We are here today because the current systems in our schools, institutions, organizations, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples do not work to protect our children. Instead our systems appear to be set up to protect the assets of the organizations and institutions, as well as the rights of those who offend; while ignoring the rights of those have been sexually victimized.
I’m sure you will hear testimony from those who represent the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington DC. Please remember that they do not represent the views of the Jewish community or that of any other faith group. They are here only to protect the assists of their establishment. The Archdiocese does not represent the best interests of citizens of the District.
The Awareness Center is the International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault. Our world headquarters is located in Baltimore, MD. We represent Jewish Survivors of sex crimes within every movement of Judaism (from the unaffiliated, Jewish Renewal, Reform, Conservative, through the Orthodox, "Charedi" and "Chasidic" communities).
The history of the Jewish People is one filled with a series of traumatic experiences; including one topic that up until now that has been taboo to discuss: Sexual Victimization (childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, clergy sexual abuse, professional sexual misconduct and sexual harassment).
Contrary to what we might want to assume, sexual violence is not limited to the gentile population: it is also a Jewish issue and one that needs to be addressed. In the United States one out of every three to five women, and one out of every five to seven men have been sexually abused by the time they reach their eighteenth birthday. This includes Jewish communities within the District.
One of the major problems in discussing the issue of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community is that doing so threatens the cultural perception of the wholesomeness of the Jewish family.
Over the years many survivors have been warned that speaking out would lead to an increase in anti-Semitismand possibly another holocaust. Many Jewish survivors who live or work within the District, or who’s perpetrators live or work within the district were tooafraid to provide their own testimony in fear of retaliation by the community.
The Bullying, Intimidation, Extortion Attempts that Jewish survivors and or their family members experience includes things such as: threats that their children will no longer be allowed in the Jewish day schools and or they will not be able to get good marriage partners (which is very important in orthodox circles). Parents who work within the Jewish community may have their jobs or businesses threatened. There have also been cases in which family members were excommunicated for going to law enforcement.
One example is the letter written by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, which he posted in his Baltimore synagogue. Rabbi Heinemann runs a The Star K a kashering business, which is very much a part of the Washington DC Jewish community.
Heinemann’s letter basically banned his congregants and those who follow his rulings from purchasing the Baltimore Jewish Times or having the paper in their home. He was also attempting to set precedent world wide in the way cases of child sexual abuse are now being made public. Rabbi Moshe Heinemann is a very powerful and influential man in Baltimore, Washington DC and around the world.
Moshe Heinemann’s letter was an attempt to keep his followers from knowing the truth about an alleged sex offender and also about ways in keeping children safe from sexual predators.
Below you will find the letter. Some of the Hebrew in the letter translates to: "The verse in Mishlei 26:11, which states, 'As a dog returns to its vomit, so does a fool return to his folly,' see Ibn Ezra there."
The tradition in handling sex crimes in Jewish communities has been to handle allegations quietly and internally. In most cases no police or hotline reports are made. Instead our rabbis attempt to handle “situations” on their own.
Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.