(Crown Heights) Brooklyn, NY
Alleged enabler of sex offenders within the Lubavitch Chabad movement.
Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1946, Friedman immigrated with his family to the United States in 1950. He received his rabbinic ordination at the Rabbinical College of Canada in 1969. He currently hosts a cable television series, Torah Forum with Manis Friedman, syndicated within North America.
Manis Friedman's brother is the renowned Jewish singer Avrahom Fried. At one point Manis Friedman was close friends with singer, Bob Dylan.
Table of Contents:
- Rabbi Manis Friedman's Misinformation About Sexual Abuse and Rape (01/23/2013)
- Unlicensed Chasidic Counselor: Rabbi Manis Friedman Speaks out about sexual abuse (01/29/2013)
- Call for apology as Rabbi Manis Friedman likens child sex abuse to 'diarrhoea' (02/01/2013)
- What, Indeed, Was Manis Friedman Thinking? (02/01/2013)
- New York Rabbi Manis Friedman Filmed Comparing Child Abuse to Diarrhoea (02/01/2013)
- Sex abuse victims sue rabbi over comments (02/01/2013)
- Manis Friedman's Upcoming Events (01/31/2013)
- Letter from Manny Waks to the Beth Din (01/31/2013)
- Chabad's Bio on Rabbi Manis Friedman (01/31/2013)
- Rabbi Manis Friedman, who downplayed damage caused by sexual abuse, apologizes (01/31/2013)
- The Rabbi Manis Friedman controversy continues (02/04/2013)
- Unlicensed "Counselors": Making an example out of Rabbi Manis Friedman
Rabbi Manis Friedman's Misinformation About Sexual Abuse and Rape
January 29, 2013 –– Rabbi Manis Friedman published an apology video as a reaction to his previous lecture where he compared a person disclosing they once had diarrhea to a survivor of a sex crime disclosing their abuse history.
Original YouTube Video___________________________________________________________________________________
Unlicensed Chasidic Counselor: Rabbi Manis Friedman Speaks out about sexual abuse
By Vicki Polin
Examiner - January 29, 2013
Over the last several months the case against Nechemya Weberman made it into international news after he was accused, convicted and sentenced to spend 103 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl who was under his care as a “counselor” –– even though he was unlicensed.
This week, a youtube clip of a presentation given by Rabbi Manis Friedman in Saint Paul, MN was posted. Like Nechemya Weberman, Manis Friedman is another unlicensed hasidic “counselor”.
Unfortunately, providing misinformation about sex crimes in the ultra-orthodox world is common place by chasidic leaders. The same type of workshop was recorded and placed on YouTube several years ago, when David Mandel, who is the CEO of Ohel Children Home and Family Services, when he gave a workshop on sexual abuse in Baltimore, MD.
Many are concerned with Rabbi Manis Friedman words, because he is a highly respected Torah scholar and the dean of Bais Chana Institute of Jewish Studies based in Saint Paul, MN.
According to Chabad, Rabbi Friedman is also a world renowned counselor –– even though Friedman has no clinical degree nor is a licensed mental health professional.
Friedman’s words on the YouTube video has not only outraged Jewish survivors of sex crimes, he has also been able to create a great deal of uproar from several experts in both the anti-rape and mental health fields.
After viewing Manis Friedman’s presentation, Dr. Michael Salamon, the founder and director of the Adult Development Center in Hewlett, NY stated: “Anyone who implies that abuse does not have a lasting impact on the victim simply has not professionally worked with a victim. “
At one point in the film clip, Rabbi Friedman talks about a factious man who was molested as a child asking if he had to tell a woman he was dating that he was molested as a child. Rabbi Friedman’s response was to say: “Do you have to tell her you once had diarrhea? –– It’s embarrassing but it’s nobodies business.” Needless to say, disclosing that someone was either sexually abused as a child or assaulted as an adult is no more then sharing that one had diarrhea.
Mary Jo Barrett, who is a world renown expert in the child abuse field stated that:
“Rabbi Manis Friedman was accurate about the idea of balance, we must find a balance for our healing from sexual violations. Yet he is so sadly misinformed about the impact of sexual abuse on the brain, the body, and the soul. A person is changed and impacted in very significant ways from sexual abuse, they are not changed molecular or neurologically from diarrhea. He is confusing stress and trauma.Manny Waks, an activist, advisory board member of The Awareness Center (international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault), and survivor of child sexual abuse. stated:
The biggest problem I experience when I watch this video - Rabbi Friedman is a person of power and influence and he is speaking about something he really does not know or understand. It is as if I would do an interview about Talmud. Or try to teach fellow Jews about Halacha (Jewish Law) and Torah. His attitude and his minimization is hurtful and painful. He really has no business speaking about something that he does not understand or know about.
Friedman is right we can't get through the world without pain, stress, confusion, anxiety, etc.....We can not live unscathed. Yet the impact of violent abuse can not minimized and the impact changes someone significantly. They are not damaged, they are survivors, and they are changed in many ways. We do not have to go any further than our own tradition to understand the impact of violence on an individual or a civilization.
“I am appalled and disgusted by Rabbi Friedman’s ignorant and insensitive comments about the issue of child sexual abuse.Manny Walks also calls upon others within the Orthodox rabbinate to condemn Rabbi Friedman’s shocking comments and to distance themselves and their organizations from him and his views.”
As a prominent Chabad Rabbi, I am not sure if he can fully appreciate the negative impact his comments are having in the broader community—at the very least, they reflect poorly on him, Chabad, the ultra-Orthodox community and the Jewish community more broadly.
The fact is that in many cases child sexual abuse is a life and death issue—there is sufficient evidence that links this form of abuse to self-harm. It should therefore be treated with utmost seriousness and sensitivity, which would seem consistent with his religious beliefs.
I urge Rabbi Friedman to rectify this issue immediately by issuing an unreserved public apology for the profound offense and hurt he has caused so many—both victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and others within the Jewish community.
The Awareness Center, believes that Rabbi Friedman needs to be appropriately educated in dealing with issues relating to sex crimes, and is asking that everyone to call or write to Rabbi Friedman, demanding that he go through the rape victim advocacy training conducted by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA), and also go back to school to get appropriate education and training prior to speaking out about healing form sex crimes.
You can contact Rabbi Friedman at:
New York Rabbi Manis Friedman Filmed Comparing Child Abuse to Diarrhoea
By Hannah Osborne
International Business World - January 31, 2013
In it, he discusses a child abuse victim who asked him about discussing the abuse with a new girlfriend: "They ask me, 'do I have to tell her I was molested?'
"I said 'do you have to tell her you once had diarrhoea?' It's embarrassing, but it's nobody's business.
"What's wrong with him is that he mentioned it."
Friedman, who was born in Australia, suggested that the damage caused by child abuse was mainly psychological in that it results in "loss of trust".
"It's not the event itself, it's the loss of trust, the feeling of weakness or vulnerability," he explained.
However, the acclaimed Torah scholar also asserted that "being molested is the same as having teachers you don't like.
"The event itself - 'I'm damaged from molestation' - no you're not. In fact you've learned that not every uncle is your best friend. You've learned an important lesson."
He goes on to discuss how we are all damaged people by events that occur in our lives and that such issues "are real for almost everybody", not just child abuse victims.
Manny Waks, an anti-sex abuse campaigner, has now launched a lawsuit against Friedman in the Jewish court, or Beth Din, in Sydney and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
He says Friedman is doing "untold damage" to the entire Jewish community and that he is perpetuating a negative perception of the orthodox community in particular.
"Most concerning, he is having a direct, damaging impact on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families," Waks said.
The film of Friedman follows a similar video which showed Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who leads the Charedi community in north London's Stamford Hill, telling an abuse victim not to go to the police.
He says that by going to the police would constitute mesira - meaning it is forbidden to report a Jew to a non-Jewish authority.
For more information on Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, click here
Huffington Post - January 31, 2013
"most concerning, he is having a direct, damaging impact on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families. Some of those who have not yet addressed their abuse will think twice before taking any measures to obtain justice and to alleviate their pain and suffering. And some of those who already have taken measures will be self-critical. I can only hope and pray that this scandal does not cause victims additional trauma, potentially leading to extreme consequences."Waks had been subjected to such dismissive and shocking treatment, as have many others.
by Chip Le Grand
The Australian Sun - February 1, 2013
A LEADING figure within the ultra-orthodox Jewish movement that governs yeshiva colleges in Australia has ridiculed victims of sex abuse, likening the impact of child molestation to the "embarrassment" of diarrhoea and insisting victims are "not that damaged".
The comments by Rabbi Manis Friedman, a prominent New York-based leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, were condemned by Sydney Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, as an attempt to "theologically trivialise" the impact of child sex abuse.
Anti-sexual abuse campaigner Manny Waks launched simultaneous legal action against Rabbi Friedman in Jewish courts in New York and Sydney yesterday aimed at forcing a public apology and retraction of the comments circulating widely on a YouTube clip.
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has been plagued by allegations of sexual assault at its yeshivas - traditional Jewish schools - in Melbourne, Sydney and New York.
Mr Waks, who was sexually abused when a he was a yeshiva student in Melbourne in the 1980s, said Rabbi Friedman was considered an "enlightened and moderate" leader of the ultra-orthodox community and his comments would deter other victims of abuse from coming forward.
Rabbi Friedman, a global emissary of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement headquartered in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has family ties in Melbourne, where his cousin Sheiny New is a spokeswoman for the Jewish Taskforce against Family Violence.
Ms New yesterday distanced the taskforce from the rabbi's views.
"The pain and suffering of all victims of sexual assault must never be minimised," she said.
In a video-taped interview posted on YouTube this week and since removed, Rabbi Friedman questions whether sexual abuse is a big averiah (sin) and why victims of abuse feel damaged. "You are not that damaged -- cut it out," he said. "If in fact you did do an averiah, so do two mitzvois (good deeds). Regain your balance."
Rabbi Friedman suggests abuse was endemic within the ultra-orthodox community, saying "there is hardly a kid who comes to a yeshiva, to a program, that hasn't been molested". In a lengthy and at times rambling interview, the rabbi recalls the case of an abuse victim who sought his advice on whether to tell his fiance about his experiences.
"He said: 'Do I have to tell that I was molested?'. I said: 'Do you have to tell that you once had diarrhoea?' It's embarrassing but nobody's business."
The rabbi also recalls a conversation he had with a girl who confided in him that she was molested when she was nine. "So? Nobody is allowed to touch you? What are you, holy?" he said. "I said to this girl . . . 'Do you think you are the only one who was molested? Do you think your mother and grandmother back in Russia made it through their teenage years without being molested by a shegetz? Why are you so fragile?"
Shegetz is a derogatory word for a non-Jewish man.
Rabbi Friedman said victims of abuse, rather than being left damaged, learned an important lesson.
"In fact, you have learned that not every counsellor is heilig (holy) and not every uncle is your best friend. Am I damaged material? The answer is we are all damaged. Join the club."
A growing public backlash to the video prompted Rabbi Friedman to post a second interview in which he describes molestation of children as a "crisis" within the Jewish religious community. However, he does not retract his earlier comments.
A former teacher at Melbourne's Yeshivah College in East St Kilda, David Kramer, was extradited from the US last month to face 12 charges including indecent assault and indecent acts with children between 1989 and 1992.
In a separate case, former school security guard David Cyprys is due to stand trial in July on charges of child rape and other sexual abuse against 12 students in the 1980s.
In Brooklyn, New York, former yeshiva principal Emanuel Yegutkin was last month convicted of 75 counts of child sex abuse.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who has previously compared the ultra-orthodox community to the mafia for its refusal to expose sexual predators, said Yegutkin, 33, could face the rest of his life in jail.
Rabbi Gutnick, writing in response to Mr Wak's concerns, said when the ultra-orthodox community failed to acknowledge the gravity and devastating affect of child sex abuse, "we unwittingly assist the perpetrators" and "fail in our duty to victims".
"The clip appears to theologically trivialise and minimise the physical, physiological and spiritual damage caused to the victims of sexual abuse," Rabbi Gutnick said.
In a lecture posted on YouTube but later removed, Rabbi Manis Friedman says that not reciting a blessing after eating cake is worse than being sexually abused, that victims learn ''an important lesson'' from abuse, and suggests victims ''are not that damaged, cut it out''.
Rabbi Friedman is an emissary at large from the Chabad Lubavitch headquarters in New York, and has been generally regarded as a serious and moderate figure in the Orthodox movement. That movement, and particularly its Melbourne Yeshivah centre, has been embroiled in child sex abuse controversies.
Manny Waks, an abuse victim at Yeshivah himself in the 1980s and founder of the Tzedek advocacy group for Jewish abuse survivors, said on Thursday he had launched lawsuits against Rabbi Friedman in the Jewish court or Beth Din in Sydney and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York. The courts would decide which of them had jurisdiction.
In the YouTube video, in which Rabbi Friedman is talking to male students, he is asked about a man whose girlfriend dropped him when he told her he had been abused. Rabbi Friedman replies: ''What's wrong with him is that he mentioned it. Do I have to tell that I was molested? Do you have to tell that you once had diarrhoea? It's embarrassing, but nobody's business.
''There's collateral damage. It's not the event itself, it's the loss of trust, the feeling of weakness or vulnerability. Those issues are issues even if you weren't molested. But the event itself - 'I'm damaged from the molestation' - no, you're not. In fact you've learnt that not every uncle is your best friend, you've learnt an important lesson.''
In another recording, Rabbi Friedman tells a girl from a Russian family: ''What! You think you were the only one molested? You think your mother and grandmother back in Russia made it through their teenage years without being molested?''
Mr Waks says in his application to the Jewish court that Rabbi Friedman is ''doing untold damage to the entire Jewish community. As a global leader, he is damaging the reputation of the Jewish community broadly. He is also perpetuating the negative perception many have of the ultra-Orthodox community.
''Most concerning, he is having a direct, damaging impact on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families. [His] remarks may give succour to elements within the Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshivah community in Melbourne, who have responded abysmally to the serious allegations of abuse within their institutions.''
Mr Waks wants the court to make the rabbi retract his remarks and apologise. He told Fairfax Media that victims might be deterred from reporting abuse to police or from seeking therapy by the rabbi's ''deeply hurtful and offensive'' comments, and that the rabbi should stand down from every leadership position.
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Australasian Rabbis, said in an email to Mr Waks that Rabbi Friedman seemed to trivialise and minimise the damage sexual abuse caused victims.
''It is simply ignorance to say we are all 'damaged' in the same manner as victims of sexual abuse and it is the height of insensitivity to suggest the treatment for a victim is just to perform additional mitzvois [good works].''
Fairfax Media could not contact Rabbi Friedman.
Letter from Manny Waks to the Beth Din
February 1, 2013
Rabbi Manis Friedman's Webpage
ManisFriedman.com - February 1, 2013
Over the last 24 hours Rabbi Friedman's web page keeps changing. Originally it described him as a counselor, then it was changed to being a Marriage and Family Counselor. If you notice at the top of this screen shoot of his web page, it describes himself as: Rabbi Manis Friedman | Chabad Shliach | Philiosopher Kabala | Marriage Counselor.
As the chatter on the internet continued, he changed his site to the following:
I want to apologize for my completely inappropriate use of language when discussing sexual abuse. I have always believed in the importance of empowering victims of all kinds to move forward in building their lives. In my zeal to reinforce that belief, I came across as being dismissive of one of the worst crimes imaginable.
For that I am deeply sorry.
Molestation is a devastating crime, violating the intimacy and innocence of the pure and defenseless. The victim is left feeling that there is something wrong with the world in which they live. Perpetrators of molestation should be reported to the police and prosecuted appropriately. Any person, organization or entity that stands by silently is abetting in the crime.
From now on, I will make sure to make those points absolutely clear. This is about more than regret. The subject can't be neglected.
___________________________________________________________________________________I hope over time to earn the forgiveness of those who were hurt by my words.
In the first YouTube presentation, Rabbi Friedman compared a person disclosing a potential marriage partner that they once had diarrhea –– to a survivor of a sex crime disclosing their abuse history to the very same individual.
As a result to the uproar a second video was created in which some viewers felt was an apology, while others within the Jewish survivors community thought it was nothing more then a public relations –– damage control piece.
Rafael Marinelli, who lives in New York City shared that he thoughts after watching Manis Friedman’s second video: “I guess that’s as close as he’ll get to an apology.” When asked if he thought the film clip was a PR piece, Marinelli responded by saying: “yes, but it is a pretty bad one, Rabbi Friedman didn't apologize, nor did he even allude to his previous offensive remarks and that he was playing amateur psychologist.”
Manny Waks, who is an activist, advisory board member of The Awareness Center (international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Assault), and survivor of child sexual abuse, said:
“While Rabbi Friedman says many reasonable things in this new clip, mainly about a rabbi’s role in responding to this type of abuse, shockingly, he completely ignores his previous ignorant and offensive remarks. To not even refer to his previous clip is an affront to all of us.A rabbi who watched both film clips and wished to remain anonymous believed that “Rabbi Friedman says things to initially shock the system, but if given the chance to explain himself, what he says is often very compelling. . . it would be a shame to write someone off with so much wisdom, compassion and understanding based on a few sound bites from youtube”
I can imagine that it was either his decision or based upon the advice of PR experts to simply ignore his previous remarks in the hope that they would be forgotten. Well, they have not been forgotten.
He is displaying first class arrogance and demonstrating that he lacks any remorse, sensitivity or credibility.
Rabbi Friedman must unreservedly and publicly apologize immediately for the pain and suffering that he has caused to so many of us, and for the as yet untold damage that he has done by minimizing the impact of abuse in his original clip (amongst other things).
Until he makes this apology he has absolutely no credibility whatsoever and this incident will forever taint his reputation.
After the first clip he lost my respect temporarily. He has now lost my respect permanently.”
Dr. Michael J. Salamon -- In the subsequent video Rabbi Friedman seems to begin to understand the overwhelming harm that abuse can cause. He would do well to consult with an expert in the field when making pronouncements. I doubt that he would tell a post heart attack survivor to get over it.
Several attempts were made to contact Rabbi Friedman regarding his YouTube videos yet he chose not to respond.
Unlicensed "Counselors": Making an example out of Rabbi Manis Friedman
By Vicki Polin
Examiner - February 6, 2013
Over the last few weeks, the infamous Rabbi Manis Friedman YouTube video has been sending shock waves within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Judaism, along with many survivors of sex crimes and those who work with in the anti-rape movement from within every faith.
In Rabbi Friedman’s original YouTube presentation he compared disclosing one was sexually abused as a child –– to sharing that one had a bout of diarrhea. Suggesting that it would be inappropriate to share such information with a perspective life partner; along with several other very sic analogies in his failed attempt to be cleaver and informative.
Since the first film clip aired Friedman made a second YouTube video in which many felt was his attempt at making an apology. Several survivors and mental health professionals have felt this second YouTube video was nothing more then a public relations piece in hopes of doing damage control –– after making his personal views on healing, public.
Many community leaders from with in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement have been making excuses for Friedman’s inappropriate and demeaning comments.
A highly respected Lubavitch rabbi who wishes to remain anonymous stated:
“I personally respect Rabbi Friedman very much. He does say things that initially shock the system but once given the chance to explain what he says is most often very compelling. It would be a shame to write off someone with so much wisdom, compassion and understanding based on a few sound bites from youtube. No one should expect a free pass, but over 30 years of dedicated service to the community including to abuse victims who have experienced healing through listening to his words of wisdom –– should earn him a bit of an investigation before placing him on the "black list".”
It’s important to note that Rabbi Manis Friedman is not the only orthodox rabbi who is a self-professed “marriage and family counselor”, who has made inappropriate comments and suggestions to survivors.
Several years ago when Dina Tamar got engaged to a man who was a Kohain (a descendent Aaron) she sought out guidance from Rabbi Shlomo Canvasser, who is another self-proclaimed “counselor”, who at the time had office space in Heritage House in in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s old city.
Dina grew up in a secular home and knew very little about Jewish law. At the time she was a very new Ba’al Teshuva (a returnee to the orthodox way of life). She was a student at a woman’s seminary in Jerusalem and was being taught to ask rabbis for guidance in how to do just about everything. Dina went to Rabbi Canvasser to get advise in how to tell her fiancee that she was an incest survivor.
Dina had no idea that according to Jewish law, she would not be allowed to marry her fiancee because she had “illicit sex” with her father.
Instead of finding a therapeutic way of informing Dina of the problem, Rabbi Canvasser stated:“You can’t marry him, you were F _ _ _ ed by your father. He’s a Kohain. What are you thinking?”
Dina was in shocked not only to learn that because she was abused as a child, but also at the vulgar word choice this orthodox rabbi used. Instead of showing Dina compassion and empathy, Rabbi Canvasser’s words re-victimized this abuse survivor. Dina had no choice but to break up her engagement. She knew she could no longer communicate with this orthodox “counselor”, and was afraid to share any more thoughts or feelings she had with anyone. She ended up retreating emotionally, which spiraled into a deep depression that lasted several years -- until she felt safe enough to find a “real” mental health professional to help her cope with this re-traumatization caused by self-proclaimed orthodox “counselor”.
Neither Rabbi Manis Friedman or Rabbi Shlomo Canvasser have a master’s degree in the mental health field nor are they licensed. Because of this those who go to them for any form of spiritual counseling have no legal standing or venue they can utilize when inappropriate “counseling techniques” are utilized. Nor are they bound by confidentiality, unless some sort of written confidentiality agreement is signed prior to entering into this type of professional relationship.
For these reasons many mental health and legal professionals, along with activists in the anti-rape field, believe it may not be best interest to communicate with “self-proclaimed counselors” or even “life-coaches”. Much better to find someone who is a licensed professional, who has specialized training in the field and can prove that they are both experienced and qualified.
Suggested by the author:
- Unlicensed Chasidic Counselor: Rabbi Manis Friedman speaks about sexual abuse
- The Rabbi Manis Friedman controversy continues
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