Later, the woman, 31, was reported to be a resident of Yavniel, a community with a large Breslov and baalei teshuvah community. She had come to Bnei Brak for a Shabbos family simcha. The new baby was her second child
Chadrei Chareidim, a religious news service in Israel, quoted “Bnei Brak rabbonim” as expressing anger over the woman’s refusal, which they insisted is not in keeping with halachah. She should have immediately agreed to be taken to a hospital by ambulance, an action fully justified for a woman in active labor on Shabbos.
Rabbinic Conference On Abused Children
A milestone event in the fight against child molestation in the observant community took place on Sunday, October 21, at Congregation Kneseth Israel (the White Shul) in Far Rockaway, New York. Sponsored by the Task Force on Families and Children At Risk, the event featured as headline speakers Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, Philadelphia Rosh Yeshiva; Rabbi Herschel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon (YU); and Rabbi Dovid Cohen, Rav of Congregation Gvul Yaavetz.
Other important speakers and presenters included Eli Shapiro, LCSW, Madraigos clinical director; Rabbi Eytan Feiner, Rav of the White Shul; Gavriel Fagin, LCSW, Tikunim Counseling Services clinician; David Pelcovitz, Ph.D., professor of psychology, YU; Sylvan Schaffer, Ph.D. J.D., Hofstra Medical School; Marcel Biberfeld, DSW, Maimonides Medical Center; Joel Rosenshein, Ph.D., Task Force founder; Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Project YES; and Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz, national director of Torah Umesorah.
A clear message was given: Victims of abuse must be helped and supported; every effort must be made to prevent child molestation; and molestation must be reported directly and immediately to proper authorities. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt”l (1849-1932), chief rabbi of the Eidah Hacharedis of Yerushalayim, was once asked to allow the child molester to continue in his post as a melamed in order to feed his family. Rabbi Sonnenfeld angrily responded: “Am I to feed him more innocent children?”
The conference was the latest step in the ongoing fight against child molestation in the frum community. On March 1, 2009, Assemblyman Dov Hikind conducted a public forum at the Boro Park Y to support victims, the first of such events.
This was followed by a public seminar sponsored by the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (JABC) and other leading organizations on October 17, 2009 in Chicago; a public seminar sponsored by JABC and other organizations on October 24, 2009 at B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Brooklyn; a public seminar sponsored by JABC and others on January 2, 2011 at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills in Queens; Pesach sedarim for victims and their supporters sponsored by the Voice of Justice and other organizations on April 14 and 15, 2011 at B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Brooklyn; and a model Pesach Seder for victims and their supporters sponsored by the Voice of Justice and other leading organizations on March 29, 2012 at B’nai Israel of Linden Heights in Brooklyn.
Several sessions at the annual Agudath Israel Conventions were devoted to the campaign as well. Rabbi Yosef Blau, Mashgiach Ruchani Yeshiva Rabbeinu Yitzchok Elchonon (YU), and Mark Meyer Appel of the Voice of Justice have taking leading roles on this issue. The Igud Horabbonim/Rabbinical Alliance of America devoted two Rosh Chodesh Conference sessions to review and discuss the subject. (This writer serves as director of the Igud.)
Member agencies of the Task Force on Families and Children At Risk are: A C.O.A.C.H., Achiezer Community Resource Center, Agudath Israel of America, Bikur Cholim of Rockland County, Bikur Cholim Chesed Organization, Boro Park Counseling Center, Chai Lifeline, Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, Counterforce, Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, FEGS, Hatzolah, Hebrew Academy for Special Children, Interborough Developmental & Consultation Center, Jewish Board of Family & Children’s Services, Jewish Family Services, Lakewood Community Services, M.A.S.K., Madraigos, Magen New York, Maimonides Medical Center, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, National Council of Young Israel, Nefesh International, Ohel Children’s Home & Family Services Tikvah, Orthodox Union, Otsar Family Services, P’Tach, Pesach Tikvah, Project Eden, Project Kol Tzedek, Project Sarah, Psychiatric First Responders, Rachel’s Place, Relief, SAVI Takanot Program, Sephardic Community Center, Sephardic Bikur Cholim, Shalom Task Force, Shomrim, Sister to Sister, SOVRI Hotline, Torah Umesorah, Women’s League Community Residence, Yeled V’Yalda Early Childhood Center and Yitti Leibel Helpline.