the House Floor was an insult to victims. Whoever orchestrated that fiasco should be ashamed of themselves. I would like to know who invited Harlig to pray and would also like to know a date when I could come and pray on the House Floor for victims of sexual assault by clergy. I look forward to your response.


Peggy Warren
Wichita, KS

A Letter to Rabbi Heinemann From A Survivor Of Incest

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The following letter was sent to me by a survivor of incest who wishes her identity be kept confidential:

Dear Rabbi Heinemann,

I do not feel comfortable calling you on the phone or mailing my letter directly to you. I am hoping someone reading this will print out my letter and hand it directly to you.

I read the note you put up in your synagogue and have been reading on the various blogs that you do not feel that Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro's name should have been mentioned in the Baltimore Jewish Times article, because Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro is no longer alive and can't defend himself and also because we should be protecting the family members of sex offenders.

I want to let you know that I am a family member of a sex offender. I am also an incest survivor. I tried many times growing up to get help and no one would listen. When I approached various rabbis asking for help, they seemed more concerned about protecting my father's good name then they were in stopping the insanity that was going on in my home. I was told over and over again that my father was a good person. That I should just try to get along with my family better.

No one cared that I was suicidal. No one cared that I often slept in a park as a way to prevent my father from raping me at night.

Rabbi Heinemann, I went to you twice trying to ask you for help and you told me you didn't believe me. The first time I was twelve. The second time I was over eighteen. Why is it that you care more about my father then you did about me?

Please remember every incest survivor is a family member of a sex offender. We also deserve to have a voice!

Sara Rivka Rachel Leah

Thank you Victoria Balfour - Case against psychiatrist (William Ayres) took years to assemble

Note from The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter:
Many thanks goes to Vicki Balfour, Journalist and Victim Advocate, who put this case together and did what she could to help the survivors find justice. Please be sure to thank her! Many of the survivors of Dr. William Aryes are Jewish.
Case against psychiatrist took years to assemble
Writer and advocate for alleged victims pushed molest probe
John Coté, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle
Monday, April 23, 2007

There were warnings for almost two decades that Dr. William Ayres, the retired child psychiatrist from San Mateo accused of molesting five former patients, might have been abusing boys sent to him for counseling.

But some of the alleged victims couldn't be found or wouldn't cooperate, and Ayres continued to receive scores of referrals from San Mateo County's juvenile justice system for years, according to police reports, court records, other documents and interviews.

When a criminal case against him was finally filed earlier this month, it was partly the result of years of digging and prodding by a 52-year-old freelance writer from New York City who had never met Ayres, but became the most dogged advocate for many of his alleged victims.

Ayres, now 75, was treating boys sent to him by juvenile court judges as late as 2003, 16 years after the first complaint about him was filed with county officials. From 1987 to 2002, government agencies received at least four complaints involving allegations that Ayres was molesting male patients, according to records and police officials. Authorities alerted juvenile court judges after the fourth complaint was filed, police said.

"He continued to be a primary care provider for years," said Jeff Lugerner, who was a licensed clinical social worker when he brought a complaint to authorities in 1987 after one of Ayres' former patients told him the psychiatrist had fondled him at age 15. "That's what I'm really floored by."

Authorities said there were plenty of impediments to building a case. Not the least was the difficulty of verifying accusations brought by once-vulnerable or troubled youths against a former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry praised by county officials in 2002 for his "tireless effort to improve the lives of children."

"We took quite extraordinary measures in this case because there was so much out there, but nothing we could substantiate for a long time," said San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer, whose agency has investigated Ayres several times since 1987.

"By the time it became apparent to us it was real -- there's smoke here, and now it's fire -- once we determined that, we took very aggressive steps," said Manheimer, who became chief in 2000.
Ayres was charged this month with masturbating five boys in his private, soundproof office from 1988 to 1996 under the guise of giving them medical exams. The psychiatrist, who is married and has adult children, has declined to comment about his case other than to say, "These are all very complex situations."

He acknowledged under oath in 2004 as part of a lawsuit filed against him that he sometimes conducted physical exams of patients, but he denied ever masturbating them, according to a transcript of his deposition. He has not entered a plea on the current charges.

At least thirty-seven men have accused Ayres of molesting them as boys dating to at least 1969, but most of the cases fell outside the statute of limitations and couldn't be charged, prosecutors said.

The first known complaint against Ayres was filed with the county social services agency in 1987, six months before the psychiatrist allegedly fondled the first of the boys he is now charged with molesting, records show. San Mateo police determined the report was unfounded, and the case was never formally referred to prosecutors.

The original police file, including a copy of a $1,000 check that Ayres allegedly sent to the boy's mother in 1985 because of an "accounting error" after the youth refused to go to more sessions, is missing, according to a 2005 police report.

The case probably wouldn't have been prosecuted without a corroborating witness or other evidence, said Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan, who is handling the current charges against Ayres.

"You have a prominent psychiatrist saying, 'I didn't do it,' and a troubled youth who's seeing a psychiatrist," McKowan said. "You have to be able to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. ... It doesn't mean I don't believe that boy today."

Two other complaints were received in 1994, including one from a former patient who told the state Medical Board that Ayres had molested him in 1966, San Mateo police Capt. Mike Callagy said. Board investigators could not find that man, however. The other accuser -- a Folsom State Prison inmate who told a nurse that Ayres had molested him as a boy during court-ordered sessions -- refused to cooperate with police, according to records and police officials.

Ayres, in his civil deposition in 2004, said the county's juvenile justice system, its court-appointed attorney program, pediatricians and social workers all referred patients to him for decades. He estimated that he had seen about 2,000 patients in 40 years of practice in the county.

Police and later the district attorney's office were under no legal obligation to report the allegations to people who were sending boys to Ayres for counseling, said San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox.

"Obviously, you want to minimize the harm; you don't want people to be put in a position that we believe is dangerous," Fox said. "If we had known about it and there were still referrals, we would probably have taken action, but obviously hindsight is 20/20."

In September 2002, a complaint to San Mateo police from a man who said Ayres had molested him starting in 1976 resulted in a criminal investigation. County referrals to the psychiatrist continued, however, and payments from juvenile courts were not cut off until December 2003, after police alerted court officials and social services.

Juvenile Court Supervising Judge Marta Diaz, who records show referred a patient to Ayres as recently as January 2003, declined to comment about the psychiatrist or the juvenile court referral system, citing judicial guidelines against discussing pending cases.

Police considered the case reported by the man in 2002 a solid one, but their investigation ended abruptly when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state law in June 2003 that had retroactively extended the statute of limitations for filing child-molestation charges. The alleged victim then sued Ayres in December 2003; the psychiatrist agreed to a confidential settlement about a year and a half later.

Criminal charges against Ayres might never have been brought if not for a chance contact that the 2002 accuser made with a New York freelance writer and victims rights advocate, Victoria Balfour.
A mutual friend had suggested that the man call Balfour about tips for finding writing work. Among Balfour's credits was a 1999 piece in Vogue magazine about eating disorders, in which she wrote of having been molested as a child. During their conversation, the former patient mentioned that Ayres had abused him.

Over the next four months, Balfour urged him repeatedly to call police, she said in an interview. The man finally did so, but after the Supreme Court ruling that killed his criminal case, investigators' interest in Ayres flagged, Balfour said.

On her own, she pursued leads from the civil case, placed postings online and took other steps, compiling a list of 15 possible victims by 2005. She pushed authorities to prosecute the psychiatrist.
"It was like treading water," Balfour said. "I felt like the police didn't know how many victims there were."

One alleged victim sent an e-mail to Balfour in the fall of 2005, in which he wrote, "I'm not strong enough to pursue anything. It makes me very depressed. The (San Mateo) police, courts, city officials will never tell the truth. It will make them look bad. No way will they do that for me."

Two weeks later, the man was killed in a motorcycle crash. Balfour called it the catalyst for her. She sent Callagy, the San Mateo police captain, an e-mail saying, "I think the time has come to figure out a way to find new victims."

Callagy responded later that day, saying he was prepared to take a "real long shot" to obtain a search warrant for Ayres' patient records and seek victims whose accusations would fall within the statute of limitations, e-mails show.

"I am willing to do everything I can to make sure justice prevails," Callagy wrote.

Callagy asked Balfour for the names, phone numbers and dates of alleged molestation victims she had compiled to "show a sustained pattern of cases," e-mails show.

"I know the amount of work that you put (into) this has been unbelievable," Callagy wrote to Balfour a few days later. "I am personally going to write the search warrant."

Police served the warrant on Ayres' home and a storage locker in March 2006, seizing records for more than 800 former patients, authorities said.

After trying to track down those former patients, police came up with three alleged victims, a process Callagy called "a little like looking for a needle in a haystack." After charges were filed, more than a dozen additional accusers came forward, and prosecutors have added two of them to the criminal complaint against Ayres.

Callagy said police worked the case "pretty steadily" for years, but he acknowledged that Balfour's efforts really helped.

"What is most important is that these victims came forward," Callagy said. "I don't know if the victims would have come forward without her encouragement."

Abuse investigator quits over lap-dance request

Abuse investigator quits over lap-dance request
By Kathleen Chapman

Palm Beach
Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Palm Beach County child abuse investigator lost his job this week after a mother he was supposed to be helping said he asked her for a private lap dance.

Former Department of Children and Families investigator William Williams was assigned to the family's case Dec. 30 after a report to the state that the children were being neglected.

As part of his investigation, he asked the mother what she did for a living. She told him that she worked as an exotic dancer.

According to the mother, Williams then asked whether she gave private lap dances and whether she would come to his home to dance for him.

When she turned him down, she said, he suggested that maybe he could just pay her to cook and clean his house.

The children's grandmother, who agreed to take in the youngsters and their mother, called DCF on Jan. 11 to ask whether the agency could help with rent and groceries. She also reported Williams' behavior with her daughter.

When questioned about the allegations by the DCF inspector general, Williams submitted a sworn statement admitting that he asked the mother if "she did anything else beside dance, if she work in VIP Room, also if she did anything else in the VIP Room, if she gave private lap dances. ...

"This was an error in judgment on my part," Williams wrote, "and can understand how my questioning could be misconstrued."

He said he asked the questions out of personal curiosity, according to the inspector general's report, and that they did not pertain to his investigation.

The mother said Williams made her "very uncomfortable," the report stated.
Williams, 48, was removed from his cases when supervisors heard about the allegations, DCF spokeswoman Laura Tingo said Friday.

He resigned from his job in DCF's Riviera Beach office Monday after his supervisor told him he would be fired, Tingo said.

Williams was hired by the agency in 2005 to take benefit applications. He had worked as an investigator since June 2006.

The lap dance incident is the latest in a string of embarrassing events at DCF and Palm Beach County's private foster care agencies:

• In September, a Wellington couple, reported to DCF for fighting in front of their children, inadvertently recorded a DCF investigator's rant on their voice mail in which she called the mother a "f——— Jew."

• In April 2006, Palm Beach County DCF worker Alison Cushman lost her job after identifying herself as a Florida child abuse investigator while taking off her clothes on Howard Stern's radio and television show. She already had appeared naked on the show and had been warned by supervisors not to do it again.

• The same month,
The Palm Beach Post published an investigation into Children's Home Society caseworker Linette Pierce. A father on her caseload said in a court hearing that he bought a car from Pierce to help her pay a debt and let her live in his house with her two children and a floppy-eared rabbit. Pierce denied the allegations, but records showed she was evicted from her apartment, failed to report a new address to her employer as required and did sell her car to the man.

This month the inspector general published two substantiated reports of workers for the Children's Home Society foster care agency falsifying their visits to children, bringing to seven the total number of Palm Beach County caseworkers or investigators who lied in their case files since the beginning of 2006.

In one of the two most recent cases, former Children's Home Society caseworker Alcede Pompilus, 31, failed to see three children in state care but recorded the visits, according to the inspector general.

One of the children, a teen on whom he was supposed to check at the agency's Nelle Smith Residence, said she was at a nail appointment and the fair on the day he recorded meeting with her.

A case manager at the home said she had trouble getting in touch with Pompilus, and the girl was left there without a Social Security card or a birth certificate. She told the inspector general that she believed the teen was affected by her caseworker's lack of attention, "which was represented by short visits, no interest in the child, and no case management direction."

The Children's Home Society has a zero-tolerance policy for case falsification and terminated Pompilus, said Judith Warren, who heads the agency in Palm Beach County.

Pompilus could not be reached for comment Friday.

In the second substantiated case published this month, former Children's Home Society caseworker Kathleen Cronin, 40, visited a child at local foster care offices instead of a foster parent's home as required.

The inspector general's report said Cronin declined to be interviewed.

She could not be reached for comment Friday.

Cronin resigned in March, a month after the allegation was brought to her supervisor's attention but before the results of the investigation.

Palm Beach County's seven substantiated cases of caseworkers or investigators falsifying cases - a disproportionate share of the 33 statewide - are tied for the most of any DCF district.

Five of the six most recent falsification cases were referred to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office for review, according to the inspector general.

The state attorney's office decided not to file charges in one case in which a worker admitted to recording a visit to all siblings when he actually saw only two and took a relative's word that the third was down the street playing basketball.

Two other cases are still under review, and the office has not yet received the files on the two most recent cases. Information was not readily available on the seventh case.

Every report of wrongdoing is cause for concern, said Al Zimmerman, DCF spokesman in Tallahassee. But the recent streak in Palm Beach County might be attributed in part to heightened vigilance and more thorough reporting, he said.

Since May 2005, DCF policy has required every employee, regardless of position, to report all suspected fraud and wrongdoing to the inspector general. The state has seen a rise in the number of reported incidents as a result, Zimmerman said.

The inspector general commended the Children's Home Society for its swift handling of the Pompilus case.

Warren said her agency launched internal investigations of both cases as soon as the allegations surfaced. Her agency's eight-week training program includes a strong ethics lesson, and workers are warned they will be fired for any falsification of a record. Both Cronin and Pompilus were hired in 2006.

Workload is high at the agency, Warren said. Seven of the 43 positions are open, but four new workers are scheduled to help make up the gap next week.

The agency supports its caseworkers and has supervisors available to help if staffers are struggling with the high caseloads caused by a large number of children coming into foster care.

"We are committed to protecting children and will make no excuses for any lapse in ensuring their safety and well-being," Warren said.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures - by Michael Salamon, PhD

Note from The Awareness Center's daily newsletter:
The Awareness Center is proud to announce a new book is coming out in June, 2007 which addresses dating in the orthodox world.
The book is a must read book for anyone who is dating, has children, grandchildren who are dating or planning on dating.

The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures – An Overview and Guide For Daters and Their Parents
by Michael Salamon, Phd.
The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures – An Overview and Guide For Daters and Their Parents, takes a hard, honest look at the real difficulties faced by the dating public in today’s Orthodox world. With the rates of divorce and eating disorders rising, complaints regarding the very real shortage of men and the move away from socializing activities to the exclusive use of third party shaddchanim, a true crisis exists - and may even be worsening. In this book the author explores these issues, particularly those related to how matches are made. He finds that most are made based on availability, not compatibility and on superficial criterion, which have no relevance to what truly makes a marriage successful. Citing relevant data from the fields of psychology, sociology and neurology along with a host of anecdotes from a wide range of people Dr. Salamon, a well-known psychologist, author and lecturer provides guidelines to help alleviate this crisis. This is not a “how to” for negotiating the shidduch process. Instead Dr. Salamon looks at the lists of criterion, the questions asked by people, the expectations for a mate that have developed over the last several years within the shidduch process and shows how they are counter intuitive for forming healthy marriages. He also shows how much of what passes for background checking in fact may be lashon hora. But most importantly, Dr. Salamon provides real suggestions for going beyond the physical, superficial standards that have developed. He advocates an approach where a measure of personal maturity is returned to those who are dating and makes the case for alleviating the external pressures on the dating couple. The book is written in an engaging style and while some aspects may seem controversial no one can reject its relevance and depth.

Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FPPR, FICPP
Dr. Michael
Salamon received his doctorate in psychology from Hofstra University. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America's Behavioral and Social Sciences Section and a board certified Diplomate-Fellow Prescribing Psychologist Register.

Salamon is the founder and director of the Adult Developmental Center, Inc. (ADC), a comprehensive psychological consulting practice in Hewlett, NY. He empowers individuals and families to cope with the various psychological challenges that arise throughout the life span. Among his areas of specialization are substance abuse and alcoholism counseling, crisis management, child, family, and marital counseling, therapeutic interventions, and gerontology.

Salamon has worked as the Director of Psychology at St. John's Episcopal Hospital and Nursing Home, the Chief Psychologist at the Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale, and the Chief Psychologist at the Gustave Hartman YM-YMHA. He is presently on staff at North Shore University Hospital. He has taught psychology at C.W. Post College of Long Island University, Touro College, and the New York Institute of Technology.

Salamon is the author of hundreds of articles, many assessment tools including the Life Satisfaction Scale and the Addiction Dependency Scale, and several books, including, Home or Nursing Home: Making the Right Choice. He has presented more than 50 papers at national and international conferences. He is listed in Television and Film Consultants, the American Psychological Association's media directory, and has appeared on numerous TV and radio.

Baltimore Jewish Times - Letters to the Editors

Please remember to buy at least one copy (if not two) of the Baltimore Jewish Times to show support to a paper that has the courage to write about childhood sexual abuse in the Jewish Community.

The community responds to the article regarding Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

How Terrible
by Janet Cohn Silverman - Baltimore, MD

Alleged Molester
by Marvin Diamond - Baltimore, MD

The Real Issue
by Paul Volosov - Salisbury, MD

The Unspoken
by Richard B. Crystal - Baltimore, MD

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reasoning Behind Rabbi Moshe Heinemann's Letter

The following information is posted on The Awareness Center's web page regarding Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro:

Letter from Rabbi Moshe Heinemann
April 18, 2007

The Following letter was posted in Agudath Israel of Baltimore by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann as a reaction to the Baltimore Jewish Times publishing a story regarding Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro. During a meeting with Rabbi Heinemann he disclosed that his issue with the Jewish Times was with the fact that Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro had passed away and that he could not be offered the opportunity to defend himself. He also added that over the years the Baltimore Jewish Times has been repeatedly "Orthodox bashing". He went to on to say that this was not fair to the family members of Shapiro who did nothing wrong, and it would hurt family members chances of getting a good shiddach (marriage partner). Please note that Phil Jacobs, author of the series on sexual abuse in the Jewish community and is the senior editor of Baltimore Jewish Times is an orthodox Jew.

4/18/2007 (11:30 pm) -- I was told by a reliable source that the sign posted was taken down this afternoon. I was also told that the ban against the Baltimore Jewish Times is still implemented.

I'm suggesting that everyone buy two copies of the Baltimore Jewish Times this week. It's one very loud and clear message to Rabbi Heinemann that this type of behavior is not going to work to silence survivors from speaking out. It's time to double the sales of the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Background History on The Baltimore Times Article on Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

From: Baltimore Jewish Times-anonymous insider

Truth be told:

Up until the last minute, the Baltimore rabbis were hoping we would cancel the story, and they would therefore find no need to send out their letter.

We were urged not to go to press, but Neil decided to push forward. The final straw was UOJ's publishing of the abridged version of the article. They knew they were in trouble and mailed out the letter right after yom-tov.

UOJ is indeed correct, the rabbis were coerced in to the mailing, they would never have mailed it out if not for the story being published.

Rabbi Heinemann's conduct exemplifies the worst of the rabbinate by posting the shameful note in his shul. He should be severely chastised for his double-speak.

We will continue to publish and publicize these crimes and will not be intimidated.

Rabbi Moshe Heinemann Bans The Baltimore Jewish Times

rabbi Moshe Heinemann /rabbi Ephraim Shapiro /rabbi Yisroel Shapiro

4/18/2007 (11:30 pm) -- I was told by a reliable source that the sign posted was taken down this afternoon. I was also told that the ban against the Baltimore Jewish Times is still implemented.

I'm suggesting that everyone buy two copies of the Baltimore Jewish Times this week. It's one very loud and clear message to Rabbi Heinemann that this type of behavior is not going to work to silence survivors from speaking out. It's time to double the sales of the Baltimore Jewish Times.
The following handwritten letter was posted in the Agudah Israel of Baltimore

"Based on last week's vicious article (regarding rabbi Ephraim Shapiro) in the Baltimore Jewish Times and other articles of the past, it is my opinion that it is totally inappropriate for this publication to be found in any Jewish home." -- Rabbi Moshe Heinemann

I guess rabbi Moshe Heinemann better warn his congregants to also ban the Baltimore Examiner, because they also published a story on the alleged serial child molester. According to both articles Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro is believed to have raped hundreds of children during his rein of alleged terror. Why should rabbi Heinemann care if one of his buddies allegedly committed more crimes against humanity then most?

The issue rav Heinemann has against the Baltimore Jewish Times is that "Hamon" (oops I mean rabbi Shapiro) died back in 1989. He doesn't feel one should publish a story against a dead man. What more harm can he do? It's obvious that rabbi Heinemann just doesn't get it. He's refuses to be educated on the long term ramifications that child molestation plays on it's victims.

If anyone has the opportunity to go into Agudath Israel and take a picture of the sign, please send it to me?

I guess rabbi Heinemann does not believe in the constitution of the United States that provides first amendment right in which there is freedom of the press. I also guess he doesn't believe his congregants should be educated consumers. Why should they be allowed to know what is really happening in their community?

I'm wondering if Moshe Heinemann also against the idea of allowing his congregation having the right to think for themselves?

One has to start to wonder what Moshe Heinemann is also trying to hide from his followers?

Is rabbi Heinemann really afraid for his congregants to learn the truth? Could this be why he frowns upon his shul's membership using the internet and also going on blogs (like they do in Lakewood, NJ)?

Last week the letter from the Vaad Harabbonim came out in which Rabbi Moshe Heinemann signed. Why would Heinemann sign the letter if he wasn't going to comply with it?

I wonder what HaRav Heinemann is going to do when it comes out that rabbi Shapiro's son, Rabbi Yisroel Shapiro is also an alleged child molester? I wonder what part he had in covering up this case too?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Violence Against Orthodox Jews in Baltimore - Meeting Tonight

From: The Awareness Center's daily newsletter

Meeting with Mayor Dixon about violence in our community.

When: Tuesday, April 17, from 7:00-8:30
Where: The JCC on Park Heights

There have been three attacks within 24 hours over Pesach.

1. First night of Pesach -- Dorset Place -- Orthodox man attacked in front of son with a large stick on his own block.

2. First Day of Pesach --- broad daylight -- Labyrinth Road. Orthodox man attacked in front of his pregnant wife. Rendered unconscious at the scene and lost teeth from the severe beating to his head. He had to be rushed to the hospital via ambulance.

3. First Day of Pesach -- not long after the Labyrinth Road attack - Labyrinth and Gist Avenue -- Another Orthodox man was attacked in front of his wife and 8 and 6 year old daughters. His injuries resulted in 4 hours of surgery to have THREE plates put in his face to fix fractures to his eye and sinus area. His wife and young daughters are traumatized.

Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb - Many Midrashim claim that the sea split in the merit of Yosef

Many Midrashim claim that the sea split in the merit of Yosef
by Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb
Shomrei Emunah
April 10, 2007

Below is an edited write-up of the drasha delivered after Mussaf on the last day of Pesach 5767
(4/10/07).. Because so many of you who were away for Yom Tov have asked me for a
copy of the speech I am presenting it here.

I gave the speech with very basic notes and therefore had to reconstruct it almost all from memory.
I have done my best but undoubtedly this is not a “word-for-word” transcription.

It is my hope that the drasha will be read in the same spirit that it was given –
as devarim ha-yotzim min ha-lev.

§ § §

Confronting a Painful Reality

I want to talk with you this morning about the problem of sexual abuse in our community.

When I say “our community” I mean both the American Orthodox community and, specifically, the Baltimore Orthodox community.

I am sorry to have to speak about this topic at all and I am particularly sorry to have talk about it on Yom Tov. But I am doing so in advance of a letter that you should all be receiving later this week. The letter is a statement adopted by the Vaad HaRabbonim addressing the issue of abuse in our community.

As difficult as it may be, we feel it is important to address this topic openly and directly because ignorance and silence are two of the greatest allies of abusers. Hidden under the cloud of silence individual acts of abuse can become long-term abuse and small problems can grow into full-blown crisis. And the best antidote for a cloud is sunshine.

§ § §

I would like to frame my remarks in the context of an enigmatic comment made by Chazal about the central event we are celebrating on these last days of Pesach, Kerias Yam Suf.

A number of Midrashim (see, for example, Bereishis Rabbah 87:8, Mechilta, Beshalach, “Va’yehi” #3) maintain – based on a common word choice – that God split the sea in the merit of Yosef refusing the advances of Potifar’s wife.

Many meforshim struggle to understand what deeper connection presumably exists between these two seemingly unrelated events. Perhaps the best explanation is that overcoming natural instinct is central to both of these stories. Yosef was confronted by temptation and his natural instinct would have allowed him – as it would for most of us – to yield to her advances. But Yosef’s greatness is that he restrained his natural instinct and overcame his temptation. Similarly, the natural state of water – in a sense, its “instinct” – had to be overcome as the sea split apart and allowed the Jewish people to cross through.

Similarly, I believe, when it comes to the sensitive issue of abuse, we must resist a number of – what may be – natural instincts.

§ § §

First, we must resist the instinct of denial – in all of its forms.

For many, I believe that this instinct comes from a “good place.” We believe that a life based on Torah is holy and ennobling. When confronted with allegations that people who appear to be dedicated to Torah may have engaged in dark and destructive behavior there is an instinct to deny that such a thing is even possible. There is a further instinct to deny – even if it is acknowledged that something may have happened somewhere, maybe, to someone – that this constitutes a “problem in the community.”

These instincts must be overcome because they are simply inaccurate. Of course the truth and beauty of Torah is axiomatic in our lives! But human beings are still human beings and some are, unfortunately, sick in a way that tempts them to harm others.

I am not aware of any reliable statistics about the exact number of abusers in our community. But based on my own knowledge, my discussions with more experienced rabbis, and my consultations with mental health professionals who serve the community, it is clear that we have a problem.

It’s important – and this I must stress – not to be alarmist or to exaggerate. There aren’t abusers lurking around the corner in every day school or behind the tree in every playground. But they do exist and we must confront this painful reality.

In a related way, there are some people who do not fully appreciate the serious and long term harm that can be inflicted by sexual abuse. Questions are sometimes asked about why the survivors can’t just “get over” their abuse; after all, it was so long ago and other survivors seem to be just fine and aren’t “clamoring for attention.”

While it’s true that, Baruch HaShem, some victims of abuse have been able to emerge relatively unscathed from the trauma – largely aided by supportive family and friends – unfortunately, many have not been so fortunate.

I have met with victims and have seen and heard about the damage that abuse caused. Many of them have had their lives shattered – emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The fallout from abuse leads to higher risks of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, other self destructive behavior. It is also becoming clearer that much of the “teens-at-risk” problem in our community stems from abuse.

It should therefore come as no surprise that all of the major poskim that I know of, across the spectrum of Orthodoxy, view this as sakanas nefashos and the abuser as a “Rodef,” and believe that virtually any method can be employed to stop future abuse.

§ § §

A second instinct that we must resist is the temptation to hide behind cherished the halachos of Kiddush / Chillul Hashem and Lashon Hara.

Again, this in instinct comes from a “good place” as we are certainly right to remain committed to these core values. But we must make sure that our instincts are guided by appropriate application of the halachah.

Regarding Kiddush / Chillul Hashem, even if dealing with something quietly will prevent a Chillul Hashem, one must carefully question whether halacha would choose that outcome if it came at the expense of “lo sa’amod al dam re’acha” and preventing future abuse. Unfortunately, experience has shown that “quiet arrangements” to deal with abusers, even when made with the best of intentions, have all too often been ineffective in protecting the community.

Either way, as Americans if not as Jews, we should have learned by now that it simply doesn’t work. The overwhelming majority of time that information of this sort is initially kept quiet it eventually comes to light. Any successes are short lived and any prevention of Chillul HaShem is only temporary. And when the information eventually emerges it causes a far greater Chillul HaShem than it ever would have if it was addressed clearly and publicly at the outset.

Some may have the instinct that these topics – and certainly allegations about a specific abuser – should not be publicized or reported because to do so would be in violation of the laws of Lashon Hara or related prohibitions. Here too I believe this to be mistaken.

The Chafetz Chayim himself (Hilchos Lashon Hara, sec.10 and Hilchos Rechilus, sec.9, especially note #1) makes clear that these halachos were never intended to enable wrongdoers to harm unsuspecting victims. It is no coincidence that the very same pasuk (Vayikra 19:16) that starts with “lo selech rachil b’amecha” ends with “lo sa’amod al dam re’acha” as the latter is meant to qualify the former. The Chafetz Chayim therefore rules that even if it is only to avert a loss of money, let alone to protect someone’s safety, the obligation to do so is paramount.

It seems clear, therefore, that the prevention of future abuse – which often requires publicity and reporting – is the primary halachic obligation even if it requires us to do things which would – in a different context – flout the regulations of Lashon Hara.

I must add an important caveat: None of this permits useless gossiping and rumor mongering. This “hetter” is limited to situations which are productive and will have concrete benefit (to’eles).

Furthermore, we absolutely must be sensitive to the possibility of false accusations. After all, it is impossible to overstate the harm that is caused by a false accusation. Nothing that was mentioned above sanctions Motzi Shem Ra which is always prohibited.

But this concern cannot paralyze us and cause us to reject out of hand any accusation of abuse. Rather, this demands that all claims and counterclaims are thoroughly investigated so that we can be as sure as possible about the veracity of any accusation. Complete and thorough investigations are the best defense against false accusations. If a claim is unsubstantiated then, “hitzdiku es ha-tzaddik,” we must make that clear. But when accusations are credible then, “hirshiy’u es ha-rasha,” we must be prepared to confront the awful truth.

§ § §

Third, I implore you to resist the temptation to avoid talking about abuse with your children. I know that this is a difficult topic to discuss and that for many of you this will be an uncomfortable conversation. But it is a conversation you must have.

It is absolutely critical that we talk to our children in a sensitive and non-alarming manner and educate them about inappropriate touch. It can be very confusing for a child to understand that certain things are really inappropriate when there is an adult involved and especially when that adult is a role model. By speaking with them we can give our children not only the clarity, but also the strength, to recognize if something wrong is happening and, hopefully, to prevent abuse from happening. And if, Heaven forbid, abuse does occur, our prior discussions will give them the knowledge that they have their family to turn to for support.

§ § §

Before looking toward the future we must first confront the past.

In a sense, this is the most painful part of the drasha for me to discuss. But as a member of the rabbinate, the “shevet ha-rabbanus,” I think it is critical for it to be said.

Commenting on the pasuk (Vayikra 4:22) “asher nasi yecheta,” Rashi cites the teaching of Chazal that “Fortunate is the generation whose leader is concerned to bring an atonement for his inadvertent transgression – all the more so that he regrets his intentional transgressions.”

It must be acknowledged that in the past, when allegations of abuse were presented to community leaders, mistakes were sometimes made in handling these situations. Abusers and the nature of abuse were simply not fully understood and other genuine considerations, such as the desire to prevent Chillul HaShem, were perhaps too heavily weighed. These mistakes – even when arising from the best of intentions – have tragically allowed the toll of victims to rise. The fact that similar mistakes may have also occurred in other places in and outside of the Jewish community is of little solace. We, as a rabbinate, must seek atonement even for these unintentional errors.

§ § §

Going forward, we can once again look to the Torah’s account of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt for inspiration.

As we know, the Bnei Yisrael panicked when they realized they were trapped by the raging sea in front of them and the charging Egyptians behind them. They complained bitterly to Moshe, who, after trying to reassure them, was apparently davening. And then, amazingly, Hashem admonishes Moshe, “Mah titzak eilai” – Why do you cry out to Me; “daber el Benei Yisrael v’yisa’u” – tell the Jewish people to go forward!” (Shemos 14:15)

The Kotzker Rebbe understands this to be, not only a command to Moshe, but a timeless lesson for all generations. Obviously Hashem wasn’t downplaying the importance of tefillah; prayer should always be central to our lives. But He was teaching us that “l’kol zeman v’es” – there are times where what is needed isn’t tefillah but v’yisa’u, not talk but action.

When considering our current challenge I feel that this is just such a time. The letter you will receive from the Vaad HaRabbanim is an important statement and I hope that this drasha is beneficial as well.

But in the end, a letter and a speech are a lot easier – and a lot less important – than action.

What we need and what you have a right as community to expect from the rabbanim is action.

The next critical step, which we will begin, iy”h, after Yom Tov, is to develop a community-wide action plan to better educate and protect our community. There are numerous ideas which can be implemented and I think we should consider all possibilities.

In fact, we are blessed to have had with us for Yom Tov – and sitting here this morning – Rav Gedalyah Dov Schwartz, shlita. R. Schwartz, as you all know, is the Av Beis Din of Chicago, and a number of years ago Chicago became the first city to develop protocols for dealing with abuse. We will look to Chicago – and other cities – to see what ideas we can learn from them and adapt for our community. In Chicago, for instance, they set up a special Beis Din to take care of abuse related issues. This may be right for our community as well.

Another important element of the effort in Chicago – and R. Schwartz asked me to stress this – is that it has been led by both R. Schwartz and Rav Avraham Chaim Levin, shlita, the Telshe Rosh Yeshiva. They are both committed to dealing with this problem and by working together it has assured all parts of the community that they are represented and given their effort the widest possible support. This is a model which I believe we should adopt.

§ § §

The issue of abuse is painful and complex but it one which we must confront.

There may be some difficult moments for our community in the near future but if we take the necessary steps and make lasting improvements then I am hopeful that we will look back on this time as a pivotal and positive chapter in our communal history.

May Hashem grant comfort and healing to the victims of abuse and may He give all of us the necessary strength and siyata dishmaya we need to protect our children and to rid our community of this scourge.

Any questions about the speech or the general topic it discusses can, of course, be addressed to Rabbi Gottlieb, either by phone (410-358-8604) or by email.

Baltimore Examinder on Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro

Jewish Times: Rabbi was molester
The Baltimore Examiner
Apr 17, 2007
Luke Broadwater

Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, who died in 1989, is accused of molesting hundreds of people but was never charged with a crime. (
Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, who died in 1989, is accused of molesting hundreds of people but was never charged with a crime.

Map, News) - Baltimore Jewish Times Editor Neil Rubin knew his paper’s Friday article detailing sexual abuse allegations against a deceased rabbi would be controversial. But running the article, he says, was the right thing to do.

In the April 13 article “Rabbi’s Abuse Victims Suffer Years Later,” investigative editor Phil Jacobs recounted the stories of three people who say they were abused by Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro, the former principal of Talmudical Academy. Shapiro died in 1989.

According to some estimates, Shapiro molested hundreds, the article states.

“He was never charged with anything,” Rubin says of Shapiro. “To the best of our knowledge, he was never publicly accused of anything before this. We talked to many people on the record, many people who were not in the story. Many people knew about this. It was one of those unspoken things in the community.”

Since the article ran, the Jewish Times has received some backlash, Rubin said.

“We can’t say definitively whether they’re true or not true,” Rubin says of the allegations. “We anguished over it. I had relatives who grew up under this guy’s tutelage. My mother said to me, ‘You broke my heart. I understand why you did it, but you broke my heart.’ ”

Jacobs first started reporting the article some seven years ago, but ramped up efforts within the past nine months, Rubin said.

“Meeting with family members, Phil felt very strongly that one of things that’s not written about is the impact on the victims,” Rubin said. “And he’s given them a voice.”

The Jewish Times included in its story a rebuttal to expected criticism, under the headline: “Rabbi Shapiro Is Deceased. Why Print This?”

“There are estimates of hundreds of molestation victims who weren’t able to ‘defend’ themselves while the rabbi was alive,” the Jewish Times wrote. “There are young men whose lives were changed forever because of his acts. Some of these men are more figuratively ‘dead’ than Rabbi Shapiro will ever be.”

Rubin said he knew the story would upset some people.

“We have some very angry people now,” he said. “We have some people who are quietly saying, ‘Way to go, me too.’ People were coming up to me and asking me about this story. People are saying, ‘How dare you.’ Nobody’s saying it’s wrong. ”

Despite the criticism, Rubin says his paper is undeterred.

“We’re going to be doing follow-ups,” he said.

“This was not a hit-and-run. We’re having the conversation that we need to have,” Rubin said.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Israel National News - Baltimore Rabbis Confront Sexual Abuse

Baltimore Rabbis Confront Sexual Abuse
Israel National News
28 Nisan 5767, 16 April 07 10:35

( The Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore, an organization of Baltimore’s Orthodox Rabbis, issued a letter to their community warning about the dangers of sexual abuse, encouraging parents to talk to their children about recognizing abuse, and instructing the community that the local authorities can be contacted in such an event.

They also acknowledged their own inexperience and lack of training in dealing with issues of sexual abuse, and expressed a willingness to publicize names of potentially dangerous offenders. The letter was the most far-reaching of its kind in recent memory, and comes in reaction to a spate of recent reports of abuse throughout the Jewish world.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Questions for Agudath Israel of America and Some Rabbis At Ner Israel

The following was comment was posted on hirhurim blog. I thought it was relevant.
I was just going over the list of rabbis who signed the letter from Baltimore. I noticed that rabbi Aharon Feldman and rabbi Beryl Weisbord didn't sign the letter. Considering they are key players at Ner Israel I'm surprised.
I am also curious if Rabbi Avi Shafran will make a public statement regarding the letter his father signed. If I remember correctly he stated in the JTA article that came out a few months ago:
Salomon, a dean of Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, N.J., one of the world's largest yeshivas, said, according to an Agudath Israel spokesman, that haredim are indeed guilty of "sweeping things under the carpet."

What he meant was open to interpretation. Salomon declined comment, but according to the Agudath Israel spokesman, Rabbi Avi Shafran, Salomon meant that rather than ignoring or covering up sexual misconduct, as detractors maintain, haredi officials deal with it discreetly to protect the dignity of the families of perpetrators and victims.

The response to Salomon's remarks was swift and often heated, with several Web site and blog contributors arguing that the rabbi's comments should be taken literally that is, haredi officials often look the other way when clergy sex abuse takes place in their midst.

Shafran, who accused the online detractors of making glib and sweeping generalizations without corroborating evidence, termed the comments "abhorrent.
The article continued with:
Shafran said he doubts that clergy sex abuse is more prevalent in the fervently Orthodox world than elsewhere. Asked whether victims there are afraid to report abuse, he said, "I hope it's not true. But it's easy to see how someone would be reluctant to publicly report such an issue."

He said modesty, which is prized by many haredim, might preclude the open discussion of matters "that are part of the average radio talk show agenda.

Baltimore's Shalom USA talks about sexual abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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