© (2009) Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC, NCC
|Vicki Polin, Founder/Director|
The Awareness Center, Inc.
I do believe miracles can and do happen. As a people and as a nation we all need to stick together and not give in to the bullying, intimidating and extortion attempts conducted by individuals who are doing what they can to keep sex crimes a secret and trying to protect images that are false and assets that are not worth keeping -- when children's lives are at stake.
As we all know these types actions that create these sorts of silencing behaviors are not just limited to the Jewish community, they occur in of all faiths, races and creeds -- within their own communities.
I'll never forget the day I was walking out of Seven Mile Market, which is a kosher grocery story in Baltimore; A well dressed woman came up from behind my car, screaming at me. This woman was angered because The Awareness Center has the case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau listed on our sex offender registry as an "alleged" sex offender.
The case of Rabbi Eisgrau is very complex in which there have been several accusations of child molestation, including an allegation coming from Rabbi Eisgrau's own daughter.
Rabbi Eisgrau is also the principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore, and several parents have made complaints of his use of corporal punishment on the children in his care. Instead of making police reports, the parents chose to enroll their children in other schools.
I was in a state of shock. What I should have done was call 911. Spitting in ones face is considered an assault, unfortunately I didn't think of doing that until I got home. At the time all I wanted to do was get away from there.
I'll never forget when I first heard that Rabbi Saul Berman was circulating a letter in which he was attacking my personhood. At the time I had never heard of him, yet as time progressed that changed. Rabbi Berman had issue with the fact that I was a guest on the Oprah show back in 1989. On the show I shared some of my experiences of being abused as a child.
Rabbi Berman set out to destroy anything or anyone in his attempts to protect rabbi Marc Gafni. As time progressed Gafni confessed to Gary Rosenblatt (editor of the New York Jewish Week) of molesting teenage girls.
To this day Rabbi Berman has never appoligized directly to the Gafni survivors, the majority of the board members of The Awareness Center, nor to myself for his abusive behavior and attempts to cover up for a confessed sex offender.
I strongly believe that those who have been sexually assaulted deserve to have their voices heard and their civil rights protected. I also strongly believe that each survivor of any type of crime deserves to have their day in court.
I also believe that one should not have to ask their rabbi for permission to go to secular authorities when a crime has been committed. I am also outraged that in some communities it is expected that one would need permission to seek counseling and need approval from their rabbi of what therapist they would see.
One of the things that happens to those of us who let our views be known is that there are times, in the orthodox world that long time friends will start to distance themselves from you. Speaking out is not something that's very acceptable -- let alone for a woman to do so.
I was on the Oprah Show during a time that the Anti-Rape movement was still pretty much in its infancy. Speaking out publicly as an incest survivor, was something that was still pretty taboo in the secular world.
Prior to going on The Oprah Show, an agreement was made that Oprah would not mention I was Jewish. Unfortunately, she made a mistake and said the word. All we both could do from there on, was to just rolled with the punches.
I am extremely fortunate that I have not dissociated in many years. It's really a miracle that I was able to over come so much, put myself through school and that some see me as a role model. My healing journey was anything but easy. I had my ups and downs -- and I really do thank G-d every day for helping me heal.
What sickens me the most is that so called Jewish spiritual leaders have been attempting to use the fact that I was abused as a child against me. These individuals have tried to use the fact that I developed a dissociative disorder to cope from the horrendous abuse I endured as a child -- as a weapon against my personhood.
What saddens me a great deal is that they neglected to mention when they try to convince people I'm insane, is the fact with a great deal of hard work, I no longer dissociate.
What I'll never be able to understand is why -- anyone would follow a rabbi or any type of spiritual leader who would behave in this manor?
Would you really want these types of thug to have an influence on our children, let alone on your spiritual well being?
David Mandel, CEO - Ohel
Mandel is the Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in Brooklyn. Ohel is the largest ultra-orthodox mental health agency, which receives both state and federal funding -- making all employees mandated reporters.
During the workshop, David Mandel encourage audience members NOT to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect to secular legal authorities. Instead this mandated reporter suggests to the audience bring suspicions of abuse to their local rabbis, who are not mandated to report in the state of Maryland.
As a result of exposing Mandel's words publicly, the CEO of the largest Jewish mental health agency has been sending out e-mails to those who contact him stating that I am crazy.
What I think is crazy is that the Chief Operating Officer from a publicly funded mental health agency is violating Jewish law, by telling community members NOT to follow the law of the land.