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July 28, 2016 / 22 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

67 Deaths In Eight Months: Groups Battle Surge in Substance Abuse in Orthodox Community

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Shocked by the number of untimely deaths of young people in the Jewish community, Rabbi Zvi Gluck, the director of Amudim, which deals in crisis intervention, decided several months ago to start keeping count of the number of deaths due to addiction, abuse and mental illness among young Orthodox Jews. When I first spoke to him two weeks ago, the figure was 65 fatalities since Rosh Hashana. Just one week later that number had jumped to 67.

Amudim reported the statistics as 21 suicides, 41 drug overdoses and 5 alcohol related deaths in member of the Orthodox Jewish community, ages 35 and under, in the tri-state area

When he first founded Amudim two years ago, there were those who berated Gluck for speaking out about the crises that were decimating our young people in droves; he was making a chilul Hashem by raising these issues in a public forum, they told him. Others simply didn’t believe him. Today Gluck finds that armed with hard numbers, his detractors are far less vocal.

A group of boys after a team-building activity run by Amudim.

A group of boys after a team-building activity run by Amudim.

“It is no longer possible to make believe that certain things that are killing our kids are not happening,” said Gluck. “Whether it is victims of sexual abuse, whether it is suffering from addiction, or it is mental illness, these are issues that we must confront.”

The fact that these issues exist within the Jewish community is, unfortunately, not new. What is novel is that faced with incontrovertible evidence of their existence, the Jewish community is finally starting to discuss these problems and trying to find ways to solve them, simply because they are so widespread.

“I don’t know any family that doesn’t know someone, either in their immediate family, their extended family or a neighbor, that has suffered from one of these things,” said Gluck.

The number of organizations addressing these crises within the Jewish community continues to grow. Far from duplicating each other’s efforts, these many agencies are addressing the full spectrum of the issues, from awareness to prevention, to referrals to treatment services to rehabilitation and beyond, all across the globe. A recent crowd-funding campaign spearheaded by the Brooklyn based Our Place brought 18 organizations together in a one day effort to raise money for those facing extreme difficulties. 4,203 people collectively raised $2,553,429 for various agencies including yeshivos, drop in centers, rehabilitation programs and summer camps.

Ruchama Clapman is the founder and executive director of MASK, which has been providing a wide array of services to those dealing with difficult issues for almost 20 years. In addition to running a “hope” line providing referrals to therapists, agencies, counselors and inpatient and outpatient rehab and mental health clinics, MASK has also run parent support groups and in-school programs. The goal for all of these efforts is the same: fostering emotional wellness in our children.

“The message that we have learned over the years is that parents need to realize that prevention is the key,” said Clapman. “Issues start early on and are compounded daily in pain, suffering and shame.”

MASK has case managed over 16,000 families and 24,000 in community programs since its inception and Clapman said that the issues often stem from trauma that may have occurred earlier on.

“A child who is bullied in sixth grade can experience pain so great that it can create issues later,” said Clapman. “You may not necessarily see it when they are younger, but peace of mind is difficult for trauma victims and they inevitably act up later to escape their pain.”

The importance of focusing on elementary school-aged children who have low self esteem, ADHD or learning disabilities or have experienced something traumatic, be it bullying or death of a loved one, cannot be overstated, according to Clapman.

“Common forms of acting out are the addictions, all of them, such as drugs and alcohol, internet addiction, pornography, criminal behavior, and relationships,” said Clapman “Over time many of these young adults are rejected, whether for behavioral reasons or for being academically underproductive and they are left to the street, which just reinforces these behaviors and exposes them to additional dangers.”

Parenting has become increasingly difficult, noted Clapman, and well-raised children from even prominent families can inadvertently be exposed to unprecedented threats, forever altering the course of their lives. In many cases, parents are often the last to find out that their children are facing serious problems.

“As parents, we do the best we can but times are changing,” said Clapman. “The message to everyone is that we are not immune. Nobody is immune in today’s society.”

Yitzchok Weinreb knows that lesson all too well. His son Gershon struggled for years to cope with the trauma of a difficult divorce and turned to drugs at a young age. He died last year of a drug overdose at the age of 26.

“We have to get the word out there,” said Weinreb. “We are losing them a lot and not just to drugs. We need to wake up and smell the coffee before it is someone in your own family and realize that this is a major problem among Jews.”

Having been molested as a child, Weinreb fully understands the difficulties that face anyone who has experienced trauma.

“I live with this day in and day out,” observed Weinreb. “This happened to me from age 11 to 15. I am 52 and I still go to bed every night and wake up every morning with it.”

Because of his own experiences, Weinreb finds that many abuse victims relate well to him, though he fully acknowledges that the road to recovery is long and bumpy.

“I tell people that I have gone through what they have gone through,” said Weinreb. “There is light at the end of the tunnel and they can get through it. It may be very hard, but suicide is not the way to solve anything. With help from the right people, even those who have experienced terrible trauma can still enjoy a full life.

Sandy Eller

Aussie Rabbi: Abuse, Family Violence is Top Priority

Monday, May 26th, 2014

A leading Australian rabbi has set family violence and sexual abuse as top priorities for the country’s top rabbinic organization.

“There’s nothing we shouldn’t be speaking about. Let’s talk about organ donation, let’s talk about child protection, let’s talk about reporting to the police, abortion, end-of-life issues,” Kluwgant told Melbourne’s The Age. 

Kluwgant assumes the reigns of Australia’s leading rabbinic association at a time when the community has been rocked by abuse scandals and cover-ups at the highest levels. At least one former employees of Chabad’s Yeshiva College boys school in Melbourne has been convicted on felony abuse charges and several more are currently on trial.

Manny Waks, a graduate of Yeshiva College and founder of the Tzedek victims rights organization, claims that he made senior Chabad officials aware of the abuse that he suffered as a student during the 1980s, but they refused to fire the alleged offenders. Since going public with accusations of abuse several years ago, Waks’ family – a prominent Chabad family in Melbourne – have been ostracised from the community.  His parents recently announced they would move out of the community, and Zephania Waks recently suffered a heart attack.

Rabbi Kluwgant, the father of five sons, has served as a chaplain with Victoria Police, as well as chaplain to JewishCare, a care facility for senior citizens. He told The Age he would take a clear, unambiguous stand on behalf of abuse victims in the community.

“We have to unequivocally tell people – with a united voice, without any dissent – if you are a victim of child abuse, take it to the police. If you are a perpetrator, we hope you get caught and do your time, because that is unacceptable,” he said.

Jewish Press News Briefs

IsraAID Combats Gender-Based Violence in South Sudan

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Israel, as a liberal democratic country dedicated to human rights and women’s rights, seeks to help South Sudan address gender-based violence, a significant problem in that country.

Helen Animashaun, a volunteer working with the South Sudan Women Empowerment Center, wrote in the Huffington Post, “The reality of life for women in the world’s newest country is harsh; it is full of challenges and limited opportunities.” She reports that “[a]ccess to healthcare and education in South Sudan is simply not an option in many places. The statistics speak for themselves: more than 80% of women are illiterate and one in seven women die as a result of pregnancy and childbirth.” Nevertheless, Animashaun wrote that “the greatest challenge women experience is the social acceptance of sexual and gender based violence.”

According to Human Rights Watch, about 48 percent of young girls in South Sudan between the ages of 15 and 19 are forced into marriages by their families, who are often given generous gifts as dowries in return. If a girl dares to resist, they can face violent actions from their families. In fact, some South Sudanese girls are even murdered or raped for attempting to resist such arranged teenage marriages. In one particularly brutal case, a 17-year-old girl was raped and beaten to death in South Sudan for not submissively accepting her family’s decision to marry her off to a 75-year-old man.

According to Ophelie Namiech, IsraAID’s country director in South Sudan,

After more than 40 years of conflict, displacement and poverty, the people of South Sudan are facing enormous social challenges!…Violence against women is pervasive and has been exacerbated by decades of war that have left many children without a proper family structure, education or health care… A large portion of the population suffers from deep trauma that prevents them from being fully included in the development process.

Namiech claims that Juba, South Sudan’s capital city, has not been spared these challenges facing all of South Sudan. “On the contrary, rapes, human trafficking, and under-aged prostitution have all dramatically increased due to rapid and uncontrolled urbanization,” she claims.

Namiech emphasized that “In particular the children in some slum areas are exposed to appalling and sustained sexual abuse. Sexual pressure is very strong in Juba – especially in the most vulnerable areas of the capital where young girls quickly fall into the cycle of sexual violence and exploitation.”

It is not uncommon to see girls as young as eight years old in Juba raped, Namiech says. “In those areas, those girls are condemned to spend their lives in the street, looking for food in the garbage behind market places and being surrounded by violent drunk and drugged men who abused and mistreat them.”

IsraAID, as an Israeli humanitarian organization seeking to improve the status of women within developing countries in addition to providing pivotal emergency relief assistance, has a program to combat gender-based violence in South Sudan that works with local services such as the State Ministry of Gender and Social Development, the South Sudan Police Service as well as several local community-based organizations to help them better address violence against women in South Sudan. IsraAID trains, mentors, and accompanies these South Sudanese actors so that one day they will better be able to address cases of violence against women on their own.

In 2012 alone, IsraAID trained 172 service providers on gender-based violence, as well as how to design and implement gender-based violence related programs. Nevertheless, despite IsraAID’s best efforts, Namiech claimed, “When we monitor the situation in the slum areas with our local partner Confident Children Out of Conflict [the only local NGO that has a shelter for 35 vulnerable girls] we often find very young girls wandering the slum areas alone without any clothes on, who rapidly become surrounded by abusive men.” Namiech has attempted to help such young girls, yet unfortunately there are many of them. “I have seen those scenes myself. They are heartbroken,” she asserts.

Nevertheless, despite the violent plight endured by way too many women living in South Sudan, IsraAID has been able to make a difference there. According to Namiech, “A few weeks ago, the police and social workers that IsraAID has been training since 2012, have encouraged reporting and succeeded in bringing before court the case of a 14-year old girl victim of rape. This is, in itself, a small successful first step.” In addition, IsraAID has sponsored advocacy sessions on gender based violence within South Sudan involving legal, social and security services as well as members of the South Sudanese community.

IsraAID has also supported awareness sessions on gender-based violence in schools and raising public awareness about this issue in the local media as well as training sessions and workshops designed to increase cooperation between social workers and the police in order to work towards increasing reportage of cases of gender based violence. In February 2013, more cases in fact were brought to courts than previously, although there still is much work to be done on this issue. Yet, what IsraAID is doing by training local South Sudanese on gender-based violence is a step in the right direction towards improving the plight of all South Sudanese women.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

YU Must Do the Right Thing

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

After thinking long and hard about the sex abuse scandal at Yeshiva University’s high school, I have come to the conclusion that more needs to be done.

A lot of mistakes were made that resulted in many young students being subjected to sex abuse. This is certainly not a happy episode for Y.U. A lot of people share culpability for the overlooking or ignoring what allegedly happened during the employ by Y.U. of Macy Gordon and George Finkelstein.

Some of the people who need to answer for their mistakes are people I respect. Some are icons. I am not going to go into specifics of why I so admire and respect those people. Those who read this blog regularly will for instance know how much Dr. Lamm has influenced my own Hashkafos. I still honor him for that. I don’t think I would be who I am today without reading some of his works.
To the best of my understanding, his level of culpability is allegedly as follows. As president of Yeshiva University he was allegedly informed of abuse by the above two individuals. Instead of reporting them to the police and firing them immediately, he allegedly let them go quietly… and did not feel the need to inform other communities about them.

If I recall correctly – his explanation for this was that he did not want to hurt them professionally since he had no hard evidence for their abusive behavior. He also felt that it was the obligation of those who in the future would employ them to check them out… and not his obligation to warn them. That was pretty much the thinking in those days – wrong though it was.

We all know by now that predators when “kicked out” from one community will set up shop in another. It is also true that the victims of Macy and Finkelstein were not properly dealt with. If I am not mistaken they were basically told to just keep quiet, get over it, and get on with their lives.

We also now know that it doesn’t work like that. There are lifelong residual effects suffered by sex abuse victims that stay with them for the rest of their lives. Some handle it better than others. But it is no secret that in many cases abuse victims suffer lifelong depression if untreated – leading to suicides in some cases. There is ample evidence of that.

I do not think Dr. Lamm is a bad person. Quite the contrary. But I do think he made a mistake and should say so publicly.

One can say with a certain amount of legitimacy that as president of a university that was in such financial trouble when he took over that his time was consumed with turning things around. He set about to literally save the school. Which he did. With such a heavy responsibility he could have well just seen the ‘goings on’ at the affiliated high school that he was not directly involved with was an intrusion into his primary function as the head of the university – charged with literally saving it from closing down.

This of course is no excuse. But it is a fact and should in my view be taken into consideration. It is equally true that his busy schedule did not diminish his responsibility to the individual student. It did not diminish the pain suffered by students who were victims. It should not have been a back burner issue.

It is now my view that Y.U. needs to do the right thing and come clean. They need to admit that mistakes were made by leaders both past and present. What happened ought to be fully investigated and all results made public. To the extent that mistakes were made, they ought to be fully recognized and apologized for.

I also agree with Stacy Klein who said in a Forward article that Y.U. should indeed set up a fund for victims in order to help pay for any therapy needed by the victims of Gordon and Finkelstein.

However, I do not agree that at age 85, Dr. Lamm should be fired from his position – as she suggests. His intent was not malicious. Just mistaken. And his contributions to Judaism are immense. I think a sincere apology admitting his mistakes – along with that therapy fund – would go a long way towards helping to heal the victims. I do not see anyone gaining from his being fired.

After discovery of all the facts Y.U. needs to not only make them public and officially apologize – it needs to take concrete steps to make sure it never happens again. And to try and make things right for the victims via funding their path to healing.

I hope that victims of Macy and Gordon will agree with this approach.

Once Y.U. does all this it can get on with its holy mission of teaching Torah U’Mada to future generations of Jews. Y.U. has a great legacy. But it is not perfect. Once it does the right thing here – their reputation can be restored and their legacy will continue well into the future.

Unlike the typical yeshiva – there is only one Yeshiva University. Mistakes were made. But it ought not lead to its downfall. Mistakes can be corrected. That’s what needs to happen here.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Weberman Gets 103 Years

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

NEW YORK (JTA) — Chasidic counselor Nechemya Weberman was sentenced to 103 years in prison for sexual abuse of a teenage female patient over several years.

Weberman, 54, a member of the Satmar Chasidic community in Brooklyn, did not speak during the Jan. 22 sentencing in New York State Supreme Court. He had been sent to Rikers Island prison without bail immediately after his conviction in December.

He was found guilty on 59 counts of sexual abuse. The encounters started in 2007, when his victim was 12, and lasted until she was 15. She is now 18.

Weberman had faced up to 117 years in prison.

The girl’s parents sent her for sessions to Weberman, an unlicensed therapist, at the recommendation of the child’s school. The girl was referred for not meeting her sect’s strict modesty guidelines regarding women’s dress and asking questions about the existence of God.

The victim reportedly gave a tearful statement in court.

“I clearly remember how I would look in the mirror. I saw a girl who didn’t want to live in her own skin, a girl whose innocence was shattered, a girl who couldn’t sleep at night because of the gruesome invasion that had been done to her body,” she is reported as saying.

The New York Daily News reported Jan. 19 that a new investigation conducted by the paper showed that Weberman had violated at least 10 other female patients.

At Weberman’s trial, prosecutors said they were aware of six additional victims — four married women and two underage girls. The newspaper reported that it identified four additional women, who do not want to come forward out of fear of being ostracized by the community.

Weberman victims, according to the new investigation, include four married women, three of whom he counseled, and six unmarried women, all of whom were Weberman clients.

According to the paper, sources close to the women abused by Weberman said he used patterns of grooming and nurturing to lure them. He showered outcast teenagers with attention, taking them on road trips and buying them lingerie, they said. The unlicensed counselor also cited kabbalah when forcing his victims to have sex with him to convince them his acts were allowed, once telling a victim, “I learned kabbalah and we were a couple in another incarnation.”

“The intimate acts he was performing were intended as a form of repentance for sins committed in their previous lifetimes,” Rabbi Yakov Horowitz from Monsey, N.Y., in whom other victims had confided, told the Daily News.

Five others told the New York daily that they were aware of Weberman’s misconduct with clients years before he was accused of sexual abuse, and sources said the anonymous victim who put him on trial came forward after friends told her Weberman “was a known pervert.”

JTA

The Palestinian Authority’s Inconvenient Truths

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

The truth sometimes hurts; that is why the Palestinian Authority has been working hard to prevent the outside world from hearing about many occurrences that reflect negatively on its leaders or people.

In recent years, the Palestinian Authority leadership, often with the help of the mainstream media in the US and EU, has been successful in its effort to divert all attention only toward Israel.

Following are examples of some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian leadership in Judea and Samaria do not want others to know about:

– Over 100 senior PLO and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Among these privileges is the freedom to enter Israel and travel abroad at any time they wish. This privilege system has existed since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.

– Out of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in Judea and Samaria in the past two weeks to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel because they no longer feel comfortable living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

– Dozens of Christian families from east Jerusalem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods in the the city because they too no longer feel comfortable living among Muslims.

– Palestinian Authority security forces in Judea and Samaria continue to summon and arrest political opponents, journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership.

– The Palestinian Authority government, which has been complaining about a severe financial crisis for the past few months, just cancelled outstanding electricity debts for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. Palestinians pay their bills to the Arab Jerusalem Electric Company, which buys electricity from the Israeli Electric Company; the Palestinians have not been paying their electricity bills and many have been stealing electricity from their Arab company.

– Tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority civil servants in the Gaza Strip receive salaries to stay at home and not work. The practice has been in effect since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007. According to Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf, the Palestinian Authority, which is funded mostly by American and European taxpayer money, spends around $120 million each month on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

– Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction has allocated more than one million dollars for celebrations marking the 48th anniversary of the “launching of the revolution” — a reference to the first armed attack carried out by Fatah against Israel.

– Despite the calls for an economic boycott of Israel, more than 40,000 Palestinians have received permits to work in Israel. Moreover, another 15,000 Palestinians continue to work in Jewish settlements in spite of an official ban.

– Top PLO and Fatah officials continue to do their shopping in Israeli-owned businesses both in Judea and Samaria and Israel proper. Last week, for example, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and his family were spotted shopping in Jerusalem’s Malha mall. Of course, the PLO official did not forget to bring along his private driver and maid.

– The wife of a senior PLO official recently spent $20,000 for dental treatment in Tel Aviv at a time when there is no shortage of renowned Palestinian dentists in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Nablus.

These are only some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian Authority does not want the outside world to know. Palestinian journalists often avoid reporting about such issues out of concern for their safety or for “ideological” reasons. These journalists have been taught that it is forbidden to hang out the dirty laundry.

Western journalists, donors and decision-makers who deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict need to know that there are many truths being completely ignored or hidden from their eyes and ears.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/khaled-abu-toameh/the-palestinian-authoritys-inconvenient-truths/2013/01/03/

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