Whereas, there have been a number of high profile cases in which Orthodox rabbis have been indicted or convicted for child abuse or child endangerment; and
Whereas the lives and futures of many of these victims and their families are harmed in significant ways: suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, inability to form healthy relationships, inability to develop healthy intimate relationships, etc.; and
Whereas many victims of abuse in our community still remain silent and do not come forward to accuse perpetrators or seek help for fear of stigma, personal and familial consequences, or perceived halakhic concerns; and
Whereas the Rabbinical Council of America has resolved through past resolutions its condemnation of abuse and its censure of abusers, and has affirmed, under the guidance and direction of its poskim (Rabbinic decisors,) that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse and in fact, it is halakhically obligatory to make such reports; and
Whereas reiterating this long held position can serve to provide pastoral and halakhic leadership, support, direction and affirmation to abuse survivors and their families and advocates.
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America resolves that
• It reaffirms its unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.
• It reaffirms its halakhic position that the prohibitions of mesirah and arka’ot do not apply in cases of abuse.
• It will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.
• It will regularly evaluate the competence of its members in understanding and responding to issues of child abuse and initiate training and continuing educational opportunities for all of its members in this area every year.
• The members of the RCA address the issues of child abuse in their communities in at least one sermon, lecture or article within the next twelve months, and that contact information for local abuse services be displayed in a public place in all synagogues, schools, and Jewish community institutions serviced by its members.
April 27 2010
Dear Rabbi Dratch,
Thank you so much for creating this newest resolution. It's truly a miracle.
My only hope is that the referrals rabbis give to survivors are to therapists connected to local rape crisis centers (associated with the national coalition against sexual assault). It's one way to assure that the therapists have the correct training, experience and education. I also highly suggest that all training's provided are given by those connected to local rape crisis centers. This the only way to ensure accurate information is provided and that our rabbis get connected and learn how to be using appropriate resources that have a proven record. There's too many people jumping on the bandwagon, that are not licensed professionals, nor have the correct background to be doing the work they are attempting to do. As Jews, we all must do what ever possible to ensure Jewish survivors not only are treated with dignity and respect, yet also get the best help available out there.
If you go to the right hand side of the following link you will find a link to all the rape crisis centers in the United States: http://theawarenesscenter.org/The_Awareness_Center/Resources.html
Just to remind you that In the past I have sent you two different individuals who have a proven record training members of the clergy and other institutions, I personally believe that by our rabbonum being trained by either one of these individuals could only be a huge benefit to the Jewish people. I'm providing their contact information for you one more time below:
- Joanne Archambault, Sergeant (Ret.) - Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI) http://mysati.com/
- Robert Hugh Farley - Child Abuse Training Forensic Child Abuse Consulting http://child-abuse-training-consulting.com/index.html