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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

THE SELF DESTRUCTIVE LIFE OF A JEWISH COMMUNITY

by kyle's mom

I promised the Unorthodox Jew I would help him out, and then passed out after a tough day on a new job. Today, as I studied the halacha of preemptive wars, I remembered I promised to write. When I see what's happening in Israel, and get some of those interminable emails where the right writes about the left and the left writes about the right, I am overwhelmed with the amount of sinat chinom and rank stupidity that comes from Jews over my screen.

And I wonder where that hatred comes from and then I think back to my childhood and how we were taught one thing while those around us did the opposite; I remembered how we were judged on narishkeit, and disrespected as children. I remembered how I was taught that the Torah said one thing, but that my life experience at the hands of those I thought were 'religious' people was something else entirely.

So what is at the root of all of this evil? Where does all the stuff that I and so many others experienced come from?

I believe it comes from fear -- from the same kind of fear created through the millennia by our real enemies. And I believe it is the kind of fear that closes people off from themselves and promotes disrespect and hiding behind false walls that cut people off from who they are.

How can Judaism, a religion of reason, morality and ethics, be turned into such a cauldron of obscenity by men and occasionally women who deem it perfectly fine for children to be abused, for women to be battered, for the less fortunate than they to be treated with contempt?

By ignoring the basic, simple precepts of the religion and not teaching basic common decency and common sense. We forget to teach our sons that they come from mothers and have sisters who are also human beings and that women are not defiled and corrupt impure creatures that need to be shunned and ignored because they cause kallos rosh. We teach our males to fear our females and our females to fear our males. And we never allow them to connect in normal non-sexual environments. Every time they meet they are only allowed to think about marriage and babies--Instead of how to develop a normal healthy human relationship. In some cases we throw kids who know nothing together and let them sink or swim--to have a dozen babies and no way to care for them or method to raise them.

We live in self-destructive community because basic human relations have been turned into some freak show where men truly are from Mars, women truly are from Venus and never the twain shall meet in anything but some kind of twisted vacuum that prevents real relationships and respect from ever being developed.

We need to get back to the basics -- the simple kind of Judaism that Hillel espoused to the non-Jew who came to him after Shammai tossed him out. Hillel said to him, "Don't do anything to anyone else you don't want done to you...now go and study."

As I like to say, he didn't mean kvetch a benkel until you frazzled your family into a welfare case and need to rely on the kindness of strangers. What Hillel meant was go and study the world and try to make it better than you find it...because, if you think about it, Judaism says Bocharta be Chaim....choose life....not misery, not death for 72 virgins, not death for an afterlife. In Judaism there is no glory, really, in being a martyr. We are here for a different reason, to be a light unto the nations.

So I have to ask myself; what happened to that light? How could men decide that women who catch across the top of the head are not risking their lives to stay in violent relationships because batei din don't have the eggs to free them, when indeed they can...

We need to go and study and figure this mess out, because an Unorthodox Jew said, we lose 100,000 Jews a year -- and that is self-destruction on a grand, grand scale.

As I continue to write for the Unorthodox Jew, I will try to figure out some answers, and perhaps be able to explain how I, too, had to learn and break that cycle of abuse, sinat chinom and self-hatred.

kyle's mom

22 comments:

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Auto Report World Editors said...

for women to be battered

How could men decide that women who catch across the top of the head are not risking their lives to stay in violent relationships

A thoughtful post that unfortunately perpetuates a myth about domestic violence: women are the victims.

Domestic violence is an equal opportunity crime. The most reliable longitudinal study on domestic violence, by Richard Gelles, Murray Straus, and Suzanne Steinmetz, shows that 25% of domestic violence is instigated by the male, 25% by the female, and 50% is mutually instigated. While women are more likely to get injured (because of strength differences), men are more likely to be assaulted with some kind of weapon. BTW, women are far more likely to kill or injure their children then men.

"The most controversial finding, as it would turn out, was that the rate of adult female-to-adult male intimate violence was the same as the rate of male-to-female violence."

The authors and their families have been threatened with injury and death from radical feminists who don't want the truth out because it would hamper their political and social agendas (like the outrageous Violence Against Women Act - imagine trying to vote against that one).

Richard Gelles has written an article that's a good introduction to this issue, The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence: Male Victims

i got nailed by yudi. said...

i want the emmes not from the frieken agudah liars!

Eli said...

Great article! I sometimes wonder if Judaism today is not really corrupt. Perhaps this is it. So far I haven't been proven wrong.

Pro Choice said...

Pro Choice Said

I am really sick and tired of hearing people critisize large family units in the frum community. Those who are truly liberal and support a womans right to choose to have an abortion and have access to birth control should also support the basic right to procreate and fulfill the lords will of "Be fruitful and multiply". Wealth should not be a prerequisite to having children. This attitude of disparaging large families and virtually criminilizing them for the "sin" of poverty is part of a wider societal problem in America where poverty has been criminilized.
The argument can be made that a great deal of poverty could be ameliorated if a true free market were allowed to develop in areas such as housing. Currently special interests and zoning restrictions make sure that an average family can not find affordable housing in a frum area like New York City. The abundance of singles who are willing to share apartments and can pool money to pay exhorbitant rents in a city like New York further drives up the cost of housing and depletes the supply that would otherwise be available to families.
Most of the criticism toward large frum families comes from other Jews both Orthodox and non Orthodox.
Adolph Hitler and the Nazis actually supported large German families and encouraged Aryan woman to have lots of babies with monetary bonuses and propaganda campaigns. A similar attempt has recently been attempted in Australia where not enough native children are being born to keep the economy on even keel.
It would be nice if Jewish people had enough self respect to support the concept of at least replenishing our numbers in the wake of the Holocaust.

The Forward said...

Victims Press Brooklyn D.A. To Seek Abuse Suspect's Extradition From Israel
By NATHANIEL POPPER
Forward (NY)
July 28, 2006
http://www.forward.com/articles/8189

In the wake of new revelations about sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, pressure is mounting on the Brooklyn district attorney to seek the extradition of a man who fled to Israel after being indicted for sex offenses.

Avrohom Mondrowitz was indicted in 1984 on four counts of sodomy and eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree after years as a school counselor in the Brooklyn Orthodox community. Three of Mondrowitz's alleged victims, who had not been aware of the original investigation, recently approached an Orthodox lawyer who has passionately taken up the case. One of those men has since given his testimony to the Brooklyn district attorney's office, which would be responsible for requesting extradition. Another of the victims plans to go to the district attorney, Charles Hynes, in the next week.

The district attorney preceding Hynes had pushed for Mondrowitz's extradition from Israel in the 1980s, but Hynes dropped the effort after he was elected in 1989, according to recently released government documents. The new set of victims to come forward say they are pained by Mondrowitz's continuing freedom, and the lack of effort by Hynes and the Orthodox community in pursuing the suspected abuser.

"Every time somebody gets let down as a victim, it's a further continuation of the abuse," said Mark Weiss, who says he was abused by Mondrowitz during a summer week with the counselor when he was 13. "He's just sitting there, taunting us, saying 'Hah, you're never going to catch me, I know the system too well.'"

Weiss, who is now 39, said that just a few weeks ago a friend in Israel says he saw Mondrowitz on the streets of Jerusalem, speaking with a group of children. Mondrowitz has been a teacher at the Jerusalem College of Engineering, posting his lectures and syllabi online.

A spokesman for Hynes, Jerry Schmetterer, said the Brooklyn district attorney's office is ready to arrest Mondrowitz if he ever returns to the United States. But Schmetterer says the D.A.'s office is hamstrung by Israeli law, which in the 1980s did not classify Mondrowitz's alleged crime — sodomy — as rape. For extradition to go forward, the crime generally must be punishable in both countries. In fact, the Israeli rape law was changed in 1988 to include sodomy, but Schmetterer said the extradition treaty cannot be used retroactively.

"Our position is that he cannot be extradited; he could not be extradited then, and he cannot be now," Schmetterer said.

That line of legal reasoning was explicitly rejected by the American embassy in Tel Aviv, soon after the Israeli law was changed. In a cable to the State Department, the embassy said that they had talked with officials in the Israeli Justice Ministry and determined that because Mondrowitz could eventually be charged under American rather than Israeli law, the retroactivity should not be an issue. The new law "presents us, we believe, with an opportunity to reopen the extradition case of Avrohom Mondrowitz," the embassy said.

The government documents were uncovered by Michael Lesher, the attorney who has gathered together the three new alleged victims to press the case. Other legal experts told the Forward that while there could be legal complications, the district attorney's office could pursue the extradition.

"I don't think the D.A. is being aggressive enough," said Douglas McNabb, who specializes in international extradition at a Washington, D.C., law firm. "If I were a victim I would be very upset that the D.A.'s office is not pursuing this matter."

The extradition was a clear priority for Hynes's predecessor, Elizabeth Holtzman. Her office pushed the State Department on the matter. At one point the Israeli government signed a deportation order, but the situation ended in a "stand off," according to a State Department memo. When Hynes took office, and his assistants were asked if they wanted to pursue the case, one of those assistants informed the State Department that "they would not be pursuing the case any further at this time," according to another memo.

Schmetterer said that the Brooklyn D.A.'s office dropped the issue after knowing for years that it could not pursue Mondrowitz.

Anti-abuse activists in the Orthodox community say Hynes's silence may have been due to pressure from the Orthodox community, which they claim has historically been reluctant to see alleged sex offenders prosecuted. The activists, including Lesher, point to a 14-person Jewish advisory council that Hynes assembled soon after he was elected, comprising members of the Orthodox leadership in Brooklyn. One woman who has been at odds with the leadership for years, Amy Neustein, said she was told by two members of Hynes's council that the community did not want to see Mondrowitz prosecuted.

"The rabbis have no comprehension of the injury of sexual abuse," said Neustein, an anti-abuse activist. "They have no comprehension of why the victims want justice."

One member of Hynes's Jewish council, Rabbi Herbert Bomzer, said he does not remember Mondrowitz's extradition being discussed by the council. Bomzer did say that he knew Mondrowitz when the younger man was a counselor at Yeshiva University's high school, and that Mondrowitz had been "loved" by the students.

When asked if he would now support extradition proceedings, Bomzer, president of the rabbinical board of Flatbush, said: "If he has managed to get to Israel and is protected by the law there — then leave it alone."

Weiss, the 39-year-old alleged victim of Mondrowitz, said that from the beginning it had been clear that many members of the Orthodox community wanted him to let the case go. He said he had been molested when his father sent him to spend a week with Mondrowitz at a difficult moment in Weiss's adolescence. During that week, Mondrowitz's family was in the Catskills and, Weiss claimed, each night he was coaxed into bed by Mondrowitz.

"What's difficult to think about is that he was so smooth — so manipulative," Weiss said. "It was as if it was all my choice."

Weiss said that he blocked the experience out for years, but a run-in with Mondrowitz during high school conjured up the memories and led to a breakdown. He first told his parents, but they told him he must be mistaken. "He's a frum man," Weiss remembers his parents saying, using a Yiddish word meaning religiously observant.

A few years later, a principal at the yeshiva that Mondrowitz had attended summond Weiss — but after giving over the details, Weiss said, nothing happened.

The incident faded into the background for many years, but in 2001, Weiss was drawn out by what was billed as a "night for healing" at a New York school for Orthodox boys. Weiss showed up with high hopes, but he says that the event turned into a series of speeches by rabbis who spoke in allegorical terms, rather than dealing with the victims in the room.

Weiss decided to go outside the Orthodox community when he read an article in New York Magazine last month, detailing the case of Rabbi Yehuda Kolko, a teacher at an Orthodox boys school in Flatbush who was sued by alleged former victims. Kolko has not yet filed opposition papers.

The second alleged Mondrowitz victim, who has already gone to Hynes — and who wishes to remain anonymous — also said it was the Kolko article that prompted him to step forward. For both, the hope is that Mondrowitz will be "brought to justice and made an example of," in the words of the second accuser.

"I want to show that abusers can't get away with it, that we as a community will no longer stand for the routine cover-ups of abuse, and to try to put some finality to that chapter of my life," he said.

It is likely that the new complaints would not be included in the counts, if Mondrowitz is arrested, due to the statute of limitations. But the men both say they hope their voices will increase the pressure on Hynes.

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

There is no escaping the fact that the victims of abuse have been encouraged to come forward due to the bravery of David Framowitz.

It is David that is the real hero of the oppressed!

Hashem please provide healing to ALL who have been victimized.

Anonymous said...

No UOJ, u r the true hero.......... MY HERO. Thanx 4 everything I know u did and thanx for everything u know u did.

steve said...

If we let this story die, it will take another twenty years to bring it back to the forefront. Please tell us what you have been doing since the articles came out to pressure the DA's office to extradite Mondrowitz. Please tell us what we can do as a community to help besides writing letters to the politicians.

steve said...

Don't give in to blackmail. You know what I'm talking about. Mr. T has nothing on you, and even if he did, who cares? There's work to be done, Hamatchil Bmitzva Omrim Lo Gmor. Lo Taguru Mipnei Ish!

Nauseated By Margo said...

Is Margo's crew actively smearing David Framowitz so they can save face with the Hungarians?

YU's credo is Torah Umada. AT YTT it's: If molesters don't like the message, attack the messenger.

the awareness ctr. said...

What Survivors Need To Know:


theawarenesscenter.org/goingpublic.pdf

Excited said...

David Framowitz is a hero and is now joined by another hero, Mark Weiss. Those who are working towards justice but wished to remain anonymous are heros intheir own right. But few things speak louder to the skeptics than the willingness of the victim to expose his/her identity.

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

TO ALL THE READERS THAT ARE WRITING TO ME WHAT A HERO I AM:


I am not a F@#$% hero, every single Jew should be doing what I have done on behalf of the victims of abuse.

I'm sick "OF" the pathetic Jewish community and sick "FOR" the victims!!!!

This is truly a nightmare to see what Judaism has sunk into and how many kids & women have been victimized.

Sounds Familiar said...

True heros always deny that they are heros.

Un-Orthodox Jew said...

Steve,

Thanks for your concern. I am beyond blackmail, and fear nobody but God. If Mr."T" chooses to make someone a true jewish hero for generations, let him be my guest.

I hope he gets the right guy!

Douglas MacArthur said...

UOJ,

Don't give up on this, as I once famously said: "Opportunities forsaken are opportunities lost forever."

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great article! Keep them coming!!

Anonymous said...

County Law sections 700 and 927 provide that a District Attorney "shall" prosecute crimes in his county. Cases have held that a D.A. still retains prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute minor crimes, but the sex crimes committed by Mondrowitz hardly fit that category.

The victims should write a letter to the D.A. asking that they take a second look at the Mondrowitz case, and include the U.S. State Department opinion that the U.S.-Israel extradition treaty operates retroactively. Courts will give great weight to a legal opinion from a government agency that is charged with the responsibility for enforcing a particular law - greater weight than, let's say, a local D.A'.s office, which does not normally interpret international treaties.

The statute of limitations has not expired. It is "tolled" or "suspended" while the defendant is out of the country.

If the Brooklyn D.A. refuses to prosecute, the victims can bring their own Article 78 action (mandamus) in court, seeking relief that the D.A. be compelled to prosecute under the aforementioned statutes, or, that a special prosecutor be appointed pursuant to County Law 701. A case like that is rare, but they have been brought before.

There is a victim rights organization based in Washington, D.C., the National Center for victims of Crime. They have a website, and their phone numbers are 202-467-8700, and 800-398-2255. Perhaps they can be of assistance.

Tsedek tsedek tirdof l'maan tichye...

Have You Been Honored At A Dinner Yet? said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/opinion/nyregionopinions/23JNeug.html

Scandal at for-profit adult homes is nothing new. Over the years, committees and commissions have analyzed the problems. Studies have been published and promises have been made. But little has changed. Instead of closing the most corrupt and dangerous adult homes, the state has subsidized them with grants to help keep them profitably afloat.

Anonymous said...

Is she blaming deviancy and sickos on lack of taruvos in yeshiva circles?