Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Jewish Press Weighs In....&...A Letter To Torah Temima Parents...Scroll Down until the bottom........

R' Yitzchok Abadi was asked the following shaila:
May one take the Jewish Press into the bathroom?
His response; The correct shaila should be, may one take The Jewish Press OUT OF THE BATHROOM?...... UOJ

An Anonymous Flier (Pashkevil) In Brooklyn
By: The Jewish Press Editorial Board
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It was doubtless inadvertent, but the author of the flier makes our point. Thus, the flier recites that "this mailing should not have been necessary," inasmuch as the target and his employer were warned in advance that if the individual either resigned or was fired, "th[e] mailing would be stopped." And on the Internet, the author has declared to one and all that he is about to "uncover" others if they do not accede to his demands. Plainly, this individual is engaged in an effort to fashion a weapon with which to impose his will on Klal Yisrael.

An anonymously written flier mailed recently to many Jewish homes in Brooklyn, containing lurid accusations of improper conduct against an individual in our community and railing against his employer for not firing him, should be taken as a serious warning of a cancer growing in our midst. The flier not only offers no substantiation of the charges themselves, but also reports uncorroborated – and, it turns out, vigorously denied – comments from the employer, which the flier’s unknown author offers as proof of a cover-up.

The mere circulation of the document has caused some, albeit limited, discussion as to the culpability of both the accused individual and the employer – this despite the lack of any evidence or the possibility of any follow-up with the accuser. But if even one person takes this sort of thing seriously, there is cause for concern. Compounding the problem is that the purveyor of this material seems fully at home with the Internet and has spread it anonymously on that medium as well, guaranteeing that it will be seen by all that many more people, both within and without the Jewish community.

Anonymous accusers effectively destroying their targets’ reputations, even before the truthfulness of the accusations are ascertained, cannot be the way of Klal Yisrael – and indeed has never been. Certainly it accords neither with halacha nor with common sense. It is precisely for this reason that for millennia we have invariably insisted that those making claims against another take the accused to a bet din in order to determine the facts and, if necessary, the halacha.

On another level, it is hardly engaging in hyperbole to suggest that if the notion takes root that an anonymous purveyor of unsubstantiated charges can get peoples’ tongues wagging, then none of us can count ourselves safe. It will enable anyone to exercise devastating power at any time and under any circumstances simply by choosing to do so, for whatever motive.

But it is not the excesses of one individual that are of primary concern. As a general proposition, before we even begin thinking about anyone’s having gone astray, we must have more to go on than mere innuendo and accusation flung about by nameless, faceless sources. It is incumbent upon each of us to resolve to give no credence to unproven charges and to urge their being discredited on a community-wide basis. That’s something that certainly should apply to this particular anonymous accuser.

We would also remind readers that President Bush recently signed into law a statute making it illegal for any person to use the Internet to post anonymous accusations designed to inflict pain and suffering on others. In this instance the anonymous accuser should be aware that if identified, he runs the risk of fine and imprisonment for violation of a federal statute.

Posted by The Un-Orthodox Jew - "UOJ" at Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Anonymous said...
** It is incumbent upon each of us to resolve to give no credence to unproven charges and to urge their being discredited on a community-wide basis. That’s something that certainly should apply to this particular anonymous accuser.**

I did NOT hear you voice your opinion when it came to shmearing Rabbi Nosson Slifkin
who is ruined as well as his fammily, for life, because of unsubstatiated accusation and by our *so called choshuva BIG gedolim*
There are plenty of Genuine gedolim who were not on those signed papers as i am sure you are aware of
Did you voice your opinion there too? if yes show it too us and if not then shut your FAT trap.

6:35 PM, February 22, 2006
UOJ'S cousin said...
Wow, it is shocking that The Jewish Press finally got an issue right!

FInally someone called a spade a spade, and a mesumad a mushumad, and an apikores such as UOJ and apikores.


It is rare that they are on the correct side of an issue, but they must get credit for saying what this is: a smear campaign.

kudos to the Jeiwsh Press and down with UOJ and those of his ilk

6:49 PM, February 22, 2006
boog said...
The fact that the JP sees fit to give public exposure to this blog is clear evidence that UOJ is having a major impact and that feathers have been ruffled. Good, Very Good.

Jason Maoz, and your predecessor, Steve Walz and the Klasses; where have you been all of these years on this issue of sex predators in our midst?

Answer: Nowhere.

You paid lip-service (pardon the pun) by running an Op-Ed article on this issue several weeks ago by Elliot Pasik, ESQ. Very little, very late. Your current editorial fulminations against UOJ and this blog would carry a lot more weight if you had been more front and center on this issue from the get-go.

Still time to repent, Jason.

If not go back to your weekly Overview column and diss The New York Times. No one could care less. They are what they are and and still have the best stock pages, which is all our chevra care about anyway.

7:39 PM, February 22, 2006
Das Torah said...
In this weeks parsha the Torah teaches us;

“Vichee Yuzid Ish Al Rayahoo Lhurgi B’urmah, Maim Mizbichi Teekuchenu Lumoos.”

The point of “Maim Mizbichee,” is that even if he is a Cohen doing the Avodah he is not Putoor for punishment for his sins. No matter how nice, ehrlich, choshuv and capable he may appear to be, and no matter how distinguished the institution that employs him, he must still face justice. As the Gemara says;

“Yeekoiv Hadin Es Hahor.”

Nor does Halacha recognize a time limitation which would allow the passage of time to blunt the impact of these issues.

The vilification of accusers by the accused is nothing new.

“Hereesem Ben Pooti Zeh Shpeetaim Avi Eemoi Agalim Laavodah Zorah.”

This is what the Bnai Shimon said about Pinchas after he killed Zimri. However, Pinchus’ Mesiras Nefesh was rewarded by Hashem. Chur was also killed by the Eirev Rav for being Moichah by the Maaseh Ho’egel. Hashem rewarded him by making his grandson Betzalel the Boneh Hamishkan. It is clear that true Avodas Hashem can only take place after there has been Mesiras Nfesh to cleanse Klal Yisroel from Avairos.

The Zohar states that in the days of Ikvasa Demeshicha the Eeirav Rav will be in leadership positions and will terribly oppress the rest of Klal Yisroel. It states further that they will build Butai Kenasiyos and Butai Midrushos and use the Sefer Torah itself as their Avodah Zarah. When we see agents of a Torah instution, rather than seeking the truth or justice, engaging in vindictive and vicious conduct, seeking to destroy more lives, attempting to sully the victims and bury the truth; we understand what the Zohar is talking about.

“Uz Nidbiroo Yiraai Hashem Ish El Rayaahoo Vayakshev Hashem Vayishma.”

Anybody who has true Yiraas Shomayim in his heart needs to step back and ask themselves “Haker Nu Limee Hochosemes Ulimee Hapseelim,” who is right and who is wrong. The victims, or the aggressor and his protectors. The sounds we are hearing today are the “Kol Dimai Acheecha Tzoakim Ailai Min Haadamah.”

Rather than engaging in unseemly attempts to silence these voices, we should unite to confront this problem head on. These voices will not be stilled and will not go away.

8:27 PM, February 22, 2006
tzebrochen said...
For those who don't take these accusations seriously. Watch this video and see how these predators affect our kids.
Very difficult to watch.


9:52 PM, February 22, 2006
boog said...
Yup, tzebrochen.

Remember Daniel Levin.

10:16 PM, February 22, 2006
Anonymous said...
As Albert Einstein stated:

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."

Thus, the Jewish Press excoriates the methods used to expose a child molester while remaining silent about the underlying issue.

Will the Jewish Press have anything to say after Kolko is proven guilty?

Time will tell.

8:35 AM, February 23, 2006
gross said...
The case of Daniel Levin (and the other victims of Ephraim Bryks) really illustrates clearly how it is possible for someone to get away with such horrific crimes when the evidence is so clear. Not only did the Board in the Canadian congregation/school refuse to fire him but the accusers were shunned and their children asaulted. As the video shows, Bryks is a free man who enjoyed a prominent position as a member of the Vaad Horabbonim of Queens and continues to live with blood on his hands.

It's no wonder Kolko and others like him get away with murder while people are suffering, in the face of many who label them crazy, while defending these murderers.

9:15 AM, February 23, 2006
boog said...

You're right, truly incredible that this rotzeach bryks still walks with intact knee-caps.

Can you imagine if he was Italian? He would be lying next to Jimmy Hoffa, under the goal-posts in the Giants end-zone in the Meadowlands.

The CBC documentary on bryks and Daniel Levin's parents is heart-breaking.

10:19 AM, February 23, 2006
Anonymous said...
I posted proof that you didnt post a comment on shabbos.
The timestamps on endouj prove that they are 9 hours behind EST.

10:53 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
Thanks Anon,

I know I did NOT post on Shabbos, God knows I did not post on Shabbos, everyone else can kiss my a**!!!!!

11:20 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
There's a great article by David Kelsey at Jewshool.com, he's proven to be a great friend and a no nonsense in your face guy!

Thanks buddy!!!!!

11:32 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...

11:33 AM, February 23, 2006
shithead said...
Abaddai is a bathroom himself.

He is a Fucking ass whore piece of shit like yourself.


7:35 PM, February 23, 2006
boog said...

You sure do have an elegant way with words.

11:18 PM, February 23, 2006
posted on endouj said...
webe and endouj admitted publicly that he was wrong to accuse of mechallel shabbos.

ok, we now have mechallel shabbos out of the way.
Seems everything UOJ said to date is true.
Noone believed he would send letters, he did.
Noone believes he wasnt mechallel shabbos, even webe admits he was wrong.
next: apikores.
Please explain how UOJ is an apikores.
Making fun of jewish institutions and leaders who are corrupt is not proof.

There is a basis to believe that the zohar and kabbalah is bunk. See r' yaakov emden sefer on his investigation of zohar.
If you believe in that basis, and nowhere does it say that the zohar is one of 13 ikkarim, then you believe that chassidus is probably bunk as well.
does anyone think that any current rebbe is a real tzaddik?
Let me ask you.
How many of you lakewood guys make fun of YU rabbonim, or Rav Kook, or other MO rabbonim.
Imagine if MO is the correct derech, then Lakewood is a den of apikorses.

9:04 AM, February 24, 2006
Kyle's Mom said...
Jeez. If you have never been part of the physically, psychically, emotionally and spiritually abused members of the Orthodox Jewish Community in Crooklyn, you couldn’t possibly understand, especially if you are male, that you don’t drop a dime on the tribe. Legitimate or not, that’s how they brainwash you from day one…Teacher is hitting you with a stick ’cause you don’t know your place in chumash? Who is an 8-year-old gonna call if no one notices his black and blue marks? Had your ears twisted? Your parents, when you were little and went to complain, were told by the principles of the little two-bit child molesters that they would never find a yeshiva willing to take their kids if they “moisered.” Ten years ago, I ripped the lid off of this can of worms, and interestingly, todays’s Jewish Standard has an article on this very topic.
The toughest thing to teach Orthodox women to do, some of them beaten bloody, was to get them to call 911. And then there’s the statute of limitations, too. Someone should ASAP call Ed Gluck in BP and get hold of the persons in Hyne’s office who handled the three boys from Bobov who gang raped a kid who then committed suicide. They should be able to put this on the criminal track–and BTW, this menuval’s name popped up years ago, but no one would come forward. Do you guys know who to call for publicity? I do.

9:07 AM, February 24, 2006
tzubrochen said...
Bryks has a very prominent relative. How could this relative keep on preaching as if he has the answers to everything and he has this child molester in the family? Why doesn't he preach about this subject?

9:31 AM, February 24, 2006
tzubrochen said...
Who could watch the CBC documentary and not get enraged.

In Winnipeg which is not a right-wing chareidi community the whistleblowers were shunned and spat on.

We all know the reaction in our community, it would be difficult to marry of kids because the whistleblower would be accused of having a dirty mind.

If you listen to Rabbi Nossen Kaminetky's speach at Beth-El, his grandchildren are having trouble with shidduchim because their grandfather's book was banned. He wrote a book about people who are dead a half-century. Point a finger at a molester, you're doomed.

Bryks father-in-law. Lives around the corner from TT. Respectable guy, klal mensch, molester. They are all over the place. It has to stop!


P.S. poor Mrs. Bryks - husband and father are molesters.

9:44 AM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
While I totally agree with your blog, in terms of pointing out the wrongs in the Jewish Community around the world and trying to get them to do what is right, how is the JP wrong about what they said?

To send out an anonymous letter, without showing any proof about it, is wrong imo. I think a letter demonstrating a lawsuit underway or an investigation about these allegation into the school and a teacher there might of been better.

Many people have probably dismissed/ignored or have enraged by the letter because there is no proof. For all they know you are trying to smear the persons name.

You should try and get some of these people to officially come forward and be able to take this publicly so therefore people cannot mistake what you are trying to do here.

Nothing the JP said was wrong, there might of been better ways of going about this.

11:28 AM, February 24, 2006
tt parent said...

Cutting through all the "noise", the main objection to the accusations on your blog is that despite the stories and first person accounts no substantiation of the accusations has been put forward.

To me the curious point is this: If the accusations are false, given the wide circulation the anonymous letter has had in Brooklyn, the heated discussions on this and other blogs (yeshivaworld, enduoj etc) you would think that out of respect for its parent body that RM and tt would put out an open letter to its parent body denying the accusations.

No denial has been put out as far as i know.

Can it be, that on the advice of his lawyers RM and tt cannot put out such a denial because if they do so and it is proven false they have exposed themselves to legal liability ?

Food for thought.

12:26 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
TT Parent:

Margulies, Applegrad and Kolko have been busy. Busy attempting to intimidate and sidetrack victims and witnesses.

The issue of Kolko’s guilt or innocence is not even on their radar screen.

They simply don’t care.

3:27 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
get with the program, no one has denied the accusations or called them libelous and false. No one has sued for defamation. People have a problem with two things: that the issue is raised at all, after all orthodox people don't sin or have sexual thoughts/activities; and that uoj didn't say his name. Of course if he did say his name they would point out that he once got a parking ticket and therefore lost his ability to accuse anyone else.

3:48 PM, February 24, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
TT Parent,

The accusations are irrefutable facts not speculation.

We have two very prominent attorneys putting their reputations on the line..this is getting international coverage.

Margulies knows his days are numbered, any more lies out of him will just increase his liabilty!

4:04 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
Just curuious, what do think their game plan is? Margo is not stupid, what you think his next step is ?

9:57 PM, February 25, 2006
Anonymous said...
The next step for him is to look for a very tall building in NYC

10:01 AM, February 26, 2006
Anonymous said...
While we wait for something to happen, let's get back to some other issues in the orthodox community.

11:24 AM, February 26, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dear parents of Yeshiva Torah Temimah students

I bring my readers a copy of a letter sent to Lipa Margulies by the group I’m working with to rid Yeshiva Torah Temimah of Yudi Kolko the child molester. If Margulies refuses the offer we move to the second step in our campaign to protect children from Yudi Kolko the molester.

Dear parents of Yeshiva Torah Temimah students, if Margulies does not remove Yudi Kolko the molester, Yeshiva Torah Temimah is finished. Either convince this evil old man to change his ways or enroll your children elsewhere. You will want your children to be very far away from Yeshiva Torah Temima when our second step hits (no, we are NOT threatening violence.) Your children do not deserve the stigma that will attach to them if Margulies doesn’t do the right thing very soon.

The Letter:

Rabbi Leopold Margulies
609 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Rabbi Margulies:

This is to follow up on our earlier letters and telephone conversations.

To knowingly harbor a child molester is a crime. Despite your complicity in Yudi Kolko’s heinous atrocities and your continued refusal to remove this chronic child molester from our children’s classroom, we believe the greater good of our community is served by this matter being resolved without need for further action.

Accordingly, we are making the following offer. Our group and you will each deposit $100,000.00 [We suggest you fund your $100,000.00 contribution from the $1,900,000.00 you took from Yeshiva & Mesifta Torah Temimah on December 23, 2005.] with a mutually agreed upon major law firm. The law firm will have sole authority to spend the $200,000.00 investigating the charges of child molestation against Yudi Kolko and the charges against you of sheltering and covering up the child molesting. You will cooperate fully in this investigation. In the event Kolko and you are exonerated, we will reimburse your $100,000.00 and issue a public retraction and apology. In the event Kolko and you are found guilty, the report will be released to the public. For your causing countless families' lives destroyed, you must compensate them by setting up a five million dollar fund to be administered by Torah Umesorah.

As a condition of this offer, Yudi Kolko must be placed on immediate leave of absence.

You may announce your acceptance of our offer by contacting Rabbi Joshua Fishman of Torah Umesorah on or before February 16, 2006, 12:00 PM.

Please take heed and consider this proposal carefully for your business will not survive our next move. The progression of this campaign remains entirely up to you. We do not want to escalate this unfortunate situation to the next level. We are proud of our heritage and suffer greatly when scandal hits our community. Nonetheless, we will not sit idly by and allow you to devastate our children.

It is not our purpose to destroy you or Yeshiva Torah Temimah, but only when child molesters have been extirpated from our schools and camps will there be hope for a decent life for our children.

CC: Rabbi Joshua Fishman
Rabbi Shmuel Bloom

posted by The Un-Orthodox Jew - "UOJ" | Sunday, February 12, 2006 | 201 comments


The End Of Innocence

By: Shlomo Greenwald, Jewish Press Staff Reporter Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Confronting Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community

We are not immune. The Orthodox community has abusers — sexual predators, wife beaters, child batterers — in its midst. And while many may have once preferred to believe otherwise, growing numbers of Orthodox Jews now seem ready to acknowledge that a problem indeed exists.

If acknowledgment of a problem is half way to a solution, as a psychologist might say, where does the Orthodox community go from here?

"We lack a process," acknowledged Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University and a leading advocate for greater communitywide awareness of abuse and assistance for the abused.

Rabbi Yosef Blau
"Our community doesn’t have a process, that’s the bottom line. If there’s an allegation, how does the yeshiva deal with it? Does the yeshiva know? Does the rosh yeshiva know?"
Rabbi Blau saw little likelihood of a single process being universally accepted in a fragmented Orthodox community, though "in order to have credibility, it needs to be widely accepted," he said.

Dr. David Pelcovitz, a leading authority on abuse cases in the Orthodox community, sounded a somewhat more reassuring tone. "There’s no set organization that people know to call," he said, "but like any medical referral, people will ask around and find out." He noted that a number of communal organizations provide guidance and assistance to victims of abuse.
"I don’t know if it’s different for the secular world," said Pelcovitz, a professor of psychology at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and the former director of psychology at North Shore University Hospital. "If anything, it’s a little better in our case, because people are connected in our community."

Dr. David Pelcovitz
"If people are open to getting help," he added, "they will find their way to a specialist."
The question, of course, is whether many members of the community know of the availability of social service resources.
"I think for the most part the answer is still no," said Barry Horowitz, who formerly coordinated an Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services program treating sexual abusers and is now a consultant for Ohel.

Several mental health professionals emphasized the importance of victims receiving treatment from therapists with experience in abuse cases.

"I make an analogy to cancer, rachmana litzlon," said David Mandel, chief executive officer at Ohel. "When someone is told he has cancer, he seeks out the best possible specialist. It’s the same thing in an area like sexual abuse." He cautioned, though, that "very few people can treat it" because few therapists specialize in abuse.
In addition to finding the right therapy, Mandel said, it’s important to seek out a therapist who can deal with the religious dynamics, since Orthodox victims of abuse often struggle with their faith, wondering how God could let such a thing happen to them.
Important as it is for victims of abuse to get help, the hurdles for Orthodox Jews remain high. In the general population about a third of all victims never go public with their ordeal; Orthodox Jews, concurred the therapists interviewed for this article, are faced with even more factors that discourage them from coming forward.

"The community tends to be insular, to be wary of mental health support," said Dr. Pelcovitz.
The shanda, or shame, factor and the fear of affecting future shidduchim are driving forces in discouraging disclosure. Another factor is the place that modesty holds in Orthodox sensibilities.

Elliot Pasik
Statistics have shown that the more similar a sexual perpetrator is to his victim in background, the less likely it is that the victim will report him, according to Dr. Pelcovitz.
"Shanda, shidduchim, modesty — these are real issues," said Horowitz. "And they’re also issues in that they that make it easier for perpetrators to do what they do and get away with it."
He noted that when he asked molesters why they chose to victimize someone in the community, the answer invariably would be "Because I knew I could do it."
"It needs to be discussed more," he said. "Very sensitive topic, but there has to be more dialogue with rabbonim in the community and with law enforcement."

"Yes, [Orthodox Jews] are more reluctant, no question about it," said Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, bestselling author and founder of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, which treats drug and alcohol addicts. "The idea that there is abuse is something the community did not want to accept."

"To this day, many rabbonim are unaware and refuse to believe. And many women felt they couldn’t come forward because the husband is such a tzaddik in shul. It’s getting a little better, but still there are those who don’t believe."

David Mandel
Michelle Friedman, a psychologist with a private practice in Manhattan, has conducted research in an effort to determine whether the nature and frequency of abuse in the Orthodox community differ from what is found in the general population. Though she could not reveal the findings of her study, which are being peer-reviewed prior to publication, she agreed with the other specialists that Orthodox victims have more roadblocks to overcome.
"There’s an enormous emphasis on shame and stigma in the Orthodox community," she said. "Not just shidduchim, but that is a big one."

A practical solution to the problem, said Friedman, would be to educate Orthodox children about their bodies and personal integrity, something she feels is "not being done sufficiently." She also proposed training chatan and kallah teachers to speak about abuse.

Though sensitive to the widespread reluctance in Orthodox communities to discuss topics of this nature, Friedman was blunt about the consequences of silence.
"If we use modesty as a screen," she said, "we deprive our children of important information regarding their safety."

Despite the obstacles to disclosure, Orthodox Jewish victims of abuse are becoming noticeably more comfortable in seeking therapy. "It’s better than 25 years ago," Dr. Pelcovitz said. "Then, it was very hard to get people to face problem head on, hard to get schools and leadership to talk about it."

Horowitz noted that when he started working in treating sexual abusers, about a decade ago, there were far fewer cases being reported than is now the case.

One indication of the new realism is that the number of Orthodox social services dealing with domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse has grown over the past 10 or 15 years.
One of the oldest such resources is Shalom Task Force, which has an anonymous domestic abuse hotline. The phone counselors, or "hotline advocates," inform callers of their options and refer them to therapists who specialize in domestic abuse and are familiar with the Orthodox community — many of whom, like Barry Horowitz, are Orthodox themselves.

Hotline supervisor Sharron Russ said that while Shalom Task Force focuses more on domestic abuse, the number of cases involving sexual abuse has increased in recent years.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services also deals with sexual abuse on a regular basis. Faye Wilbur, director of the organization’s Boro Park office, is concerned about public trust in the board’s promise of nondisclosure.
"I don’t think the community understands completely that when we say fully confidential, it means we won’t tell anyone," she said. Among the services offered by JBFCS are an outpatient mental health clinic, lectures to raise public awareness and workshops in schools.
"Most schools do not take me up on it," Wilbur said of her offers to conduct a free workshop on child abuse and neglect, which includes segments on sexual abuse. Administrators usually tell her they have too much to accomplish and not enough time, she said. She believes many of them are also in denial that the problem exists.
"I do it in such a tzniusdik way," she said. "People have been pleased. I give references — I’ve been in some very chassidish schools as well."

She said that while she sends out letters every August offering schools her workshop program, it’s "depressing" how few have taken her up on it. She estimated that she offers the program to 75% of the yeshivas and day schools in the five boroughs, using lists of schools from Torah Umesorah and the Board of Jewish Education. She also estimated that since she began in 1995, only 10% of the schools she’s contacted have heard her speak.

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty placed more than 1,200 people in jobs in the past year, serves 13,000 families each month with the largest kosher food pantry in the world, and last September provided more than 30,000 kosher food packages to New York’s needy before Rosh Hashanah. As a small but necessary part of its services, Met Council also operates a family violence unit.
Though the unit is a relatively recent addition, the services it provides have been available throughout the decade-and-a-half tenure of Met Council Executive Director/CEO William Rapfogel.

Those services include a hotline similar to that of Shalom Task Force, a support group for victims of family violence, and crisis intervention and long-term counseling. Met Council is unique in that it can offer financial assistance in addition to therapeutic help.

Rapfogel said that while "today there is less denial than there was 10 years ago," more work needs to be done to combat physical and sexual abuse. He knows that fewer Orthodox Jews are in denial because Met Council has been "called into far more cases in the past four or five years than before."

According to Shana Frydman, director of Met Council’s family violence unit, most of the cases involve married couples. Like the other social workers interviewed by The Jewish Press, Frydman stressed that she and her coworkers strive to be culturally sensitive. For example, Frydman, who is Orthodox, usually counsels Orthodox victims.
"Everyone says Jewish women are more reluctant [to leave their husbands] because they have more kids and the shame in the community is compounded," she said. "Sometimes the right choice may be to stay, and we try to support that."
Women feel discouraged from leaving their marriages, she said, because they are worried about the effect it would have on their children’s shidduch prospects. Rabbis in the communities, she added, range from being "absolutely wonderful" to "not knowing the dynamics at play."

Shanda and shidduch concerns may be on the minds of many in the community, but perhaps the greatest obstacles to more Orthodox Jewish abuse victims coming forward are their feelings — as well as their rabbis’ positions — on four halachic issues: mesirah; bringing cases before secular courts; desecrating God’s name; and issues related to lashon hara (evil talk).

All four are intertwined in many ways. Mesirah refers to the rabbinic prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities — an act that in criminal cases will invariably lead to the second issue: bringing cases before secular courts.

Rabbi Michael Broyde, spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Toco Hills (Atlanta) and a dayan on the Beth Din of America, has written in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society that according to halachic authorities one may inform secular authorities about Jews who are "violent criminals or people whose conduct endangers other people or the community as a whole."
In a footnote, he quotes from Nishmat Avraham, the encyclopedic work on medical halacha by Dr. Abraham S. Abraham, that according to Rabbis Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and Eliezer Waldenberg, one must report cases of child abuse, including sexual abuse. Rabbi Broyde also points out that no alternative opinion is quoted.

Barry Horowitz, the Ohel consultant, said there should be guidelines in place for those in the community to decide "when to use therapy and when to call in law enforcement." In any case, he added, the Orthodox community should build up its relationship with secular law enforcement officials,.
"Our community is extremely uncomfortable with going to the police," agreed Rabbi Blau. "What is and isn’t mesirah? Seforim will tell you that if a person’s life is at risk, there’s no [prohibition]. Mesirah is more than an issur. It’s something Jews don’t do. Police officials will tell you the community generally doesn’t cooperate."

To encourage more Orthodox Jews to engage secular authorities, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes set up Project Eden, which runs programs in concert with many Orthodox social services and attempts to engender cultural sensitivity in the DA’s office and the NYPD.
"We’re not trying to push the criminal justice system on anyone," said Chana Widawski, a social worker who runs Project Eden, "but our concern is safety….The idea is to educate people to all the resources."

Project Eden has a hotline for victims of domestic abuse. Widawski said that Project Eden staffers work with the caller to figure out the best solution. "It might not always be calling the police."
Rabbi Mark Dratch
"If they do call," she continued, "then the system goes into action."

Widawski agreed with the perception that the Orthodox community is more reluctant to report sexual abuse cases to secular authorities than the general population.
Henna White, Hynes’s Jewish community liaison, while agreeing with others interviewed for this article that "there is some hesitance" in the Orthodox community to speak out about abuse — mainly due to concerns about modesty and children "not getting a good shidduch" — said she did not necessarily believe that

Orthodox Jews come forward less frequently than abuse victims in the general population.
"Abuse is very hard for people to talk about," she said. "It’s embarrassing. Nobody wants to come forward."

The efforts of Project Eden notwithstanding, there are those who wonder why the Orthodox community needs to handle abuse cases in a manner that differs from the more traditional route: adjudicate the cases in batei din; minimize the chillul Hashem; and if a person is found guilty, publicize his name far and wide while seeing that he receives treatment.
The counterargument is that such a system is not nearly as effective as the threat of jail in stopping an offender from striking again. The best a bet din could do, say advocates of utilizing secular courts, is award compensation to the family and issue a proclamation prohibiting the perpetrator from working in a yeshiva. They also point to the high rate of recidivism among abusers – which, they say, might be ameliorated by incarcerating offenders.

Asked about the halachic permissibility of going to secular courts, Rabbi Broyde noted that "batei din do not get involved in cases involving what American law considers a crime" — they never, for example, adjudicate murder and violent theft cases. He added that while abuse, sexual and otherwise, encompasses a large spectrum of offenses, he believes that no halachic authority "thinks a violent rapist should be summoned to a bet din."
"We don’t have jurisdiction over criminal cases," said Rabbi Yona Reiss, director of the Beth Din of America.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Elliot Pasik, a lawyer who has been at the forefront of system-wide change in the ways yeshivas and day schools handle sexual abuse allegations, said the situation is different from what it once was. Then, the community "didn’t need a national system. Clearly, now we do."

Rabbi Blau put it this way: "The old Israeli, Meah Shearim solution of posters telling people to stay away from so and so" will not work today.
"I’m not convinced we have batei din at the present time that are able to deal with it," he said. "Who will investigate? Who is able to? Who is trained and sensitive to all the ramifications?"Batei din, he explained, would have several difficulties to overcome, a major one being a lack of expertise in the field of abuse. Would all dayanim, for instance, possess sufficient understanding of the deleterious long-range effects of abuse on victims?
While the above is easily solvable — batei din could work in tandem with experts — a more difficult problem, said Rabbi Blau, is the lack of a set of accepted criteria. "What kind of testimony will be used? How much trust will be afforded the testimony of victims? You can’t use regular halachic criteria. Halachic expertise alone is insufficient."
A third difficulty, he said, is that batei din will have to define key terms ranging from age of consent ("according to halacha, a girl is an adult at 12," he pointed out) to what kind of touching constitutes abuse.

Any attempt to fix the latter two difficulties would prove to be daunting, he said. "Who would be in charge? Who would set up the system?"

Rabbi Blau also raised the issue that outside of Israel, batei din have no investigative powers.
"We know there are cases of charismatic people who are able to bring lying [witnesses to appear before a bet din]," Rabbi Blau said. "No consequences if someone lies in front of a bet din."

Some of these problems could be solved if there were a national bet din in this country, he added, but of course there is none. Over the centuries, he pointed out, rabbinic authorities came up with ways of dealing with difficult accusations — i.e., a lack of two witnesses — but that such solutions require "a society we don’t have, where a bet din can bring things to bear."
"In Israel," he continued, "if X doesn’t give his wife a get and we feel he’s [obligated], he can be thrown in jail. These methods are not available to batei din in America."

Others, meanwhile, maintain the problem is not so much going to a bet din as it is in deciding which bet din to go to. "There is no one arbiter," said Ohel’s David Mandel. "I think it’s naïve to ask why we can’t have one bet din. People ask me. I tell them it’s not going to happen. I don’t think it’s realistic."

One bet din that has been actively trying to adjudicate sexual abuse cases was set up in Chicago some 10 years ago. Rabbi Zev Cohen, of Congregation Adas Yeshurun, set up the bet din after a couple of local molesters came to the surface. Sitting on the Chicago bet din, in addition to Rabbi Cohen, are Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levine, rosh yeshiva of Telshe; Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, head of both the Chicago Rabbinical Council’s bet din and the Beth Din of America; and Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, rav of the Agudah of Peterson Park and a dayan of Agudath Yisroel of Illinois.

Rabbi Cohen expressed ambivalence about the bet din’s existence. "Is it something we’re proud of?" he asked. "Yes. Is it something we wish would not have to exist? Certainly."
He said the bet din’s main purpose is "to defend and protect children in the community." He also said Orthodox communities across the country need to wake up to the reality of abuse in their midst and support rabbis who are trying to fight it – a process that is, in his view, already well under way: "Klal Yisrael is maturing and backing up rabbonim who take on these molesters."

Dr. Pelcovitz believes it’s important to stress to the community that when dealing with sexual abuse cases, "we are dealing with life and death situations."
"There’s a failure sometimes on our community to realize the negative effects," he said, noting that children who have been molested have higher rates of depression and suicide.

In more than one way, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is uniquely qualified to speak about how the Orthodox community has evolved in its approach to reports of sexual abuse. Rabbi Weinreb, who worked as a psychologist in both the public and private sphere for several decades, is the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union — a job he took after the group purged several of its leading professionals following the Rabbi Baruch Lanner abuse scandal.
"I’m sitting where I’m sitting now because of how the whole Lander scandal broke," Rabbi Weinreb said.

The OU, he told The Jewish Press, has undergone considerable change in an effort to prevent future abuse cases from occurring within the group’s organizational jurisdiction. Among those changes: personnel are trained in the basics of sexual abuse and harassment, and both children and parents can now contact an ombudsman with any complaints about staff behavior.
David Frankel, associate national director of the OU’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth, said that in the nearly two years he’s been manning the ombudsman telephone hotline, no calls have come in regarding physical, emotional or psychological abuse or harassment.

Rabbi Weinreb feels that all Jewish organizations serving "children and other vulnerable populations" need similar procedures. Yeshivas, he added, need to cooperate more with procedures that may help curtail incidents – careful background checks, for example. And children and teenagers in the community need to learn what is and is not appropriate behavior.
But at the same time, he said, that the community should be careful not to move too far to the other extreme. "Not everyone who strokes a kid’s back is a pervert," he said, noting that an unfortunate byproduct of the community’s increased vigilance is that many teachers, camp counselors and others who work with children are afraid to show even appropriate affection. What was once a friendly pat on the back might today be interpreted, mistakenly or with malice, as abuse.
When dealing with abusers, Rabbi Weinreb cautioned, it’s important to distinguish among different levels of abuse: "It would be unfair to lump them all together. There are pedophiles, those who are power hungry, those whose actions are inappropriate but not necessarily criminal. If people speak about it intelligently, that’s half the battle."

Across the country a handful of people have begun fighting the other half of the battle. One is the aforementioned attorney Elliot Pasik, who feels the Jewsih community is in dire need of a standardized process, particularly in yeshivas and day schools, and has been working for years trying to fix the problem.
When it comes to handling charges of abuse and trying to head off problems before they occur, each school operates on "an ad hoc basis," he said. "Each has its own rules, policies, procedures, and not linked to each other. If a rebbe or teacher is credibly accused of a sexual or violent incident, we don’t have a tracking system."
The lack of such a system, Pasik said, "allows the rebbe or teacher — who usually is only dismissed and does not face secular authorities — to seek a teaching position in another yeshiva, a phenomenon that’s been dubbed "passing the trash."

Pasik pointed out that the yeshiva process — or lack of one — stands in sharp contrast to the process followed by the nation’s public schools, which share a database that lists every teacher credibly accused of sexual abuse and enables administrators to run background checks before hiring a new teachers. (Credibly accused refers not only to teachers who have been found guilty in court, but even those who have been found administratively guilty in a school’s internal disciplinary hearing.) Pasik said that Catholic schools employ a similar system.
Pasik, who’s trying to convince the approximately 700 yeshivas and day schools in the U.S. and Canada to commit to background checks on teachers, was instrumental in getting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill last year allowing private schools to run background checks on their perspective employees. Prior to that, state labor law prevented such procedures.

Currently, 10 states — Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington — have laws requiring non-public schools to run background check before hiring new teachers. Several of those states have appreciable numbers of children enrolled in Jewish day schools. But according to Pasik, some yeshivas and day schools are not complying with the law. How does he know? "Because I’ve spot-checked."

The New York law allows yeshivas and day schools to run background checks but doesn’t require them. Pasik said the most effective way to convince yeshivas to start running background checks on teachers would be through parental pressure. A yeshiva parent association that would raise awareness about sexual abuse in schools would be ideal, he said, as would be some sort of system whereby a teacher accused of abuse would face a hearing, under the auspices of rabbis and other professionals from the community, and if found guilty would be registered in a database accessible to day schools and Jewish groups serving young people.

"It’s unacceptable that a child in public school is more protected than a child in yeshiva," Pasik said.

JSafe, a new organization started by Rabbi Mark Dratch, is working to systemize the process by certifying participating yeshivas and organizations. Before granting certification, JSafe educates staff members about sexual abuse — specifically how to identify it and assist victims. In addition, participating schools and organizations must run background checks before hiring new staff members, oversee the conduct of all employees, and help support victims of abuse, among other requirements.
"Mark Dratch is working on a process. I don’t know how successful he will be in selling that process in haredi circles," said Rabbi Blau, who believes it’s critical that J-Safe gain acceptance in all Orthodox communities.

Debbie Fox
"He’s the only one doing it. It would be helpful if someone from the haredi community openly supported his efforts."
One of the most unique approaches to dealing with allegations of abuse in yeshivas is found in Los Angeles.

Four years ago, two troubling incidents of sexual abuse in the course of a few months led Debbie Fox, director of the Aleinu Family Resource Center, effectively the Orthodox division of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, to call together a group of eight rabbis. She told them, as she recalled, "You can’t sit back. You have to act. You have to prevent this." They agreed that a course of action was needed, and together with local parents and mental health professionals wrote up a policy of conduct and behavioral standards for yeshivas and day schools.
"It had very clear standards," Fox said. For example, teachers and other school staff were not allowed to touch children below the shoulders. The rules were compiled from the standpoint of "being respectful to teachers, but putting children first."

The guidelines also included some less specific rules, such as prohibiting physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Fox conceded that the term emotional abuse is vague, but added, "Our rabbonim felt it was important that the teachers should know we don’t allow any denigrating or abusive behavior to children."
Fox sent the guidelines to all 30 Orthodox yeshivas in Los Angeles; those opting to participate have every employee who comes into contact with children sign on.

Echoing Pasik, Fox said she "feels parents will influence schools" by asking them to accept the guidelines. "We can’t force any school, but we can create pressure." She added that the eight rabbis on the halachic advisory board come from just about every segment of the Los Angeles Orthodox community. That, she said, has helped prod some schools to act. More than two-thirds of the yeshivas have signed on.
What also helped is that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, one of the most prominent haredi leaders in America, gave his stamp of approval to the guidelines. A letter to that effect accompanied the guidelines when Fox sent them to the schools.
Fox realized, however, that guidelines alone were not sufficient to protect Los Angeles’s yeshiva students. She wanted to take a proactive approach, mostly by educating schoolchildren about personal privacy and how to behave in a number of safety-related circumstances.

Fox found an educational program created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but she ran into problems using the material because some of the program’s video presentations were inappropriate for Orthodox students.
Then about three years ago Fox received $50,000 from the Julis family, prominent local philanthropists. With the money, and with training from the NCMEC, Aleinu Family Resource Center and its halachic advisory board created a complete program with an Uncle Moishy CD, an educational video presentation for parents, and an interactive video presentation for children starring a hero named Safety Kid, played by a local Orthodox youth.

The Safety Kid video features three basic scenarios, the third of which is about a child who’s reluctant to tell his mother why he doesn’t want to join the coach for extra practice. With Safety Kid’s encouragement, he finally informs his mother that the coach has been touching him and making him feel uncomfortable.
The latter storyline required several viewings on the part of the rabbis before they approved its inclusion on the video, said Fox. For that, she’s particularly grateful because the lesson is one of the three pillars of the program’s message to children: "Say no, run, and tell a responsible adult."
Rabbi Kamenetsky pre-approved the script, and Fox is working on showing him the final product, which Fox has just begun presenting in schools.
Aleinu plans to take the program national. Fox has already received inquiries about it from schools in New York, Chicago and Montreal.
Asked whether the guidelines may make it difficult, if not impossible, for rebbeim, teachers and counselors to touch or hug children in purely appropriate ways to help forge close relationships with students, Fox nodded. "That is true. It’s sad. Times have changed, and it’s sad."
She paused for a moment before adding, "It’s for the protection of counselors and teachers as much as it’s for the protection of the kids."