Wednesday, January 17, 2018

People need to reconsider their roles as neighbors, relatives, and community members when it comes to protecting children who are not their own offspring—even if the parents appear to be religious.

by Janet Heimlich

We hear it time and time again. People express shock and disgust that parents who appear to be religious have been abusing their children. In the horrific case of the Turpin family, police found the 13 children, ages 2 to 29, shackled to their beds, severely malnourished, living in filth, and injured. 

They were so thin, police drastically miscalculated their ages; they thought a 17-year-old girl was only 10.

The grandparents hadn’t seen the home-schooled children in 4 or 5 years. But in that time, did they bother to learn how the parents were raising their children? Were there no red flags? Or were they satisfied just knowing that the children were being raised with faith?

Neighbors interviewed in the suburban neighborhood of Perris, California, wondered why they rarely saw the children. Some admitted that a few looked malnourished. When one neighbor saw the children putting up a nativity scene, she witnessed bizarre behavior: The children “froze [as] if by doing so they could become invisible.” And yet no one put in a call to police or CPS?

People need to reconsider their roles as neighbors, relatives, and community members when it comes to protecting children who are not their own offspring—even if the parents appear to be religious.

Of course, stepping into someone else’s private space to report them to authorities is not easy. 

(Although keep in mind you don’t have to prove abuse to make such a call.) Coming to the aid of a child who is in distress also is unnerving. I will never forget when I was in line at the post office and I had to beg a woman to pick up her baby who had been screaming for 15 minutes, his face beet red. I was verbally attacked by a stranger who thought what I had done was unconscionable. That was not fun, but at least, for that moment, things were better for the baby because the mother did pick up the baby and the crying ceased.

Yes, I’ve heard all the excuses. “It’s not our place to interfere with another parent’s choice.” “You could cause even more trouble for the child.” “The parent knows what she’s doing.” But let’s be honest. Most people don’t want to assume the role of protector for the simple reason that it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and a little scary.

The time has come for us to realize it’s not about us. Maybe if the Turpins’ relatives or neighbors had taken their roles as child protectors more seriously, those children would not have endured what they did.

On January 16, David and Louise Turpin were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment. 

You may wonder how the children were saved. It turns out the 17-year-old girl who police thought was so much younger had escaped through a window and called 911 form a deactivated a cell phone. Her siblings owe their sister their lives. But it shouldn’t have been that way.

We shouldn’t have to rely on children to save themselves. That’s our job.

Janet Heimlich is an award-winning journalist and author of the book, Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child MaltreatmentShe founded and sits on the board of the Child-Friendly Faith Project.

Do you know of a religious organization that isn’t taking child abuse or neglect seriously? Or is your place of worship doing great things for children? Please let us know your questions, concerns, and ideas by emailing us at:info@childfriendlyfaith.org.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"The Face of The Generation is Like The Face of a Dog" --- Mishna Sota 9:15 , Sanhedrin 97a Talmud Bavli

The President and the Porn Star

Donald Trump at a campaign rally in October 2016, about the time his lawyer, according to news reports, arranged a $130,000 payout to a porn star.

In 1998, the professional moral scold William Bennett published a book titled “The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals.” In it, Bennett described blasé attitudes toward presidential adultery as corrosive. Clinton’s promiscuity, he argued, implicated his fitness for governing: “Chronic indiscipline, compulsion, exploitation, the easy betrayal of vows, all suggest something wrong at a deep level — something habitual and beyond control,” he wrote.

I was reminded of Bennett’s words by David Friend’s fascinating recent book, “The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido,” about the sexual scandals and cultural upheavals of that decade. In retrospect, the dynamics of the Clinton-era culture wars seem blissfully simple, pitting a sexually libertarian left against an aggressively prudish right. It is a cosmic irony that, 20 years later, it is conservatives who’ve finally killed off the last remaining unspoken rules about presidential sexual ethics.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that, a month before the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payout to the porn star Stephanie Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, to stop her from discussing a 2006 dalliance with Trump. The New York Times added new details. The Daily Beast then reported that another porn actress, Jessica Drake, who had accused Trump of offering her $10,000 for sex, signed a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about the president.

In any other administration, evidence that the president paid hush money to the star of “Good Will Humping” during the election would be a scandal. In this one it has, so far, elicited a collective shrug.

Liberals, in general, can’t work up much outrage, because the encounter between Trump and Daniels was by all accounts consensual. And few social conservatives are interested in criticizing the president, since they’ve talked themselves into a posture of hardheaded moral realism in order to justify their support for him. In 2016, for example, Bennett himself condemned “Never Trump” conservatives for their “terrible case of moral superiority.”

If there’s a significant scandal, it will lie in the origins of the $130,000, or in other encounters Trump has covered up. There’s a sentence in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It comes toward the end, when Steve Bannon is praising Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz: “Kasowitz on the campaign — what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them.”

If it turns out there were payoffs to hide non-consensual behavior, there may be an uproar. But sleeping with a porn star while your wife has a new baby, then paying the porn star to be quiet? That’s what everyone expects of this president.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the right’s tacit embrace of a laissez faire approach to sexuality — at least male, heterosexual sexuality — coincides with attempts on the left to erect new ethical guardrails around sex.

In the 1990s, many feminists defended untrammeled eros because they feared a conservative sexual inquisition. Elements of that inquisition remain; attacks on reproductive rights have grown only more intense. Still, Trump has reconciled reactionary politics with male sexual license. In doing so, he’s made such license easier for feminists to criticize.

This weekend, the sex scandal that captivated people I know involved not Trump but the comedian Aziz Ansari. On Saturday, an online publication called Babe published allegations from a young photographer, pseudonymously called Grace, about a date with Ansari gone wrong.

Speaking to the writer Katie Way, Grace describes halfhearted — at least on her part — oral sex and Ansari’s insistent push for intercourse. Grace seemed to be disappointed that Ansari didn’t live up to his nice-guy feminist persona. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances,” she texted him.

Among feminists, reaction to the piece broke down roughly generationally. Grace interpreted her experience as sexual assault, but several older writers saw it as a story about caddishness and bad sex, neither of which justified the invasion of Ansari’s privacy. In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan described it as “3,000 words of revenge porn” inspired by romantic disappointment.

I agree with Flanagan that the bad behavior Grace described doesn’t rise to the level of assault or harassment, and I don’t think Babe should have published the story. Still, I can sympathize with the younger feminists who are pushing the limits of the #MeToo movement. They are, it seems to me, trying to impose new norms of consideration on a brutal sexual culture, without appealing to religious sanction or patriarchal chivalry.

“A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction,” tweeted the feminist writer Jessica Valenti. “But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.”

Maybe feminists feel free to express their fury about the path sexual liberation has taken because they no longer need to defend sexual liberation itself from conservatives. In the 1990s, porn culture seemed subversive and chic. Now it’s become repulsively presidential.


Monday, January 15, 2018

In 2001, Rosenfeld was convicted of two counts of child molestation for abusing a 12-year-old bar mitzvah student while serving as cantor of Temple Am David in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was given a suspended sentence but served 18 months in prison after violating probation.

NY Jewish day school launches investigation of alleged sex abuse in 1970s


Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy in the Bronx probing accusations that former assistant principal molested at least one student

Illustrative: A school classroom. (Image via Shutterstock)

A liberal Orthodox Jewish day school in New York City has launched an investigation after a former assistant principal was accused of sexually abusing a student in the 1970s.

Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy in the Bronx, known as SAR, informed its community of the investigation in an email Tuesday night. A former student recently emailed the school alleging abuse committed by Stanley Rosenfeld, the school’s former assistant principal for general studies.
“As painful as this is for our school community, the pain for any of the victims of abuse is far greater,” read the email, signed by Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of the elementary and middle school, and Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, the high school principal. “We are committed to being supportive to any victims of abuse, to understanding the abuse they suffered and the harm it has caused them, and to learning from our past experiences and using them to inform our present practices to protect our community.”

Rosenfeld, now 84, worked at the school in the 1970s. At the time, SAR ended at eighth grade. Its high school was founded in 2003.

In 2001, Rosenfeld was convicted of two counts of child molestation for abusing a 12-year-old bar mitzvah student while serving as cantor of Temple Am David in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was given a suspended sentence but served 18 months in prison after violating probation.

SAR has hired an external firm, T&M Protection Resources, to investigate the claims. The school is encouraging people to come forward with any information they have about abuse committed by Rosenfeld. It expects the investigation to take several months.

“We are committed to a thorough and comprehensive independent investigative process about the abuses perpetrated by Mr. Rosenfeld as well as what may have been known at the time or more recently,” Krauss wrote JTA directly in an email. “At this point, it would be premature to speculate on the findings of this effort.”

The community email noted that in recent years, the school implemented policies to prevent sexual abuse and harassment.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Bankrupt The Bastards! --- But even if it did, we should be less concerned with protecting the bank accounts of institutions that might harbor sexual predators, and more concerned with bringing justice to the victims — whether their abusers are clergy members, teachers or, as in a majority of cases, a family member....

Albany, Pass the Child Victims Act

Democratic State Senator Brad Hoylman speaking in favor of The Child Victims Act at the New York State Capitol, in January. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times 
If the #MeToo movement of the last few months has taught us anything, it’s that it is extremely painful and risky for victims of sexual harassment or assault — even those with power, money and connections — to speak out against their abusers. Now consider how much harder it must be for a child.

It should surprise no one that a vast majority of people who were sexually abused as children never report it. For those who do, it takes years, and often decades, to recognize what happened to them, realize it wasn’t their fault and tell someone. The trauma leads to higher rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, depression, suicide and other physical and psychological problems that cost millions or billions to treat — money that should be paid not by taxpayers, but by the offenders and the institutions that cover for them.

For these reasons, many states — including eight last year alone — have done the right thing and extended or eliminated statutes of limitations for the reporting of child sexual abuse. This has encouraged more victims to come forward and seek justice for abuse that was never properly addressed, if it was addressed at all.

New York, which has had no shortage of child sex-abuse scandals, should be on that list. In fact, it should be leading the nation on this issue. Instead it, along with Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan, is one of the states with the least victim-friendly reporting laws in the country. New York requires most child sex-abuse victims to sue by the age of 23, 19 years before the average age at which such victims report their abuse.
Lawmakers have had the solution in their hands for more than a decade. The Child Victims Act would extend the statute of limitations to age 50 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases. It would also establish a one-year window in which anyone would be permitted to bring a lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations had already expired.

The bill enjoys widespread and bipartisan support in Albany — it passed the State Assembly once again in 2017, by a vote of 139 to 7 — and from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And yet it keeps failing to become law.

Why? The Senate majority leader, John Flanagan, a Republican, has refused to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. The bill’s opponents, which include the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewish groups and the Boy Scouts of America, are concerned primarily with the one-year window, which they believe would cause a wave of claims that could drive churches, schools and hospitals into bankruptcy. That hasn’t happened in other states, even those that opened the window for longer. In Minnesota, which created a three-year window for a population a little more than a quarter of New York’s, just under 1,000 civil claims have been filed.

But even if it did, we should be less concerned with protecting the bank accounts of institutions that might harbor sexual predators, and more concerned with bringing justice to the victims — whether their abusers are clergy members, teachers or, as in a majority of cases, a family member.

The Child Victims Act should have passed on its merits long ago. Since it hasn’t, Mr. Cuomo needs to step up and demonstrate the leadership he has shown on many other divisive issues in recent years, like same-sex marriage. If Mr. Cuomo includes the bill’s provisions in the 2018-19 state budget, which he is scheduled to present on Tuesday, he will make it extremely tough for Mr. Flanagan and other Republican leaders to say no to protecting New York’s most vulnerable victims.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

I would rather send my children to a school that deals with its children with problems than to a school that pretends it doesn’t have any children with problems....

Response from Rabbi Pruzansky: Changing My Mind on School Expulsions

For some time now, we have heard that many of our youth are in a bad way—drinking, drugs, scandalous behavior—all of which have given rise to problems in schools. There have been conferences and seminars, calls for better education and improved communication. And the schools have generally responded to credible accusations of misconduct with a quick but somewhat selective trigger finger—especially in their use of expulsions. A number of people have reported to me about a party that took place recently in the metropolitan area that attracted a lot of teens and involved mass drinking and revelry, with the parents of the host conveniently out-of-town. (There were probably many other and similar parties of which I am unaware.) And the schools have dutifully responded with the range of disciplines at their disposal, and applied to the great variety of offenders under their dominion in inconsistent ways.

I have always been a law-and-order man; schools should have rules just like life has rules because otherwise there is chaos and anarchy. But I think we have gone too far in these situations to the extent that I have changed my mind. I used to think that it was appropriate for schools to monitor their students’ behavior even off campus and react when there is degenerate behavior, and in an ideal world that would still hold true. But I no longer believe that. Schools should monitor what students do on their premises, and that’s it. And off premises? That is the responsibility of the parents. Remember them?

Parents used to have primary responsibility for parenting, discipline, and instilling values in their children. Sometime in the recent past, parents abdicated that responsibility to the schools, and the results have not been pretty. For example: What parent lets a teenager go to a party of teenagers that has no responsible adult in charge? (I say “responsible” because not all adults are responsible.) You would have to be insane to allow such a thing. My children were trustworthy, but I would never let them as teens go to an unsupervised party. My wife and I would monitor, as best as possible, with whom our children would socialize. That is elementary parenting.

Forget the schools. As far as I am concerned, it’s none of the school’s business what happens off campus. It’s the parents’ business—and parents have to reclaim their role. Indeed, parents have many more disciplinary tools in their arsenal than schools do. They should use them, without fear of losing their children as “buddies.”

That being said, I have reconsidered something else. Schools have to stop these willy-nilly expulsions of students, which have become (1) a marketing tool (“Look at us! We expelled two students for unacceptable behavior. Problem solved. Send your children to us!”), (2) a deterrent that has clearly failed given the widespread misconduct that apparently exists and (3) a tacit admission that schools don’t have the time, interest or energy to deal with every child with a problem. I was slow to come around to this but I have realized that was once unthinkable has become normative, and again, quite selectively applied. A few months ago, I was sent a video a few months ago of Rav Moshe Weinberger (the Rav of Aish Kodesh) pleading with principals to remember their own youth. “What were you like when you were 17?” Why are they pretending that all was so perfect that now we can just dispatch Jewish children into the spiritual wilderness?

My initial reaction was that it is easy for someone not in chinuch to make such a broad statement and encourage such a policy change—banning expulsions—but as I pondered his comments over the course of a few weeks, I realized that he was correct. Teens are teens, and even if the parameters of “acting out” have widened over the decades since I was a teenager, and mostly in very unsalutary ways, I do not doubt that there are today principals and Roshei Yeshiva, teachers and rabbis, who acted as teens in ways that they chalk up to adolescent hijinks. Yet, they—or their boards—do not want to give today’s children the same break or a compassionate hand. I certainly do not lay all the blame at the feet of the principals or administrators who are often confronted with conflicting pressures that cannot all be resolved to the satisfaction of all.

And then I started my research on my “Great Rabbis of the 20th Century” series and to my astonishment, I determined that these giants dealt with the same issues in a much more tolerant, loving and probably effective way. The Alter of Slabodka, for example, never agreed to expel a student. (Keep in mind that Slabodka had its share of students who desecrated Shabbat, who were Socialists trying to overthrow the Czar, who were students in the yeshiva who even rebelled against the Alter and tried to have him dismissed!) Yet, he would tell the Roshei Yeshiva, that we must look and find some good in them. He kept one student around, he told his colleagues, even though he wasn’t much of a student, because he liked to do favors for people. The Jewish people need that also. And when challenged about particular miscreants, he would cite the verse in Kohelet and the Midrash (Vayikra Raba 27:5) thereon: “‘G-d seeks out the pursued;’ even when the righteous pursue the wicked” G-d takes up the cause of the underdog. So find his good quality and help him. Don’t throw him away.

Similarly, Rav Ovadia Yosef said in an interview a year before he died that it is forbidden to expel a child from yeshiva. I quote: “Even if there is a student who behaves inappropriately, it is still forbidden to throw him out of school and instead we must exercise extreme patience… If we are patient with this student, one day he can grow up to be a talmid chochom. And if we send him away from the yeshiva where will he go? To a secular school and then what will become of him?”

And then he added: “What, are you throwing away a rock? These are precious souls! If you throw a child away, do you know what will be? Are you ready to take responsibility for what might happen?”

And in Rav Yissachar Frand’s Dvar Torah last week (the second essay) he made the same point. If all these great rabbis are addressing this issue, it tells me that there is a problem in Baltimore, Israel, the Five Towns, New Jersey – and everywhere else.

And who are we throwing away? The children of the Avot and Imahot of our people. Like Rambam says (Hilchot Sanhedrin 25:2), even the lowliest among us are “the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, the armies of G-d who took us out of Egypt with a great might and a powerful arm.”

I’m not an extremist. If a child is endangering another child, that is different. But short of that, there are other measures. Educate. Discipline. Suspend. Make a child repeat a class or a grade. (The thought alone of paying an extra year’s tuition will get the parents’ attention.) But don’t throw them away. G-d also took these children out of Egypt.

I would rather send my children to a school that deals with its children with problems than to a school that pretends it doesn’t have any children with problems.

And what should parents, now once again responsible for their children’s behavior, impress upon them? During the years of bondage in Egypt, we never lost our identity, our dignity, our sense of self-respect. We always knew, in the statement of the Mishna (Masechet Shabbat 111a), that “all Israel are the children of kings.” We are all princes and princesses. We never let the Egyptians, those debauched pagans, define us. We endured them, survived them and triumphed over them, and then the sense of inner freedom naturally emerged from us. It cannot be suppressed forever – in any of us.

That is the message for us and for our children. They should realize that all the attractions and allures of the world mean nothing compared to the great privilege of being part of a royal people. They need to be taught that when they act like reprobates, they have first and foremost let themselves down.

There is no greater deterrent to mischief than the realization that some conduct is beneath them and unworthy of them, of who they are supposed to be. When that realization sinks in, we will merit only blessings from all of our children.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is mara d’atra of Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Levy was jailed for three years in 2013 for two counts of sexual assault against Yehudis Goldsobel, who waived her right to anonymity to encourage others to speak out against abuse.

Convicted abuser Mendy Levy criticised for trying to “seek public acclaim” by donating a scroll to Chabad in Golders Green


Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Menachem ‘Mendy’ Levy was criticised by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis for trying to “seek public acclaim” by donating the scroll, which was subsequently rejected. 

Last week there were celebrations in Golders Green after the completion of the Sefer Torah. 

According to a press release published — and then removed — from the crownheights.info website, “well over 1,000 men, women and children” joined in with “joyous dancing and celebration which was heard several streets away.

The new Torah made its way slowly to the local Lubavitch shul, Hechal Menachem, where it was greeted by the other existing Torah scrolls.”

After the ceremony, there was celebration at Levy’s home, where, again according to the press release, “Rabbi Yossi Simon presented Levy with a thank you from Chabad of Golders Green.”

Levy was jailed for three years in 2013 for two counts of sexual assault against Yehudis Goldsobel, who waived her right to anonymity to encourage others to speak out against abuse.

Yehudis Goldsobel

On her Facebook page this week, she wrote: “A Sefer Torah dedication is a lovely thing, but how can a community of people ignore the fact that the person donating it is a convicted sex offender? Does this not somehow tarnish this mitzvah? I would think so.”

She said she had not known about the dedication until she was approached by a reporter, and that she continued to be shunned by members of the Chabad community in which she had grown up.
A spokesman for the Chief Rabbi told Jewish News: “The very idea that a man convicted of sexual abuse should seek public acclaim in this way is extremely disturbing.

“The Chief Rabbi has met Yehudis Goldsobel on a number of occasions. and knows her to be a brave and tireless campaigner against the scourge of abuse. It is impossible for us to appreciate the kind of pain that this episode must have caused her.

“What is essential is that a clear message goes out to all concerned that these kind of antics will never find support within our community. It’s also fair to say that everyone we have spoken to on this matter is in agreement with this position.”

On Sunday, Rabbi Simon issued a statement saying “an individual” — Levy — had “chosen to turn the completion of the sefer Torah into a public event, organising all the details, down to the production of the flyers and post-event publicity”.

Rabbi Simon said Levy had offered Golders Green Chabad the scroll, on loan, when Chabad moved into premises in the area. But in light of the nature of the celebration, it had decided against housing it, he said.

“We have also asked news outlets that publicised the donor’s article to remove it from their sites.
“We can only imagine the further anguish this matter has caused the victim, and our hearts go out to her and her family.”

 Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said Chabad were correct to not accept the scroll, saying: “Sexual offences are extremely serious and, while we should give people the opportunity to express remorse and change their behaviour, care should be taken not to honour people who have committed these sorts of terrible crimes.

 I am therefore reassured to note that Chabad has decided not to accept the scroll. No one in the Jewish community must ever give the impression that sexual abuse perpetrators are to be accepted until it is clear they have genuinely repented.”

A spokesperson for the Jewish Leadership Council said: “We can only imagine the further pain that this event has caused Ms Goldsobel and her family and were encouraged to read of the strong action Rabbi Simon has taken. We continue to encourage our member organisations to have robust policies in place regarding safeguarding and work to ensure that victims of abuse are protected and respected.”


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

According to the lawsuit, the story, which began three years ago, reveals incidents of serious physical, emotional and sexual abuse against a 16-year-old minor, including violence and humiliation....

Bnei Brak lawsuit: Yeshiva student harassed others over 3 years

Conspiracy of silence? Allegations of sexual abuse and pedophilia at flagship haredi yeshiva.

Haredi man (illustrative)

A lawsuit filed last week against the famed Ponevezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, the leading Israeli haredi yeshiva, alleges that serious crimes by a student have been committed there for several years.

According to the statement of claim, a yeshiva student sexually assaulted students in a violent manner and photographed them in the nude in a secret location within the yeshiva.

The victims appealed to a new organization called Din Vecheshbon that was formed recently by members of the haredi community in order to fight silencing of sexual harassment within the community.

The events were investigated by the organization and a civil suit was subsequently filed against the yeshiva, two of its rabbis and the alleged offender. The lawsuit states recorded evidence as proof of admission by the defendant of his actions against the plaintiff. In addition, a complaint was also filed with the police.

According to the lawsuit, the story, which began three years ago, reveals incidents of serious physical, emotional and sexual abuse against a 16-year-old minor, including violence and humiliation. In addition, it alleges that the offender exploited the minor by fostering a situation of deep emotional dependency and using this to violate him sexually contrary to his will and consent, as well as beat, threaten and humiliate the minor before allowing him to leave the room.

The prosecution likewise claims an additional offense of creating and collecting pedophilic material.
"In many of the events detailed [in the statement of claim], the defendant would sit on top of the plaintiff and photograph himself. The defendant would store the nude photographs of the plaintiff in his personal computer, along with nude pictures of other youngsters, which in effect holds the defendant responsible for a computer collection of child abuse images."

In addition to the offender in question, two of the yeshiva’s rabbis are being charged with criminal violations for failing to report the incidents. According to the complaint, when the minor turned to the first rabbi, "Defendant 3 listened to the plaintiff's words, calmed him down and left without following up on the matter."

When the plaintiff asked to meet with the second rabbi, the rabbi told him that "He believed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what the defendant had done to him after hearing about the severity of the defendant’s actions committed on the plaintiff. During this conversation, Defendant 2 told the plaintiff that it had been known for some time that the defendant was a danger to the students, but that they did not know how severe his actions were."

The statement of claim says that, "Although Defendants 2 and 3 recently admitted to the plaintiff that they are aware of the danger posed by the defendant, the defendant continues to live in the yeshiva, and it is reasonable to assume that even now he continues to harm there. "
"It should now be noted that all the defendants recently confirmed to the plaintiff that the events described above did indeed occur, and that the plaintiff has the recordings which confirm this admission, and therefore the defendants' confessions must be regarded as a confession."

Nachman Rosenberg, who represents private haredi donors behind Din Vecheshbon, states that, "It is time to recognize that the 'silencers' of sexual abuse are far more dangerous than the predators themselves."

"These institutional cover-ups directly endanger hundreds and thousands of innocent children simultaneously. Din Vecheshbon represents a paradigm shift in the haredi community by targeting the root of this... by punishing institutions or individuals who neglect the safety of their students and turn a blind eye on sexual abuse."


Monday, January 08, 2018

The New Black!

Rubashkin faced a real possibility of being one of the unlucky prisoners who die in prison. But Rubashkin did not despair. The plight facing someone who is in prison is not something that anyone can understand until he has experienced it, but to survive it and live every day is nothing short of heroic.

Rubashkin Surviving Prison Is A Heroic Act In Itself 

Though the Forward published many articles after the release of Sholom Rubashkin, some opinion writers have taken the position that the celebrations that followed Rubashkin’s release were at best inappropriate and at worst a desecration of God’s name.

Most of us have thankfully not been through the criminal justice system. However, until one has been through it, one cannot truly understand it nor appreciate why these celebrations were befitting someone who epitomizes the justice system at its worst.

Though I have never met Rubashkin, I myself have been through the criminal justice system and spent about a year in the Federal Prison Camp in Miami, Florida.

Long prison sentences demoralize a person. I have met people who have been in prison for 20 years and the effects are not pretty. When they are released they are not equipped to socially integrate into society. They have been sitting in prison while life passed them by. Whether or not they deserved these sentences does not change the fact that when someone enters prison for a lengthy prison sentence, he has effectively kissed his life goodbye. In short, his life is over.

Rubashkin faced that real possibility when he entered prison. Even though he was a white collar convict, he was not permitted to go to a prison camp since his sentence was so long. He was housed in a medium security facility. From my own experiences, knowing that I was going to prison for even a 30 month sentence was especially daunting. I have no idea how I would have handled the prospect of being away from my friends and family for such an enormous amount of time, especially if i felt I had been wrongly convicted and unfairly punished. In my view, suicide is a better option than that prospect. Certainly, upon entering prison, I see no scenario where, even as an Orthodox Jew, I would have been able to keep my faith in God. I would have wallowed in a state of depression and despair. God would have been completely out of the picture.

Rubashkin faced not only that possibility but lived the reality. He faced a real possibility of being one of the unlucky prisoners who die in prison. But Rubashkin did not despair. The plight facing someone who is in prison is not something that anyone can understand until he has experienced it, but to survive it and live every day is nothing short of heroic.

You eat when they tell you to eat and sleep when they tell you to sleep. Visitations with family are limited and monitored. Prisoners are limited to 300 minutes of phone privileges per month, which is less than most of us use in two days. The spouse is left to handle everything on his or her own while the husband or wife is helpless to assist in any way. In many ways prison is harder on the spouse then it is on the actual person who has been incarcerated. Meanwhile, the inmate is watching his family suffer, hearing about everything going out in the outside world and he misses everything. Rubashkin was looking to have to do that for 20 years.

In the end, common sense prevailed and President Trump commuted his sentence. As a Jew and more so as a former inmate, I experienced a joy not felt since my own release as I watched the videos of the celebrations. How can one not admire a man who did not despair and who came out stronger on the other side? How can we not feel a sense of happiness for a wife who after eight years of waiting finally has her husband back at home? How can we not jump for joy for the children who finally have their father back at home and can study with them? How can we not be happy for the grandchildren who finally get to meet their Zaidy? And how can we not feel a sense of joy and admiration for a person who took everything the prosecutors threw at him and came out not only the same but stronger on the other side? Heroic does not begin to appropriately describe his actions.

As word of his release spread, celebrations erupted from all corners of the world and among many different stripes of Orthodox Jews. Not only were they warranted, but there should have been more of them. When I came out of prison, my family was ecstatic. My wife, my three children and my entire family suffered tremendously while I was in prison. Life while I was away was extremely stressful for many reasons. However, on the day I was released, all the worries of the past year melted away and joy permeated the home. My parents were beyond elated and a received calls of mazal tov from friends who had visited me as well as those who did not. That Shabbat I got called to read from the torah and was welcomed warmly back into the shul. But that was me: I was a relative nobody who went away for a relatively short amount of time. When it came to Rubashkin, everyone of those people dancing in the streets felt as though it was also his father, his brother and his son who got released. Not only did Rubashkin get released, but the release came unexpectedly via a sentence commutation by none other than the president! Is it any wonder that there were so many celebrations?

Perhaps the real problem lies with those who did not celebrate. We Jews are supposed to be achim, brothers. We have a commandment to V’ahafta L’re’acha Kamocha, to love your brother as yourself.

When a brother is released from prison after eight years, how do we not go out and celebrate!

Of course, the obvious response is that it is a “bad example” to turn convicts into heroes. That is the comment of at best an ignoramus and at worst a fool. One cannot fully appreciate the criminal justice system until he has lived it. Well, I lived it, and let me tell you a little secret: it is not a fair system.

I ask all of Rubashkin’s accusers why you feel the need to rain on his parade. No one is forcing any of you to participate in the celebrations. Why the need to publicly criticize and defame Rubashkin? 

Are you all so insecure in your own religious beliefs that the only way to legitimize your own flaws is by trying to find fault in others? Are you all so perfect that you have the right to criticize others? Are you so insensitive to the plight of a mother and children that had to endure pain that no one should ever experience you begrudge their celebration? As a Modern Orthodox Jew, I am embarrassed by some of the hatred coming from my own community.

Finally, Jews embrace the concept of t’shuva, repentance. We believe that while people do sin, there is an opportunity and obligation to repent. King Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes that there is no man who does all good and does not sin. We all have something for which we can repent. While I cannot give an opinion on what went on is Postville, Iowa all those years ago, I do know that as Jews, we accept the person who does repent. So even if one were to honestly believe that wrongs were committed, can there be any doubt that there was repentance as well? We have an obligation not only to accept the person who has repented but we are forbidden from bringing up his past indiscretions.

Saying the celebrations are unwarranted and using the “sins” as a basis flies in the face of everything that we Jews embrace. Perhaps it is the naysayers who need to take a hard look at themselves and embrace repentance. Of course, first you all need to ask forgiveness from Sholom Rubashkin.

To Sholom Rubashkin I say the following: May God bestow upon you and your family all of His blessings. May you continue to be an inspiration to Jews all over the world and may you only use this horrible experience to help others. But most of all, Mazal Tov!

Read more: https://forward.com/scribe/391350/rubashkin-surviving-prison-is-a-heroic-act-in-itself/

Friday, January 05, 2018

The district attorney of that area told us that he had never been under as much pressure by every facet of the Jewish community to not press charges against the accused. A well-known New York City lawyer was brought to Monticello to defend the accused, who went on to be arrested again at a later time and was seen being taken in handcuffs from a well-known yeshiva that did not find his charges from the past relevant. Into the police car he went. Shame on the menahel and board of that school to have allowed him to be hired in the first place. For years there was a cover-up due to his well-known family.


There are situations in life that are more complicated than others. Some of us only become aware of them many years after the fact, and often decisions have been made to sweep things under the carpet or hide them in the recesses of our minds.

Few of us are unaware of the cases of harassment, assault and abuse that have taken over the news media. Truthfully, as astounding and vulgar as these accusations may be in the “Hollywood” community, we are able to regard them as not being a relevant part of our lives.

However, when these accusations enter “our” world, the Jewish world, they seem to catapult into our consciousness and sometimes lead us to deny that this could ever happen to us, one of our children or someone we know. Both in terms of perpetrator and victim.

In the very back of Nina’s mind, rarely thought of, is the tutor her parents hired to help her with algebra. This well-recommended math teacher came each week for several months to help ensure that Nina would pass her New York State algebra Regents. Each week he sat with her at her desk and went over various problems, and each time as the session progressed he would rub her back. There was not a chance in the world that Nina would ever tell her parents. She was so sure that she must be imagining this horrible act that made her so uncomfortable. Her thought at the time was primarily that if she told her parents they would probably excuse his actions as those of a kind and caring individual. He definitely was not that.

We worried for many years about the vulnerability of our daughter Naama. People would pass her and some would say, “Oh, she’s so cute.” Believe us that after she passed the first maybe eight years of her life, Naama was no longer “cute.” Silently we worried and were concerned. Her ability to defend herself was obviously “not at all.”

Often people talk about the “good old days” as if they were the absolute best. In some ways, perhaps the attention being given to the situations in which people have been abused is a benefit to all of us. It helps us be more aware of the dangers that really do exist out there in both the secular and Jewish world. It may give us the opportunity to be more open within our community and our workplace, with our children and our families. Abuse takes many forms.

As a family, we experienced the terror of one of our grandsons being subpoenaed as a witness in a case of possible abuse, in which a rebbe who slept in the same bunk as the boys was accused of molesting a child in the bunk. Although there was a trial, the “rebbe” was acquitted by the judge in the Monticello, New York, courthouse. The district attorney of that area told us that he had never been under as much pressure by every facet of the Jewish community to not press charges against the accused. A well-known New York City lawyer was brought to Monticello to defend the accused, who went on to be arrested again at a later time and was seen being taken in handcuffs from a well-known yeshiva that did not find his charges from the past relevant. Into the police car he went. Shame on the menahel and board of that school to have allowed him to be hired in the first place. For years there was a cover-up due to his well-known family.

Another form of abuse that we significantly cringe at is verbal in nature: the lack of respect that is often shown between men and women, husbands and wives, in front of others and, most sadly, in front of their children. There is no excuse for a father to speak to one of his children derogatorily about their mother and vice versa. Couples spending time with other couples seem not to hesitate to criticize their spouses. This form of abuse, yelling, criticizing, making fun of in public causes a form of poison in a relationship and must not continue.

It is obvious that despite the number of times we, on egg shells, speak with our children about these topics, it is almost impossible to protect them from totally unexpected incidents. Most notable is the fact that most instances of abuse are by someone who is known to the person and in whom they place their faith and trust. We all must be brave enough to come forward at any time if we feel someone has acted inappropriately to anyone in our family. There are also appropriate ways to report such incidents. Going directly to the person in question is absolutely the last way to deal with a concern. Have enough confidence in knowing that what you are doing is protecting yourself and many others, and do not hesitate.

Recent reports of inappropriate behavior among respected youth leaders in our communities has encouraged us to come forth and share with everyone the necessity of not keeping quiet. It is extraordinarily important to report these cases discreetly, without ever taking the chance of decimating the character of someone before all evidence has been proven. No, the world is not the same; however, as we have seen, many of these horrors took place way before anyone considered that such things could occur. With proper education and responsibility we need to continue to relish the beauty of the world we live in and the good fortune we have to be a part of it, ensuring that any improprieties are immediately dealt with.

 Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at nina@jewishlinknj.com.