Thursday, February 16, 2012

No Different than any Yeshiva, Bais Yaakov, or any Hebrew School - Part Three!

Yeshiva University Los Angeles - Home to Sholom Tendler and Aron Tendler for Decades before being Removed. After the Shuttering of Yeshiva Kerem in San Jose under Matis Weinberg, these Sociopaths Plagued YULA for 20 years!

Sholom Tendler, now in another school in L.A and member of the RCC.

California: Teacher’s Aide Arrested in Los Angeles School District

A teacher’s aide at a Los Angeles high school has been arrested on suspicion of contacting a minor with the intent to commit a sexual offense, the F.B.I. said Tuesday. The aide, Alain Salas, 40, was taken into custody Monday at John C. Fremont Senior High School. Mr. Salas is accused of sending inappropriate messages over the Internet to a 15-year-old student. He is the fourth employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District to be arrested on charges related to sexual offenses in recent weeks, but the F.B.I. said there was no evidence that the cases were connected.


Abuse Cases Put Los Angeles Schools Under Fire

.....Within days, other allegations surfaced at schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District: A high school music teacher was removed after being accused of showering with students; a third-grade teacher was being investigated for more than a dozen accusations of sexual abuse; an elementary school janitor was arrested and accused of lewd acts against a child. And on Wednesday, a high school softball coach and special education teacher was arrested on charges of sending inappropriate messages to children over the Internet.

Perhaps the primary issue, Mr. Deasy said, is what happens after a teacher is accused of wrongdoing. He said that in many cases the district did not appear to keep any central records of accusations of abuse, even if they were substantiated, as long as no formal charges were pressed.

“School officials said Mr. Berndt was investigated 18 years ago on suspicion of trying to molest a girl, but prosecutors said there had not been enough evidence to charge him. It is unclear whether details about that inquiry were kept in the district’s central files.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Child Abuse Leaves Mark on Brain!

LiveScience.com – Childhood abuse and maltreatment can shrink important parts of the brain, a new study of adults suggests.

Reduced brain volume in parts of the hippocampus could help to explain why childhood problems often lead to later psychiatric disorders, such as depression, drug addiction and other mental health problems, the researchers say. This link could help researchers find better ways to treat survivors of childhood abuse.

"These results may provide one explanation for why childhood abuse has been identified with an increased risk for drug abuse or psychosis," study researcher Martin Teicher, of Harvard University, told LiveScience. "Now that one can look at these sub-regions [in the brain], we can get a better idea of what treatments are helping."

Adult brains

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 193 individuals between 18 and 25 years old, who had already undergone several rounds of testing to be qualified. They then analyzed the size of areas in the hippocampus and compared the results with the patient's history. They saw that those who had been abused, neglected or maltreated (based on well-established questionnaires) as children had reduced volume in certain areas of the hippocampus by about 6 percent, compared with kids who hadn't experienced child abuse.

They also had size reductions in a related brain area called the subiculum, which relays the signals from the hippocampus to other areas of the brain, including the dopamine system, also known as the brain's "reward center." Volume reduction in the subiculum has been associated with drug abuse and schizophrenia, as well.
In animal experiments (including non-human primates), this hippocampus can shrink because of high exposure to the stress hormone cortisol during two developmental periods: between ages 3 and 5 and between ages 11 and 13, the researchers said. These stress hormone levels stop the growth of neurons in the hippocampus, leading to smaller volume in the adult human brain.

Brain-based diseases

Changes in hippocampus volume have been linked to depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders. High stress levels (from childhood abuse and maltreatment) during important brain development periods may be causing the decreased hippocampus volume that the researchers saw.

"This region has a lot of receptors for the stress hormone cortisol. It interacts with receptors in these neurons to effect the development and the branching of these neurons," Teicher said. "The neurons are responding by either shrinking or not going into neurogenesis [and making new neurons]."

These brain changes can cause mental illness, explaining why childhood abuse is highly correlated to diseases like depression and drug addiction. "By damaging it to some degree you may cause the dopamine system to be disregulated, and disregulation of the dopamine system has been linked to drug abuse and psychological illnesses," Teicher said.

The study was published  Feb. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.



I don’t think we did anything wrong,” Cardinal Egan declared. He accused the news media of exaggerating the scandal, despite the American church’s admission of culpability in having to dismiss 700 suspect priests across a three-year period. “The fact that sex abuse becomes overpowering in people’s eyes, that’s a part of life,” said the cardinal. He maintained there was no obligation to report abusive priests, although the American hierarchy promised to do so and Connecticut law has long required it.  Court records that the church fought to keep secret revealed cases in which then-Bishop Egan did not alert secular authorities in Bridgeport, failed to aggressively investigate allegations, moved offending priests to other parishes and authorized hush-money payments.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz told his students in America, “I cannot understand how it is possible for an American yeshiva student to be Jewish without ‘The Nineteen Letters’”

 Excerpted From Rav Shraga Feivel  Mendlowitz's Memoriam by his grandson:

...."A person of deep complexity and contemplation, he pursued Jewish philosophy and mussar privately, and at a young age had completed the entire works of the Maharal, Kuzari, Mesilas Yeshorim, and works of chassidus. He avidly studied the works of Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch in the original German. He saw Rav Hirsch as his ideal because Hirsch had successfully devised a religious Jewish weltanschauung that could stand up to the challenges of modernity."

by Daniel Adler:

"The best way to reintroduce Torah im Derech Eretz is to restore R’ Hirsch’s ideals, both in theory and in practice, at the high school level. Specifically, this includes teaching R’ Hirsch’s classic sefer, “The Nineteen Letters,” which contains the core of R’ Hirsch’s views on the world and Torah. R’ Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz told his students in America, “I cannot understand how it is possible for an American yeshiva student to be Jewish without ‘The Nineteen Letters’” (Klugman, 1998). Study of this seminal work will form the basis for a strong Hashkafic underpinning for all yeshiva/Bais Yaakov students."

Read more:


Monday, February 13, 2012

No Different than any Yeshiva, Bais Yaakov or any Hebrew School - Part Two!

 65 year old Pedophile / Felon Rabbi Yehuda Kolko's Playground for for 35 Years - Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn -  as the Rabbis and Parents Kept Him in the Classroom - Knowing Allegations about his Proclivities for Kids.
Vulnerable children, plied with attention and gifts and groomed to trust adult predators.

Aide at Upper West Side School Charged With Sexually Abusing Student

P.S. 87 on West 78th Street is one of the city’s most highly regarded public schools. A teacher’s aide at a highly regarded public elementary school in Manhattan was arrested on Friday after an accusation that he had sexually abused a student at the school, the authorities said.

The aide, Gregory Atkins, 56, had worked at Public School 87, on the Upper West Side, since November 2008, the Education Department said. A law enforcement official said a male student had accused Mr. Atkins of having him strip in the school’s bathroom and, at another point, offering money to fondle the boy. But many of the specifics of the case were not available.

It is not the first time Mr. Atkins has been accused of inappropriate behavior with a student. In 2006, when he was working at Middle School 322 in Upper Manhattan, it was recommended that he be disciplined after a student’s mother told investigators that Mr. Atkins gave her son gifts, including a jockstrap. She said he had offered to baby-sit for the boy, noting that he had an extra bedroom, a PlayStation and a computer for the boy to use.

Though the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigation for schools recommended that he be disciplined, no disciplinary charges were filed.

Efforts to reach Mr. Atkins, who the police said was charged on Friday with sexual abuse, attempted criminal sex act and endangering the welfare of a child, were unsuccessful; no one answered the door at his home. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

After Mr. Atkins was arrested, he was suspended without pay, the Education Department said. He was the second elementary school aide to be arrested in a sex case involving students this week. An aide in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, was arrested on Monday after investigators said they found videos of him engaging in sex acts with students.

Mr. Atkins’s arrest sent a wave of angst through the community.

“I’m shaking now,” said Larisa Conaty, who said her daughter had attended a class of Mr. Atkins’s. “I thought my baby was safe at school. Now I don’t know. They don’t know about the people working here.”

Another parent, Brian Benson, who has two children in the school, said: “It’s overwhelming. It sets off alarms.”

In the previous case, the mother said Mr. Atkins was constantly “lurking” at the boy’s sports games. The boy and Mr. Atkins told investigators there had been no sexual contact between them.

The Education Department said that because there was no finding that the relationship had been sexual, no disciplinary charges were filed. Mr. Atkins, who has fewer job protections than teachers do, would have been forced to file a grievance with the union if the principal sought to fire him.

The principal of M.S. 322 chose to discuss the allegations with Mr. Atkins and set forth detailed guidelines of appropriate job responsibilities. The principal did this orally rather than putting a letter in Mr. Atkins’s file, education officials said. The report does not indicate whether the police were notified.

Mr. Atkins has worked in the school system since 2001, mostly as a substitute at middle schools. He has worked at schools including P.S./I.S. 187, M.S. 246 and I.S. 218. His annual salary is $33,088.

P.S. 87, which serves prekindergarten through fifth grades on West 78th Street, has long been seen as one of the most desirable public schools in the city.

The principal, Monica Berry, sent a letter home with students on Friday about Mr. Atkins’s arrest, saying that the school learned of the allegation on Feb. 3 and notified the police and the special commissioner of investigations. Mr. Atkins was reassigned to a central office, away from students, at that time.

Noah E. Gotbaum, a member of Community Education Council 3, whose son and daughter graduated from P.S. 87, said Mr. Atkins was a teacher’s aide in his son’s class two years ago, when his son was in third grade.

“If he had been investigated previously, we had absolutely had no knowledge of anything of that sort,” Mr. Gotbaum said. “The gentleman was an aide in the class and all seemed copacetic; it was fine. The kids liked him. We liked him. But if the allegations are true, it is pretty scary and sad.”



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Somehow The Catholics, a Protestant and a Jew Find Their Voice on an Issue that Matters to Them!

What about a child's right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - once they are born?"


"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" is a well-known phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence and considered by some as part of one of the most well crafted, influential sentences in the history of the English language. These three aspects are listed among the "unalienable rights" or sovereign rights of man. Also, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person." (Wikipedia)


United We Stand for Religious Freedom

ObamaCare's contraception mandate stands the First Amendment on its head.


Stories involving a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jew typically end with a punch line. We wish that were the case here, but what brings us together is no laughing matter: the threat now posed by government policy to that basic human freedom, religious liberty.

Last month the federal Department of Health and Human Services announced that the Affordable Care Act requires employers to pay for insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations and contraception. What made the announcement especially troubling is that HHS specifically declined to exempt religious institutions that serve those outside their own faiths, such as hospitals and schools.

Coverage of this story has almost invariably been framed as a conflict between the federal government and the Catholic bishops. Zeroing in on the word "contraception," many commentators have taken delight in pointing to surveys about the use of contraceptives among Catholics, the message being that any infringement of religious freedom involves an idiosyncratic position that doesn't affect that many people.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic Church's teaching on contraception (not to mention abortion and surgical sterilization) has been clear, consistent and public. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's decision would force Catholic institutions either to violate the moral teachings of the Catholic Church or abandon the health-care, education and social services they provide the needy. This is intolerable.

And while most evangelicals take a more permissive view of contraception, they share with Catholics the moral conviction that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life. Evangelical nonprofits such as Prison Fellowship would therefore also have to choose between violating their consciences or paying fines that would ultimately destroy their ability to help the people they are committed to helping.

Even worse than the financial impact is the breach of faith represented by Ms. Sebelius's decision. Her notion of an "appropriate balance" between religious freedom and "increasing access" to "important preventive services" stands the First Amendment on its head.

In 1790, George Washington exchanged letters with Moses Seixas, the warden of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I. Seixas praised the newly formed United States for "affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of citizenship." People who knew all too well what it meant to be deprived of the "invaluable rights of free Citizens" held religious liberty and freedom of conscience most dear.

In reply, Washington wrote that U.S. citizens had a "right to applaud themselves" for setting an example of "an enlarged and liberal policy" that enshrined freedom of conscience. He added that the ability of members of one faith to seek the benefit of all Americans is the foundation of America's civic strength.

We see evidence of that strength all around us: If a working mother's child needs to visit the emergency room, there's a good chance the hospital is a Catholic one. If an ex-offender needs help readjusting to life outside of prison, there's a good chance help will come from a Christian ministry like Prison Fellowship.

Yet instead of encouraging the different faith communities to continue their vital work for the good of all, the Obama administration is forcing them to make a choice: serving God and their neighbors according to the dictates of their respective faiths—or bending the knee to the dictates of the state.

For Jews, George Washington's letter has always been cherished. It embodies the promise extended by America not only to them, but to all citizens. That is why many in the Jewish community are alarmed to see the very religious freedom Washington praised centuries ago endangered by Washington's successor. "May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land," Washington wrote, "continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants."

At this critical moment, Americans of every faith, as guardians of their own freedom, must, in the words of the First Amendment, "petition the government for the redress of grievances." That's why over the past two years more than 500,000 people have signed the "Manhattan Declaration" in defense of religious liberty. They believe, as do we, that under no circumstances should people of faith violate their consciences and discard their most cherished religious beliefs in order to comply with a gravely unjust law.

That's something that this Catholic, this Protestant and this Jew are in perfect agreement about.

Cardinal Wuerl is the archbishop of Washington, D.C. Mr. Colson is the founder of Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Rabbi Soloveichik is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and associate rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan.


Friday, February 10, 2012

No Different than any Yeshiva, Bais Yaakov, or any Hebrew School!

Vulnerable children, plied with attention and gifts and groomed to trust adult predators.

LOS ANGELES – The charges are shocking, but the choice of victims comes as little surprise.

By Bob Riha Jr., USA TODAY

 The horrors alleged at Miramonte Elementary School echo previous cases of sexual abuse: vulnerable children, plied with attention and gifts and groomed to trust adult predators.

The abuses claimed here may be different — children blindfolded, gagged and fed a substance investigators say was semen. But the setting follows a pattern alleged at Penn State University, where former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is accused of using a charity he founded to target vulnerable boys from single-parent homes or troubled families, people unlikely to speak out.

At Miramonte, the victims could hardly have been more disadvantaged: The 1,400 students are virtually all from poor Latino homes, a majority from immigrant families where English isn't spoken at home, and some with parents lacking legal immigrant status. It's a voiceless community where fear is ingrained — fear of authority, fear of the police, fear of immigration enforcement, fear of retribution.

The hard-pressed barrio school is just the kind of place where an adult with bad intentions could take advantage of a child, knowing there was little chance a victimized family would report the acts. Or if they did, little chance they would be believed.

"You have lots of the very poor who don't even know what their rights are," says Martha Escutia, a former state senator who once represented the south Los Angeles neighborhood. "You have the undercurrent of immigration, undercurrent of poverty. Miramonte is not Malibu. It's not a sophisticated community.

"It's a perfect recipe for a predator."

It's a recipe that's been followed here before.

A former teacher's aide, Ricardo Guevara, is serving a 15-year sentence in state prison after being convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing three kindergarten girls at Miramonte. The Los Angeles school system was ordered to pay $1.6 million to his three victims' families.

"There are striking similarities," says Beverly Hills lawyer Keith Davidson, who represented those girls. "It's amazing that you'd have lightning strike twice and then three times in the same school."

Davidson now represents four children, three boys and one girl, ages 9 to 13, who were students of accused teacher Mark Berndt, the man at the center of the scandal.

Berndt, 61, who was removed from his third-grade class a year ago, was charged last month with 23 counts of committing lewd acts on children ages 6 to 10 from 2005 through 2010. Investigators say they have found 600 photographs Berndt took of the children, many performing what he told them was a game. In some, the children are eating cookies with a substance the district attorney's office alleges was Berndt's semen.

While investigating claims against Berndt, the Los Angeles sheriff's department brought charges against another Miramonte teacher. Martin Springer, 49, pleaded not guilty this week to charges he fondled a second-grade girl.

Springer taught at Miramonte for 26 years. Berndt taught there 32 years, a span that saw the neighborhood transform from a heavily African-American population to almost uniformly Latino.

Berndt had been the subject of complaints before. The sheriff's department investigated a September 1993 incident at the school, but prosecutors decided they didn't have enough evidence to charge him, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for District Attorney Steve Cooley....


Thursday, February 09, 2012

Where Are The Moetzes Gedolei Harlem When You Need Them?

Harlem Gedolim Pushing Their Way Into Their Annual "Goody" Convention Dining Room.

Rosh Gedolei Harlem - Happy With His New Pesach Hat - At a Recent Daf YoMama Celebration
A teacher’s aide at a public school in Brooklyn who was charged last month with possessing and distributing child pornography was arrested again on Monday night after federal agents discovered that some of the videos showed him engaging in sexual acts with students, possibly at the school, according to law enforcement officials.

The aide, Taleek Brooks, 40, made a video of himself touching a prepubescent child’s penis and another video in which he spanked a naked child, according to a complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials said the videos appeared to have been made inside Public School 243, in Crown Heights, where Mr. Brooks worked.  The gravity of the allegations was such that the schools chancellor, Dennis M. Walcott, visited the school shortly before dismissal on Tuesday.

“My personal reaction is one of disgust on the part of this individual,” Mr. Walcott said. “This case is a horrendous case, and it’s something that should not be tolerated.”

Still, Mr. Walcott said that a “screening system was in place” and that there had been no indications that Mr. Brooks had been abusing students. Then the chancellor went into the school to meet with faculty and staff members.

Mr. Brooks first came to the attention of federal agents in December, when an undercover F.B.I. agent signed into a file-sharing program and discovered a user with the username “T. S.” who had child pornography among his shared files, according to the complaint.

Agents later tracked the IP address of “T. S.” to Mr. Brooks’s home, according to the complaint. On Jan. 13, agents executed a search warrant there, seizing a computer and two external hard drives, among other items, and arrested Mr. Brooks.

Mr. Brooks told investigators that he had collected and saved over 1,000 files on his computers containing child pornography, according to the complaint.

Mr. Brooks was released on $100,000 bail on Jan. 27. A subsequent search of his computer files revealed the images and videos that led to the more serious charges.

Mr. Brooks appeared in court on Tuesday. When the prosecutor described the evidence against him, Mr. Brooks shook his head in objection. The presiding magistrate judge, Joan M. Azrack, who also presided over Mr. Brooks’s earlier bail hearing, revoked Mr. Brooks’s bail and ordered him detained.

“Had the evidence been before me a month ago showing he was a predator, there was no way I would have released him on any bail package,” Judge Azrack said.

Shortly before school was dismissed at P.S. 243 on Tuesday, several parents and grandparents of students said they had been shocked to hear the news of Mr. Brooks’s arrest.

“I know Mr. Brooks,” Michael Haskins, 31, said. “We never had any problems out of him. He was good with the kids, right?” he added, looking at a friend who was standing beside him.

He said that he had two children, a 10- and an 11-year-old, at the school, and that they had frequently gone on trips out of the classroom with Mr. Brooks for activities.

“Swimming, basketball tournaments,” Mr. Haskins said. “Every Saturday all summer and sometimes during school.”

Nicole Smith, 26, the mother of a first grader, said the allegations, which were included in a letter given to parents on Tuesday from the principal, Karen Hambright-Glover, left her in shock. “He’s a good person,” Ms. Smith said. “I don’t believe it.”

Tony Herbert, a community advocate, also stopped by P.S. 243 about an hour before dismissal on Tuesday to meet with some parents. He noted that Mr. Brooks had had unfettered access to children because of the after-school activities he took them to; he also noted that it seemed that Mr. Brooks often had a video camera in his hand.

“These kids would change in front of him,” Mr. Herbert said. “These kids were in love with this guy.”

If convicted of possession of child pornography, Mr. Brooks faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. If convicted of distribution, he faces a mandatory five-year sentence. If convicted of production, he faces a mandatory 15-year sentence.


Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Sexual Abuse in Institutions of Education!

By Mordechai I. Twersky - February 6, 2012

“Of all the sins of omission committed by Penn State University in its alleged mishandling of sexual assaults, perhaps the most unforgivable was the failure to find the young boy who was seen being victimized in 2002. It seemed not to occur to anyone to try to identify this child or to consider that he might need treatment and protection. Apparently, shielding the university and its treasured football program came first, and so the boy’s alleged attacker was told simply to keep his activities off-campus. The abdication of legal and moral obligations at an institution that is supposed to develop young people is inexcusable."

Editorial, The Washington Post, November 9, 2011

“Like the Roman Catholic Church, Penn State is an arrogant institution hiding behind its mystique. And sports, as my former fellow sports columnist at The Washington Star, David Israel says, is ‘an insular world that protects its own, and operates outside of societal norms as long as victories and cash continue to flow bountifully."

New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, November 9, 2011

One reads these powerful sentences and can only wonder. Perhaps there will come a time when those who knew what befell a group of students at a modern-Orthodox high school for boys in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan in the 1970′s and 1980′s will have the courage to come forward. And there are those who knew that the school’s associate principal responsible for Judaic Studies – an ordained Rabbi and congregational leader – was summoning students into his office and inviting them to his apartment so that he could wrestle them to the ground against their will and pin his stimulated body over theirs.

Whether those who knew of his bizarre propensity – among them dormitory counselors who today serve as prominent congregational Rabbis and educators – told their superiors, is not certain.

One thing, however, is for sure: they couldn’t stop it from happening to me!

That both perpetrator and victim were fully-clothed, that there was no sexual penetration, does not make this violation, this searing betrayal, any less blasphemous.

Surely the Beacon, for all its courage in publishing this essay, is not the forum to delineate the particulars of this brazen act, in all its vulgarity. However, it might be the appropriate venue for an alumnus to pose a series of questions for the benefit of a new generation of students. Perhaps they can be spared from similar acts in the future.

What mechanisms are in place today for a high school or college student to report physical or verbal assaults of a sexual nature by a staff member, especially at the most senior academic, administrative or leadership level?

Are students confident that their institution – with a world to lose if word of the assault were to leak out to parents, donors and the press – can be counted upon to thoroughly investigate the accusations, to the point of enacting a suspension, protecting the accuser, or even notifying law enforcement? How are those determinations to be made, and by whom?

What is the institution’s policy for identifying victims and reaching out to them with a program of treatment, days, months, or years later?

What sort of diagnostics does their institution employ to ensure that abusive behavior is not sprouting in its ranks? Are there protocols and procedures governing one-on-one faculty meetings with students, both in institutional facilities and in private homes, as well as during class trips and excursions?

And finally, following the departure or termination of an abusive employee, does the institution have a moral or legal obligation to notify future employers of that individual’s pattern of abusive behavior?

Perhaps, one day, when the wall of silence will be broken – and it is beginning to crack — there can be a full accounting. Perhaps that Washington Heights institution will explain what it knew and when, and if it didn’t know, why, to scores of victims it counts as alumni.

It might even venture to guess how the man in question later secured a similar position in another state, possibly putting other young men at risk. Perhaps this man’s present employer – incredibly, one of Israel’s most prestigious congregations — might delineate its vetting process and allay any concerns that young men coming into contact with its executive director are not in harm’s way.

Several days ago, a most startling “LinkedIn” invitation appeared in my inbox. “Since you are a person I trust,” read the boiler-plate invitation, “I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.” The invitation had been sent by none other than my high school associate principal – the man who came to my elementary school 36 years ago and asked me to place my trust in him and in the legendary Torah educational institution he represented. “Accept,” or “Ignore,” were my choices to this “personal” invitation, which was devoid of a single word of remorse, conscience or personal expression.

For now, some of us are left to wonder whether an institution of higher learning –one that invoked a higher standard — abdicated its responsibility or simply fell asleep at the wheel. Giving a full accounting and reaching out to its victims is an invitation it can finally accept or continue to ignore.

Mordechai I. Twersky, a graduate of Yeshiva University High School (1981) and Yeshiva College (1985), is a freelance writer living in Israel.

Responses to this piece are welcome as letters to the editor at editor@yubeacon.com, and may be published in the next issue.

Read More:

Monday, February 06, 2012

Jews Just Have No Guts!

Parents Keep Children Home From School in Sex-Abuse Case

Published: February 6, 2012

LOS ANGELES — Parents of students at an elementary school here where two teachers were arrested on accusations of child sexual abuse marched outside the school on Monday and refused to allow their children to attend classes, protesting what they said was the failure of school officials to act against the violation and explain the extent of the abuse.

Parents rallied outside Miramonte Elementary School in Los Angeles, where two teachers were accused of sexually abusing children.

Since the first arrest last week, tensions have escalated at Miramonte Elementary School, and assertions by the police and the Los Angeles Unified School District that the school had acted quickly and that the cases were not related have done little to calm nerves.

On Monday morning, about 60 parents from this primarily Latino, working-class South Los Angeles neighborhood staged a protest outside the school, and many kept their children out of school, driving attendance, which was more than 97 percent a week ago, down to 72 percent. In addition, the parents of three students filed a claim for monetary damages against the school district on Monday, alleging their children had been abused. Their lawyer said more claims would be brought later this week.

Like many parents, Josye Corona worried her son may have been among those abused.

“We are trying to give the principal a message that we want answers, because they’ve been giving us the runaround, and we’re tired of it,” Ms. Corona said. “One time, my son disappeared on campus for two hours, and they didn’t know where he was. They never gave me an answer. So what do I think now?”

The crisis began last week, when Mark Berndt, who had taught at Miramonte for three decades, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with 23 counts of committing lewd acts upon a child.

As the police investigated the case, accusations against another teacher at the school, Martin Springer, came to light, and he was also arrested on Friday, accused of groping two 7-year-olds. On Monday, a janitor at another elementary school in the district was also arrested, accused of molesting a student.

The school district has worked to try to quell parents’ fears. Officials would not comment on the abuse cases on Monday afternoon, but parents at Miramonte were invited to a meeting with the district’s superintendent, John Deasy, on Monday night, and classes at the school were canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday while investigations into the alleged abuse continue.

Some parents have already begun looking for new schools for their children. Others at Monday’s protest said the school should be shut down indefinitely, or the entire faculty fired.

“I want them to clean up the whole school,” said Nancy Linares, who kept her granddaughter out of school on Monday, and helped organize the protest. “Get rid of everyone from the janitor to the principal.”

Dr. Sharon Cooper, a forensic pediatrician and child abuse expert at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, said this communal loss of trust is often the most lasting effect of multivictim child abuse cases.

“Instead of looking at an individual as an isolated offender, parents will sometimes look at the system as just not safe,” Dr. Cooper said. “That can cause them to turn away from important services like education.”



National / World News 11:06 p.m. Monday, February 6, 2012

Official: Entire Faculty to be removed at LA school

LOS ANGELES — The entire faculty at Miramonte Elementary School will be removed following allegations of child sex abuse against two teachers, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said Monday night at a meeting with parents.....


Why Jews Should Consider Vegetarianism!

 A Healthy Dose of Rational Food for Thought:

Excerpted from sources below.

Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz, the founding dean of New York's Mesifta Torah VoDaath, became a vegetarian after the Holocaust/Shoah, simply yet powerfully declaring, "There has been enough killing in the world."

Isaac Bashevis Singer powerfully declares, "In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka." The livestock industry is a chronic and widespread form of enslavement and torture, while vegetarianism is a powerful way of actively yet nonviolently opposing the daily and brutal outrage of meat production and consumption.

Health and the protection of life are repeatedly emphasized, and even prioritized, in Jewish teachings. While Judaism teaches that we should be very careful about sh'mirat haguf (preserving our bodies and health), and pekuach nefesh (protecting our lives at almost any cost), numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease and heart attacks (the number-one cause of death in the United States), various forms of cancer (the number-two cause of death), stroke (the number-three cause of death), high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma, atherosclerosis, aneurysms, rheumatoid arthritis, impotence, endometriosis, gallstones, gout, Alzheimer's, and other ailments. About two-thirds of diseases in the United States are diet-related-and vegetarians are much less afflicted. Note that even meat-eating doctors almost always recommend eating less meat, not more, while advocating the consumption of more fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains for better health.

Further, since more than half of all antibiotics in the United States are given to livestock (plus immense amounts of chemicals, steroids, hormones, and other drugs), resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate, creating untreatable superbugs, like MRSA, that kill tens of thousands of people per year in the United States alone. And don't forget mad cow disease, bird flu, foot and mouth disease, E. coli, salmonella, and food poisoning. "If there were no poultry industry," concludes Neal Barnard, M.D., "there would be no epidemics of bird flu." And if there were no cow industry, there would be no E. coli outbreaks.

Packaged meat has been discovered to be injected with carbon monoxide to keep it looking red, even when it's rancid. Fish often contain mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and toxic POPs, including PCBs, DDT, and dioxin, which can't be removed from the fish and which bioaccumulate in consumers' bodies.

The meat industry is unhealthy and unsafe.

 A vegetarian diet (one that does not include any animals) or a vegan diet (a vegetarian diet that does not include any animal products at all, including meat, dairy, and eggs) can help prevent, and sometimes reverse, many of these health- and life-threatening conditions. Vegetarianism also reduces the need for medical attention, medicine, and drugs throughout one's life. As Albert Einstein said, "Nothing will benefit health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." It's time for us to evolve toward better personal and planetary health.

As fifteenth-century Rabbi Joseph Albo writes, "In the killing of animals, there is cruelty." Centuries earlier, Maimonides, both rabbi and physician, wrote that "There is no difference between the pain of humans and the pain of other animals." It is as simple as that. Compassion is not a new concept, yet it has to be continually renewed. The Sages of the Talmud (Beitza 32b) remark that "Jews are rachmanin b'nei rachmanin [compassionate children of compassionate ancestors], and one who is not compassionate cannot truly be a descendant of our father Abraham."


Why is it that many Jewish religious leaders advocate vegetarianism, including Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks, late Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Goren, and the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel Abraham Kook?

Why is it that the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen considers "the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable"?

The Torah is full of commandments demanding humane treatment of animals, yet the modern factory farms that produce over 90% of the animal products we consume today raise their animals in unconscionable conditions of abject misery.  Jewish teachings emphasize the grave importance of protecting human health, yet the consumption of animal products in the United States is responsible for numerous diseases including heart disease, America's number one killer. Judaism places great concern on providing for the poor and the hungry, yet while 800 million people do not have enough food to sustain themselves, our carnivorous diets are at least ten times as wasteful of food resources as a vegetarian one.

Please read and learn about the growing Jewish vegetarian movement, and think about how Jewish teachings relate to decisions we make each day as we sit down to eat. As Rabbi Isaac ha-Levi Herzog said, "Jews will move increasingly to vegetarianism out of their own deepening knowledge of what their tradition commands... A whole galaxy of thinking rabbinic and spiritual leaders...has been affirming vegetarianism as the ultimate meaning of Jewish moral teaching."



Sunday, February 05, 2012

Just How Disgusted Are You?

By David Brooks - The New York Times

...."This seems to be a moment when many people — in religion, economics and politics — are disgusted by current institutions, but then they are vague about what sorts of institutions should replace them.

This seems to be a moment of fervent protest movements that are ultimately vague and ineffectual.

We can all theorize why the intense desire for change has so far produced relatively few coherent recipes for change. Maybe people today are simply too deferential. Raised to get college recommendations, maybe they lack the oppositional mentality necessary for revolt. Maybe people are too distracted.

My own theory revolves around a single bad idea. For generations people have been told: Think for yourself; come up with your own independent worldview. Unless your name is Nietzsche, that’s probably a bad idea. Very few people have the genius or time to come up with a comprehensive and rigorous worldview.

If you go out there armed only with your own observations and sentiments, you will surely find yourself on very weak ground. You’ll lack the arguments, convictions and the coherent view of reality that you’ll need when challenged by a self-confident opposition. The paradox of reform movements is that, if you want to defy authority, you probably shouldn’t think entirely for yourself. You should attach yourself to a counter-tradition and school of thought that has been developed over the centuries and that seems true.

The old leftists had dialectical materialism and the Marxist view of history. Libertarians have Hayek and von Mises. Various spiritual movements have drawn from Transcendentalism, Stoicism, Gnosticism, Thomism, Augustine, Tolstoy, or the Catholic social teaching that inspired Dorothy Day.

These belief systems helped people envision alternate realities. They helped people explain why the things society values are not the things that should be valued. They gave movements a set of organizing principles. Joining a tradition doesn’t mean suppressing your individuality.

Applying an ancient tradition to a new situation is a creative, stimulating and empowering act. Without a tradition, everything is impermanence and flux.

Most professors would like their students to be more rebellious and argumentative. But rebellion without a rigorous alternative vision is just a feeble spasm.

If I could offer advice to a young rebel, it would be to rummage the past for a body of thought that helps you understand and address the shortcomings you see. Give yourself a label. If your college hasn’t provided you with a good knowledge of countercultural viewpoints — ranging from Thoreau to Maritain — then your college has failed you and you should try to remedy that ignorance.  Effective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings.

It means replacing one set of authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose. They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change."

Purposely edited and intentionally did not include the link. 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

This is What Your Eulogies Will Look Like - Right Here - Except I Won't Be So Kind!

The Twisted Faces of Orthodox Judaism
Bevilacqua leaves sad, mixed legacy amid sex abuse

Published February 01, 2012

Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's death may not greatly alter the March trial of an aide charged with child endangerment for allegedly keeping predator-priests around children.

Bevilacqua's testimony was preserved on videotape late last year, since he was 88 and ailing. And though a judge found him competent to testify, his dementia would have been evident on the witness stand, lawyers said.

Still, his 10 combative appearances before a Philadelphia grand jury in 2003 and 2004 exposed church secrets about 63 accused priests that ultimately rocked the Roman Catholic hierarchy — and the cardinal himself, who grew reclusive in retirement.

Philadelphia priests raped boys in church sacristies, stripped them nude and whipped them as part of a Passion Play, got them drunk and showed them pornography — and remained on the job, the 2005 grand jury report said.

"Cardinal Bevilacqua, a loyal son and leader of the church for so many years — it was his misfortune to be in a place where all that was revealed in a very glaring way," said Tom Roberts, editor at large of the National Catholic Reporter, a liberal-leaning newspaper for lay Catholics that first exposed the priest-abuse problem in the 1980s.

"Sexual abuse occurs everywhere, but I think the particular circumstances of the church that makes it a story that will not go away is it had the capacity to hide and protect so many for so long," he said.

Bevilacqua died in his sleep Tuesday night at his church residence near Philadelphia. That same day, his longtime secretary for clergy, Monsignor William Lynn, appeared in court for a pretrial hearing in his unprecedented criminal case.

Lynn, 61, is the first U.S. church official ever charged with child endangerment for allegedly shuffling problem priests from job to job. Philadelphia prosecutors say the church thereby fed predators a steady stream of children.

"(The) abuse was known, tolerated, and hidden by high church officials, up to and including the Cardinal himself," a second grand jury report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia alleged last year.

Just hours before Bevilacqua died, the presiding judge in Lynn's trial called sexual abuse in the Catholic church "widespread." Defense lawyers call Lynn a scapegoat for the cardinal and other archdiocesan officials.

Bevilacqua fought bitterly with prosecutors in his often hostile grand jury appearances. He bristled when prosecutors, grilling him about the hundreds of complaints buried in "secret archives" at the archdiocese, called him "Mr. Bevilacqua."

"The very idea that a cardinal would get called before a grand jury was unheard of," said Duquesne University law professor Nicholas P. Cafardi, who served as counsel to the Pittsburgh archdiocese during Bevilacqua's tenure there in the late 1980s.

Bevilacqua's grand jury testimony became public last year as part of the discovery process in Lynn's case. It cannot be used at trial because he was not cross-examined, but his videotaped deposition, taken over two half-days in November, might be. Still, victim advocates hoped to hear him testify in person.

"With the passing of Cardinal Bevilacqua, we will never learn the full truth about clergy sex crimes and cover ups," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Defense lawyers say Lynn took direction on priest transfers from Bevilacqua. Prosecutors call the archdiocese under his tenure "an unindicted co-conspirator."

No one was charged after the first grand jury because the complaints were years or decades old, and the statute of limitations had expired.

"Philadelphia had a very aggressive prosecutor who decided that regardless of the lack of statutes that would apply immediately, she wanted to know what went on. And what she discovered was a very, very ugly record," Roberts said, speaking of former District Attorney Lynne Abraham. "But I don't think Philadelphia necessarily was an outlier. We got to look at the unvarnished truth in a way that has not happened in many places."

Bevilacqua liked to point out that he was trained in both civil and church, or canon, law. The ninth of 11 children born to Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, he got his law degree at night while working with immigrants in the Brooklyn archdiocese, Cafardi said.

"I find that very inspiring. He literally became a civil lawyer ... in order to help the poor people whose rights he thought were being stepped on," Cafardi said. "This all speaks of a very, very admirable guy. He did many heroic things. But the way he handled the sex abuse allegations in Philadelphia — as opposed to how he handled them in Pittsburgh — is just a tragic flaw."

According to Cafardi, Bevilacqua moved accused priests in Pittsburgh to what he deemed "safe assignments," such as chaplancies in retirement homes for religious men and women.

In Philadelphia, he led diocesan priests who had mostly attended the same seminary, St. Charles Borromeo, where the cardinal lived and this week died.

"I've often speculated he became a captive of the Philadelphia clerical culture, a culture where it's inbred, and everybody watches everybody else's back," Cafardi said. "These are men who you've known for years, and you find it hard to believe that they're capable of doing what they're accused of doing."

Three priests and a former Catholic school teacher were indicted along with Lynn. They are all charged with rape. Three are charged with raping the same child, starting when he was a 10-year-old altar boy.

"It's a sad, sad, very mixed story because he was such an advocate for immigrants and, in many ways, the downtrodden. He apparently had a real pastor's touch in meeting with people individually and at parishes," Roberts said of the cardinal's legacy.

"I don't think any reading of his life can ignore what the documentation of the grand jury reports say about it. It would be really good for the church and the hierarchy to reflect on (that)."