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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Horowitz’

Credible Suspicion

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: Yet again I am going to dispense with my usual pre Yom Tov D’var Torah and cross post this important message from Rabbi Yakov Horowtiz’s website. I’m sorry to have to post on such a sad subject on the eve of one of our most joyous holidays. But the urgency of this matter compels me to do so.

Rabbi Necheyia Weberman is about to begin his trial on charges of sexually abusing of a young girl. One may recall the massive fundraising event held on Rabbi Weberman’s behalf. One may also recall that that some of his supporters were caught by authorities trying to bribe the chief witness (the victim) in this case to drop the charges. I think we can be sure that his community will continue to do everything they can to get him acquitted.

To put it the way Rabbi Horowitz did, Rabbi Nechemia Weberman deserves his day in court. Let us do what we can to make sure that on that “day” justice will indeed be served. His words follow:

After many delays and much legal wrangling, Nechemia Weberman will finally stand trial in Brooklyn Criminal Court on October 30th for allegedly abusing a young girl in the Williamsburg community over a period of three years — beginning when she was 12-years old.

Mr. Weberman is entitled to his day in court and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Having said that, quoting the Halachic terms employed in the Teshuva of Rav Elyashiv zt”l, there is clearly far more than raglayim l’davar (credible suspicion) in this case. In fact, all indications point to the inescapable conclusion that something is very, very wrong here.

What Parents Need to Know

One of the most important things frum parents – especially those in the “heimish” community – ought to be developing is a deep understanding of the norms and accepted practice in the mental health profession. Gaining this would allow devoted and caring parents the ability to obtain suitable professional help for their children who need it, and avoid the trauma associated with following the recommendations made by untrained, well-meaning folks (unfortunately, an all too frequent occurrence, one which sometimes creates horrific results).

Moreover, it would help undo the denial and cognitive dissonance of those who defend Weberman — by pointing out how disturbing were the circumstances of his “treatment” of the young girls referred to him.

Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs

Think of it this way. Wouldn’t alarm bells go off in your mind if a doctor performed an invasive procedure without using latex gloves or if he/she picked up a used syringe to give you an injection? Wouldn’t you think it strange if you were a single mother and were requested to meet with your son’s Rebbe or principal at 9 p.m. one evening in a deserted Yeshiva building to discuss your son’s progress?

What Went Wrong

Well, 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 that Weberman:

(1) Had unregulated access to many girls over a number of years in his inappropriate and illegal role as their unlicensed “therapist.”

(2) Had these young girls referred to him for counseling by very Chassidish schools, whose general level of gender separation far exceeds those of the typical “Bais Yakov” (and it would be exceedingly rare for non-Chassidish girls’ schools to regularly refer their Talmidos to a male therapist)

(3) Engaged in private, unsupervised counseling sessions with young girls — often in an office/apartment that contained a working bedroom — violating all norms of yichud and tzniyus.

In addition to all these disturbing facts, it has become clear that these serious allegations are in fact not isolated ones. In fact, since Mr. Weberman’s arrest, I was personally contacted by immediate family members of four additional alleged victims of his who are afraid to come forward, and those of us close to the community have heard similar reports from others as well.

All the victims – none of whom know each other and all of whom are terrified to go to the authorities because of fear of backlash from the community – report striking similarities in the MO of Weberman (his manner of working), fueling suspicion that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

What is most chilling is that each and every one of his victims who came to us is currently married; meaning that (1) this has been going on for a very long time and (2) if there are current victims who are single, they are even more terrified than the married women of coming forward, for fear that going public will ruin their chances of doing a decent shidduch.

Weberman’s 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 this 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. Unbearable pressure is being brought to bear against her and her family to drop the case, which is one of the reasons that a show of support is so important.

Now That You Know

Those of us who work with abuse survivors respectfully implore you to please, please stand with this victim on October 30th and with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching this case unfold very carefully and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.

Please pass this on to your friends and family members and I hope to see you at the trial, heeding the timeless charge of Yeshayahu (Isaiah) (1:16) to “Seek justice [and] strengthen the victim.”

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

For Victims of Abuse – A Warm Embrace

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful.  But it was not meant to be.

On one unusually warm morning in early March of this year Reuven was taken from us as he suddenly collapsed – never to resuscitated. That was one of the hardest days of my life.  But I am grateful to God for all the blessings he as otherwise given me.  And with God’s help I look forward to a much better year ahead.
 
Aside from that personal note, I am going to relinquish the space I give here to any additional reflection or the Dvar Torah I usually give on Erev Yom Tov- to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He asked me if I would cross post an essay from his website on my blog. After reading it, I decided that there is no Dvar Torah that I could deliver that would be more important than his words.
With all the troubles facing Klal Yisroel now, I don’t think there is a single issue more important than the issue of sex abuse in our community. We all know the horror stories the survivors of abuse tell us. And we all too often hear of the devastating consequences they face – some for many years after.
 
In part the altered lives they live are a result of the abuse itself. But it is in part also because of the unfortunate negative reaction to the victims by their own community.  It is to this sad reality that Rabbi Horowitz speaks. The new year is not only a time for reflection. It is a time for change. If there is one thing we need to change as a community it is how we treat victims of abuse.
 
Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all. The following are Rabbi Horowitz’s words.
As we prepare to stand before Hashem in the days to come, and daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and all of Klal Yisroel, those of us who work with survivors of abuse and molestation ask you to publicly show your support for them in these yemei rachamim (days of mercy).
Part and parcel of the strategy employed by many of the predators in our community is to discredit their victims who have the courage to step forward and press charges against them. Typically, the molester will point to the victim’s 1) diminished level of religious observance and/or 2) self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse, to “prove” his own innocence.However, for those of us who work with at-risk teens, the fact that one of our tayere kinderlach engaged in hard-core drug use, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, or left Yiddishkeit, makes it MORE likely that the accusation is true, not less. Why? Because we have known for many years now that the vast majority of our kids who have descended into the gehenom of these destructive activities have done so because they were molested.Of all the horror committed by predators against our innocent, precious boys and girls, the premeditated and deliberate defamation of their character is perhaps the most unforgivable; since it abuses them all over again and adds to their disconnect from our kehila – when what they need most is our acceptance and love.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask our readers to please stand with the brave survivors and their families who have the courage to take the lonely path of coming forward and pressing charges, with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching the high-profile cases unfold very carefully to determine whether they too should risk going to the authorities, and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.Precisely because the predators attempt to discredit and disgrace the victims and their families, is all the more reason why we need to reach out to them and let them know how much we respect and care for them.Kindly take a few minutes from your busy schedules and post a Rosh Hashana bracha in the thread* following these lines, and have them in mind in your Tefillos. Previous efforts to garner public support for victims were extraordinarily comforting to them, as they help restore their faith in humanity and let them know that the vast majority of our community members are behind them.
Please include your real names and the names of the cities where you live to personalize your message and to send a clear message that we proudly stand with the survivors and their families.
Abuse survivors are our heilege neshamosour holy souls. They have endured unspeakable trauma in their lives and had their childhood cruelly stolen from them, because they learned at a very young age, at the mercy of cunning and evil predators, to never trust again. Nonetheless, the vast, overwhelming majority of survivors seek no revenge or retribution. They only hope and pray that today’s children be spared from the horror they endured.
Regardless of their observance level, we ought to welcome these survivors as full and respected members of our kehilos. We ought to commit to them that we will do everything possible to remove from our community those who prey on our innocent children and speak truth to power if necessary in the coming year to keep all our children safe and secure.If the great tzadik, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev zt’l were alive, I imagine that he would embrace abuse survivors in his shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and proclaim to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, look at these heilige neshamos who have endured so much with such dignity, and in their ze’chus inscribe us all in the Book of Life.”
Best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima tova and may Hashem answer our tefilos b’rachamim u’vrazon.
*Harry Maryles: As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Rabbi Horowitz is also taking comments in the form of Brachos to survivors on his website. If you can, it would be wonderful to get as many readers of this blog as possible to do so. Once again, Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all!

In The Beginning… A New Chumash Workbook Helps Build Basic Skills

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

             Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder and director of Project YES, an organization dedicated to guiding troubled teens, is trying to put himself out of business.


 


            Working on the theory that many teens end up at risk because they don’t succeed academically and slip through the cracks of the educational system, Rabbi Horowitz is attacking the problem at its source, hoping to keep as many children as possible thriving in school with a workbook series aimed at helping a greater percentage of students achieve academic success.

 

            The Bright Beginnings workbook series utilizes a curriculum stressing a visual approach to learning instead of teaching children to memorize lists of words, an approach that according to many studies is far more successful for the majority of the population.

 

            “A very clear pattern emerges when I talk to kids who haven’t succeeded academically,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “The number one reason that kids don’t make it in school is that they never picked up the language required in Judaic studies. It is crucial that they pick up proper skills when they are still young.”

 

            Having taught as an 8th grade rebbe for 15 years, Rabbi Horowitz saw firsthand how many students in the higher grades lacked the vocabulary skills necessary to succeed in Judaic studies. He recalls walking into the local sefarim store in his first year as a teacher and asking for their best Chumash program to use as a teaching aide.

 

            “They just laughed at me,” reminisced Rabbi Horowitz. “A Chumash program? Who had a Chumash program?”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz, menahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam in Monsey for 14 years where he now serves as dean, has spent the last 12 years devising a Chumash curriculum designed to give students the basic skill set they need to master the language of the Chumash. Teaming up with two talented rebbeim who have taught in the yeshiva – Rabbi Yosef Rawicki and Rabbi Yosef Kitay – Rabbi Horowitz has released the first in what is a planned series of workbooks which will teach not only the skills required to learn Chumash, but Mishnayos and Gemara as well.

 

            Volume 1 of the Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook tackles parshas Lech Lecha. Words are broken down into shorashim (root words), suffixes and prefixes, with different colors and shapes used to denote nouns and verbs.

 

            “Ninety-three percent of all the words in the Chumash come from just 270 shorashim, explained Rabbi Horowitz. “If you teach students the basics, they can learn how to break down words and find their meanings instead of just memorizing endless lists of words, an approach that doesn’t work for so many children.”

 

            Rabbi Betzalel Rudinsky, the current menahel of Darchei Noam, whose five sons attended the yeshiva, praised the approach used to break down the language of the Chumash, saying, “Kids in first grade literally have an understanding of the words that many adults don’t have.”

 

            Dr. Ephraim Book, a Darchei Noam parent, echoed that sentiment and found that reviewing material with his young son provided him with an unexpected benefit.

 

            “I never looked at a pasuk and broke down the words into shorashim. I just recognized them from the past. Now that I am learning with my son this way, I am actually breaking down words in my own learning which helps me tremendously as an adult.”

 

            Rabbi Horowitz hopes that by continuing the series with additional workbooks, not only will teachers save endless hours having to create a curriculum of their own, but also that students will continue learning in a way that comes more naturally to them year after year.

 

            “Try to imagine what it would be like if a school used a different math program in every grade,” said Rabbi Horowitz. “There would be no consistency and every year students would be required to master a different system of learning. The idea here is to create a series of workbooks that will continue the visual learning approach, enabling students to build on the skills they acquire with every passing grade.”

 

 

            Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various newspapers, magazines and websites. She has also written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com  

Hobbies

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Rabbi Horowitz,

As parents, we often see that our children have talents that are outside the classic Mitzvah realm. This could be in the area of art, gymnastics, musical instruments, etc. Often times, development of these talents require time, money and sometimes exposure that we would generally not encourage. How does one decide when this is a good idea (or at least necessary) and when these activities are a distraction from spiritual pursuits?

Please discuss this in regards to a child who is doing well in school and not yearning for something but would enjoy an outlet as opposed to a child who needs an outlet, and please also share your thoughts about these issues as they pertain to girls and boys.

Tzvi

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Dear Tzvi:

It is my philosophy that (almost) all people need 1) a childhood and 2) regular breaks/vacations, and when one or both of these needs are suppressed, they are merely being deferred to a later date. Part and parcel of a healthy childhood is regular exercise and the pursuit of enjoyable and wholesome (and, in a Torah home, kosher) hobbies. Denying them these necessities is analogous to not paying your utility bills for a while. For all you are doing is deferring these obligations for a later date, when you will pay them with interest and penalties.

In this sense, children are perhaps similar to living creatures or even computers. When we deviate from the sh’vil hazahav (the ‘golden path’ of moderation) and overburden our children for too long, they tend to ‘crash’ and experience a system malfunction. Maintaining that precious balance of moderation is a primary responsibility of a child’s parents. It is also important to consider that children generally engage in proper, safe activities during their free time when they are in the primary grades. However, if they are denied recreational opportunities in their younger years and experience ‘burn-out’ in their adolescent years, they are far more likely to pursue inappropriate or even dangerous pursuits.

With this in mind, I would strongly encourage you to have your pre-teen children – boys and girls – pursue their artistic and athletic abilities. Obviously, these activities should not interfere with their limudim and/or studies. And you ought to carefully screen their teachers/mentors in these hobbies and activities, especially since children tend to idolize those who excel in these areas. But done properly, these activities will afford your children the opportunity to spread their wings and nourish their creative spirit.

In your question, you seemed to categorize a potential hobby as being either 1) a good idea, 2) a necessary one, or 3) a distraction. In my mind, the only hobbies that would fall under category #3 would be those that are inappropriate for a Torah home or those that are taken to an extreme and become one’s primary focus. Music, creative drawing, and athletic pursuits – when done in moderation – would seem to all fall in category #1. They are wholesome activities that build self-esteem and allow your child to add color to the canvas of his or her personality. I would consider this to be relevant to high achieving children but even more critical for children who are not performing well in school – since as a loving parent, you are affording them the opportunity to excel in other areas.

Perhaps it is my Chassidic yichus speaking, (my great-grandfather, Reb Dov Ber Horowitz, h’yd, lovingly referred to as Reb Berish Vishever, wrote hundreds of niggunim for many chassidishe Rebbeim, among them, the Admorim of Satmar and Viznitz, z’tl), but I would consider the ability to play a musical instrument simply another opportunity to serve Hashem.

Thirty years ago, when I was a talmid in Yeshiva Torah Voda’as, there was an outstanding young talmid chacham a few years older than myself who was an accomplished violin player. He used his talent to inspire many hundreds of bachurim at Chanuka gatherings and other festive events. All these years later, my mind’s eye can still vividly see (and hear) him playing the hauntingly beautiful niggunim that elevated our neshamos.

In the broadest sense, it is always important to keep in mind that parenting children is not analogous to a 100-yard dash; it is more like running a marathon. And it is not always about who arrives first or fastest, but rather who is still standing at the finish line.

My dear chaver, Rabbi Noach Orlewik s’hlita regularly quotes the brilliant insight of his rebbi, Rabbi Shlome Wolbe, z’tl. Rav Wolbe would often say that the primary mission of a mesivta and beis midrash is to fill a talmid with Torah, while the principal task of an elementary school is to create a well-adjusted child who is prepared to learn Hashem’s Torah. Rav Wolbe was not implying that elementary schools need not teach Torah, and that high schools should not stress developing “the whole child.” He was, however, speaking to the notion that there are long-term and short-term goals in chinuch and child rearing, just as in any other endeavor. And the long-term goal of parenting and raising young children is to see to it that they are well adjusted and healthy – in body and soul.

A Resounding YES For The Dream Team

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Electrifying, inspirational, and uplifting are some of the words used to describe the unique concert that took place on Sunday evening, October 26, in the Rose Theater of The Jazz at Lincoln Center. The Dream Team of musical mega-stars, Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot and Avraham Fried, performed individually and together in perfect harmony for the delight of the sold-out audience, at the first benefit concert for Project YES.

The evening was dedicated to the heroes of Project YES – the many hundreds of teen mentors and parent coaches in New York and other communities throughout the United States, who volunteer each and every week to work with at-risk youth and their families, guided and supervised by professional counselors.

For some of those present, this was their first introduction to Project YES. The audience sat spellbound as Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder of Project YES, described the work of these dedicated volunteers and this incredible organization.

As a veteran mechanech (educator) in the yeshiva system, Rabbi Horowitz spoke of his history of reaching out to troubled teenagers, before the term “at-risk” was ever coined, leading to the publication of his first article on the subject 11 years ago in The Jewish Observer. Response to the powerful article led to presentations about the escalating problem at the annual conventions of Agudath Israel of America and Torah U’Mesorah.

Rabbi Horowitz spoke warmly of the encouragement he received from Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z”l, whom he referred to as his mentor in work for the klal, who helped him found Project YES to begin to deal with the problem.

Rabbi Horowitz movingly described the need for expansion of the existing programs of Project YES and the creation of new innovative methods of reaching out and listening to the “kol demamah dakah” the “still soft voices” of children crying out, because they are growing up in unstable home environments, failing in school because of an unrecognized learning disabilities, or suffering from abuse or neglect.

He challenged the audience to partner with him in expanding the KESHER school program, which provides professional counselors to schools in three states, in a successful preemptive effort to sensitize educators to recognize and motivate “pre-risk” children. He introduced the brand new “People Helping People” program, where professional and experienced lay people will share with the public their know-how in parenting and counseling, on Rabbi Horowitz’s website.

A highlight of the evening was the screening of a video illustrating the work of Project YES from the perspective of children and families who benefit from receiving mentoring from Project YES volunteers.

The audience applauded the work of Mr. Harry Skydell and Mr. Mark Karasick, co-chairmen of Project YES; and Mr. Leon Melohn, and Mr. Dovid Weldler, previous chairmen of the organization. Rabbi Horowitz made special mention of his partner at Project YES, Rabbi Avrohom Meir Gluck, the director of operations, for his round-the-clock effort in organizing the benefit concert.

Integral to the musical majesty of the evening, produced by Suki and Ding Productions, was the superb accompaniment of the Neginah Orchestra masterfully led by Yisroel Lamm, and the performance of the Shira Choir. The audience left the concert hall at the end of the evening, still enthralled by the music of those two phenomenal performers, and inspired by the work of Project YES. To become a partner of Project YES please call the YES office at 718 758-3131 or visit www.rabbihorowitz.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/a-resounding-yes-for-the-dream-team/2008/11/05/

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