Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Revolution On The Streets Of New York!


Confronting Pedophilia: Two Views

The Markey Bill And Beyond: If The Rabbis Really Cared ...

by Rabbi Dr. Asher Lipner

Special To The Jewish Week

For years I was a proud, card-carrying member of Agudath Israel of America, a leading haredi communal organization; sadly, I have allowed my membership to lapse. But I, like many others, do not feel that I left the Agudah.

Rather the Agudah has left us.

The Agudah has come out in opposition to the Child Victims Act, known as the “Markey Bill” in the New York State Legislature (its lead sponsor is Queens Assemblywoman Marge Markey). The bill would allow victims of childhood sexual abuse recourse toward obtaining justice against their abusers by providing a one-year “window” in which to file a civil lawsuit at any age, and would extend the statute of limitations for pressing criminal charges from age 23 to 28.

Many survivors of child abuse have been waiting for years in shame, pain and agony, hoping that one day our religious leaders would hear their cries and address their plight. Survivors were just beginning to feel empowered and accepted after recent media attention and political and communal statements calling attention to their suffering.

Courageously, some survivors were able to speak out, and there were those who traveled to Albany last month to lobby for passage of the Markey bill. Orthodox Jews stood together with Catholics and Protestants, blacks and whites, to support survivors of child abuse and to ensure protection for children in the future. But we were deeply disappointed to learn, on the bus ride home, that the Agudah and Torah Umesorah, the National Association of Hebrew Day Schools, whom parents expect to promote child welfare and school safety, had come out against the bill.

One survivor of abuse from 29 years ago, a friend of mine, wondered aloud: “Does it take a situation where the children or grandchildren of the religious leadership are molested before they will finally start doing the right thing?”

The Agudah is concerned with yeshivas and other institutions becoming financially insolvent due to lawsuits, should Markey pass. But the only lawsuits that could possibly win are those against yeshivas that knowingly harbored molesters, not the vast majority of innocent institutions. Are we to believe that yeshivas that would enable the abuse of innocent Jewish children are, in the words of the Agudah and Torah Umersorah, the “lifeblood of our community?”

On the one hand, the Markey bill is not necessarily an absolute litmus test of whether the rabbis care or not about victims of sexual abuse. But the fact is that Agudah’s denunciation of the Child Victims Act marks the first time that the current gedolim (Torah sages) have acknowledged the problem of sexual abuse — and then only to focus on the institutions they are afraid will be financially hurt by it. As I have heard repeatedly from those who have suffered, this leads survivors of abuse to feel that the rabbis care more about the financial safety of their institutions than the physical, emotional and spiritual safety of the children.

Survivors of abuse wonder why the rabbis remained silent for so many years about this issue. Yated Neeman, the primary haredi newspaper, reported recently that the leading rabbis have been meeting to discuss the problem for at least five years. So why is it only now that they publicly admit that molestation exists in their community? And where is the apology to the victims for not protecting them all this time, for not believing them and for silencing their voices?

Why have these rabbinic leaders not openly endorsed the position paper of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (www.jewishadvoctes.org), which calls for mandated reporting of suspicion of abuse by rabbis and teachers in yeshivas; mandated fingerprinting and background checks of all employees in yeshivas; mandated safety plans with full transparency and written instructions to parents; and mandated firing and punishment of employees for any sexual or physical abuse?

These actions should have begun already — voluntarily — even before legislation is enacted. It is a chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name) that our yeshivas would need the government to legislate and enforce the fundamentals of our Torah. Enforcement of these values, which conform to halacha, would be easy enough for our leaders. Any school that does not provide for the safety of our children should be deemed as outside of Orthodoxy, as would be a school that sponsored a Tisha b’Av dance party or Yom Kippur banquet.

Surely if a school was found to be distributing treif lollipops it would soon be forced to shut its doors.

Why have the gedolim not yet signed a proclamation stating that both victims and witnesses of abuse must go to the police, as some rabbinic authorities have stated? Why have they fostered the misperception that it is forbidden to do so because of mesirah (the prohibition of reporting Jews to non-Jewish authorities)? Why do they not also clarify to the uninformed that sexual abuse is a sin and a crime whether there is sexual penetration or not — that it includes such mistreatment as fondling, coercing a child to touch an adult sexually, exhibitionism, voyeurism and even inappropriate sexual speech to a child?

If the rabbinic leaders are too afraid of damaging their own institutions to support the Markey bill, let them implement the above suggestions. That surely would go a long way toward reaching out to survivors and promoting healing and teshuva in our community.

Asher Lipner is vice president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children and works as a therapist with survivors of abuse and their families.


Bill’s ‘Window’ Unfair, Yet More Must Be Done

Rabbi David Zwiebel

Special To The Jewish Week

As reported in these pages one week ago, a small group of protesters picketed this year’s annual dinner of Agudath Israel of America to show their displeasure with Agudath Israel’s opposition to the “Markey bill” — legislation pending in Albany that would, among other things, suspend for one year the statute of limitations in New York for any civil claims based on allegations of childhood sexual abuse.

The picketers handed out a one-page color flier bearing the logo of Agudath Israel, with the header “A message from Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice President, Agudath Israel of America.” At the conclusion of the message appeared a photograph of said executive vice president — me — followed by the tagline: “Agudas Yisroel: Our children are our future.”

The purported message itself was quite an eye-opener. It described Agudath Israel’s opposition to the Markey bill as having been motivated by personal concern regarding potential legal claims the bill would allow to be brought against Agudath Israel itself and the yeshivot headed by the organization’s senior rabbinic leadership. It claimed, in classic first-person confessional prose, that “I have been ordered to work tirelessly with our partner in this holy mission, the Catholic Conference of New York State, to oppose this legislation. ... My job is to follow orders and I am obligated to obey ... or lose my job.”

As readers may have guessed, the message was fabricated. I never wrote it. It was materially false.

It was a cheap shmatte! (rag).

And yet, in a certain sense, it was a welcome contribution.

Sexual abuse of children is an unspeakably terrible thing. And, to our great pain and chagrin, we in the Orthodox Jewish community have discovered over recent years that it is also apparently a far more common thing than any of us had ever imagined. Whether, as some claim, the problem is even greater in Orthodox circles than in broader society, whether it is just as bad or whether it is less prevalent, the bottom line is by now clear and undeniable: significant numbers of children growing up in Orthodox homes and attending Orthodox institutions are victims of sexual abuse.

It is also by now clear and undeniable that the scars left by such abuse are often deep and permanent, affecting victims’ social and emotional development, undermining their religious identification and observance, even leading to acts of self-destruction.

Once we could say we didn’t know. Now we know. And part of the reason we know is that victims and their advocates — like those who picketed our dinner — have made their voices heard. As I told a Jewish Week reporter last week, these people have a special claim on our attention and conscience.

But their brash indictment of our organizations and rabbinic leaders is both misguided and offensive.

As it became apparent that the problem of childhood sexual abuse in Orthodox circles was a serious one — both in scope and in severity — responsible rabbinic leaders began to assess and address the situation. With little fanfare, away from the media limelight, the Vaad Roshei Yeshiva (senior yeshiva deans) of Torah Umesorah – The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, and the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah (Council of Torah Sages) of Agudath Israel, convened many meetings to discuss the problem and develop meaningful responses. This led, six years ago, to the publication by Torah Umesorah (with a strong assist from the professionals at Ohel) of internal school guidelines for preventing and dealing with abuse, including reporting to civil authorities when appropriate. Workshops on the topic are a regular feature of Torah Umesorah conventions.

Agudath Israel, similarly, has developed guidelines for Jewish summer camps, as well as for its year-round extracurricular youth programs.

The organizations have encouraged schools and camps to urge their parent bodies to talk to their children about inappropriate touch. They have encouraged institutions to perform background checks on all prospective employees, including a criminal records check, and have supported laws authorizing non-public schools to screen prospective employees through a state fingerprint checking system.

On the rabbinic front, halachic responsa have been published addressing the question of reporting cases of suspected abuse to the secular authorities. Special Jewish courts have been established in several Orthodox communities across the country to deal with allegations of abuse.

But yes, despite all this — and despite recognizing that yet additional steps need to be considered — Agudath Israel and Torah Umesorah oppose the Markey bill.

More precisely, we oppose one specific aspect of the Markey bill. As our organizations’ joint statement makes clear, we would not object to legislation designed to give victims greater recourse against their abusers. Our concern is with the bill’s potentially crippling real-world impact on Jewish schools, camps and synagogues — institutions that are the very lifeblood of our community — and their hard-pressed parent bodies and supporters who have no connection whatsoever to decades-old claims of abuse.

One can still maintain that, even so, it makes sense to suspend the statute of limitations for civil suits against institutions. Reasonable people can debate the issue. But opposition to the Markey bill’s “window” does not bespeak, as has been repeatedly and angrily charged by some of the bill’s proponents, lack of concern, God forbid, for victims.

No one at Agudath Israel or Torah Umesorah has ever insinuated that proponents of the bill don’t care about Jewish schools. We know that the bill’s proponents are well-meaning even if, in our view, they are not adequately weighing all the factors. We only wish they would extend to those of us who oppose the bill similar courtesy — or at least the courtesy of not disseminating fabricated “statements” designed to cast us and our community’s most revered rabbinic leaders in a poor light.

The picketers, though, are right. Our children are our future. They — and the schools that play such a central role in their Jewish development — are the most precious resources the Jewish community possesses. They deserve, both of them, our care and protection.

The Agudath Israel will give a free snuggie to any child that can prove that he was molested in a yeshiva, that's how much we really care -- and we'll throw in a free snuggie-slipper socks if you were molested twice! (*shipping & handling $100 - tax deductible checks to Novominsker Yeshiva*)

Rabbi David Zwiebel is executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America.


As usual, Steve gets it exactly right!

Zwiebel and the Agudah have been very consistent in the past 5-6 years in their approach to this problem. Despite what they want you to believe, they have come out against every piece of proposed legislation that would have given any sense of protection to our children.

They came out against mandatory reporting in 2005 when Zwiebel himself was quoted as saying that "this bill would take away the power of the rabbis to do their own investigating."

They opposed mandatory fingerprinting and background checks (although they now claim that they will not fight it). Now they are "vigorously opposed" to the Child Victims Act- the Markey bill. You would think that if they were having meetings for 5-6 years on the subject, that by now our children would be safer from child molesters.

Instead, they have handed the molesters one victory after another by continuing the coverups, the muzzling of the victims and the lack of any safety guidelines. This is how they have been "dealing" with the issue.

When he says that they "encouraged" institutions to do background checks, he knows very well that it is toothless and meaningless. None of the yeshivos will voluntarily fingerprint their employees and perform background checks. The RCA put out guidelines in 2003, 2005 and 2007 calling for mandatory reporting, fingerprinting, and background checks. They have also come out publicly in favor of the Markey bill? What has the Agudah done other than to thwart all of these efforts?

The Markey bill is the ONLY way that we are going to be able to expose these child molesters.

Those that were victimized and are past the SOL have no recourse at this point. What are they supposed to do, shout from the rooftops? If they go to Dov Hikind, he will only open a new file and keep the molester's name confidential. They can't go to the DA since it is past the SOL (even in new cases Hynes will make sure the perp is not prosecuted if he is well "connected"). If they try to convene a bais din, they will be laughed out of the community if not excommunicated entirely.

If they post on UOJ, they will be called liars, motzi shem ra, cowards, heretics, etc. The only recourse they have is to sue the molesters and those that wronged them in the past. Only those lawsuits that have credibility will see the light of day. In California, they were able to expose over three hundred sexual predators when they passed a similar bill.

We need to ignore these liars and hypocrites at the Agudah and work to pass this legislation in Albany immediately. We have no more time to waste bickering with these enablers.

R' Steve - Honorary Doctorate Of Truth - UOJ University!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Funeral At The New York Hilton - May 17, 2009

When Yudi Kolko got arrested, believe it or not, I broke down with emotion. Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt bad for us Jews, especially Jewish children who have been tortured by the likes of him, Lipa Margulies, Yisroel Belsky and the entire Agudath Israel.

Children, whose only crime was being in a yeshiva or in an Orthodox Jewish summer camp like Camp Agudah. Children whose emotional well-being was crippled for life, and were cast aside like trash on the filthy streets of Brooklyn. Their families were threatened if they "spoke up", or if they sought redress at the local police station. "Whispers" of a "nebach" child would spread around the community like a flu-like virus, destined to destroy the families that were not "immunized" by money and protectsia.

And a great job these scumbags did indeed.

Families destroyed, children going off to worlds they hoped would ease their pain and shame. Suicides, drug overdoses, alcoholism....and anything that would distract them from their miseries; heaped upon these innocent souls by our rabbis, gedolim, community leaders, bastard organizations like the Agudath Israel, and shamefully what has become Torah Umesorah.

So when the dumb-ass ignoramus, Yaakov Perlow, got up to speak at the Agudath Israel dinner last Sunday, after I was informed of his opening lines, I again broke down with emotion -- for us!

Is this the best we've got? Is there no shame left among the Jews? Do we dare permit ourselves to have this charlatan "divine" his words on the Jewish community. In front of a roomful of obvious peasants, he spouts out his words of such idiocy, that the Heavens had to break down and weep.

Every person sitting in that room in the Hilton that did not walk out, is an accomplice to this madman's agenda. Trample on the truth when it suits you, at any expense.

My third grade rebbe was correct; two of the things that separate us from dogs are; humans have no loyalty, and dogs relieve their waste wherever they feel like it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Libertywept.org - It's always been about the truth!

This post will stay at the top for one week; newer posts will appear just below this one!

You know, I've devoted a lot of time to the the tragic crime of child sex-abuse in the Jewish community, and focused on the criminal and corrupt leadership who chose, and still choose, to bury these crimes under some God-forsaken religious doctrine called "daas Torah" -- nonsense that they invented to keep the truth from emerging on very serious topics, and to protect their criminal activities!

Well, another cause has presented itself to me, one affecting not only the Jewish community, but the entire country and perhaps the well-being of civilization itself.

I know and love the above author Alvan Shane as a brother, I trust his judgment and intellect, and I am proud to present to the world his new book. He never wrote a book before, but he is outraged as to what's happening to our country.

His book just arrived, self-published, and you can buy it now. The book's focal point is the event that almost took our country down on September 11, 2001. But his embellishments and descriptions of what's been happening to America during the past dozen years or so, is an eye-opener. I don't know how he was able to squeeze so much information into a relatively small book. He uses an economy of words, says exactly what he thinks -- UOJ style!

I read a lot of books, too many that are a waste of my time. Some bestsellers keep me scratching my head, asking myself -- who can read this stupidity?

Al and I go back a long way. We discuss and debate many things. At times, we agree to disagree, and save it for another day. Even when he's "absolutely wrong", his opinions and intellect gives me reason to doubt, for a fleeting moment, whether I'm really the smartest guy I know. (UOJ sense of humor)

Enough already, he'll be angry at all the praise, especially from a man like me, who thinks almost everyone I meet is an idiot! (UOJ sense of humor)

You need to all read this book, hear his arguments, grasp his tremendously insightful concepts! You owe it to yourselves to read controversial, educated opinions. The book is written beautifully, you'll be glad you made this small purchase.

Go to:libertywept.org

The book retails at amazon.com for $19.95 plus shipping, handling and packaging, but going to libertywept.org and putting in the promo code {XYK09UOJ}, you're able to purchase it for only $15.95 for a very limited time - free shipping and handling in the U.S.A. (plus tax in California only).

Most important, Al and his dear wife Barbara, created a non-profit organization called F.A.C.T., all proceeds from this book will go to this entity, to be used in an ongoing effort to investigate all suspect acts that are disguised as truths, by the U.S. government. Your purchase is tax-deductible. Now go order his book on-line at:libertywept.org


A group of fifty parents from ten schools in New York sent this letter to eight Senators.

Dear Honorable Senator,

Pastor Martin Niemoller, wrote the famous poem, First They Came. He described the apathy people had towards the plight of those afflicted during the Second World War. The point was to teach a stark lesson, if you sit idly by while your neighbor suffers, you will be left to fend for yourself with no one to protest when you are suffering.

For too long our children in Orthodox Jewish Day Schools have been victims of the insidious crime of sexual molestation. Those individuals and families who protested the abominable behaviors were blacklisted, threatened, and ridiculed. All attempts at working things through internal measures failed. The rabbis forbade any legal involvement to protect our children. Our children are on drugs and committing suicide as a result of the violations made against them.

We cannot remain apathetic to the plight of our children. The Markey/Duane bill opening a window through which the victims can achieve a small amount of justice, is the least we can do for our children. Orthodox Jewish schools which supervised their staff, took an interest in each student’s safety, and made school a place of security have nothing to lose. Those schools that willfully neglected their fiduciary trust of providing a safe and nurturing environment, don’t deserve the title Orthodox Jewish Day School and must be closed down.

Society is judged by its weakest link. Orthodox Jewry’s weakest link is the protection of our youth. We need your help passing laws to keep our children safe. Most of Orthodox Jewry (besides for Agudath Israel) fully supports this valuable piece of legislation.

Yours Truly,

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


For anyone who may have wondered whether Ohel Children's Home and Family Services might really be in the business of helping our community, read the Jewish Week article by Hella Winston on the shameful case of Stefan Colmer ("A Suspected Pedophile Eludes the System" - thejewishweek.com) to get a taste of the truth.

Read there how Colmer was treated in Ohel's offenders' program long before he allegedly abused kids from in and around the Mir Yeshiva.

Read how he pulled out of the program on his own -- my sources say because he was getting married and didn't want his wife to know the truth -- and went about his "business." And read how when Colmer did this, Ohel did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Ohel didn't monitor his actions.

Ohel didn't ask where he was spending his time.

Ohel didn't take any steps to ensure he wasn't around children.

Ohel didn't warn anyone at the Mir, or anywhere else, that it might be a problem to have Colmer inviting young boys, alone, to his home.

And Ohel didn't contact the REAL authorities.

This is the first time we've ever got to see the inside of that shadowy "offenders' program" Ohel ran for years, supposedly in close cooperation with the Brooklyn D.A. This is our first sample of the way the system worked. And how did it work?

According to the indictment, Colmer sexually abused AT LEAST TWO OTHER YOUNG BOYS ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS AFTER OHEL CUT HIM LOOSE! -- that's how! WHILE OHEL SAT ON ITS HANDS AND STAYED SILENT. Actually, my sources say there were plenty of other boys, too. Unfortunately, they were talked out of coming forward to police.(Surprise!)

So here's what happened:

Ohel knew it had an offender. It let the offender walk away with no police report. And did nothing -- NOTHING! Not an act, not a word, not a hint! And now, according to the D.A.'s indictment, innocent lives have been shattered because of that inaction. Do you believe, after this, that the holy alliance of Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes and Ohel -- the same pair that gave us the Colmer case -- is going to protect our children as part of Kol Tzedek? And this, my friends, is just the beginning.

Michael Lesher (who is quoted in the new article) played a major role in bringing Colmer to justice. But Michael has a lot more to say about Hynes, Ohel and Ohel's rabbi, Dovid Cohen. The Colmer case doesn't stand alone! You can (and should) read all about it in Michael's two chapters in a new book, Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities & Child Sex Scandals (Brandeis University Press, 2009), edited by Amy Neustein. (The book is just out and can be bought or ordered from Barnes & Noble.) You can read there about other cases that "eluded the system." Or rather, exemplified the "system." Because the truth is, these people are not about solving the problem........ They're about covering it up!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Tough Problems Require A Sustainable Solution!

The truth is, that it is more about the masses getting stronger, wiser, and angrier, then it is about taking the Agudah down. They are doing a better job taking themselves down than I could possibly take credit for.

And the only reason we're getting them to acknowledge the huge problem of child sex-abuse, is because of the Information Highway.

If there would still be the Yated and Hamodia only, even the Jewish Drek, there would be no acknowledgment at all.

So we're not fooled, at the least, I'm not.

I'm in a unique position to know what makes these guys tick, and be an outsider.

Whatever the motivations of Rabbi Horowitz are regarding the Markey Bill, the Insider that he really is, blindsided him. And I do not say that as necessarily a negative; he has a long and successful record of accomplishments and has made a dent in getting this problem out in the open.

What I am saying is; that he can't possibly understand that his aligning himself with the anti-Markey proponents, negates, in the eyes of sex-abuse survivors and their families, a genuine life-long hurt that does not go away with a Rebbe's bracha, or interpretation of some rosh yeshiva's "daas Torah."

So while I'm certain that he is a very sensitive and caring individual, by cozying- up with the anti-Markey people, he demonstrated, at least to me, that his "caring" is limited. And that's where the Insider that he is, hurt him in the eyes of the masses.

It is my perception of that "additional" lack of sensitivity to all the people in the past that were hurt so very badly, that has caused my discomfort with his decision to go anti-Markey! You can't write off ruined lives, suicides, crippled dreams and a complete lack of caring by leaders, with an article in The Jewish Press. The rabbis that were in a position to fix this chronic, tragic problem, knew, and did everything they could to intimidate the victims and empower the criminals.


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