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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

Jewish Students: Cover-Up of Anti-Semitism at Cambridge

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Three Jewish students who were the targets of anti-Semitic abuse by a Cambridge University drinking society are accusing the university of a cover-up, The Telegraph reported Sunday. The students were attacked by a mob in a Christ’s College campus building in late October.

Shlomo Roiter-Jesner, 25, one of the victims, told The Telegraph: “It was a closed party so we walked out but as we did so these individuals started getting more physical and more vocal and they noticed our kippot. All of a sudden they were shouting: ‘Jew, get [expletive] out of here.’ We tried to leave but they were yelling at us.”

Another Jewish student sent an email to Professor Jane Stapleton, master of Christ’s College, stating: “We heard shouting and were literally grabbed and pulled out of the building by about seven large, intimidating males. We, and other bystanders, heard a number of vicious anti-Semitic slurs including ‘[expletive] Jew, you don’t belong here’, ‘dirty Jew’ and to myself, ‘[expletive] off, darkie.’ They then proceeded to try and choke my friend with his scarf, leaving him gasping for oxygen, and to push me and the third friend around, despite our attempts to de-escalate the situation. They eventually went back in after threatening to ‘smash our faces in.’”

Even though Prof Stapleton assured the student in a response email that “Christ’s would regard any conduct of the type that you report as wholly unacceptable, deplorable and worthy of appropriate disciplinary action,” all she finally reported in the end, on November 18, was: “The internal disciplinary process of the tutors is now concluded and two students have been disciplined. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention,”

Not very satisfactory at all. “The college has not confronted the issue at all,” Roiter-Jesner told The Telegraph, “They have brushed it under the carpet.”

JNi.Media

Minor Detained on Temple Mount Says Cop Punched him in the Stomach

Monday, September 12th, 2016

The Honenu legal aid society on Sunday submitted an urgent complaint to police IA following a complaint from a minor who had been arrested on the Temple Mount and claimed that a non-Jewish policeman punched him in the stomach with his fist at the police station.

The minor, 16, claimed the non-Jewish policeman punched him in the stomach and another policeman threatened him, after they had arrived inside the police station. The minor was detained after the cops had spotted him taking a step back and bowing slightly in the direction of the holy sanctuary.

According to the complaint, submitted by attorney Menashe Yado, once the minor had arrived at the station, one policeman urged him angrily to sit down on a bench, saying, “Sit, sit, before I break your bones,” while the other police punched the minor in the stomach.

“This was police violence against a handcuffed minor who was not being violent at the police station nor in general,” Yado wrote in his IA complaint. He stressed that this was not an isolated case in the way the cops of the David Sector have been treating Jews who arrive at the Temple Mount.

David Israel

300 Orthodox Rabbis Unite To Combat Child Sexual Abuse Epidemic

Monday, August 29th, 2016

In an unprecedented step, 300 Orthodox rabbis signed a proclamation regarding child safety in the Orthodox Jewish community. In it, the rabbis call upon synagogues and schools are called upon to adopt certain preventative measures outlined in the document in order to deter child abuse and child sexual abuse. The signatories invited to sign this proclamation consisted of member rabbis of the Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and Yeshiva University (YU).

Some of the proclamation’s prominent signers include: Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Av Beth Din, Beth Din of America; Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President, RCA; Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO, OU Kosher; Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President Emeritus, OU; Rabbi Zevulun Charlop, Dean Emeritus, RIETS, YU; Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Principal at Ramaz School; and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Jacob of Atlanta. Rabbi Mark Dratch, who assisted in spearheading this initiative, applauded the “overwhelming support” of the signers and appeals to all communities “to implement the policies advocated in this statement.”

The proclamation commences by honoring the memories of the individuals in the Orthodox Jewish community who tragically have committed suicide as a result of enduring child sexual abuse. The gravity of this issue is linked in the proclamation to a passage in the Torah, “Do not stand by while your fellow’s blood is being spilled” (Leviticus). Prominent signer Rabbi Hershel Billet, Rabbi, Young Israel of Woodmere, succinctly expressed the gravity of the effects of child sexual abuse: “Every sexual abuser is a potential murderer. They destroy the souls of their victims and at times cause the death of their victims.”

The proclamation stresses, “We condemn attempts to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse. These efforts are harmful, contrary to Jewish law, and immoral. The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child abuse and neglect directly and promptly to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law.” Exclusive to this proclamation is the clear assertion that, “there is no need for people acting responsibly to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting.”

“Since abuse of children is a life threatening crime, we must report immediately,” Rabbi Billet said. “We must trust responsible civil authorities in a just country to be able to separate fact from fiction.” Claims that “snitching” to secular authorities about a Jewish sex offender is prohibited clearly has no basis in Jewish law. Michael Salamon, PhD, clinical psychologist and noted expert in this field, said, “The longer it takes to report the more time the abuser has to keep abusing and creating alibis. Only trained investigators with proper professional team support (e.g. police, medical, etc.) can investigate. Asking anyone else about reporting just delays or confounds or completely derails a proper investigation. That is why so many abusers have been able to move to different communities and continue to abuse.” Signer Rabbi Yosef Blau, Senior Mashgiach Ruchani, RIETS/YU, said, “Requiring a victim of sexual abuse to first gain approval from a rabbi or therapist before reporting the abuse to the authorities is damaging to the victim, whose credibility has been questioned, and hampers the investigation by possibly affecting the description of what occurred.

“Rabbis who have been consulted have often used concerns for the image of the community to discourage the victim and his or her family from speaking to the police.” Dr. Salamon said that “Therapists can lose their license if they attempt to investigate. Be aware that the overwhelming majority of reports – in the vicinity of 95%, or more – are accurate. It takes a lot for someone to finally come forward and tell someone that they have been abused.” The fear that without rabbis sifting through allegations there would be a high percentage of false allegations is similarly incorrect.

Jewish Press Staff

Australian Jewish College Director Suing over Claims She Pressured Abuse Victims Not to Complain

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Nechama Bendet, a former general manager of Yeshivas Oholei Yosef Yitzchok Lubavitch, a.k.a. Yeshivah College, in Melbourne, Australia, is suing for libel a Facebook user who has accused her of pressuring child sex abuse victims not to complain to police, the Herald Sun reported Monday.

Bendet submitted a writ to the Supreme Court seeking damages for five Facebook posts by Bruce Cooke, whom she called a “vocal member of the Jewish community.” Cooke’s Facebook page is extensive, and much of it deals with the Lubavitch institutions in Melbourne and Sydney and the way they are being run (he is critical of the movement’s wholesale “McDonald’s approach” to opening new franchises, for instance).

Bendet, serving nowadays as the Yeshiva College’s director of development, is accusing Cooke of suggesting she attempted to ostracize two victims of the sex abuse scandal the school was mired in by calling them “moisrim” (snitches) because they had complained to police, in an attempt to discourage them from pursuing their complaints. In earlier centuries, a “moiser” would often be found with his throat slit near the river, so the accusation can be quite potent.

According to the Herald Sun, Bendet told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that after a former Yeshivah guard had been charged with child sex abuse, her school never entertained a cover-up. Instead the school sought advice from Robert Richter, QC, a prominent Australian barrister, regarding public relations and dealing with the victims.

But, According to Bendet, Cooke’s Facebook posts have been accusing Her of knowing about the abuse and not reporting it, of trying to keep others from complaining, and even of engaging in criminal conduct in an attempt to bury the scandal. Bendet also complained that Cooke had accused her of intimidating staff at the Yeshivah as well as at Beth Rivkah Ladies College.

Bendet is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Cook from repeating his accusations.

According to Cooke’s attorney, the Facebook maverick is relishing his day in court and is planning to defend the case.

Back on February 11, 2015, the Australian ABC network reported on Nechama Bendet’s testimony to the Royal Commission that day, admitting it was a mistake that Yeshivah College had never apologized directly to Manny Waks, a student who had been sexually abused by a guard:

Victim’s Attorney Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge, Mrs Bendet, that Manny Waks did nothing wrong by going to the police…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: …in 1996…

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: And again in 2011?

Nechama Bendet: Absolutely.

Melinda Richards: Do you acknowledge that he has done nothing wrong by speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And you would agree that he has in fact done a great deal of good by speaking publically about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you agree that his parents have done nothing wrong by supporting him in going to the police and speaking publicly about his abuse?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: And his broader family have done nothing wrong and are not to be blamed by association?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

Melinda Richards: Do you condemn ongoing harassment and intimidation of Mr Waks and his family?

Nechama Bendet: Yes.

ABC’s Samantha Donovan noted that “Manny Waks wiped tears from his eyes as Mrs Bendet spoke. Outside the hearing room he said her words were empowering.”

JNi.Media

Changing Course in Dealing with Sex Abuse

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah}

Something remarkable happened at the recent Torah U’Mesorah convention.

I have always had tremendous respect for my 12th grade Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, who now heads the Agudah Moetzes. I have never doubted Rabbi Perlow’s concern for every Jew – including those that have been victims of sex abuse.  Those that have accused him of not caring – have never met him. And they have drawn unfair conclusions about his motives and those of his colleagues. Which are completely false. While I have disagreed with some of their decisions in the past, I have never questioned their intent.

What Rabbi Perlow said at the recent convention is a sea change in how the Charedi world dealt with sex abuse in the past. From the Yated, here is part of it:

Torah Umesorah is preparing to train hundreds of principals, rabbeim and mechanchos across the country. This training will provide them with tools not only to prevent instances of child abuse and molestation from occurring within their schools, but also to recognize symptoms among students indicating that they may have been molested outside the school setting. (Statistics show that perpetrators are rarely strangers; generally, they are people the child knows and trusts.) The training program is slated to begin this fall.

In addition, a training program for thousands of summer-camp counselors is now being rolled out… The counselor training program, endorsed also by Dr. David Pelcowitz and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, will make summer camp the special, cherished experience that it should be. As Rabbi Perlow stated at the convention, “We must ensure that predators are not able to disturb our children; we have no sympathy for the perpetrators.”

These and other initiatives will generate increased awareness of the problem and greater sensitivity to warning symptoms, and will likely result in more people contacting trusted community organizations that specialize in addressing child abuse and molestation. “We are deeply sympathetic to the victims,” Rabbi Perlow said at the convention. Gedolei Yisroel are making this issue the highest priority…

The days of looking away, pretending that these problems don’t exist, or pushing them to the side, are behind us; we have to take a strong, positive stance to protect and empower our children.” To assist victims of abuse and molestation, a group of concerned donors established a fund to subsidize trauma therapy. The fund, named ASAP, is currently assisting 250 victims, with new applications arriving daily.

With one out of every five children in our community likely to be victimized, this serious threat to our families has the potential to destroy generations. More initiatives are on the way, as the Torah community unites to combat this intolerable situation.

I am very happy to see this. I believe that this new attitude and the programs generated by it will make a difference.

There are certainly issues that are yet to be resolved. Like the idea of reporting abuse immediately to the police instead of going to rabbis first.  Rabbi Perlow touched on this subject. He clearly stated that if there is  Raglayim L’davar (legitimate suspicions of sex abuse) one should report it to the police. But he hedged on it indicating that it is rabbis that should be the ones to determine whether such evidence rises to the level of Reglayim L’Davar.

I still believe that going to rabbis first is at best an unnecessary step that will delay – if not deny justice to be served. But at least rabbis will now be better trained to determine what is and isn’t legitimate suspicion – if I understand this program correctly.

I am nevertheless still strongly opposed to having rabbis vet suspicions since there will be an inherent if unintentional bias that might favor an accused abuser. Especially if he is otherwise a respected upstanding member of the community. Which is often the case.  They fear that an unjust accusation will ruin the man’s life as well as that of his family. But that fear is outweighed by the statistical rarity that a child would accuse someone of sexually abusing him that didn’t actually do so.

The police have no such bias and should be trusted to do their job. That an innocent person might be falsely accused and suffer is indeed unfair. But statistically we have no choice but to err on the side of our children who will suffer even more if a delay will enable an abuser to continue his abusive behavior on more victims.

Another issue is about whether to extend the statue of limitations on lawsuits filed by victims against their abusers and enablers that Rabbi Perlow alluded to. There too I disagree with him. A survivor has a right to justice and time should not be a factor.

But to castigate an opposing view that seeks to protect institutions from lawsuits flied after the original faculty and administration has left and the new people having had no clue about any abuse that ever took place there – is unfair. I understand Rabbi Perlow’s fear. He worries about the entire educational system collapsing by lawsuits filed decades after the abuse happened. That is a fair concern. Even if we don’t agree with him, to attribute nefarious motives is just plain wrong.

I don’t believe that removing the statute of limitation will destroy Jewish education. Because where it has been implemented (I believe in California) the system was not hurt. Precedent tells me that we have little to fear in that department. Justice will be better served if victims are not denied the ability to sue because of time restraints

So we have a serious difference of opinion. But in no way do I attribute nefarious motives to the members of the Agudah Moetzes.

Bottom line here is that this is a huge – if belated – step in the right direction. It follows a declaration made not long ago by a different group of respected Charedi Rabbis who came out with an independent public statement about the obligation to report sex abuse directly to the police. When I encountered one of the signatories and complimented him on his courage in doing so he said, ‘We were living the dark ages’.  I think Rabbi Perlow may have said the same thing in his own way. Paraphrasing him slightly, we have come a long way from the days of sweeping sex abuse under the rug. That’s quite a mea culpa if you think about it.

In the video below he is strongly critical of bloggers that have accused him and his colleagues of not caring sex abuse or about survivors  and attributing all kinds of nefarious motives to them.  He calls them the Letzonei HaDor – the scoffers of our generation. I don’t know about that.

But he is right about how these bloggers have been treating them. Even if their motivation is sincere and just, it was wrong to castigate so severely good people whose motivations have always been to do what they perceived to be in the best interests of Klal Yisroel.

I am 100% convinced that the motivation of the Agudah Moetzes was always L’Shem Shamayim even as I sometimes strongly disagreed with them. And that their original approach to sex abuse was based on a view that did indeed belong in the dark ages. But I have never ridiculed them with extremely disparaging remarks. Those that do so are frankly quite disgusting in my eyes.  And I protest it.

 

At the same time I have to believe that they played  a positive role in bringing this issue to the attention of the Orthodox world and contributed to putting it in on the front burner. Had they not made such loud and constant noise about it, who knows where we would be.  For that we should thank them even while condemning – as I do – their way of doing it.

Harry Maryles

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/aussie-rabbi-abuse-family-violence-is-top-priority/2014/05/26/

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