Thursday, February 03, 2000

What People Need To Know

What People Need To Know
Chicago Jewish News - Jan. 28 - Feb. 3, 2000
By Vivian Skolnick, PhD

Two incidents recently occurred in the Orthodox Jewish community with contrasting reactions on the part of our rabbinic leadership. The first involved two new "kosher" establishments with questionable certification. In response to the quandary of the kosher eating public, the rabbis embarked on a thorough investigation and advised the community via the pulpit of their negative findings. This type of forceful leadership and guidance won the respect of the community which felt cared for and grateful for being informed.

Would that this same type of leadership could have been demonstrated in the second incident involving a serious case of pedophilia. The rabbinic reaction was one of "don't ask and don't tell" in the face of mounting angry parents who worried about the safety of their children. Why is the safety of our children any less of a concern than matters of kashrut? Why wasn't the community alerted about this problem from the pulpits so that parents could take the necessary precautions as was done with kashrut?

I just returned form a convention of Orthodox mental health professionals. The consulting posek (Jewish law decisor) of this organization, Rabbi David Cohen, was asked a question about child molestation. He did not hesitate to point out the need for a community to take forceful action to prevent the pedophile from having access to synagogues and public buildings. He urged all communities to publicize the danger, as one is not permitted to endanger an entire community for the sake of an individual. Even monitoring of the molester has proven ineffective, not only according to mental health research, but according to Rabbi Cohen, as stated in the Talmudic admonition "Ain Apotropos L'arayot" (there is no monitoring of one guilty of sexual offenses.)

Another speaker quoted the late eminent authority "Chafetz Chaim" that with regard to the possibility of mental harm, not only is one permitted, but mandated to apprise the community as this does not constitute Lashon Hara (evil talk). So telling becomes a protective community measure.

If the Catholic church can deal with this (because they were sued for being complicit in their silence) surely our educated Orthodox community can speak out to protect our children. While it is true that our rabbinic leaders met with some professionals on this issue, they , however, did not inform or educate in a public way how to cope with this problem thereby causing parents to feel disappointed and unprotected.

The following may be instructive to the community about pedophilia:
  1. Pedophiles may look like your next door neighbor. Their external behavior and appearance is often quiet normal. This helps to disarm the innocent victim.
  2. Pedophiles cannot stop themselves from sexually abusing children. The stability of their psyche depends on this.
  3. Therapy, supervision and medication have proved to be ineffective with these people.
  4. The fast that a pedophile is observant does not stop his acting out.
  5. Marriage has also not been known to stop a pedophile. They have been known to sexually abuse their own children as well as others.
  6. Pedophiles choose vulnerable children who need love. These children often feel special by getting their love and attention. The difficulty is that later these children feel guilty, dirty and are sure something is wrong with them because they were chosen. The shame of it stops them from telling since they frequently transfer all blame to themselves to preserve the image of the perpetrator whom they admire.
  7. Public places such as synagogues or schools often no safety from pedophiles.
  8. Pedophiles ask children not to tell so, in not informing the public, our leaders collude in this conspiracy of silence.
The community looks to its leaders to protect, guide and educate in a public manner about the safety of children. The absence of this protective leadership is evidenced in the rage expressed across all segments of the Orthodox community against the dictum "don't ask and don't tell" which left everyone feeling abandoned of structure, information, protection and leadership.


Also see cases of alleged and convicted sex offenders from the Chicagoland area:
  1. Case of John Ardelenan 
  2. Case of Eugene Loub Aronin
  3. Case of Reuven Bogoff
  4. Case of Rabbi Aryeh Leib Dudovitz (AKA: Larry Dudovitz)
  5. Case of David Kay
  6. Case of Rochelle Marcus
  7. Case of Yosef Meystel
  8. Case of David Miller
  9. Case of Meyer Miller
  10. Case of Morris Ray Millman
  11. Case of Rabbi Avrohom Mondrowitz, M.Sc., Ph.D., L.N.H.A.
  12. Case of Raymond M. Pietrowski
  13. Case of Margie Shabat and Danny Shabat
  14. Case of Rabbi Isadore Trachtman
  15. Case of the Rabbi Tzvi Wainhaus
  16. Case of Howard Marc Watzman, MD
  17. Case of Rabbi Hershel J. Worch



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