Friday, September 27, 2013

In memory of Deb Tambor

In Memory of Deb Tambor



February 8, 1980 - September 27, 2013


Deb Tambor was the type of person who would do what ever she could to help those she knew who were struggling, including Jewish survivors of sex crimes.  At the age of 33, Deb died suddenly. This page is dedicated to honor her memory in hopes she will never be forgotten -- and as a way to thank her for saving so many peoples lives.

If you have a memory of Deb you would want to share with others, please forward it to The Awareness Center for consideration for this page.  
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Table of Contents

2013

  1. Deb Tambor and the Quasi-Chasidic Town of New Square  (10/01/2013)
  2. In Memory of Deb (10/07/2013)

2014
  1. Loved ones recount New Square abuse victim Deb Tambor, who committed suicide last year (01/29/2014)


Also See:
  1. In memory of Jewish survivors and activists

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In Memory of Deb
By Michael J. Salamon
The Times of Israel - October 7, 2013

was moved the other day when a woman in her late 50’s told me that she cried when she heard about Deb Tambor.  The woman did not know Deb, in fact she had never even heard of her until that awful day when Deb passed. Apparently many members of her community were speaking about what had transpired. This woman is Chasidic and very much into her lifestyle. She told me that she cried inconsolably for hours because “It is not supposed to turn out this way. People should not be bullied. It is not what we are taught to do for one another. We are supposed to be kind to each other. How she lived her life is between her and god. They had no right taking her children away from her and harassing her.” I sympathized with the woman but I also pressed her by asking her if there was anything that she thought might be accomplished within her community to prevent anymore such terrible tragedies. She had only one sad response. She shrugged her shoulders as tears welled her eyes.

 am of a different perspective. I like to believe that there is always something that can be accomplished if there are people willing to take a stand. When I was told that there was no such thing as abuse in the Jewish community and that if I attempted to speak about it publicly I could be shunned I did not sweep it under the rug and pretend to move on. Taking a stand against wrong is an innate human quality. Most individuals know when something is incorrect, unethical and wicked. Sometimes a form of pluralistic ignorance prevents people from acting. If they see others acting in a certain way they tend to go with the majority. But most are willing to take a stand against wrong it if they are part of something larger, a group, and not even necessarily a large group, of like minded people.

Today, October 7, happens to be anti-bullying day. If you see groups of school children wearing blue shirts today it is a symbol that they are taking a pledge to stand against bullying. Bullying takes many forms. Deb was bullied. She was bullied by a community that she left. She was bullied by family. Deb was bullied away from her children. Legitimate issues may have been at play in her divorce. I have no insight into that. But I do know that the rigidity and ferocity of the attitudes and attacks against her have no place in law or in Halacha.
Change is forever possible both from within a system as well as from the outside. I would like to believe that despondency and futility can and should be stricken from the human condition. I also know that this tragic event can be a turning point in getting us to bring change to a system desperately in need of it. Someone who was bullied can feel trapped and is almost always despondent. Instead of giving in to this sense of hopelessness we can create an environment of support and a means of communication to help those who need it. Instead of more despondency let us vow to work together to bring new meaning from the tragic event.
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Loved ones recount New Square abuse victim Deb Tambor, who committed suicide last year
Hudson Valley News 12 - January 29, 2014

Deb Tambor's boyfriend claims the abuse she suffered growing up in New Square was covered up. 

NEW SQUARE - As a New Square rabbi awaits trial on sex abuse charges, the boyfriend of another New Square victim is joining the calls for change in how sex crimes are handled in Rockland County. 

Abe Weiss says his girlfriend, Deb Tambor, was sexually abused by her uncle during her childhood in New Square. Weiss claims the rabbi in town knew all about the abuse she suffered, but covered it up. Tambor eventually left the Hassidic community and moved to New Jersey with Weiss. She took her own life last September.

Weiss says he hopes people will be more aware of what's going on in the community. 

Since Tambor's suicide, a young man in New Square has come forward, claiming he was sexually abused for five years by Rabbi Moshe Taubenfeld, who's now facing ten years in jail. A judge adjourned Taubenfeld's case for two months.

Rockland County District Attorney Tom Zugibe says there's been a rise in sex crimes in the county because people are becoming more confident in coming forward.



DebTambor from The Awareness Center on Vimeo.
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FAIR USE NOTICE 

Some of the information on The Awareness Center, Inc.'s web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. 

We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  –– Margaret Mead
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Case of Haim Cohen

Case of Haim Cohen
(AKA: Chaim Cohen)

Tel Aviv, Israel
Toronto, Canada
Owner, H M Auto Repair - Concord, Ontario, Canada


Convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl, fled to Canada before receiving his sentence back in 2003.  Ten years later he was extradited back to Israel.  
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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: 

2013

  1. Canada extradites Israeli child rapist (09/24/2013)
  2. Israeli fugitive extradited from Canada to face sex crimes conviction (09/24/2013)
  3. Haim Cohen - Owner of HM Auto in Concord, Ontario  (09/25/2013)


Also see: 
  1. Policies For inclusion on The Awareness Center's Sex Offender's Registry
  2. Listing Alleged and Convicted Sex Offenders
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Canada extradites Israeli child rapist 
By Noam Dvir
YNET - September 24, 2013

Haim Cohen extradited back to Israel
Man convicted of rape, sodomy returns to Israel after fleeing with family in 2003, following lengthy police search, investigation

Haim Cohen, a convicted sex offender who fled to Canada before receiving his sentence, landed Tuesday at Ben-Gurion Airport accompanied by Israel Police officers.

Cohen was convicted of rape, indecent assault and sodomy of a minor girl, but fled the country with his wife and children before being sentenced. He was located and arrested in Canada five months ago.

In November 2001, the mother of his victim – who was 14 at the time – lodged a complaint with police, claiming that Cohen had sexually attacked her daughter.

At the conclusion of the police investigation, the Jerusalem District Prosecutors filed an indictment against Cohen for offenses of rape, indecent behavior and sodomy for his actions against the minor.

The Jerusalem District Court convicted Cohen of the crimes in 2003, but prior to his sentencing, he had fled the country with his wife and children, and has since been on the lam with his whereabouts unknown.

After years of receiving tips, in 2011 newly received intelligence put police back on his trail. As part of a joint effort by the police and the Justice Ministry's international department, an international warrant against him was issued.

After a massive search effort conducted during the previous year by both Jerusalem and national police forces, Cohen was located in Canada and finally arrested.

Late Tuesday afternoon Cohen landed in Israel, escorted by police, thus putting an end to his extradition. He was taken to the Jerusalem District Police station and will be brought before a judge for extension of remand on Wednesday.

Aviel Mengazi contributed to this report

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Israeli fugitive extradited from Canada to face sex crimes conviction 
By Ben Hartman
Jerusalem Post - September 24, 2013


Haim Cohen returns to Israel after fleeing country in 2003 before sentence hearing for indictment of rape, sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.

Long-time Israeli fugitive Haim Cohen has been returned to Israel from Canada, where he fled 10 years ago after a conviction for the rape and sexual assault of a 13- year-old girl, the Justice Ministry reported on Tuesday.

In December 2002, the Jerusalem District Court indicted Cohen, today 37, on charges of rape and sexual assault of a minor. He then agreed to a plea bargain in April 2003 but fled the country with his wife and three kids before the sentencing hearing on May 20. Cohen and his family flew to the United States and then to Canada.

According to the Justice Ministry, the Canadian authorities managed to locate Cohen in Toronto in February 2004. Israeli authorities sent an extradition request to the Canadian authorities then, but before Cohen could be arrested he again slipped away with his family.

Cohen continued to successfully evade Canadian authorities until 2011, when Israeli investigators and Interpol managed to find him again and finally arrest him on April 4 in Toronto.

Shmulik Ben-Ruby, spokesman for the Jerusalem Police, said Haim Cohen lived as a secular man in Israel, but after arriving in Canada he grew a beard and began living a haredi life. Ben-Ruby would not go into details about aliases used by Cohen, saying that such information is undisclosed as part of the investigation.

He added that one officer from Jerusalem’s Moriah subdistrict and another from the National Police Headquarters flew to Toronto this week and personally escorted Cohen back in handcuffs on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv.

Ben-Ruby said Cohen was subject to a travel ban previous to his arrest in 2003, and that police are trying to examine how he and his family managed to escape the country, possibly through the use of fake passports.

Under the plea bargain he agreed to, Cohen would have faced two-and-a-half years in prison, an NIS 10,000 fine, an NIS 216,000 fine in punitive damages to be paid to the victim, as well as three years probation.

Cohen was returned to Israel the day after another Israeli fugitive, convicted conman Erlado Farizi, was extradited to Israel from Switzerland, two years after he fled to escape a 30-month sentence for fraud.

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Haim Cohen - Owner of HM Auto in Concord, Ontario
Screenshot - September 24, 2013





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FAIR USE NOTICE
 
Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.

We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead



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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Ari Mandel - Attempts at Cyberbullying

Ari Mandel (AKA: Rachmuna Litzlon)
Attempts at Cyberbullying 


For years various individuals have set their minds on cyberbullying, harassing and cyberstalking Vicki Polin, who is the founder and director of The Awareness Center.  The attacks began back in 2004, when The Awareness Center was assisting survivors of a few alleged, confessed and convicted sexual predators.  The attacks against Ms. Polin was created as an attempt to discredit her and to create a distraction from the real issues, which involved a long history within various Jewish communities of covering-up sex crimes, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.  It's obvious that Ari Mandel amongst others, are unaware of the history of the attacks, yet choose to continue with the discreditation of one of the pioneers in the Jewish anti-rape movement.

Ari Mandel is an untrained, yet self-proclaimed expert in the Jewish anti-rape movement.  Through experience if someone cyberbullies one person, the odds are they have cyberbullied others.


For more information on Adults who cyberbully, please read the following articles:

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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


2013
  1. Oy, if he were a rich man, but not by selling heaven on eBay  (05/29/2013)
  2. Ari Mandel tries to sell his spot in heaven on eBay (05/31/2013)
  3. Man jokingly puts his place in heaven up for sale on eBay and bids reach $100,000… before it gets taken down (05/31/2013)
  4. eBay Pulls Auction For Spot IN Heaven After Bids Reach Nearly $100,000... (05/31/2013)


Cyberbullying Attempts

  1. Facebook (09/07/2013)
  2. Facebook (09/08/2013)
  3. How To Beat Cyberbullies
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Oy, if he were a rich man, but not by selling heaven on eBay
By Suzanne Choey
NBC News - May 29, 2013



There are some things that are never for sale, not even on eBay. A place in heaven is among them. A New Jersey man posted such a listing as a joke, he says, but was inundated with bids that reached $100,000 before the listing was pulled by the online auction giant.

"I didn't think anyone would take it seriously," Ari Mandel, who put up the listing, told NBC News.

"It's gotten way more attention than I expected. I really didn't expect it to blow up and go crazy the way it did."

Ari Mandel served in the U.S.
Army from 2007 to 2011.
Mandel, an Army veteran and student at New York University, said with school now done for the semester, he decided to post the "low-burning idea" he'd been kicking around on eBay Tuesday.

But the listing was removed the same day it went up. An eBay spokesman told NBC News the offer of heaven was in violation of the auction site's "No Item" policy. That policy, spelled out here, says: "We don't allow listings that aren't offering anything for sale or those that have intangible items (generally things don't physically exist)."Little did he realize that 181 people would not only bid on it, but he would get hundreds of emails, phone calls and Facebook messages. Many were from people asking him what the heck he was doing, but he also got equal numbers of responses from those who thought the listing was funny.

Under "listings with no items," eBay goes on to say that intangible items are "things that people won't be able to use or be able to confirm whether they've received the items."

Other intangibles including the selling of one's soul: "Listings that offer someone's 'soul' or a container that claim to have someone's 'soul' are not allowed." And, forget about trying to sell magic potions, spells and curses: those intangibles are cursed as sale items.

Mandel posted "My Portion in Olam Habaah (Heaven)" with bids starting at 99 cents. Among the bidders' comments, he said, were these:
Need to know more b4 I can bid on it.  What's the approximate square footage, with that amenities does it come with, and what's the location?  Is it in the prime are or more in the back?
Can you tell me where in heaven this portion is?  For the price you are asking, I want to make sure I am in prime real estate somewhere over a rainbow, right between the lord and a few angels.

"I really didn't expect it to blow up and go crazy the way it did," said Mandel, 30, who said he has received calls from around world, including from a reporter in Israel. "It was a goofy little joke."

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Man jokingly puts his place in heaven up for sale on eBay and bids reach $100,000… before it gets taken down
Daily Mail - May 30, 2013

  • Ari Mandel posted the prank auction item as a joke but quickly received more than 180 bids
  • As a former Hasidic Jew, he was happy to give up his 'Portion in olam habaah [heaven]' and promised to live a life free of sin
  • But eBay removed the item because it was 'intangible'
Former Hasidic Jew Ari Mandel, 31, 
claims he posted his 'Portion in olam habaah [heaven]' 
on eBayas a joke
A New Jersey man who offered $100,000 for his spot in heaven by an eBay bidder before the auction site took down his proposal.

Ari Mandel, 31, who identifies himself as atheist lived in an Orthodox Jewish community until he was 23. He posted his 'Portion in olam habaah [heaven]' on eBay on Tuesday.

Since Mandel no longer considers himself a member of the Hasidic community, he was happy to give up his spot.

He promised the winning bidder a signed contract guaranteeing his spot in Habaah, plus another contract guaranteeing that he would live free of sin in order for that spot to be secured. He also promised never to return to religious life and steal the spot back for himself.

‘I didn't think anyone would take it seriously,’ Mandel told NBC News.

‘It's gotten way more attention than I expected. I really didn't expect it to blow up and go crazy the way it did.’

Mandel posted his prank auction on Tuesday and the price quickly grew from 99 cents to $100,000, with more than 180 people bidding. 

He also received emails and phone calls, some asking what he was doing, other telling him they thought it was a fun thing to do.


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Ari Mandel tries to sell his spot in heaven on eBay
ABC News-15 - May 31, 2013

NEW JERSEY - Turns out not everything is for sale, not even on eBay.

According to the New York Daily News , the site has pulled a man's auction for his "portion in olam habbah (heaven).

Ari Mandel, a Jewish man from Teaneck, N.J, posted the prime spot on the auction's website Tuesday morning.

The winner would have won two signed contracts, one guaranteeing Mandel's "timeshare" in the skies and the other promising Mandel would keep the spot open by abstaining from sin.

Bidding started at 99 cents and skyrocketed within hours to nearly $100,000.

Once eBay got word, they shut down the auction after receiving numerous complaints from people who thought Mandel's post was offensive.

An eBay representative called Mandel and reminded him that users aren’t allowed to sell intangible items.

Mandel said the auction was a "harmless prank."

He told the Daily News: “To those of you who took this seriously, chill out. It was just a joke,” he said. “Whether or not you’re a believer in this sort of thing, chill out.”


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eBay Pulls Auction For Spot In Heaven After Bids Reach Nearly $100,000

Huffington Post - May 31, 2013








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Cyberbullying Attempts


Facebook - Elyahu Fink
September 7, 2013




Facebook - 
Elyahu Fink
September 8, 2013




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How To Beat Cyberbullies



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FAIR USE NOTICE
 
Some of the information on The Awareness Center's web pages may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.

We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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 "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead
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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Going "Off The Derech" Hurts!

Going "Off The Derech" Hurts!


By Vicki Polin
Examiner - September 5, 2013




Walking away from a religious community is very similar to pain experienced when someone in your family dies or that of a close friend. It’s also not uncommon for OTD survivors to feel like they have been used or betrayed.


Jewish survivors of child abuse and/or neglect often have no other choice but to leave the families and communities they grew up in. This is especially true for those who grew up in an ultra-orthodox, insulated community. Many of these survivors have shared that they believed they had no other option -- or else they would have end up using drugs or giving up on life.
For Jewish survivors who grew up in secluded, insulated environments going “Off The Derech" (OTD) is like moving to another universe. Many of these survivors often do not know how to read or write in English, have very little education in secular studies, have never watched TV, gone to the movies, let alone used the internet. So even though this select group of people grew up in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel or any other country considered to be a part of western civilization –– they have no idea how to live in the secular world. Most have also never had friends from outside of their own communities.
Considering all of these facts, survivors who are OTD face many challenges. Leaving everything you know and love can feel devastatingly painful, especially because many have never learned how to identify, process or cope with their thoughts and feelings.
GOING OFF THE DERECH CAN FEEL: 

EXTREMELY PAINFUL, especially when a survivor realize’s that their own thought processes are different then those who live within their communities they were born.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor starts to believe what they were taught was the truth –– begins to have cracks and they no longer can believe what they see as being falsehoods and or lies.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivors who has gone OTD, realizes their beliefs in God (higher power) are different then their parents, other family members or that of their communities. The same is true for the OTD survivor who realizes they no longer believe in God.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when an OTD survivor realizes that the community leaders and or family members they loved and trusted implicitly –– who taught them never to question authority –– were actually manipulating the survivor along with other community members.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when an OTD survivor believes they have been deceived –– that what they were taught was true Judaism was not, instead the begin to realize the dogma they were taught was nothing more then cult like propaganda.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor going OTD realizes individuals who grew up in other communities are not "bad, evil, liars, cheaters or deceivers". The OTD survivors starts to realize that individuals who come from other movements within Judaism or who are not even Jewish are people just like themselves.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING when a survivor realizes their faith in God hasn't changed - only their trust in their rebbe, family and or their community has.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING when a survivors starts to ask questions or verbalize their thoughts and feelings about how the community is ran. Once a survivor reaches this point they are often accused by family members, friends and or other community members of being problematic, a trouble maker, psychologically disturbed or even dangerous.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when OTD survivors starts to be shamed, blamed, isolated and by lifelong friends, family members and or other community members –– because the survivor can no longer “play the game”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL to a survivor who is in the process of going OTD –– when they realize that the love and acceptance provided by family members and community leaders was conditional –– “as long as they did what they were told to do when they were told to do it”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor when they reach the point that it is nearly impossible to cope with this extremely deep infectious wound -- bubbling up inside them –– when trying to suppress it all doesn’t work anymore. Let alone the survivors attempts at trying to forget hat happened to them doesn’t work.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor when they realize they have to leave the only home and or community they have ever known. How does walk away from family members, your children, your friends, etc.?
IT’S EXTREMELY PAINFUL to see the looks of hatred coming from the faces of those you –– to hear the deafening silence when you try and talk to those you love –– when they no longer return phone calls. It’s extremely painful when you try and give a close relative a hug and push you away or stand like a statue, pretending you aren't there. It’s incredibly painful when those you love looks at you as if you were the most evil person on the planet and they teach your siblings children, nieces and nephews and cousins to hate you.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING to know that the survivor has no other choice but to start their lives all over again. Often survivors feel they have betrayed, disillusioned, and then become very suspicious of everyone including family, friends and other community members who might be trying to offer them support.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a OTD survivor find themselves feeling guilty or ashamed of where they grew up, the beliefs they were taught –– and/or the fact they have no other option but to walk away. Survivors in these types of situations often feel depressed, confused, lonely and isolated. It makes perfect sense that they might find it difficult to make decisions -- especially for those who never had to do this before -- because everything was decided for them by their rebbe or other community leaders.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a OTD survivor first walks away and has so much time on their hands. Prior to leaving their communities their lives were consumed with family responsibilities, learning, Jewish rituals and prayer. Now survivors have to find other things to do with themselves, which can leave them feeling guilty –– for not doing what they were taught to –– or even guilty for discovering new hobbies, which were thought to be sinful in their previous life.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for OTD survivors on shabbos or yom tovim. These are times in which family and friends gather. Survivors may find themselves alone with no where to go or friends to be with.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL at times when an OTD survivor feels as if they lost touch with reality or their feelings go numb. Often survivors go through periods of time where they feel as if they are just "floating" –– and at times consider going back to the security they felt living within a cultish community or cult involved family.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor feels all alone and isolated. They don’t believe that anyone in the outside world can understand what they are experiencing. It’s also extremely scary when an OTD survivor feel that their sense of self confidence and self worth are almost non-existent.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor who grew up outside the frum world, when they realize that they gave up everything for a cultish lifestyle –– giving up on such as your continuing their education, career, finances, friends, families, etc.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL after leaving the cultish community, when an OTD survivor has to explain voided time in their work history when job seeking. They may also find they have no other choice but to go back to school to further their education after time away from their studies.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for a person who grew up outside of the religious world who walked away, to explain all those missing years to your friends and family. It’s also difficult to hear from those who love you “I told you so”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor who grew up secular to realize that they had been deceived, that they alone were responsible for being taken in. These survivors may feel stupid, used and feel ashamed that they wasted so much of their time, energies and money living within the quasi-frum world.

IT’S EXTREMELY PAINFUL TO LEAVE THE FRUM WORLD
Many individuals who loose not only their families and communities, but a lifestyle go through a huge grieving process –– just as one would grieving a death.
There are no instant cures for the sense of loss, inability to trust, feelings of guilt, confusion, emotional pain, anger , and or disillusionment. It takes time to heal, and often the OTD survivors will need to find a licensed mental health professional who not only understand the issues of working with survivors of child abuse, yet also someone who has experience working with ex-cult members.
The truth is that with time many of the negative feelings will disappear and will be replaced with happiness, joy, a sense of peace, being able to trust again –– along with the ability to think for ones self independently.
YES at times the pain may feel unbearable, yet with time, patience and as an OTD survivor learns how trust again, develops healthy friendships and builds a new support system –– the feelings will lesson and the survivor will be able to live life outside of the quasi-frum world.

Also See:
  1. The quasi-orthodox Jewish world compared to the "BITE" Model of Cult Mind Control (11/06/2013)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Halachically sanctioned degradation of women makes me scream

Halachically sanctioned degradation of women makes me scream
By Bahtya Minkin
Times of Israel - Sept. 3, 2013


BLEEEAAARRRRGGGGHHH!

Sorry. I know that wasn’t very professional. But I don’t think there’s a single word in any language that can get across exactly how angry, frustrated, flabbergasted and incredulous I become when I watch a mitzvah that is not just beautiful, but sensible as well, being corrupted and usurped for the purpose of abusing and controlling others.

I know it’s been discussed to death, but here are my two cents on modesty.

First a little disclaimer: I want to make it clear from the get-go that when I say “modesty” I don’t mean the Oz V’Hadar L’vusha kind. (For those who have not had the almost imponderable pleasure of coming across the title I just mentioned, it is a 700 page volume that goes into excruciating detail on what sorts of clothing and manners of behavior women should refrain from, in order to protect men from their apparent inability to function like human beings when they chance upon, and possibly even gaze upon, a member of the opposite sex. Go click on the link, and read the table of contents, and you will understand the insanity of this book.) Also, even though the commandment of being tzanua (Hebrew for modest) applies equally to both men and women, the main focus of this piece is going to be on women, as the societal demand for modesty falls completely on them.

The whole concept of modesty needs to be re-framed in a positive light, because as of now, there’s nothing good about it. Even the word itself has a negative connotation. They bring in a modest income. She lowered her eyes modestly. His knowledge on the subject is modest at best.Modest means small, limited, controlled. But adhering to the tenets of modesty should not be something that causes a person to forfeit their autonomy, or shrinks a person to near invisibility, or limits them in any way. Modesty should be a portraiture of respectability, not submissiveness.

What seems to have happened in recent Jewish history is the meaning and purpose behind many of the mitzvot has been overridden in favor of laser-beam concentration on the minutiae of how the mitzvah is performed, and tzniut is no exception. The focus of modesty is meant to be self-respect. And I’m not saying that a woman who does not dress to whatever standard of modesty the random people on the street ascribe to has no self-respect. I’m saying that choosing less revealing clothing can be empowering. If she is the one choosing to dress that way.

Unfortunately, it was left up to men to figure out how the complex inner workings of the female psyche functions in relation to body image, and they pretty much failed miserably. Completely dismissing how this mitzvah could benefit women—how it’s an opportunity to focus on teaching girls to love their bodies, and the importance of demanding control over what happens to their bodies, and who gets to look at their bodies—they decided to focus on how it can benefit men. 

Because there is a separate mitzvah (that also applies equally to men and women) commanding us to refrain from seeing anything that can bring one to illicit thoughts. And somehow, the idea of modesty for women and how it should be practiced got swallowed up by this completely separate commandment, and how it should be practiced. The focus changed from women being more than just something nice to look at, to women only being something nice to look at. And because they are nice to look at, one must never look, lest the thought of this sensual creature lead him to entertain illicit thoughts.

And so men took the opportunity of deciding what modesty means in practice to simply demand that women cover any and all parts of themselves that might lead men to sin. And now that the train is on that track, we are on a never-ending journey. Because there is no end to what some men might consider to be attractive. And not only that, but now the women have fallen into this mistaken line of thinking, as well, and believe that in order to be pious Jewish women they must do their utmost to protect their menfolk from ever laying eyes on the female form.


But let’s set the record straight. Tzniut and shmirat eynaim (guarding one’s eyes) are completely separate mitzvot. One should not influence the other in any way. The only person responsible for what a person sees is…that person. It is not the responsibility of a woman to cover herself for the benefit of another. Ever. So don’t even suggest it.





Bahtya Minkin is a full-time mother of three, originally from Lakewood, NJ, now living in Kochav Yaakov; In her ample spare time she enjoys crocheting, reading, and arguing with strangers on Facebook



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