Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
One of the positive outcomes of the brouhaha regarding the harassment of Dr. Benzion Twerski – which led to his resignation from Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s panel on child abuse – was the realization on the part of many members of our community that they cannot afford to sit on the sidelines any longer. However, the question arises: “What can I do to become part of the solution?”
Last week, someone posted a comment on my website that sums up that sentiment pretty well in a short, but-to-the-point comment. Referring to Dr. Twerski’s treatment, she writes, “This is an outrage! This is horrible! But what can I, as an individual, do about this?”
Well, al regel achas (on one foot), here are some thoughts:
For starters, we should resist the knee-jerk reaction of blaming “the gedolim” for everything. These attacks are not constructive and will not save the fingernail of even one child. If you are disappointed or even upset with the response of rabbinic leadership to the abuse issue, “Deal With It,” as the kids say. And do something constructive with your passion and energy.
In the early 1990s, I was an eighth-grade rebbi and frustrated to tears at what “the system” was doing to the weaker talmidim I was teaching. I wrote a column, “An Ounce of Prevention,” submitted it to a mainstream publication, The Jewish Observer, which ran it, despite the fact that it pointed out fundamental flaws in our chinuch system.
At the age of 36, I was given an open microphone by Rabbi Moshe Sherer, zt”l – with no scripting whatsoever – at the 2006 Agudah Convention at a plenary session with 4,000 delegates, hundreds of rabbonim and several members of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah present.
I have proudly served as a department head of Agudath Israel for 12 years now in my capacity as director of Project Y.E.S. and never once have any of the gedolim, shlita, even suggested to me that I tone down my writings or remarks despite the fact that I am, well, outspoken at times (okay – often).
I was invited to several meetings of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah and the Rabbinic Board of Torah U’Mesorah to share feedback with our roshei yeshivos, shlita, about the at-risk-kids and their parents. And whenever I have the zechus of spending time with our gedolim, shlita, they thank me for my efforts to improve things for our children and offer their assistance.
So, if you want to make positive change in the arena of abuse prevention – and we all know that much change is sorely needed – roll up your sleeves and become part of the solution instead of complaining or just hoping that things will improve on their own.
· Organize lectures in your community to train parents and educators how to speak to their children about safety, privacy and personal space. These are very easily done in a Torah-appropriate manner. Awareness saves lives. It is just that simple. You cannot follow your children around for the rest of their lives, but you can teach them to have the self-confidence to ward off predators. My experience has shown me that pedophiles have a twisted sixth sense that immediately lets them know which kids are “safe” to molest and which are not. The ignorant and unaware ones are always the “safest.” To quote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
· Reward and support the moderate, progressive educators. It is so frustrating to watch child-friendly programs get shot down time and again by judgmental communal attitudes. Principals who give children sufficient playtime get their schools branded as shvache (weak) mosdos. Schools that are tolerant in their admission policies or with the misdeeds of their students are often shunned and relegated to second-hand status. The result is that there are lots and lots of really great people in our chinuch system whose hands are frozen on the wheel – afraid to do reasonable things for the kids because they rightfully assume that it will be the “kiss of death” for their schools. I keep seeing this time and again – and I keep listening to such educators complaining to me that their hands are tied by parental pressure. “They” (our gedolim) didn’t create this mindset. We did. And we must stop this self-destructive behavior if we would like to see our schools initiate much-needed abuse-prevention programs.
· Do your homework and see what you can do to support organizations whose mission it is to prevent abuse and treat its victims. There are quite a number of established organizations that have programs for abuse prevention and/or treatment and several, which have been created over the past few years to address this issue.
One such effort is “Project Innocent Heart” (innocentheart.org, email@example.com) founded by my dear friend, Dr. Sam Lupin and his wife Lynda, in memory of their beloved daughter Lois, a”h, who tragically passed away after a long bout with cancer. Innocent Heart is a visionary project looking to train therapists, help parents and educators teach their children about safety, and provide abuse victims with professional therapy on a sliding-scale payment basis.
Dr. Lupin prepared a budget that would allow for the treatment of 10 abused children in the first year – a number he felt was far more than a new, unadvertised program would attract. Well, six months later there are 25 children receiving help, and whenever I see Dr. Lupin in shul or around town, he tells me how he takes calls from parents of victims that leave him sickened and heartbroken, and he wonders how he will continue to fund this program.
So drop him a line and offer your support. Contact your local bikur cholim or other communal agencies and ask if they are providing services for abuse victims – and then offer to give your time and some of your charity funds to support their efforts.
To quote the Mishnah, “The day is short and there is much work to do.” We all know what the problems and challenges are regarding the abused and molested children in our community.
Let’s finally, “Deal With It.”
About the Author: Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam and founder and director of Agudath Israel's Project Y.E.S.
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The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
Today is day six without a phone.
Besides for feeling slightly isolated, it’s not too bad.
I’ve been doing things that I know I would not be doing if my phone was sitting next to me, shiny screen beckoning.
Is anyone else alarmed by the way extended warranties are sold on just about anything and everything? It means one of two things – either someone has found a great way of getting consumers to part with more of their hard earned dollars or manufacturers have no faith in their own products. Neither of those options is particularly heartwarming.
As I described Gaon in a review in June 2001 (“In Search of Ancestors, Sculpture by Simon Gaon” at Yeshiva University Museum), his Bukharian Jewish roots are deeply embedded on both sides of his family, echoed in his early yeshiva education.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
Think of your issues this way: due to those different backgrounds, you have a “shovel” to deal with difficulties while he has a “spoon”.
Do you remember the good old days when kids were kids and there was never anything to worry about? Those days never really existed, but today there are issues kids worry about that weren’t issues for some adults. They include fear of bullying, natural disasters, divorce, and violence.
In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.
Unfortunately, a map of the Middle East with no mention of Israel is nothing new… It is surprising however, that the world’s largest publisher of children’s literature, Scholastic Books, has joined in this trend.
Those of us familiar with the do’s and don’ts of accepted practice in the mental health profession saw similar blaring warning lights in our minds, as should have occurred when the facts were made public regarding the accusations against Nehemia Weberman. This case may very well be our community’s most important abuse trial during our lifetimes. It is imperative that we have a huge turnout in support of the victim, a courageous young lady who, may she be gezunt andge’bentched, is determined to see this through to the end so others won’t suffer like she did.
These lines are written in loving memory of our dear father, Reb Shlomo Zev ben Reb Baruch Yehudah Nutovic, a”h, whose first yahrzeit is 7 Menachem Av. May the positive lessons learned from this essay be a zechus for his neshamah.
All responsible leaders in our community have roundly condemned the recent violence in Beit Shemesh and Meah Shearim.
A surefire way to gauge the generation in which a person was raised is to have him or her fill in the following sentence: Where were you when ?”
Baby Boomers would ask, “When President Kennedy was shot?” Thirtysomethings would respond, “When the space shuttle exploded?” Today’s teenagers would reply, “On 9/11?”
One week ago on my website I announced my intention to attend the next court appearance of a man who was arrested last year and is now standing trial on 10 felony charges of child abuse.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz:
We were taken aback when our 18-year-old son just called us from Eretz Yisrael (we live in Europe) and told us that he was coming home and wants to immediately go to work. He said that he is wasting his time in yeshiva, and just can’t take it anymore. He said that he will “run away from home” if we don’t allow him to go to work.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/deal-with-it-becoming-part-of-the-solution/2008/09/24/
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