Sunday, April 17, 2011

Victims of domestic violence, sex assaults will share in Passover Seder holy dinner in Brooklyn!


BY Simone Weichselbaum

Sunday, April 17th 2011

The Passover spirit of freedom has a whole new meaning for crime victims putting together a special Seder where they will share stories about abuse, during the holy dinner.

Survivors of domestic violence, sex assaults and child abuse will pack into the B'nai Israel of Linden Heights synagogue on Ninth Ave. in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn Monday and Tuesday night.

Passover honors the Israelite slaves' escape from Egypt with a 15-step meal called a Seder where stories of bondage are mixed in with the matzo.

Organizer Annie Kay, 33, spent the past month preparing to feed 500 victims and their families, explaining that the horror of living through a crime is no different than the nightmare of being a slave. "They need a family. The rabbis want to keep it so it looks like crimes in our community don't happen," said Kay, a Hasidic Jew who changed her name after launching the Coalition Against Legal Abuse in New York back in February.

The Jewish law of mesira prohibits a Jew from snitching to cops on another Jew but some rabbis give a pass depending on the crime. Still, if a victim comes forward in one of the city's insular Orthodox Jewish communities, families are usually shunned at schools, synagogues and work.

A Borough Park woman named Chaya, 22, said her dad used to beat her with metal coat hangers when she was a kid. "I have a feeling for people hurt by abuse," said Chaya, who spent the week peeling potatoes in preparation for the two big meals. "I want to help others have a comfortable life."

So far, 386 cooked chickens are sitting in fridges along with 14 pounds of coleslaw and 50 pounds of gefilte fish. "It doesn't matter how many people will come. We will feed everybody," said Kay. "We want more people to feel empowered to speak out."


Sexual Abuse - " Just a Game"-" Tawdry Tales"- " I Didn't Notice Abuse at RJJ!"


The Belgian Catholic Church must have felt it hit a nadir last year when it had to face harrowing revelations of rampant child sex abuse among its priesthood. However, the church's reputation is now at a new low, thanks to the ill-judged comments of the disgraced former Bishop of Bruges, who in April 2010 admitted to abusing his nephew. Belgians have been left in open-mouthed disbelief after the airing of a TV interview with Roger Vangheluwe in which he glossed over his history of abusing children.

Speaking on Belgian television on Thursday evening, April 14, Vangheluwe, 74, said he had in fact abused a second nephew as well. That would have been shocking enough: last year, when Vangheluwe initially owned up to the abuse — and stepped down as bishop — the move unleashed a flood of revelations by other victims of abuse in the church.

But it was no tearful confession that Belgians witnessed on Thursday. Looking relaxed and sometimes smiling, Vangheluwe described the sexual abuse as no more than "a little piece of intimacy." While he claimed to recognize that he had done wrong and said he often went to confession about it, Vangheluwe played down his actions. "I had the strong impression that my nephew didn't mind at all. On the contrary. It was not brutal sex. I never used bodily, physical violence," he said. The abuse of his first nephew, in the 1970s and '80s, he said, "started as, I would call it, a game." At the time, the boy was just 5, and the abuse would last 13 years. The abuse of the second nephew, he said, was "merely over a year." Despite this, Vangheluwe insisted, "I don't have the impression at all that I am a pedophile." Following the interview, the first nephew said through his lawyer that he did not want to comment; the identity of the second nephew is not yet known.

The interview drew almost immediate rebuke. Prime Minister Yves Leterme said Vangheluwe's remarks "go beyond the boundary of what is acceptable" and called on the Catholic Church to "assume its responsibilities." Vice Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx said the interview was "disgusting," adding that Vangheluwe "showed a complete disdain for his victims." Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck urged the Vatican to punish the former bishop. "It is a slap in the face of his victims and all victims," he said. And Carina Van Cauter, vice chair of the parliamentary committee investigating sexual abuse, said Vangheluwe "tried to turn his victims into culprits. He throws salt in their wounds."

The church also responded fiercely, with bishops lining up to condemn Vangheluwe. The Bishop of Ghent, Luc Van Looy, said he was "ashamed, shocked, upset and angry. By trivializing the abuse, Vangheluwe is deepening the indescribable suffering of victims." Josef De Kesel, Vangheluwe's successor as Bishop of Bruges, said, "It's unbelievable, and so damaging for all involved — firstly the victims, but also us, our credibility."

Victims groups reacted with weary disgust. "I was angry but not surprised," says Linda Opdebeeck, president of the support group Human Rights in the Church. "[Vangheluwe] is just like the monk who abused me 30 years ago and never accepted any responsibility. Vangheluwe will never recognize what he did, never understand the gravity of his actions, even though it was legal rape."

Gabriel Ringlet, a priest and influential Catholic figure in Belgium, says that while Vangheluwe's interview was repulsive, it also risks undermining the wider campaign against child abuse. "If we focus too much on him, we might forget the bigger problems," says Ringlet, who has urged the church to issue an unequivocal apology, punish the pedophiles and compensate victims. "The pedophilia is linked to the church's authority. When the priest suggests his abuse is part of his holy function, it is difficult for a child or parishioner to denounce him."

Despite his admission, Vangheluwe does not face criminal prosecution, because the abuses occurred decades ago, beyond Belgium's statute of limitations for sex abuse. The Vatican had sent the former bishop to an abbey in the Loire valley in France weeks ago for "spiritual and psychological treatment" in the wake of last year's abuse admission. It's not known whether the church knew of his second victim. Vangheluwe could be stripped of his priesthood, but that was also an option following his first abuse confession — and it still hasn't happened.

Nor has there been much progress in Belgium over the past year when it comes to abuse by clergy. As the scandal has escalated, the head of the Belgian Church, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, has been reluctant to take firm action beyond a vague expression of regret. Léonard, an archconservative who frequently conducts mass in Latin, is widely seen as being out of touch with his flock. Two weeks ago, he was targeted by custard-pie-throwing activists angry over his description of AIDS as a kind of "intrinsic justice" punishing gays.

Dirk Jacobs, a sociology professor at Brussels Free University, says the Vatican must act forcefully now if it wants to salvage some of its credibility and moral authority in Belgium and abroad. "But it might still be seen as too little, too late," Jacobs says. "The image we have is of the church as an institution of power, foremost worried about its reputation, disconnected from the real world and with a twisted view of sexuality." However, there is little indication that the Vatican is ready for an image overhaul. And one year after he resigned in disgrace, Roger Vangheluwe appears — like the Vatican — to be in denial about the problem.

Monday, April 11, 2011

בור שופכין הוא שבור והוא לא יוכל לתקון - The Cesspool is Broken and it can't be Fixed!


In the spirit of the upcoming Passover holiday, I felt the need to write a new song with original UOJ lyrics. Now, I realize being the Roto Rooter Guy ( click above link - newcomers), this is not good for business! But, who cares? Everything seems broken, especially the spirit of humankind! So, I wrote the above lyrics as the title to my new holiday song; after searching the Psalms (Tehillim) and finding nothing there quite hit the nail on the head befitting the times we live in, as the above title.

As if we did not have enough with the Leib Tropper Conversion scandals, now comes information along to me that none other than Rabbi Shlomo Miller from Toronto, Canada was responsible for converting to Judaism, the notorious "alleged" con-man, Sandy Craig Hutchens/Moshe Alexander, who was a criminal since he was 15 years old, convicted of many different crimes, and who is now 51. Rabbi Shlomo Miller "converted" him in 2005. Hutchens converted to Orthodox Judaism, according to sources, strictly to prey on the non-suspecting Orthodox Jews and their money, who relied on Miller for his "wise man" status throughout the Orthodox Jewish community worldwide.

Instead of dealing with this issue boldly and head-on, Miller issues the following Kol-Koreh!


די סעספּול איז איבערגעבליבענע און עס קאַן ניט זייַן פאַרפעסטיקט Dayeinu!

Thursday, April 07, 2011


At the 54th Annual New York Emmy Awards this week, reporter Tara Rosenblum was awarded an Emmy for her piece, Suffering in Silence. This television report tells the story of former Kiryas Joel resident, Shlomo Weiss, who was sexually abused by his father from early childhood to age 16.

Community rabbis covered up the abuse and protected his father.

We applaud Shlomo for having the courage to go public with his experience of abuse. When SFJ approached Shlomo and asked him if he would be willing to tell his story on television he didn't hesitate. "I have to protect my family and community," was his immediate response.

As a teenager, Shlomo tried to protect himself; he reported the abuse to his teachers in Nitra Yeshiva and also to the most prominent rabbis in his community.

Instead of bringing the complaint to law enforcement, they sent Shlomo out of the country to keep him quiet.

In sharp contrast, Shlomo's father was allowed to continue driving a school bus in Kiryas Joel and to this day has unrestricted access to children.

Shlomo's message to the community is that the only way we can put a stop to the ongoing cover-up of child sexual abuse and the community's protection of offenders is to report abuse directly to law enforcement.

Thank you, Shlomo, for your selfless courage. You've undoubtedly saved lives by telling your story.

Thank you, Tara, for patiently working with us and producing such a powerful report. Children everywhere are safer as a result of your work.

For additional information please visit our website:www.sfjny.org.
Contact us:info@sfjny.org.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Yeshivas Should Not Exist If They Violate The Basic Precepts Of The Torah!

The UOJ Archives - March 21, 2006

Dear UOJ,

You wrote: "Sheinberg knew what he was doing; to give him a pass is tantamount to permitting retzicha....

"Sheinberg is a rasha gamur for what he did ...."

Many Gedolim, even in response to the latest incarnation of the Kolko scandal, believe that it is their sacred duty to protect the Yeshiva system from any blemish. They fear that the eruption of such a scandal will cause the demise of the entire Yeshiva system. While I believe that this approach is Kineged Halacha and Daas Torah and extremely misguided, I would still not use the term term "rasha gamur".

I also agree that we are dealing here with Dinei Nefashos a fact that they appear not to apprehend. Nevertheless, a Dayan can make a mistake in Dinei Nefashos as well. There are many misconceptions about molestation that people from a certain generation just don't get or are unwilling to face.

You suggest "he knew what he was doing" that he fully understood the horrific ramifications of what he did, knew that what he was doing was against Halacha and did it anyway. I think the jury's still out on that. I would like to believe that he just doesn't appreciate the enormity of this matter or its correct Halachic implications.

For example, the one Gadol you suscribe to in previous posts was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I think most people agree that the Meshichistin in Lubavitch have made a complete churban of both Judaism and Lubavitch. And the question arises did the Rebbe know and want this. I ask you if he was such as brilliant man didn't he realize that everybody in Lubavitch was saying he was Moshiach. Of course he knew. And yet you admire him.

The flaw in the aforementioned Gedolim's reasoning is that if the Yeshiva system can only survive by suppressing molestation, the whole system should be shut down. Not tommorow but today, immediately. The Netziv closed down Volozhin when the Government decreed they have to study Russian. Yeshivas only exist to do the will of Hashem. They cannot be predicated on violating basic precepts of the Torah. If truth, getting rid of these rotten apples will only serve to strenghten and purify the Yeshiva system tremendously. We don't need these menuvalim to thrive. The notion that we do is truly flawed.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Hasidic Man on Trial for Sexual Assault!


by Simi Lampert

At 10:15 on Friday morning, Nechemya Weberman was seen before the judge in the Kings County Supreme Court for what promises to be a long trial involving his alleged rape and sexual assault of a 12 year old girl for three years as she was seeing him as a therapy patient. Weberman was arrested in connection with this on February 23rd and is currently out on $15,000 bail.

Weberman’s lawyer, a slick looking man in an expensive suit, turned down Judge Patricia Dimangos’ offer of five years imprisonment and maintained a pleading of not guilty. The court scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, May 11th for the next step in the proceedings. The trial itself has not been yet set. These proceedings can drag out for months or years, often wearing the victim and her supporters thin.

The defendant is a 53 year old married, unlicensed therapist from the sequestered community of Williamsburg, New York, where almost everyone is Chasidic. The courtroom was filled with Hasidim, most of whom were there to support the victim. Weberman’s wife, son, and two sisters sat in the back corner, avoiding the glances of curious audience members.

“I didn’t know about it until last year,” said the victim’s mother, R, in a distraught voice. “By that point he had messed up some of my other kids too. We were seeing him as a family therapist.”

The victim is currently 16 years old and has been to another therapist since she left Weberman a year ago. It was this therapist who discovered the alleged actions of Weberman and informed her parents.

Weberman was ordered to stay away from the victim for the coming six weeks and to refrain from any contact with her.

“I take this sort of thing very seriously,” stated Dimango severely.

The defense attorney made one motion. The police department had searched Weberman’s house recently with a warrant to look for photographs pertaining to the case. The warrant had called for no opening of closets and drawers but apparently the police had ignored that clause. It was determined that any materials found under this warrant was not admissible to the court.

The prospect of a court case for a member of the Chasidic clan, especially a case as covering the taboo topic of sexual assault, is nearly unheard of and highly rare.

The progress of the community in recent years in accepting that this could happen and should be spoken about, has been colossal.

When asked whether the community was supportive of her case and her daughter’s situation, Rachel replied emphatically, “Yes!”

Online forums have been abuzz with this story ever since Weberman was first arrested. Some comments are by others claiming to be molested by this man, while others say such things as “a Hasidic holy rabbi would never commit this crime. You are all anti-Semitic!”

The fact that another hearing was taking place 11 floors below this case in the same building at the same time, involving another Chasid from Williamsburg who allegedly raped a young boy in a mikvah is a mark of just how far the community has come. The defendant in that case, Meir Dascalowitz, a 27 year old, has been out on bail for ten months now, claiming to need psychiatric evaluation for mental instability. His hearing was postponed yet again today, as his lawyer maintained that the psychiatrist who saw Dascalowitz was not fit to assess him as the therapist speaks only English and no Yiddish.

On March 8 a Grand Jury indictment was entered into the court record. Weberman was charged with 150 felonies all involving sexual crimes with a child, including one B felony in the first degree, 145 D felonies and 4 E felonies. Among other things he was specifically charged with the B felony in the 1st degree, of “a course of sexual conduct” with his victim when she was twelve where the act had to have been either oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or penetrating her vaginally or anally with a foreign object which caused injury. A defendant in a similar case was only convicted of eight D felonies and was sentenced to 10-32 years. In theory, Weberman’s sentence, if he is convicted on all charges, could top Bernie Madoff’s by several hundred years.

Before Weberman entered the courtroom this morning, a 30 year old former Chasid, now bedecked in jeans, chains, eye makeup, black nail polish, and long black hair went over to him. He held up a picture of a young boy.

“Do you remember molesting me?” He demanded. “Do you?”*

Five noted activists (among 50) who came to court to support the victims of sex-abuse:

l-R: Rabbi Nochum Rosenberg, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Mark M. Appel, Zvi Gluck, Dr. Asher Lipner

Photos - courtesy of: