Sunday, December 25, 2011

Trump Family Christmas - December 25, 2011

Ivanka Trump Kushner's conversion to Orthodox Judaism was sponsored and granted by Rabbi Hershel Schechter ( pictured below) of Yeshiva University and Kollel Elyon under the auspices of the Rabbinical Council of America  -- "L'hagdil Torah Ul'hadira!


Chanukah Thoughts

A student of Rav Pam z"tl came to his home for a bracha with his new kallah. Obviously, this was the first time he was at his rebbe's house; he was taken aback by the old and sparse furnishings. After receiving a bracha ("a birchat hedyot I'm certain my rebbe interjected"), he asked our rebbe if there was anything he can purchase for the house. With the rebbe and the rebbetzin standing at the door; "everything we need and want we have, anything we don't have, we don't need or want."

For the first time in my life, I desired to experience first-hand a Black Friday shopping day. Not because I wanted to purchase some junk for a $20 savings, I wanted to experience what the rest of the world does with their time and money. So on Friday I braved the 75 degrees weather, donned my short sleeve shirt, and went to take a look.

I waited some 35 minutes to find a parking space, and entered the Best Buy store. There must have been a thousand or so people in this mega store...2 scuffels by customers that security had to breakup, peoples' faces were ugly with determination to buy something, anything, but they were not going to leave the store empty handed, whether they needed it or not.

I had enough; I could only imagine (besides what I saw on the news) what transpired at midnight prior, where some people got into brawls, and I read one woman actually maced a competitor for a cheap TV.

I can tell my readers, among the happiest moments in my life, by far, were the times my family danced around the Chanukah menorah...singing Yevanim, Yevanim nikbatzu alei... and on Shabbos mornings walking with my kinderlach to shul....when their tiny hentelach grasped mine...and I firmly, by securely grasping theirs, let them know I'll always be there for them.

As we celebrate Chanukah, let's not lose sight that Consumerism is fleeting happiness...only leading one to want more; your children and their children are forever....Please let's keep them safe.

A Freilechen and Lichtegen Chanukah.

B'ahavat Yisroel,


Chanukah Thoughts for President Obama

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Rabbi and a Priest Walk Into a Bar at The Agudah Convention......

A Rabbi and a Priest.....Were sitting next to each other on an airplane...

After a while, the priest turned to the rabbi and asked,
“Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?’
The rabbi responded, “Yes, that is still one of our laws.”
The priest then asked, “Have you ever eaten pork?”
To which the rabbi replied,
“Yes, on one occasion I did succumb to temptation and tasted a ham sandwich.”
The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading..
A while later, the rabbi spoke up and asked the priest,
“Father, is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?”
The priest replied, “Yes, that is still very much a part of our faith.”
The rabbi then asked him, “Father, have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?”
The priest replied, “Yes, rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke my Faith.”
The rabbi nodded understandingly and remained silent, thinking, for about five Minutes.
Finally, the rabbi said, “Beats the s@#$ out of a ham sandwich, doesn’t it.

A.D.A.: Archdiocese memo stifles priests -- Memo may have chilling effect -- Prosecutor: Archdiocese lawyers stifling witnesses

At least four priests, described by lawyers as "whistle-blowers," have come forward hoping to aid in the prosecution of current and former clergy members accused in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex-abuse scandal.

However, an archdiocesan policy requiring them to notify church lawyers before talking to law enforcement could stifle the testimony they are willing to give, city prosecutors told a judge Wednesday.

"They're muffling us," said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, paraphrasing the response he said he had heard from at least one priest. "Priests have told us that this is the same thing the [archdiocese] has done all along."

Those allegations came as Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina continued to hear arguments on the issue raised by prosecutors last week.

After an hour-long hearing, it remained unclear whether Sarmina would order the archdiocese to rescind its policy and inform all employees, as prosecutors had requested. She made no ruling from the bench, and as of Wednesday evening, the case file remained unavailable in the court clerk's office.

The judge has issued a gag order in the case barring attorneys from discussing it with reporters.

Last month, Msgr. Daniel J. Sullivan, the archdiocese's vicar for clergy, issued a memo to lay and clerical employees directing them to notify two attorneys hired by the church before talking to prosecutors - a movchurch lawyer Robert Welsh described Wednesday as a standard control measure by large institutions.

The archdiocese, Welsh noted, has been inundated with requests from criminal and civil attorneys, the media, and other groups since the release of a Philadelphia grand jury report this year that alleged church officials failed to adequately respond to sex-abuse allegations against at least 37 priests.

But that doesn't mean, he said, that church leaders crafted the policy in an attempt to intimidate anyone with information to share.

"We want these people to cooperate because it's in the archdiocese's benefit," he said. "We stand here today eager to bring them in to talk to the D.A. They are going to provide compelling testimony. As evidence of the church's willingness to be transparent, he pointed to the hiring of several former prosecutors to run internal investigations into the sex-abuse scandal. Most prominent among them is Gina Maisto-Smith, who is reviewing allegations against 27 priests suspended this year.

"At this point, the archdiocese has become an alumni association for former assistant district attorneys," he said.

But Welsh's representation of at least four employees whose testimony could hurt the church and its leaders poses a clear conflict of interest, as the archdiocese is paying his legal bills, Blessington maintained.

Whatever Sarmina decides, it could significantly affect the ongoing prosecution of two current priests, a defrocked priest, and a former schoolteacher on charges that they sexually abused young boys in the 1990s.

A fifth defendant, Msgr. William J. Lynn, is accused of child endangerment and conspiracy for allegedly placing two of the priests in positions where they could abuse children despite previous accusations of inappropriate behavior.

As secretary for clergy until 2004, Lynn was tasked with investigating sex-abuse allegations against priests and recommending treatment or new assignments for them.

The archdiocese is paying Lynn's legal bills and stands to gain if he is acquitted, Blessington noted.

Wednesday's hearing came a day after Common Pleas Court Judge Lillian Harris Ransom ruled that Bernard Shero, the former schoolteacher charged in the case, could be tried separately from the other four defendants. Shero is accused of sexually assaulting the same Northeast Philadelphia altar boy that two other defendants, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Edward Avery, allegedly abused in the late 1990s.

His attorney argued, though, that the former teacher deserved a separate trial because he is not charged with participating in a broader conspiracy to cover up abuse.

Shero's trial is now set to begin after the prosecution of the four others. Their trial is scheduled for February.

Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @inqmontco on Twitter.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I hope they rampage through the streets of Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Monsey, Kiryas Joel, New Square, Spring Valley, Lakewood..."

I remember the first time I boarded an airplane; the amazement and awe of taking off I can only describe as life-changing. That humans were able to create an aluminum capsule that flies people around the world, led me to believe that humans are capable of doing anything they put their minds to. I'm in awe of every take-off and landing today as if it were the first time I experienced it.

I'm also forever in awe of the negligible amount of people that are able to look at a difficult situation and "get it"! Not because they were forced to; but because their intelligence demanded of them to put themselves out there and shine light on issues that most dare not say. One such person is Shmarya Rosenberg of FailedMessiah.com.

He has been a strong and leading voice in exposing the vilest creatures on this planet -- child-rapists -- and those that enable and harbor them. I asked and received his permission to post the essay below that he recently had on his blog. The link to this essay and his blog is at the end of the essay.


A Note To Haredi Leaders (And Their Proxies) About Child Sex Abuse
Will you ever stop preening? Will you ever allow yourselves to understand and to care?

by Shmarya Rosenberg - Failedmessiah.com

Earlier today I spoke with a young adult survivor of child sex abuse.

This person was raped as a toddler and again a decade later, and was physically, emotionally and sexually abused both in between and afterward. This person has been homeless, was discarded by family, and never had the benefit of a healthy or loving family life.

Today this person was extremely depressed and suicidal.

In the hundreds of other calls between us over the past years, there have been other such calls – many of them.

This is what sexual abuse often is, what it does to a person, how it impacts their lives for years after the abuse stops.

The "good news" for haredi leadership is that this one isn't 100% yours.

This person wasn't raped by a rabbi.

This person was not born haredi – or Modern Orthodox or Conservative or Reform.

This person was born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father and most of the abuse I mentioned above has nothing directly to do with the Jewish community in any form because the family did not identify as Jews – except that the victim of it is Jewish.

As a teenager, this person joined a haredi community. But as community leaders found out about the abuse – and about the therapy that would be necessary to heal from it – and as they found out about some of the behaviors – cutting, promiscuity, susceptibility to the promiscuity of others – this victim had and that are common to victims, they cut the victim off.

They did so because, as one of their rabbis told me then, they had an obligation to protect their kids from the bad influences and possible danger the victim could pose. And, after all, the damage done to this person hadn't been done by them. It wasn't their problem.

That some of their own members a few years older than the victim tried to use the victim for sex, that one of their own rabbis may have been inappropriate in his dealings with the teenage victim (or, perhaps, reached the border of that behavior, dallied there a bit but did not cross it), that the victim was now a part of their haredi community – none of that mattered.

It was in their eyes, more or less, all the victim's fault.

And so the victim was booted out.

I write this because I hope, perhaps against all hope, that you will allow yourselves to understand.

According to government statistics, the average pedophile has more than 100 victims in his molestation career.

One pedophile in Borough Park alone will damage more than 100 haredi kids. Ten pedophiles will damage more than 1100. The 89 pedophiles Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes claims to have dealt with in the past three years alone will damage more than 10,000.

While you run around beating your chests and screaming that "we're better than goyyim," those "less-than-the-goyyim" pedophiles are destroying your kids' lives – thousands of lives.

You tend to view all this through the scope of protecting your "holy" community from "anti-Semites" like me, from the "self-hating Jews," the little "Hitlers," who want to bring you down.

Instead of viewing hundreds of damaged kids who are in pain and who need professional help, you fret about what the goyyim think about you and what other Jews think about you.

To the small extent that you do deal with these victims, you almost always do so through the scope of kiruv.

In many cases, these victims are not behaving like you think a frum Jew should. They may no longer keep Shabbos or kosher. They could have tattoos or piercings. They could be abusing drugs. They could be having sex or even prostituting themselves.

So you try to find ways to bring these kids back to "frumkeit," instead of trying to get them the professional therapy and non-judgemental support they need to heal.

As much as this may shock you, the world does not revolve around you. This isn't about you. It isn't about making you feel better because you convinced one or two of these kids to keep Shabbos or kosher again.

It's about the real psychological needs of these victims and getting them the best professional therapy available so that they can heal, and doing so in a way the recognizes that years of your misbehavior and years of trying shove these kids under the rug have done damage that cannot be healthfully undone by a little kiruv.

If some victims decide as they heal to become haredi again, fine. The free and un-pressured choice should always be theirs. If others do not, that also has to be fine.

But what you're doing now is "saving" a small number of victims while you fail the much larger number of victims who cannot or who will not return to your version of Orthodoxy.

You're helping victims for your own reasons and on your own terms to benefit yourselves, rather than helping all the victims in the ways they really need help, and to benefit them – not to benefit you.

You have been profoundly selfish for many years and you're being profoundly selfish now.

And that has to stop.

I've spent dozens of sleepless nights helping kids who you failed.

And I know activists you vilify who have done the same and even more.

You might have noticed that things are now getting worse.

State budgets that fund therapy for victims, always inadequate, have been or are about to be cut even more than they have previously been cut. It can take a month or more for a victim to get a therapy appointment – if that victim can find a therapist who takes Medicaid or other government insurance programs which are at best woefully underfunded.

The strain on common resources – shelter, food, clothing – is strained even more because the economy has been so bad for so long.

So your refusal to do the right thing is even worse now than it was two or three years ago.

You fear many things.

You fear a change in the law that would make it easier for victims to file civil suits against your yeshivas and rabbis for the enabling of child sex abuse and for covering it up.

You fear the shame that could come when what you did and the number of lives your selfishness has cost becomes public.

And you fear what for you may be the most important thing – that when your childish, selfish behavior and your misdeeds are made public, when there are court cases and real publicity and real transparency, your followers will abandon you.

Make no mistake – I hope they do.

In fact, I hope they rampage through the streets of Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Monsey, Kiryas Joel, New Square, Spring Valley, Lakewood and other haredi enclaves and run you all out of town on a rail.

You all deserve it.

You're the sorriest excuses for leadership that I've ever seen.

If you had any guts, if you really were the ethical and moral people you claim to be instead of the preening poseurs you really are, you'd resign immediately and go live in a life of seclusion in a forest somewhere. Or, at least, you'd resign, stop calling yourselves rabbis, and get real jobs painting houses or shoveling snow.

But you're probably not at the guts and truth stage of your development yet, and chances are, you never will be.

Despite your claims to the contrary, my disgust for you is not comparable or equal to antisemitism, Nazism, or some type of self-hating pathology.

My disgust for you is comes from your own actions, from the Kol Koreh's banning "wrong" color women's stockings and finding heresy at every turn, while at the same time you let thousands of kids suffer rape and abuse, and then refused to help them unless their victimhood fit your narrow view – and you often would not help them even then.

You could simply announce that you were wrong, that your policies and your actions and inaction cost lives. You could apologize to all the victims and their families publicly and in person, and to your community, and to those of us you have repeatedly tried to smear to protect your Wizard of Oz-like leadership.

You could give a nonprofit non-haredi social service agency that you do not control a large grant to fund therapy for the haredi child sex abuse victims you helped make, and you could allow those victims to heal in peace.

You'd have to grow up to do this. You'd have to become the men you have never been.

You could do it.

But it would take courage that you certainly lack and it would cost money hat you don't want to spend on "non-Torah" things like this.

After all, in your minds a Satmar rebbe driving around in a new $80,000 SUV, to cite a very recent example, is far more important for kavod haTorah, honoring the Torah, than helping some kid with tattoos and body piercings who "isn't from such a good family anyway" and who never really was a "Torah scholar" or a "hasid" or whatever labels you use to exclude people you can't be bothered with.

Keeping your family businesses – the supposedly nonprofit yeshivas you all run – profitable and their rosh yeshivas – you and your sons and brothers-in-law – comfortable and employed is the most important thing, you think, because you "own" them and because they make you a lot of money and because the Torah they profess to teach is "more important than anything else" – including telling the truth about your years of covering up for pedophiles and spending real money to help the victims you created by doing that.

Except the Torah you claim to teach disagrees.

It views saving human life as more important than Torah study – especially when those lives are in danger in significant part because of your personal failings as leaders.

How many victims must there be before you stop posturing and start helping?

You have made yourselves and the Torah you claim to represent hated by many, including me, and you did so out of your own selfishness and greed.

Will you ever grow up?

Will you?

Or do we have to bury more kids from "not so good families" and watch more victims lead shattered lives while you cluck knowingly and murmur that these victims "aren't frum anyway" and they "brought it on themselves" or their parents "brought it on" by wearing the wrong colored socks or a too stylish pair of glasses?

You all deserve every type of shaming and embarrassment that can be heaped on you.

Yet all any of us want is for you to stop your coverups and your lies, stop your infantile behavior and start helping the victims you helped create.

It isn't too much to ask.

It really isn't.

But if history is any guide, and it almost always is, this request will be too much for you to understand and too much for you to act on.

You could, of course, prove history wrong.

Or you could wait for the day when you find yourselves facing charges that include obstruction of justice and some other things I'm sure you've thought of.

A wise attorney knowing what I believe to be your current situation would tell you to make amends as quickly as possible, to do the right thing and not the selfish thing, and to hope that doing so stands in good stead when your day in court comes. It's the same advice Sholom Rubashkin was given. He ignored it until it was too late.

Time, I believe, is finally running out on you and on those politicians who have done your bidding.

Penn State, Syracuse, and a DA's bizarre refusal to account for the 89 haredi pedophiles he claims to have dealt with these past three years and the bizarre and probably illegal deal he made with you regarding them have, I think, seen to that.

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but they do turn and they are turning now, faster than before.

As you are so fond of saying when what you want to say can't be said, hamayvin yavin.

Take that as you wish.

And of course, consider its source very, very carefully.


Monday, December 12, 2011

[Agudath Israel Mouthpiece] Rabbi Avi Shafran, smears as virtual anti-Semites those who criticize how the Orthodox handle sex-abuse cases!

Fight against intimidation must rage on


Last Updated: 12:54 PM, December 11, 2011

In 1985, Avrohom Mondrowitz — a Hasidic “therapist” working in Brooklyn — was indicted for abusing five young boys. Police suspected he abused well over 100 more.

Mondrowitz fled to Israel, where he remains a free man to this day.

Although nearly all of his alleged victims were children from ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn, not one of them joined his few non-Jewish alleged victims in testifying before the grand jury that indicted him. Efforts to extradite Mondrowitz to face his accusers in a Brooklyn court have been unsuccessful.

Today, thank heaven, things seem to be changing.

According to Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, child sex-abuse cases now being pressed in the Orthodox Jewish community reflect over 100 victims, and many of these families have been encouraged by local rabbis to work with police and prosecutors.

Heartening as this is, it’s clear we still have obstacles to tackle.

Parents of abused Jewish children shun the police not because they’re indifferent to their children’s needs. When they hesitate to report a sex crime, it’s generally because they’re afraid of retaliation from community leaders. The DA must address that fear — and the very real problems of rabbinic and institutional intimidation that lie behind it.

Just take a look at the current Ami Magazine, a popular Orthodox Jewish publication. In this week’s issue, its editor at large, Rabbi Avi Shafran, smears as virtual anti-Semites those who criticize how the Orthodox handle sex-abuse cases.

So, yes, reports of Orthodox victims cooperating with the DA make for encouraging news. But we’ll know we’re on the right track when victims who come forward — and their advocates — don’t face friction from rabbis or from powerful institutions in Orthodox Brooklyn.

The Talmud says the divine light of truth brings healing to the innocent but is painful to evildoers. The only people who will be hurt by shining a light on child-sex crimes in the Orthodox community will be those trying to conceal them. Victims can only gain.

Michael Lesher is a writer and lawyer, and a contributor to “Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities & Child Sex Scandals” (Brandeis University Press).

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/fight_against_intimidation_must_5NILTrpPtVjMJ42bUmD0DJ

Sunday, December 11, 2011

117 kid victims and 85 arrests in Orthodox Jewish enclave!

ABOVE: Goodman is caught on webcam ushering children into his home in Brooklyn!

Orthodox sex abuse scandal

117 kid victims and 85 arrests in Jewish enclave

Last Updated: 9:31 AM, December 11, 2011

Andrew Goodman, 27, who worked for Jewish social-service agencies, is charged with sexually abusing two Orthodox boys for years in Flatbush — one from age 11 to 15, the other from age 13 to 16.

Goodman filmed sex acts with the youngsters on a Web cam, according to the 144-count indictment, which alleges numerous violations since 2006. He has pleaded not guilty.

The handsome Goodman, who held parties in his home with liquor and child porn, also “threatened the life” of a boy who reported him to authorities, court papers and sources say.

Andrew Goodman is one of 85 sex-abuse suspects arrested over the last three years by Project Kol Tzedek, has been accused of preying on the boys of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community and — even after his arrest on sex-assault charges — was caught on video ushering teens into his Flatbush home. He is being held on Rikers Island in lieu of a $1 million cash bail.

He’s one of an astounding 85 accused Orthodox child molesters that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office says it has busted in the past three years in an initiative called Kol Tzedek, Hebrew for “voice of justice.”

The cases involve 117 victims — a number that has the community reeling from the extent of the horrors of pedophilia.

Launched amid complaints that Hynes was soft on Orthodox child predators, Kol Tzedek aims to coax victims to come forward, despite strong pressure in the insular religious community to cover up such crimes.

All but two of the suspects are men, and more than half the victims are male, said Assistant DA Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the sex abuse and crimes against children division.

Of the 38 cases closed so far, 14 perps got jail time, ranging from a month to 10-to-20 years for crimes that included sex abuse, attempted kidnapping, and sodomy, Jaus said.

The other 24 have walked free. They got probation, pleaded to minor charges, or saw their cases dismissed — often because victims or their parents backed out under community pressure.

Agudath Israel of America, a body of Torah sages, requires anyone alleging sex abuse by a fellow observant Jew to first report to its rabbis, who decide whether the case should go to secular authorities.

Goodman’s case, which Hynes’ office hasn’t publicized, shows how the community’s response has started to change. Rather than keeping it among the Orthodox, some alleged victims turned to sympathetic religious leaders and outside authorities to help lock up a menace.

“Andrew Goodman is known in our community as a lifelong molester who preys on young boys and ruins their lives,” a Talmudic scholar at Congregation Bais Torah wrote to Brooklyn Judge Martin Murphy, who is hearing the case.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/orthodox_sex_abuse_scandal_Vzaqd3TbKtikUv0h6b3clI#ixzz1gF45LZ16

“Believe in me.” And therein lies a lesson about leadership with a resonance beyond football!

"...He reminds us that strength comes in many forms and some people have what can be described only as a gift for winning, which isn’t synonymous with any spreadsheet inventory of what it supposedly takes to win.

This gift usually involves hope, confidence and a special composure, all of which keep a person in the game long enough, with enough energy and stability, so that a fickle entity known as luck might break his or her way. For Tebow that state of mind comes from his particular relationship with his chosen God and is a matter of religion. For someone else it might be understood and experienced as the power of positive thinking, and is a matter of psychology. Either way it boils down to stubborn optimism and bequeaths a spark. A swagger. An edge.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about optimism. When peddled generically by unctuous politicians, it can seem the ultimate opiate, a cop-out and fallback when there’s nothing more substantive to sustain you. But optimism can have an impact. It’s what radiates from Tebow and fires up the Broncos. And therein lies a lesson about leadership with a resonance beyond football.

After Tebow took over, the Broncos didn’t add a whole, half or even quarter roster of better players. But he told his teammates, “Believe in me.” And he must have done so with a persuasive charisma. They clearly have a renewed belief in themselves — and are performing better than before.

The Broncos are the talk of the league. More and more people are watching. And you could indeed say they’re tuning in to find out how far God can take a team. Because that’s just another way of saying how far grit can."


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

In Lakewood Abuse Cases, A ‘Parallel Justice System’

Lakewood, in Ocean County, N.J., is home to some 40,000 Orthodox Jews. Court testimony offers rare public glimpse into religious tribunals’ handling of child sex abuse allegations; no reporting to police.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hella Winston - Special To The Jewish Week

Last spring in a New Jersey courtroom, a prosecutor and defense attorney battled it out in a series of seemingly routine pre-trial hearings. At issue was a narrow point of law: whether or not a social worker who had evaluated an alleged child molester would be allowed to testify at his trial.

Amid the legal wrangling, however, facts emerged that were anything but ordinary — ones perhaps amplified by the recent revelations about alleged sexual abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse universities.

The social worker’s evaluation had not been conducted on behalf of the courts or police. Instead, it was commissioned by a Lakewood, N.J., beit din, a Jewish religious tribunal operating as a kind of shadow justice system, adjudicating sexual abuse cases without the involvement of law enforcement.

Witnesses spoke of a world in which abuse allegations are typically “investigated” not by the secular authorities, but by rabbis lacking supervision by the criminal justice system. It is a world where victims and perpetrators alike are subjected to threats of social ostracism and, in some cases, physical harm for non-compliance with the “system.”

To anyone following the unfolding story of child sexual abuse in the haredi world, that these communities have a history of handling abuse allegations internally is hardly news. The longstanding and harshly enforced communal taboo against “informing” on another Jew to the secular authorities plays a key role in blocking victims from reporting abuse allegations to police and pressing charges.

In the past few years, aided by the Internet and blogs, a number of advocacy organizations founded by members, or former members, of these communities has emerged. Much of their work, centered mostly in Brooklyn, has focused on combating this taboo and providing support to abuse victims.

In addition, advocates have worked to shine a spotlight on many of the major social and political institutions in those communities, including yeshivas, social service agencies and even Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. (Hynes’ office launched a hotline to report haredi abuse cases in 2009, seemingly in response to criticism that his office has a history of “going easy” on haredi child molesters.)

The climate is different in Lakewood, acknowledged as the seat of non-chasidic haredi Judaism in the United States. Home to one of the largest and most prominent yeshivas in the world, Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG), and a community of close to 40,000 Orthodox Jews, Lakewood has not been spared the problem of child sexual abuse — an ill that plagues all communities, religious and secular alike.

However, there are no public advocacy groups in Lakewood helping victims and agitating for change. Further, unlike Brooklyn, which is home to myriad haredi groups with no centralized “governing” body, the Lakewood community, dominated by BMG — which boasts over 6,000 students and an annual operating budget approaching $25 million — is something of a company town, residents and observers say. Indeed, the brothers who run BMG, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler and Rabbi Aaron Kotler, exert considerable control over daily life within the community, with the bylaws of the Lakewood Jewish Community Council stating that the “community is centered around [BMG] … and [the council] functions at the pleasure of [the yeshiva heads] as represented by R. Malkiel Kotler.”

This control — bolstered by the geographically bounded and insular nature of the community — means that it can be even harder for Lakewood residents to overcome the communal taboo and report abuse to the authorities than it is for their counterparts in Brooklyn.

“Most victims of abuse and parents in Lakewood are afraid to speak up because [they fear being threatened by rabbis],” Debbie Rudin, a victim of childhood sexual abuse who now lives in Lakewood, told The Jewish Week.

“There are many Jewish communities that are controlled by the rabbonim [rabbis] of their towns that set certain standards, whether in regards to businesses, giving kosher supervision or allowing schools to open,” said Harold (Hershel) Hershkowitz, a Lakewood businessman who ran (and lost) for the Lakewood Township Committee on an anti-cronyism platform against the BMG-backed candidate. “But all of these are controlled in an open manner well understood by all that live there,” he said. “Lakewood, on the other hand, has a cabal that controls most Jewish publications, websites and of course the political arena, in order to exert full influence whenever it is necessary in order to keep their position of influence.”

Rubin and Hershkowitz are two of numerous Lakewood residents, therapists, educators, social workers and community activists, as well as seven abuse victims interviewed by The Jewish Week in the course of a months-long investigation into the abuse situation there and how it is being handled. An interest in maintaining communal control, they say, is a major factor in the rabbinic and lay leadership’s desire to deal with abuse in ways that do not involve law enforcement.

Indeed, the court testimony described above affords a rare public glimpse into what New Jersey Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson characterized as Lakewood’s “parallel justice system.”

The testimony itself comes from the only sexual abuse case in memory from the Lakewood haredi community to be prosecuted — something that came about because a family flouted, at great personal cost, communal norms and pressed charges against an alleged child molester, Yosef Kolko, in 2009.

The testimony raises many questions, especially in light of the Penn State and Syracuse situations, which have advocates across the country calling for tougher mandatory reporting laws. Prominent among them is whether the rabbis and others in the Lakewood community who participate in this parallel justice system are violating New Jersey’s mandated reporting law — not to mention alleged victims’ civil rights — and, if so, what is being done about it. The law requires “all persons” (including clergy) who have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child has been abused to make a report “immediately” to the Division of Youth and Family Services. (A knowing violation of this law could result in a fine and/or jail time.)

According to Marci Hamilton, Paul R. Verkuil chair in public law at Cardozo and a leading church-state scholar, “The prosecutors in [situations] like this are doing the religious community no favors. Without enforcing the mandatory reporting laws, the poisonous abuse stays within the community, the perpetrator gets more opportunities to abuse and the victims continue to suffer.”

According to court papers and interviews with people close to the family of the boy allegedly abused by Kolko, a 34-year-old former teacher at Yeshiva Orchos Chaim in Lakewood who also worked as a camp counselor, the family decided to go to the authorities only after they had exhausted the options within the community and found no relief. Before doing so, they sought assistance from a community activist, Doniel Bernstein, and several prominent Lakewood rabbis, including Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon, the “mashgiach,” or spiritual adviser, at BMG, and the “go-to” rabbi for all manner of communal issues in Lakewood, sources say.

Rabbi Salomon, along with Rabbi Shmuel Blech, served for a time on a formal beit din, created by Salomon several years ago specifically to hear sexual abuse allegations.

After hearing the allegations about Kolko, Bernstein, on behalf of the rabbis, commissioned a paid psychological evaluation of Kolko by a social worker, Gavriel Fagin. Fagin, who at one time worked in the sex offender treatment program at OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services in Brooklyn, now maintains a private practice in which he specializes, among other areas, “in the evaluation and treatment of sexual deviance.”

Fagin testified in New Jersey Superior Court that he was contacted by “The [Beis] Din … in charge of following up on allegations of inappropriate sexual contact between individuals in the community” and asked to “evaluate an individual for their purposes to be able to determine how to proceed further.” Fagin stated in court that he saw Kolko five times to administer computer-based tests and that he did not “have much knowledge of the situation” that brought Kolko to the beit din in the first place. Fagin did not interview the alleged victim.

The mere act of commissioning an evaluation — which was apparently damning enough for the prosecution to argue (successfully) for Fagin’s ability to testify at trial — would seem to indicate at least a reasonable cause to suspect abuse. Even so, none of those made privy to these allegations reported them to the authorities.

After Kolko was arrested, the victim’s family was threatened and the alleged victim was denied admission to schools.

After the arrest, a widely distributed proclamation signed by nine Lakewood rabbis, including Chaim Ginsberg and Shmuel Katz, both employed by BMG, warned that “no one … may … bring any accusations to the secular authorities” and that “it is prohibited [for anyone] to assist and participate with the secular authorities in their efforts to persecute a Jewish person.”

Rabbis outside Lakewood sought to apply pressure as well. Yisroel Belsky, a prominent Brooklyn-based rabbi and yeshiva head who has also served in a senior position with the Orthodox Union for over 20 years, sent a letter to Lakewood residents. In it, he wrote of the “horrific news that one of your fellow residents in town informed upon a fellow Jew to the secular authorities.” He added that “all who have the ability to influence the informers to retract their terrible deeds should do so.”

Shortly after the Rabbi Belsky letter was sent, a 31-year-old Lakewood resident named Shaul Luban allegedly sent out text messages urging residents of Lakewood to try to pressure the victim’s father into not testifying.

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Luban with witness tampering. The nine Lakewood rabbis and Rabbi Belsky have not been charged with any crime.

The victim’s family has since left Lakewood, but has not backed down and the prosecution is moving forward.

In addition to information directly relevant to the Kolko case, testimony from the hearings indicates that there have been other abuse allegations apparently deemed credible by rabbis, but that nonetheless went unreported to the police.

In testimony in New Jersey Superior Court given in May of this year, Lakewood rabbi and activist Micky Rottenberg alludes to such a case, which The Jewish Week has learned involved allegations against the husband of a woman who ran a local children’s playgroup. The beit din found the allegations to be credible and publicized them, effectively shutting down the playgroup. However, the authorities were never notified and the accused remains in the community today.

In his testimony, Rabbi Rottenberg also sheds light on the beit din’s inner workings.

According to him, “[The Secretary] of the beis din [would contact] the victims … [and the] alleged perpetrator, discuss with them … beg them to do certain things. And if they don’t do it, [the secretary would say] ‘I’m going to report [to the beit din] that you don’t listen to us, and then we are going to … Take away your job. Send away your kids from schools.’ Whatever measures they would feel they have power to be able for the person to submit and accept the verdict of the beis din.”

Rabbi Rottenberg also testified that he felt the beit din favored the accusers and was in fact involved in disbanding it at the behest of Rabbi Malkiel Kotler for this reason. Rabbi Kotler, through his brother, denied making any such request.

In arguments at a court hearing, Kolko’s attorney, Michael Wilbert, refers to a Rabbi Shmuel Vogel who, he claims, was “charged with a violation” by Bernstein and “required to go to a social worker in New York ... Mr. Sternstein.” Sternstein is Hillel Sternstein, coordinator of trauma services at OHEL, and a social worker with a private practice in Long Island.

Even those who do not attempt to report to police, but seek to publicize allegations within the Lakewood community, are often intimidated. A 2009 article in the Asbury Park Press described how the home of Rivka Finkelstein, the mother of a sexual abuse survivor who died of a drug overdose, was burned down after a letter written by her son excoriating the Orthodox community for its failure to deal with the problem of sexual abuse was made public online after his death. (According to the story, which cited several other examples of such intimidation, police believed arson was the likely cause of the fire.)

Of the 32 people on the New Jersey Sex Offender Registry living in Lakewood, there appears to be only one member of the Orthodox community, convicted of endangering the welfare of a child. According to a therapist in Lakewood with knowledge of the situation, “he was arrested in another township [for exposing himself to non-Jewish children], which is why [he was prosecuted and] made it onto the list.”

Calls Doniel Bernstein were not returned. Attempts to reach Rabbi Blech and Rabbi Salomon were unsuccessful.

A source close to Rabbi Salomon’s beit din who consulted with its members on behalf of this reporter told The Jewish Week that they would not speak to the paper out of concern that “the ‘forces’ that led to the disbanding [of the beit din] are still ever present. They expressed fear that speaking about these forces will lead to personal reprisal.” The source acknowledged Rottenberg as one of these so-called “forces.” A call to Rottenberg was not returned.

An e-mail to Rabbi Aaron Kotler seeking comment on Rabbi Salomon’s beit din resulted in a reply from Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, president of the Lakewood Community Service Corp.

While Rabbi Salomon is employed by BMG, Rabbi Weisberg said he was responding because “[these questions relate] to Orthodox community issues and not [BMG].” He told The Jewish Week that “The Lakewood community leadership has zero tolerance for any sexual abuse and is actively committed to following the law. Our community policy, which is in full compliance with applicable law and our [halachic] guidelines, is to report any reasonable suspicion of abuse to the proper law enforcement authorities.”

When asked whether the community has a process for determining what constitutes “reasonable suspicion,” Rabbi Weisberg replied, “I guess a common sense evaluation of the evidence determines reasonableness.” To the question of whether or not those who have a reasonable suspicion of abuse must first take their concerns to a rabbi, Rabbi Weisberg told The Jewish Week that “individuals are encouraged to follow the law.”


To be sure, the idea of using rabbis or a formal beit din to vet sexual abuse allegations has its defenders, among them Agudath Israel, which takes the position that all allegations of sexual abuse must first be reported to a rabbi. The president of the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Moshe Kletenick, has noted that religious courts can be used to investigate allegations, screening out false ones and referring those with “substance” to the secular authorities.....


....And in related news today: Blago gets 14 years in the slammer - Sandusky re-arrested for child-abuse as two new victims come forward:

The Role of Institutions in Reporting Child Sex Abuse

Published: December 8, 2011 - The New York Times

As “Reporting Abuse” (editorial, Nov. 29) underscores, it is far too easy for powerful institutions to cover up incidents of child and adolescent sexual abuse at the hands of people in positions of trust. There is a marked contrast, however, between the respective states’ response to the Pennsylvania State University and Syracuse University scandals.

The State of Pennsylvania has powerful tools to investigate aggressively and criminally charge those responsible for covering up abuses. New York does not. Since 2003, I have introduced legislation that makes it a felony for mandated reporters to systematically fail to report abuse.

It is also clear that the list of those mandated to report abuse needs to be significantly expanded. Sadly, recent incidents once again raise the question: How many abuse scandals will be tolerated before the New York State Legislature gets serious about the issue and passes meaningful legislation?

State Senator, 29th District
New York, Nov. 29, 2011

To the Editor:

Your editorial sends a critical message about institutions and their response to child sexual abuse: it must be treated as a crime and reported immediately to outside authorities, including the police. Delay is risky for the well-being of the child and allows the perpetrator continuing opportunities to victimize others.

If protecting children — and not reputations — is the highest priority, administrators and boards will have no doubt where their duty and interest lie.

Child rape is a hideous crime. Reporting the crime is the single most effective and proactive first step that institutions can take in the aftermath of child sexual abuse. The very best step institutions can take is to create a culture where abuse and crimes against children and youth cannot occur.

President and Chief Executive
Massachusetts Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Boston, Nov. 29, 2011

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Nation's 10-Year-Old Boys: 'If You See Someone Raping Us, Please Call The Police'

'Doesn't Matter Who, Doesn't Matter Where,' Children Say - Unless Your Families are Under the Influence of Agudath Israel Rabbis and the Rapist is Circumcized and Wears Tzitzis and a Black Hat.

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA — In the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State earlier this month, a coalition of 10-year-old boys from across the nation held a press conference Saturday outside Beaver Stadium, home of college football's Nittany Lions, to remind Americans that if they see someone raping a prepubescent boy, they should contact the police immediately.

"Considering that the monstrous acts perpetrated by Jerry Sandusky went unreported for years, even after a fellow coach saw him raping a 10-year-old boy inside the facility behind me, we feel perhaps not everyone is totally clear on what to do if one witnesses such a thing," said spokesperson Joshua Pearson, who was flanked by several of his fifth-grade colleagues. "Many of you will no doubt be relieved to know the proper course of action is really quite simple: Just contact the police. Call 911, go to your local precinct, stop an officer on the street—the bottom line is, if you see one of us getting raped, notify the police, and do so as quickly as possible."

"It doesn't matter who the boy being raped is, and it doesn't matter who is doing the raping, just please, please alert law enforcement," Pearson added as the 10-year-old boys surrounding him nodded soberly. "And by the way, under no circumstances is it ever okay for an adult to rape a 10-year-old boy, so you really can't go wrong by calling the police when something like that happens."

This man was spotted raping a 10-year-old boy on Mar. 1, 2002. So the police should have been called on Mar. 1, 2002. Understand?

Pearson fielded several questions from reporters, such as whether it is okay, when one sees a boy being raped, to wait until after lunch before contacting police, or if it is acceptable to simply inform the rapist in a firm tone that what he is doing is wrong and then leave it at that. The 10-year-old confirmed neither course of action was adequate.

Additionally, Pearson attempted to clear up any confusion as to whether an individual should contact the police even if he or she has been personally acquainted with the rapist for many years.

"We understand the delicacy of the situation when the person committing the rape is a coworker or otherwise someone you know quite well, but as 10-year-old boys with very few ways of protecting ourselves, we still have to insist that you go to the police," Pearson said. "While we appreciate your reporting such acts to a supervisor at work or a trusted clergy member, unfortunately that may not be enough, and it is not the most responsible course of action. As the sad events at Penn State have taught us, there is no way to guarantee the highly important boy-raping information will reach the proper authorities unless you deliver it yourself."

"So, to reiterate: If you ever see a 10-year-old boy being raped—by anyone, at any time, even if it's a Sunday afternoon—it is very, very important that you go directly to the police and clearly explain what you saw, remembering to identify the person who was doing the raping," Pearson continued.

According to Pearson, even if one merely suspects he or she has seen a 10-year-old boy being raped, but is not absolutely certain, it is still a good idea to play it safe and allow police investigators to sort out the situation.

"Wouldn't you be left with egg on your face if that little boy was actually being raped and you didn't tell the police!" said Pearson, drawing a big laugh from the gathered crowd.

The nation's 10-year-olds unanimously echoed Pearson's sentiments, imploring people to contact police not only when they see prepubescent boys being raped, but, in fact, when they see anyone at all being raped, in any context.

"Certainly, if you were to see me being raped, I would want you to call the police—I'm a 10-year-old boy who couldn't possibly give my consent, or even fully grasp the horror of what was happening to me," Sioux Falls, SD resident Nick Kealey, 10, said between games of Mario Kart DS. "What's really at issue here is the act of rape itself. So, yes, if you see a 10-year-old boy like me being raped, by all means, call the police. But don't just walk on by if you see, say, a teenage girl being raped in a locker room, or even a full-grown man being raped in an alleyway. These are also situations in which you should definitely call the police, and right away."

"Seeing any person get raped at any time, even just once, is more than enough reason to contact the police," Kealey added. "I can't stress that enough."

Following Saturday's announcement, police stations around the country reported a flood of incoming phone calls.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Victims Advocate Dennis Brown from Adkan - Enough is Enough!

The Ness Counseling Center, INC.8512 Whitworth Dr.Los Angeles, CA 90035 --- Organizationdbrown@thenesscenter.org

I have been working in the field of addictions Addictive Behavior for over thirty-five years, twenty of which I worked in The Chabad Residential Treatment Center. I am now Director of an Outpatient Center, The Ness Counseling Center, Inc. in West Los Angeles. A note to our readers, addictions are real and these addictions do not discriminate between, race, religion, rich or poor, male or female, they are pathologies of human behavior which none of us can claim immunity from in our subconscious or conscious state and none of us are invincible when it comes to inner workings of our daily life.

As an Addictive Specialist/Counselor with over 35 years of experience I can tell you that there are many addictions: we have substance abuse addictions, consumer addictions, physical addictions, sexual addictions and emotional addictions. They are all self reward addictions directly linked to the Reward Systems in the brain, they all in one way or another lead us to a synthetic feeling of well being.

While working in the field, I remember one mom in particular; when upon being told that her son was an alcoholic she said “thank G-D, he could have been a drug addict”. This unfortunately, is a common misconception in the Frum/secular community; the idea that one addiction is better than the other, or that one is more ‘socially’ acceptable. This thinking opens the doors for vast ill “social norms” amongst the masses, When applied to the frum community the bar is raised even higher, leading to ‘optimal denial’.

The religious community creates a vacuum of privacy and unspoken social shames that are hidden, at all cost, under the illusion that ‘addictions’ and their pathologies are problem of the secular, non-Jewish world and just don’t occur in the frum world. This denial perpetuates the cycle of abuse, forcing the victims to remain silent all in the name of avoiding an idea that when you remove all the veils of our individual scared religious communities, you are left with the belief that frum Jews walk on water? In the end, you have human beings susceptible to human behavior.

In short, suffice it to say that our community suffers from the worst symptom of any addiction, DENIAL. It is the myth that someone who gives Tzedakah and wears Tzitzit is somehow a holy individual in the community that could never do wrong, never abuse his wife or children and never sexually abuse one in the community! It is as if to say that the religious community does not ‘suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune: that somehow, we as religious Jews do not suffer from the same addictions, diseases as the secular world, that G-d made us different.

It is a hypocritical and cynical attempt to maintain a facade of perfection, when in fact that when the day is done and we close our doors we are human beings susceptible to the same thoughts and desires as the rest of the population. One of the things we seem to overlook and forget is that our religious leaders are not perfect, do not ‘walk on water’ and are prey to the same human desires as the “outside world.”

I remember when a Rebbe was caught here in California for molesting students in school, at the school meeting there was a mother who had the audacity to say that the children should be punished for ruining this Rebbe’s career. even when he clearly admitted the crime! He spent a year in jail and was supposed to register as a Sexual Offender, however he did not as there several people in the community who raised money and helped him to flee the country.

What do we say to those children, victims of these abusers, whose innocence and lives have been scared forever, to what end do we continue this synthetic cycle, if it does not put to shame those in the religious community who live a life of faith and goodness, it in fact separates the religion from the man.

Several years ago I worked with a Chabad Shaliach who was one of this same Rebbe’s victims when he had been a young student in a yeshivah in Brooklyn, New York. There were questions about him (the Rebbe) then, however all we managed to do was move him around, there was never a healthy resolution for this victim or others. So do we continue to count one life more valuable than that of another? I say not, in the world that we live inside and outside of the borders of our religious communities we have an obligation to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Even in the Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach the 4th commandment Prohibition of Sexual Immorality, do we not shame our very own breath of life to not see the truth of behaviors. The times are changing, the world becomes more integrated as each day passes, it is our duty to our very own belief of T’shuvah that we get out of Denial. We must embrace the sincerity of addiction so as we may find the path to recovery.

Around twenty years ago I remember a woman who had reached out to all of the agencies within reach in the Los Angeles area with he plea for help as she proclaimed that her husband was abusing her, she was told “go back home and we will investigate”. Failing to listen or protect her, her husband beat her to death. We failed her and her children.

I see the denial happening time and time again as an Addiction Specialist. As we continue to fail to meet our social responsibilities, and our human responsibilities . We neglect our most precious possessions, our children. We must stop looking at the uniforms and costumes/masks that we go through life with, we must stop looking/worrying about how we will be seen by others and must start looking at how our shameful secrets affect our children, (their neshamah’s and Yiddishkiet)

Mitzvah, you shall not worship an idol…

you shall pay money for any loss you cause anyone to suffer…

Mitzvah you shall have to appear before a Judge to determine your innocence…

Mitzvah you shall not lie to protect a wicked man or woman…

Mitzvah you shall not join a majority, multitude or mob to do evil…

you shall not corrupt justice…

you shall treat a stranger humanely…

We must come out of the dark, we must take our religious teaching and bring them to life…all of them…we must come to the reality that we are all human beings.

When do we say enough is enough?