Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Beyond Belief - Heart Breaking Stories I’ve Compiled On Molestation In Our Community, Its A Cancer, My Promise I Won’t Sit Silent."


Brooklyn, NY - Assemblyman Dov Hikind: Beyond Belief, Heart Breaking Stories I’ve Compiled On Molestation In Our Community, Its A Cancer, My Promise I Won’t Sit Silent

Brooklyn, NY - “It happened twice in the mikva…..I was nine…. I never told anyone…I can’t tell my wife….she will never understand…How can she?….She will divorce me and take my children from me….,” fraught with intense pain, Duvid struggled as he divulged the more than two-decade old secret that was eroding his emotional and physical health.

The avalanche of stories of molestation and sexual abuse is overwhelming, personally and professionally. The first-person accounts of abuse have shaken me to my core. I have looked into the faces of victims, of their parents, and there is a void where joy should be. There is a vacuum where love should exist. And there is a disconnect with life and living. Victims live between worlds, the past encroaching on the currency of a beautiful life unfulfilled. It is a rape of the soul.

For the last three weeks, I have been immersed in round-the-clock meetings, hearing details no one should hear, referring victims to therapists, and compiling data on the perpetrators who share the same air we breathe. When the victim is one of ours and the molester is one of ours, the suffering is more acute. When it is a neighbor, a friend, a family member, a rebbe, etc., from our community who visits this abomination on our children, and the individual is not isolated or contained, it is a cancer that our society has permitted to metastasize, to grow and flourish into a malignancy.

Has child molestation risen to pandemic proportion in our midst? There is no formal actuarial data to support that, but no doubt predators have been sheltered, secure in the knowledge that the victim’s family will be so shrouded in shame and self-loathing, that denial will rule. When we have more compassion for the pedophile than for the victim, then our communities are doomed to self-destruction. “He’s respected….He’s choshuv….You can’t shame his family. You can’t deprive him of his livelihood…It will be a chilul Hashem….” By our own design, have we perpetuated the pain with our silence, reinforcing the shame, and being complicit in the trauma?

The medical literature says that a pedophile’s sexual interest in children is a disease that can not be controlled, and there must be appropriate psychological intervention. It will not go away with wishful thinking or haphazard monitoring.

Elected officials assign staffers to specific issues. There may be a “legislative desk,” a “Medicare desk,” an “Israel desk,” an “anti-Semitism desk,” a “discrimination desk,” etc, to respond to the needs of constituents. And after 26 years in office in the NYS Assembly, I now have a “sexual abuse desk.” No elected official should have a sexual abuse desk; no one should need one. But we do, because the experts say that one pedophile will abuse hundreds of victims, and I am now dealing with the exponential reality of decades and decades of our institutions, our communities, providing sanctuary to the perpetrators.

On my radio show, Miriam bravely recounted the violation of her son when he was eight years old at the hands of the principal of one of the largest institutions in Williamsburg. Repeatedly molested, her son, now in his twenties, is a member of a heavy metal band. The pain is etched on her son’s face. They have tried everything as a family to respectfully address the institution and remove the rebbe from access to children, and they have become mired in institutional politics, because the yeshiva refuses to acknowledge what the perpetrator did, though more than one victim has come forward. The politics of pain will rule no more; not on my watch. No pedophile should find sanctuary in our yeshivas. The perpetrators will get help or they will go to jail; there will be no self-serving wave of the hand, “Eh, the child and his parents are making it up.”

Another victim, Chaim, was molested summer after summer in one of our finest sleep-away camps. The psychic trauma has lingered for decades and shattered his life. He cannot trust. He cannot enjoy. He cannot feel. Unimaginable, unendurable, inescapable, - what sexual abuse does to the mind, the heart, the soul is devastatingly complete. It seizes the soul in a death-grip of terror and revulsion. It may be a passing scent….of grass, of trees…that triggers flashes of memories and overwhelms with painful sensory imagery of the abuse. It may be the feel of a fabric….it’s everywhere and nowhere…..and he remembers what it is like to be a child at the mercy of a vile adult who used his body over and over again…

For every one pedophile/molester there are hundreds of victims, as long as the violations go unreported or unaddressed. The victims can be your son, son-in-law, grandson, nephew…if it is not dealt with….I heard tapes of Chaim’s perpetrator…I couldn’t handle it. It was too much to bear. I couldn’t hear it anymore, how a molester tried to defend and rationalize what he did to his “favorites” in a well-renowned camp. “They didn’t know anything was going on. It wasn’t like they were hurt by what I did.” I. Didn’t. Want. To. Hear. One. More. Defiled. Utterance. Delving into the mind of a pedophile was traumatic. And his rapid-fire clipped speech and articulate manner underscored the banality of his malevolent indulgences. He destroyed this child and others, now adults, and he spoke of it as if it was meaningless to the children. “They were too young. They didn’t know what was going on. It’s nothing. It happened a long time ago.”

From this point forward, the message will be clear from every rov and every community: Schools and parents have an obligation to come forward to deal with this. If they don’t, then they are complicit in the abuse and will have to answer to another higher desk, after 120 years. That desk, Hashem’s desk, knows the hearts of men, and the purity of conviction, and if you have shielded the guilty, that is the greatest chilul Hashem of all.

We are compiling information which will be presented to rabbonim, material which will be irrefutable, undeniable, inescapable, based upon which there will be a groundswell of support for victims, and an initiative to remove the perpetrators from any and all contact with children.

I can’t bear to hear one more story, but I will. I will hear hundreds if I have to. I’ll cry with as many victims as I have to. And my heart will break, and I will feel desperate to get away from the pain.…but I will get them help. I will listen and I will brush away more tears than I’ve seen in 26 years – my own….for another childhood lost. This will be eradicated from our midst…I’m not a crusader I’m a parent….a grandparent….a man whose mind can no longer process the horrific stories of violations…

If we don’t teach our children to protect themselves from molesters, the molesters will perversely teach them first and paralyze their lives and emotions…There is a part of me that is sorry that I started on this journey of misery and degradation, and there is a part of me which knows that someone has to speak for myriad victims. I haven’t slept well since I launched this mission. I don’t know if I will…again.

There are people who will say that this is a problem which has been around for decades and that it will be impossible to breach the walls that have been put up. But I have faith that with God’s help, we will be able to make a difference in many lives. Are we going to solve the problem entirely? Notoriously, pedophiles are likeable and they blend in well, and formulate a cover story for why they are so involved with your children. Finding every single one and rooting them out, is the province of God. But with God on our side, we have a chance to stanch the loss of our children.

It’s almost too much to bear, but then the phone rings again, and another victim who hasn’t told his narrative to anyone calls, and haltingly asks for a meeting…and I know I don’t have a choice. I’m at 718-853-9616…and I am waiting for your call.


Boruch said...

The number of comments on VIN so far is staggering. The number of comments that address the issue and not relive the molestation are few and far between. Let go for a second the volume of incidents, small or large, regarding molestation isn't just one bad enough. Would such a shrei occur over chicken pox or mumps? One case there would be cause for the health commissioner to be on top of every school nurse. We ask should we be saying things without properly investigating and being sure of the charges? No, we should investigate and make sure that it is real molestation. But when we are sure we should do something and not protect the molester. It's not a virus or a genetic disease for crying out loud. It's a chemical or physical deficiency in the brain of the molester. He/she is sick. But for the sake of shidduchim - get off of it, plenty of healthy families shouldn't have the worries they have and now your worried about a mentally ill person. Cancer is okay, but the same genetic tendencies exist for future generations. Dov Hikind, like him or not, is bringing this out into the open, where it belongs. Those who say this shouldn't be discussed in public should unashamedly stay behind their locked doors - they don't belong in public either. I remember when the first HIV/AIDS literature was mailed out and how many of my well knowing friends through it in the garbage because the Rabbis and leaders know how do deal with this situation and we don't need the government. So we put more chlorine in the mikveh and wear -- well you get the idea --- with the shiksha and it's okay.
It's not okay. Bring it out Dov, Bring it out Nuchem. The doves will cry out about how much they did when the war eagles have finished the job.

Kol Ha Kovod.

Low Klass Watch said...

If the Jewish Fress finally gets it that the frum community is fed up, they will switch from attacking UOJ to jumping on Hikind's bandwagon because they think it will sell more copies.

Boruch said...

There are several Rosh Yeshiva stories where the Rosh Yeshiva doesn't visit upon a talmid a reminder or tochachah until the talmid is ready to receive it. I submit that meetings between talmidim and melamdim at the elementary and mesivtah level should not take place until a memo is sent home to the parents and returned signed. I submit that any melamed that touches a student below the waist, for any reason, should be reprimanded and placed on probation the first time after an investigation by an independent party and fired the second time with cause.

Sir Vivor said...

The sensitivity Dov Hikind and his staff showed me really blew me away. I did not expect him to be so dedicated to this issue, and was pleasently surprised. Perhaps, just perhaps, here might be one very uncorrupt politician. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...


I read your blog almost everyday for years....you have to research the latest scandal with shereshevsky...there is a side to this that no one is talking about . . . 1,2000 orthodox jews invested with a known criminal who married off his daughter when she was 12....do you know why? Shereshevsky was paying off the Moetzes as well and these Gedolim were backing him up....you have better connections than I do but I suggest that you look into it.

Anonymous said...

From The Crack Reporters at Yeshiva World...

All The News That Is Fit To Be Reported (at least what we/I/us--but definitely not you--deem fit)

Based on requests by maranan verabonon shlita rabbonim and educators are warning against the spiritual perils for chareidi vacationers at hotels and bungalows not under rabbinical supervision.
Many people who take pains all year to distance themselves from inappropriate environments are liable to find themselves exposed to terrible spiritual threats. Even if the hotel kitchen has been kashered, the rooms are furnished with television sets and the character of the bungalows and hotels is totally incongruent with the Jewish way of life.
The rabbonim note that those who chose to avoid the hotel atmosphere by staying at bungalows (zimmerim) where the stumbling blocks appear far less severe are sadly mistaken.
Roshei yeshivos say experience shows many bochurim from outstanding bnei Torah homes undergo drastic declines while vacationing at hotels and bungalows. They also received reports on televisions and an unwholesome atmosphere from groups of adults taking part in hotel stays organized by chareidi organizations.
Gedolei Yisroel want it made clear that those who opt to go to such places place themselves in a real nisoyon whereas those who “guard their soul” distance themselves from such places. Those who have already made reservations should ask a rov whether to cancel their reservations.
Those who seek a change of pace can do so by arranging apartment exchanges with other bnei Torah families, but under no circumstances should one rely on the bungalow owners’ assurances that their accommodations are suitable for chareidim.

Anonymous said...

From The Jewish Week...

BREAKING NEWS: Photo Scandal Involving Yeshiva Hoops Coach Widens; More Victims Sought
by Staff Report

Asserting that there are more victims of an alleged sexual abuser than the four teens who have come forward to the police, the rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in Teaneck, N.J., is calling on congregants to help an investigation in the case of Adam Melzer, 34, who was arrested several weeks ago for child endangerment.

Melzer, a married parent and member of the Orthodox community in Teaneck, coached basketball teams at several Jewish day schools in New Jersey and New York. He is accused of persuading teenage boys that he coached to take naked pictures of themselves and give them to him.

Four youngsters in the community, who are now between the ages of 16 and 18, contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and the Teaneck Police

Department, leading to an investigation of Melzer, and to his arrest.

He was charged with four counts on endangering the welfare of a child, and turned himself in to authorities on July 18.

In an announcement during services last Shabbat morning at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Rabbi Yosef Adler said that additional youngsters are believed to have been victims. He urged parents to speak to their children and, if they have information, to come forward to the authorities.

The rabbi, who is also rosh yeshiva of the Talmudical Academy of Bergen County (TABC), a boys' high school, said that the more youngsters who come forward, the greater their collective credibility would be in the event of a trial.

Rabbi Adler told The Jewish Week on Tuesday that he and his rabbinic colleagues at the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County had discussed the case, but that as far as he knew, he was the only rabbi to date to speak out and encourage cooperation with the police.

The four youngsters reportedly said that during 2006 and 2007, Melzer told each of them that someone was blackmailing them and had nude pictures of them. He allegedly told them he would intercede with the blackmailers and needed nude pictures of them.

A police spokesman familiar with the case said that adults whose social life focuses heavily on young teenagers should be viewed with a sense of caution.

Parents at the Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey, in River Edge, where the four teens were students and where Melzer had been a basketball coach, received a letter from the dean and president of the school soon after the arrest. It stated that during the time Melzer coached there, "we received no reports of improper behavior or anything that would have raised even the slightest concern."

The letter asserted that the school has "a zero tolerance" policy regarding the endangerment of children and urged parents with direct knowledge to contact the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, which has established a hotline at (201) 226-5155.

Anonymous said...

Hashem Yerachem!

Anonymous said...

Leave it up to a sleaze like Hikind to take a horribly painful personal situation and try to make political hay out of it.

It breaks my heart to think that people so vulnerable may be hurt yet again.

This belongs with the professionals and the leaders (political or otherwise) who really care.

Hashem Yerachaim

Joseph said...

I don't trust any politician in general, but I will say that at a very difficult period of my life 21 years ago, I found Dov to be warm and caring and he even insisted I take $100 from his office to help me out. For that I'll always be grateful.

Anonymous said...

As a professional who has evaluated some children who were abused, I can tell you that the damage is often life-long, especially when prompt therapy by an experienced therapist is not provided.

I wonder, however, if the forces of evil will not see to it that this Assemblyman is not re-elected. It seems clear in at least one southern community that there are actually groupings of these twisted individuals who band together and protect one another.

Of course, none of these coverups etc is even remotely condoned by the Torah, but that seems irrelevant to our so-called leaders.

These crimes are of biblical proportion. The reward for those who prevent further crimes will be enormous. The punishment for those who enable such crimes will also be enormous.

But since so many of the principals and rabbinic leaders seem afflicted with narcissistic and sociopathic personalities--no real rav or principal would countenance any of this for a second--and / or tremendous naivete, we must act on a grassroots level to fight what is clearly evil.

We are clearly living in unusual times.

no one said...

I am not exactly sure why agudah is protesting child molestation. It was an agudah rabbi that caused directly the sexual abuse of my children.
Okay he did not do it himself butwhen we arrived at LA, my wife was not happy with me. I learnt Torah all the time but was not part of the local lakewood kollel. So she felt I should be working. The agudah rabbi and the other charadi rabbis did more than encourage but brought tremendous presure on her to divorce me, though she was at the time only mildly unhappy with me.
Afterwards the child were all abused by their rebbis and frum homes they were placed in while I was driven away by force. Laugh if you like if you think this is made up. It is a real as it gets.
I suppose the truth will come to light someday but the frum have a ability to suppress this type of thing. Maybe not so much nowadays but thirty years ago they did things like this with impunity.

Anonymous said...

OK I know this is a very naive perspective but this situation is remarkable. I do not know what is more shocking the existence of pedophiles in our community or the willingness of our institutions to shield these vile persons. One would think that in the interest of integrity would not tolerate such behavior.
Certainly, some safeguards need to be in place to protect against false accusations as well as an opportunity to exit and stay away from kids (at least in theory)
The fact those who are charged with giving the mesorah to the next generation resist rooting out molesters undermines their moral standing and authority as well as that of the Torah they represent.

cavemanrabbi said...

they been givin us pee to dring and sayin its Tropicana Orange Juice, and feedin us dog do and telling us its Cream of Wheat!!

Anonymous said...

Can someone please force the DA or Attorney General to subpeona Hikinds records and start a public investigation

Archie Bunker said...


Avi Shafran, in perhaps his most dishonest op-ed yet, launches a vicious attack in the secular press against Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld.

Shmarya said...

Hikind should take the information he has and give it to the police.

Anonymous said...

I read oyur article explaning why you think what you think about Chassidus.

One of your main criticsm of 'Chsidus' and not of particular chiasidim is that the Zohar, and Kisvei Ari are not part of our mesora. Since CHaisuys focuses heavily on Zohar and Kisvei Ari - it is not part of our mesora.

But the fact remais that virtually all Torah authorities since the time of the Mechaber at least, have taken the Zohar and Kisvei Ari very seriously.

The Mechaber quotes the ZOhar extensively as an authentic work. The Mogen Avrohom quotes Kisvei Ari all of the time. The CHofetz Chiam as well. The VIlna Gaon himself and R' Chaim Volozhiner do too. This is just a small sampling.

The Maharam Alshaker and Abarbanel report that upon learnign about the Kabolla late in life, the Rambam recanted on all of what he said regarding philoso[hical speculation i.e.the Moreh nevuchim and much of what appears in Yesodei haTOrah and Deos etc. It was to late however to undo that which had already spread.

Are you to say that all othese universally accepted Paragons of Halocho are 'vile' and foolish?

One canot attack Zohar or Kisvei Ari w/o attacking the entire Mesora as it has developed over the past 600 years. If this is your best critiscm of Chasidus and as such allows you to use hysteric condemnations you really need to take a step back. It seems as if your hatred at evils commited has ruined your judgement to make distinctions.

Also, there are many references to the Toras haSod in classic sourcesin CHazal and Rishonim. This too was given at Sinai just not revelaed to anyone. See Chagiga the first Mishna of Ein Dorshin.

The Rashbi and the Arizal as well as the Besht were granted permission to reveal more of the Torah than was revealed previously.

If you are serious about understanding Kabblo and Zohar you should contact R' Yaakov Hillel of Yerusholayim.

Be Well,

A Breslover Chosid

dedicated soldier said...

why are none of these guys turning up in alleys completely beaten, bloodied, and bruised. i advocate violence towards terrorists, why are we not turning our communities' terrorists in to 6 feet of lumps. i'm a large man who has never gotten into a serious altercation my whole life. i would like to change that. i visualize someone trying something on a relative of mine, and its not pretty.

Hamptons Fresser said...


Charges of anti-Semitism are swirling in a tony seaside village in the Hamptons after a contentious community meeting at a local synagogue and the departure of a former deputy mayor concerned over rising anti-Jewish sentiment.

The village, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., has been roiled by controversy since the announcement earlier this year that a local synagogue planned to erect an eruv, a symbolic marker that allows observant Jews to perform certain tasks normally forbidden on the Sabbath, such as carrying or pushing a stroller.

Marc Schneier, rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue, temporarily withdrew his application for an eruv in May amid fierce community opposition that some contend had a distinctly anti-Semitic undertone. Schneier, the president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and a leading figure in Jewish-Muslim and black-Jewish dialogue, called a meeting Wednesday to address community concerns over the eruv.

"It got very ugly," Schneier said. "It was a horrible display of intolerance and disrespect."

The building of eruvs, which generally entails affixing nearly invisible markers to telephone and utility poles to create virtual enclosures, has engendered fierce opposition in communities from New Jersey to London. Neighborhood opponents generally argue that the construction of the eruv will transform their neighborhood into an Orthodox Jewish enclave, ruining the community’s character and bringing down real estate values.

Eruv supporters hear echoes of anti-Semitism in such opposition.

Opponents of the eruv in Westhampton Beach have expressed fears that their community could turn into “another Lawrence,” a once diverse Long Island town now populated overwhelmingly by Orthodox Jews.

About 500 mostly non-Jewish residents turned up for the meeting Wednesday at Schneier's synagogue. According to the rabbi, one participant called him "slime." Another said eruvs belong only in ghettos and that Orthodox Jews shouldn't live in the community. Schneier was told to go back where he came from.

"I think we have seen the ugly head of anti-Semitism rise in this village," Schneier said.

The Wednesday meeting came just as a local newspaper reported that Tim Laube, a former deputy mayor and supporter of the eruv, was planning to leave the community because of rising anti-Semitism.

“I received a number of threatening phone calls,” Laube told The Southampton Press, referring to the dozen or so calls he received during a failed bid for the mayoralty in June. “Callers accused me of being ‘a Jew-lover,’ a ‘kike-lover.’ [They] said that I would ‘burn in hell,’ [and] that ‘my parents would be turning in their graves.’”

Laube, the child of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, grew up in Westhampton Beach.

“I love the community,” Laube told the newspaper. “But I can’t look myself in the mirror and feel this is where I want to stay the rest of my life. Things would have to change.”

Mayor Conrad Teller told The Southampton Press that opponents of the eruv are mostly “level-headed, reasonable people” motivated not by bigotry, but because “they just don’t want an area declared an Orthodox Jewish enclave.”

But Schneier sees the controversy as a civil rights issue, and so does the governor of New York, David Paterson, who visited the synagogue two weeks ago and expressed support for the project.

“I'm hoping we can bring tolerance, understanding and compassion to those who want to build an eruv,” Paterson said, according to news reports.

"This is no longer about the eruv," Schneier said. "All you had to do Wednesday night was substitute the word 'Jew' with 'black,' though Southerners would have chosen a different term. But that was the tone."

Ronnie Schreiber Spokesman said...


DETROIT — The FBI is investigating whether Bernard Kilpatrick, the father of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was involved in payoff schemes to steer city business to contractors, according to five lawyers familiar with the investigation.
The sources said agents are trying to determine whether Bernard Kilpatrick illegally passed along any money to the mayor. The sources agreed to discuss the investigation only if they were not identified.

"It's a pure pay-to-play system," one lawyer alleged of the process to obtain many contracts in Detroit.

Bernard Kilpatrick did not return calls Friday. His attorney, Abe Singer, left a voice mail for a reporter that said: "I'd check my sources a little stronger than you have before you publish this story." He could not be reached to elaborate.

The mayor's attorney, James Thomas, said after conferring with Nat Lewin & Avi Shafran: "I don't know what asking a question proves. ... That isn't proof of anything."

Anonymous said...

# Library Lover Says:
comments - arrow Right here in Ir Hakodesh, initial M, we have a molester in a major yeshiva, he has been there for yrs, a Rebbe..he was involved in a camp and everyone knew him as a molester..yet he is still here, still in the largest school, still teaching first grade..WHY???Dov, HELP!

08-04-2008 - 4:41 PM

I'm looking for the person who posted this comment on VIN a while back. You obviously know about this "Rebbe". We are seeking other victims of Abramson . PLEASE call Dov Hikinds office with any info that you have. Talk to Eli. His # is 718-853-9616. If there is anyone else out there who has any info on this animal please call as well. Tizku L'mitzvot.

Anonymous said...

A few comments suggest that the information that has reached Dov’s office should be turned over to police for investigation. No. No. No.

While Dov is launching a project to develop a system to enable the frum community to address cases of abuse and molestation, he is not becoming the investigator, prosecutor, judge, or jury. Those cases that have been brought to the attention of Dov’s office are just anecdotal reports, many of which are credible. However, there are also some that may not be. Every case needs to be properly investigated to determine whether it is real, or it may be fiction or exaggeration. All of these scenarios have happened. So don’t expect prosecution based on info reaching Dov’s office, and certainly not automatic handing of reports to police.

Anonymous said...

Shomron, Israel - A charedi Principle of a Yeshiva in one the settlements in Shomron was arrested today by Israeli police on accusations that he molested in the last 2 years more than a dozen boys under the age of 13.
The man in his high 40's who is said to be a principle at a yeshiva in Shomron is being held in Kefar Saba courthouse until future investigation.

According to 'Yedioth Ahronoth' police sergeant Merak Amiel said that in the next few days it will be made public the details of the allegation, in which the sergeant said is extremely troubling and disgusting.