Saturday, August 16, 2003

The Case of the Unnamed Students of Ner Israel Yeshiva in the 1950's

The Case of the Unnamed Students of Ner Israel Yeshiva in the 1950's
Baltimore, Maryland

This page is dedicated to the memory of Israel Fishman

Israel Fishman discloses his abuse by several alleged sex offenders who were students while he attended high school at Ner Israel Rabbinical College and High School in the 1950s.

If you or anyone you know were sexually victimized by anyone connected to Ner Israel and are looking for resources, please feel free to contact The Awareness Center and or your local rape crisis center.

Disclaimer: Inclusion in this website does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement. Individuals must decide for themselves if the resources meet their own personal needs.

Table of Contents: 
  1. My Savior, My Hero - Memories of 1953  (08/16/2003)
  2. Trembling Before God

Also see: 
  1. The Family of Rabbi Matis Weinberg


My Savior, My Hero
by Israel Fishman
August 16, 2003

Israel Fishman was interviewed in the movie "Trembling Before God", in which he comes out as an incest survivor.

Please note the following is graphic. The article below tells of the experiences of an incest survivor that occurred over 50 years ago.
The following took place in 1953.  I am not quite 15 years old and the youngest student at the Ner Israel Rabbinical Academy in Baltimore Maryland, which was then located at 4411 Garrison Boulevard.

When I arrived a few months earlier I had been the second youngest student, but the boy who was then the youngest was caught in flagrant delicto with another boy and was tossed out. The boy's father, a rabbi from Richmond, Virginia was the mashgiakh (kosher supervisor) for the large FFV Baking Company there. He must have come in to stay for that particular Sabbath, as traveling on that day is strictly forbidden.

So on that sacred day he approached the head of the Yeshiva, Rabbi Jacob L. Ruderman, who was sitting at the front of the large bais medrash (study hall) pleading with him to give his son a second chance. In front of all the students and teachers, Rabbi Ruderman screamed at the boy's father that he could not talk with him because the matter was absolutely closed, and that the boy must leave immediately. Meanwhile I am living in constant fear that either somebody in the yeshiva will find out all my dark secrets, or that God will surely punish me most severely for my unmentionable, abominable sins.

All the time, however I can't stop thinking of the beautifully gorgeous, angelic looking, red-haired and freckled boy, Hochberg from Hartford, and what might have been. I still shudder when I recall the

recent Friday night when a whole bunch of fellow students came to visit me in my dorm room when I was sick. It was a Friday night there were no lights on in the room and all sat or stood around in total darkness. Hochberg, though, sat on my bed, and put his hand under the blanket and groped me. I was so scared, because I was worried that it was an entrapment, and I remained absolutely soft. This is the yeshiva environment in which the following event is taking place.

I have just shut the lights leaving my room for the study hall's evening session. It is a weekday and therefore we have study sessions every evening. Before I actually leave the room I feel somebody's hand on my shoulder who gently but firmly leads me back into my room. The lights remain turned off. His name is NTL. He is an older bokhur, that is, one of the senior students who took responsibility for the moral training of the younger students on a one-to-one basis.

He leads me to the bed where he sits very closely besides me and holds me very tightly around the waist. He is stronger and more powerful than I am. He is also an older bokhur that you have to respect and listen to. I was immobile and frozen.

He tells me that he could tell from the lines under my eyes that I was masturbating (which I already knew was a grave sin, that is the masturbation and not the lines under the eyes per se!), Before long I am confessing to him all the other evil things that I had been doing, including the sex that I had had for many years with my older brother, Calmin. I tell him that it had gone on for nearly six years and had only ended when we separated a few months earlier, with him going to seminary in Cleveland and I, as I said earlier, coming to Baltimore. I feel so relieved in unburdening myself to someone who is so interested in me.

Through the whole long evening (and it feels that it it a very long evening) I am so scared and afraid, feeling that I dare not make a single move, let alone excuse myself to take a pee, which is getting more and more urgent.

I continue to remain in NTL's close embrace, although by now we are standing against a closet door with one of my hands squeezed against the doorknob. By now I don't know what is hurting more, my hand against the doorknob, or having to pee so urgently. But still I dare not move. I am trapped.

NTL makes me promise that I will never, ever, urinate standing up (because doing that I would be touching myself and that might very well lead to masturbation). I must also immediately train myself to sleep only on my side, and not on my belly or back (in order to avoid having a nocturnal emission, which, of course, is also sinful). I am to tell him every time that I transgressed, even if it was just a matter of having a wet dream. Finally, he tells me that I am so indebted to him for what he is doing for me that, even if I had a million dollars, I would have to give it all to him.

I have no awareness of how long I am with NTL; only that my hand is hurting and that I need to pee so badly. I am so afraid of him and I am so overwhelmed by this evening. No one has ever talked to me at such length and especially helping me to overcome my sinful desires.

I have no idea or comprehension where this evening's experience and my relationship with NTL will undeniably and inescapably take me, and what tragic and painful consequences I will have to endure down the road. But all that is in the future (or at least four or so months away.).


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