Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Prayers Needed for Elisheva Chana bas Sarah

While I was living in Jerusalem, I met this amazing woman, who has dedicated her life to helping others.  For years she has been actively involved in helping children who have been sexually violated, along with adult survivors. 

Even though my stay in Jerusalem was relatively short, Elisheva helped me network in various charedi communities, and learn about the protocols of dealing with sexual abuse in Israel.  To be honest I don't know what I would have done without her. 

Earlier today I learned that my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. When I spoke to her, I asked if there was anything I could do? She said "just pray."  I'm sure she could use all the prayers she can get. Her name is:  Elisheva Chana bas Sarah


Friday, January 24, 2003

Soul Searching: Sexual Abuse, Cults, and Missionaries

Soul Searching: Sexual Abuse, Cults, and Missionaries
© (2003) by Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC and Na'ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP, TSHH

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16).

Where is God? Is he/she really out there? If there really is a God why did he/she allow me to get hurt as a child? These are very common question amongst survivors of childhood sexual abuse. But why should we care? After all, Jews don't abuse their children! Or do they?

Unfortunately, in the past many Jewish survivors of sexual abuse have been met with denial, rationalizations, and blame from various "trusted officials" in the Jewish community when they'd reached out for help. It's still not uncommon for a survivor to go to various rabbinical authorities with their questions; and end up feeling rejected when they disclosed their abuse histories. Time after time adults who, as children, were subjected to sexual criminal activities, were told that the mere fact that they were disclosing their victimization was considered lashon hara ('derogatory speech, that is true'). Basically meaning the fact that they were speaking out, was wrong.

Did you ever stop and wonder "What happens to an individual who feels betrayed by their own community?" Some survivors may try to find another rabbi to talk to, but all too often doing so, seems like a futile task. After all, how many times does a person have to feel rejected? It is important to remember that survivors are not unlike ourselves--they are searching for answers. Jewish survivors of childhood abuse need to hear loud and clear that they were NOT and are NOT to blame; that God did not cause the abuse as some form of punishment. Survivors need to know that they are NOT innately "bad." However, when an individual is told that their disclosure in of itself is considered " lashon hara". . . what they hear is: "God hates me", "I must be the one who's bad." Keeping this in mind, where can a survivor of childhood sexual abuse go to for spiritual guidance? Especially when they already feel that they have been rejected by our rabbis and possibly the rest of our community. Many will continue on, searching for a spiritual identity. Sadly, all too often they fall prey to missionaries and cult leaders, or just drift into some form of eclectic spirituality.

Statistics in the United States depict that one out of every 3-5 women and one out of 5-7men have been sexually abused by the time they reached their 18th birthday. General research about cult and cult-like groups indicate a high percentage of members who have been victims of childhood abuse. 

Unfortunately, at this time there is no data specifying the percentage of "Jewish cult victims" who have histories of childhood sexual abuse.

According to facts provided by Jews for Judaism, nearly 1.4 million of the approximately 5.5. million adults of Jewish parentage and/or upbringing in the United States, affiliate with or have converted to a religion other than Judaism. There are over 900 separate missionary groups targeting Jewish communities for conversion, with over $250 million spent annually.

The cult problem is so prevalent, that the chances of a family member joining a cult are greater than a family member catching chicken pox, four times greater than contracting AIDS, 90 times greater than contracting measles, and 45,000 times greater than contracting polio. (Dr. Paul Martin, director of Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, Ohio). When we consider the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and joining cults in the general population, and in light on the above statistics, we need to face the very real possibility that there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and the numbers of Jews who leave Judaism. We desperately need to confront and address these problems.

Clearly, it is extremely difficult to even entertain the thought that Jews would abuse their own children, let alone that individuals who represent Jewish life and have a connection with Torah would. "How could they (e.g. Rabbis, teachers, youth leaders) do anything so terrible as commit sexual offenses against our children"? The problem is that when these issues are brought up, they are met with denial, dismissal, protection of the alleged offender(s), and various other forms of rationalizations.

All too often both professionals in the field and survivors will hear things such as: "Why bring the stuff up now?" "Why muddy up people's reputation, after all the good they've done for so many?" Once again, we need to be reminded that innocent children are getting hurt. When we deny someone who has been violated a voice, we face loosing them to other religions. When we turn a blind eye, we are saying that it is okay for our children to be the next ones hurt.

We are all aware today of what's happening in the Catholic Church. However, Jewish communities around the globe have been guilty of same or similar actions. As a community, we need to stop discounting survivors stories, rationalizing that they couldn't have happened, and/or covering up the truth. We need to stop blaming victims. It's time to break this cycle!

Nothing would make us happier than to be able to say that the Jewish community is immune to such atrocities, but sadly it is not. "Letting by gones be by gones" is hardly the way to start healing the deep wounds many in our community are suffering. We can no longer go along with saying "an event happened such a long time ago, why talk about it now, just get past it." Please note that for many victims of sexual abuse, time may past, but on an emotional level the abuse just happened. They develop something called: PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

We need to let the victims/survivors of sexual crimes have a voice (the actions done to them were criminal offenses)--they need to be heard, and validated, not be re-victimized. It is important that we stop telling them to "hush up." Remember the statistics: one out of every 3-5 women, and one out of every 5 -7 men in our communities were most likely sexually victimized as children. If we want to keep them Jewish, it's time that we BELIEVE our children (and the adult survivors).

As a people, we need to do something NOW. We can't allow one more child to be hurt. If we do, we face the fact that another disillusioned Jew may fall prey to another missionary and/or cult.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

How to get a restraining order

How to get a restraining order
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - Jan. 18, 2003

Learn how to file a restraining order. When you have been abused or assaulted, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to file for a restraining order with the courts.

Difficulty Level: Average    Time Required: 1-2 Days

Here's How:
  1. Visit a crisis center or domestic abuse prevention facility in your area and talk to an advocate about your restraining order. Do not try to do this by yourself. The advocate will have blank copies of the form.
  2. Get the forms necessary for filing the restraining order in your jurisdiction and read them carefully along with your advocate.
  3. Fill in all the information required on the restraining order forms. Tell the truth and give accurate names, dates, addresses and phone numbers. Especially important are details about threats and actual violence.
  4. Show your advocate any evidence you have collected: photos of bruises, police reports, doctor's reports, tape recordings of telephone conversations, etc.
  5. Follow your advocate's advice on how to present your evidence so the judge can allow it and give you the strongest possible restraining order.
  6. File your OFP or HRO request form with the court administrator where your advocate takes you. Tell the clerk how you want to receive your copy of the approved restraining order.
  7. The judge will look over your restraining order request forms during a break in his schedule. If he is convinced, he will sign a temporary restraining order. This is called an "Ex Parte" ("ex par-TAY")order, and is good until the hearing.
  8. Follow your advocate's advice on how to be safe as the police deliver a copy of the restraining order to your batterer. Statistically, this is the most dangerous time for you.
  9. The restraining order does not take effect until the perp gets his copy. If he comes near you before he is served, he is not guilty of a violation. However, that is a good opportunity for the police to serve him. Call 9-1-1.
  10. You will be notified when the perp is served. From that moment, be ready to call 9-1-1 and report even the slightest violation of the order. Keep your copy of the restraining order with you at all times.
  11. Get copies of the restraining order and give them to whoever needs to know: your landlord, your boss, the principal of your children's school, etc. Tell them to call 9-1-1 if they see your perp.
  12. An official hearing will be scheduled, usually within 10 days. This is where the judge will decide if the Ex Parte restraining order should be made official, and extended to one or two years.
  13. Attend the hearing with your advocate. Follow your advocate's advice on how to testify. Your perp will have the opportunity to present his side. Any witnesses must be present to testify.
  14. Hopefully, the judge will grant the long-term restraining order even after hearing the perp's side of the case. If an OFP, ask for detailed instructions on what the perp can and can not do.
  15. Carry a copy of the approved restraining order with you at all times. Report even the slightest violation of it. And celebrate. You now have some powerful friends.

  1. This advice is based on Minnesota law. Check with an advocate to make sure it accurately reflects the laws in your state.
  2. Remember, an OFP or HRO is a legal document. Know who to call to enforce it.
  3. The restraining order is between the judge and your perp. Even if you invite the perp to come back, he will be arrested unless you officially cancel the order.
  4. The restraining order only goes one way. It is against your perp, restricting his actions. It is not against you.
  5. Again, go find an advocate and work with her. Do not try to file a restraining order by yourself.

All About Restraining Orders

All About Restraining Orders
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - Jan. 18, 2003

Part 1: The Differences Between OFPs and HROs

Orders For Protection (OFPs) and Harassment Restraining Orders (HROs) are terms often used interchangeably by the general public. There are actually important differences between these legal documents. Filing a restraining order can be one of the most important things you can do to move toward a safe life.

OFPs and HROs are court documents against your abuser, rapist, stalker, or assailant. The documents order the perpetrator to stay away from you and spell out penalties if they violate the order. OFPs and HROs give you some powerful friends. Both are an order from a judge (representing The People) to your perpetrator. If the perp violates the order, then it is not just your problem any more. The entire power structure of the county rises up to enforce the order and protect you.

OFPs and HROs have gotten some bad press over the years. Dear Abby used to say they weren't worth the paper they're written on. While that may be overstating the issue, it is important to know what they can and cannot do. Statutes can and do vary by state and country. It's important to contact an advocate or attorney to learn about the specific laws where you live.


In Minnesota, an OFP is stronger than an HRO. It provides more protection, specifies how far the perpetrator has to stay away from you (and your children, if applicable), allows applications for monetary compensation, and deals with temporary custody of children. An OFP can be amended after it is granted, allowing you to change it as your situation changes. But the OFP can only be used against someone who is related to you in some way: husband, boyfriend, someone with whom you have had a significant sexual relationship, someone with whom you have had a child, or someone with a blood relationship to you, such as a sibling or parent. The OFP is also complicated. It can take two and a half to three hours for a trained advocate to properly fill out the forms.

The paperwork for an HRO can usually be completed in an hour or less. The Minnesota version is only two pages long. It simply asks for details of the harassment. If granted, an HRO tells the perpetrator to stop doing whatever he's doing. There are no contingencies for compensation, there are no details about maintaining distance, and HROs don't address custody issues. HROs can not be amended. This isn't a big weakness, because there isn't much detail to amend. Filing an HRO costs over $100, although any crisis center can get the fee waived for you. Generally speaking, you would only choose an HRO if you don't qualify for an OFP.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Case of Gal Shamir

Case of Gal Shamir

Holon, Israel

Gal Shamir was convicted and 17 years imprisonment for sexually assaulting six children.

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. Rapist gets 17 years for raping 14-year-old girl  (01/10/2003)


Rapist gets 17 years for raping 14-year-old girl
By Zvi Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
Haaretz - January 10, 2003

A 23-year-old man was sentenced on Wednesday to 17 years imprisonment for sexually assaulting six children.

The Tel Aviv District Court accepted the plea bargain reached with the suspect from Holon in the center of the country, under which the man was convicted of one count of rape and five counts of sexual assault.

The original indictment accused the suspected, Gal Shamir, of rape and attempted rape. The district court judges said Wednesday that had Shamir not confessed to the charges against him, they would have handed down a much harsher sentence.

Shamir was convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl in Holon last October as she walked home from a girlfriend's house. The charge sheet states that Shamir grabbed the girl's shoulder and snatched her cellular telephone away from her while she was talking. He then dragged her into the garbage room of a nearby building and raped her at knifepoint.

The girl suffered severe health and mental problems as a result of the rape. The girl's mother was called to the stand during Shamir's trial and described how her daughter had changed beyond recognition and is still undergoing hospital treatment. She also lost some 15 kilograms in weight.

The district court judges also ordered Shamir to pay out NIS 75,000 in compensation to the children. The 14-year-old girl will receive NIS 50,000 in compensation while the five others will get NIS 5,000 each.


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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


Thursday, January 09, 2003

Honoring Parents Who Are Abusive?

Please read message at the end of this article written by Dr. Michael J. Salamon

Honoring Parents Who Are Abusive?
© (2003) Benzion Sorotzkin, Psy.D.

As a clinical psychologist in the frum community I have frequently been asked by patients to address the question of the obligation to honor abusive parents. As a result, I have researched the issue and have discussed it with some prominent Rabbonim. I would like to share some of what I have learned with other clinicians and anyone else who needs to address this issue.

It goes without saying that kibbud av va'eim is a very important and complex mitzvah. Any particular situation will involve specific clinical and halachic issues that have to be evaluated by a knowledgeable Rov for specific guidance. It does help, however, if the questioner is as knowledgeable as possible about the issues involved. It is for that reason that I would like to share with the readers some interesting and not so well known dimensions of this issue. 

Talmud Kiddushin 31a
A frequently quoted Talmudic passage regarding the extent to which one is obligated to honor even an abusive parent is the story in Kiddushin (31a) where a Roman officer is praised for maintaining his composure even after his mother tore his clothes off and spit in his face in public. Unfortunately, the comment of the Tosafos there that, according to the Midrash, the mother in the story was meturefes b'daata (e.g., insane or suffering from Alzheimer's disease) is usually not cited. This fact certainly puts the story in a very different light. Certainly, an Alzheimer's patient cannot be held responsible for such behavior. (Yet, it was terribly embarrassing to the son and therefore he is commended for remaining passive. Anyone who has cared for such a patient will testify as to how difficult it is not to respond harshly). It is unfortunate that this Gemara is cited as evidence that a child is required to passively submit to chronic abuse by a parent (who is not meturefes b'daata) in the name of kibbud av va'eim!

The well-known commentary on the Talmud, the Yam Shel Shlomo ( R' Shlomo Luria, the Maharshal), cites the Tosafos and adds (free translation):

I agree that this mother must have been meturefes b'daata since this story is cited in order to teach us the laws of kibbud av va'eim and if she wasn't meturefes b'daata the son would be permitted to protest in order to prevent his mother from causing him financial harm and certainly he can prevent her from causing him bodily harm. And even if she had already harmed him he can sue for damages in bais din..... So we must say that she was meturefes b'daata and that's why he couldn't protest and that's why he didn't rebuke ["go'ar"] her [the implication is that if she wasn't meturefes b'daata the son would be permitted to protest and rebuke her in order to prevent her attack]. 

The Yam Shel Shlomo then comments on the Tur who also cites this Gemara (without the qualification that the parent was meturefes b'daata):

This ruling of the Tur [that one should remain passive in response to such a parental attack] must be referring to a situation where he is unable to protest because it is already after the fact, and therefore he shouldn't insult [kelimah] or rebuke his parent. 

We see that this widely quoted event that supposedly mandates that children need to passively submit to chronic abuse, is in fact limited to where the parent is insane or where it's after the fact.
The sefer Kibbud Av Va'eim (Rabbi Hillel Litwack, p. 32) asks how a child can permit his parent to violate a Torah law by submitting to being hit and embarrassed in public by his parent. He also suggests that the child is not even permitted to be mochel [to allow, to forgive] the parent since a person is not permitted to harm himself. Likewise it's possible that one is not permitted to allow a parent to embarrass him in public since it is comparable to murder. He also concludes that it must be after the fact. Rabbi Litwack also asks why the Mechaber doesn't discuss the issue if the child is permitted to try to stop the parent before the fact as he does in a different case involving monetary loss. He cites one authority who suggested that it may be too obvious to mention that the child is not obligated to allow the parent to hit him for no good reason. 

Wicked parents
The Yam Shel Shlomo, suggests that perhaps it would be a meritorious act (midas chasiddus – i.e., beyond the letter of the law) not to protest even before the fact, providing the parent truly (and erroneously) believed that this was an appropriate educational intervention, for if the parent simply acted in a fit of anger then he is a rosha [wicked person]. In the Chidushei Rabbeinu Yaakov me'Lublin ve'Rabbeinu Heshel me'Krakaw (in the Tur Hachodosh) it states that if the father is acting like a rosha then the son is permitted to insult him [lehachlimo]. While the Rambam and the Mechaber rule that there is an obligation to honor a wicked parent, the Ramo and the majority of poskim disagree. The Oruch Hashulchan rules like the Ramo. A very prominent posaik told me that the normative Halacha is like the Ramo. 

The Yam Shel Shlomo then relates a dispute between the Rambam and Ravad regarding the obligation to personally care for a parent who acts inappropriately. He distinguishes between such behavior when it is due to tiruf ha'daas (e.g., suffering from Alzheimer's disease) where according to the Ravad there is such an obligation, and where the parent is acting out of ro'ah lev (a wicked heart) where there is no such obligation. 

While we do not hesitate to describe acting out teens as having a lev rah (wicked heart), we resist thinking of abusive parents as acting out of ro'ah lev. However, the Yam Shel Shlomo and others recognize this possibility and make it clear that there is no obligation for a child to honor such a parent. Where possible, it is best for the child to move away. However when not possible, according to these poskim a child is permitted to take steps to protect himself from abuse and can seek recourse in a beis din after the fact. It is very unfortunate that some teachers may (inadvertently) imply to children that the Torah obligates children to passively tolerate chronic abuse by parents when this is not the case. 

I heard that someone wanted to prove that there is an obligation to honor abusive parents from the fact that the commandment to honor parents was given to the generation of the Exodus in spite of the fact that their parents brought on them great pain and suffering. The parent's sinned with the Golden Calf and with the spies and so the children had to wander in the desert for 40 years. I, however, don't see how one can compare parents who indirectly cause their children suffering to parents who directly abuse their children. 

The petur of choleh
Harav Dovid Cohen shlit"a has stated that if interacting with an abusive parent makes a person emotionally ill then the child is exempt from this obligation. Since one is not required to spend more than a fifth of his assets for a mitzvas aseh then certainly one is not required to make himself sick. Obligating abused children to honor their abusing parents unconditionally will almost certainly exacerbate their emotional distress and/or disability. When presenting a particular abusive parent question to a Rov it is imperative to be completely open regarding the extent of the abuse and the degree to which the abuse is causing the child emotional distress and disability. Often children find it very difficult to be fully open even with themselves in this regard and it then becomes the clinician's duty to help the patient to formulate his/her question fully and accurately. 

Defending oneself
Many children feel that defending oneself from a false accusation is a violation of kibbud av va'eim. This is not so. In the Sefer Ben Yechabed Av (p. 91) he states that a child is permitted to respectfully state that the accusation is false. 

The obligation to admonish [hochocha]
Rabbi Litwack (p.34, and p. 47 in the name of the sefer Chadrei Daiah) suggests that just like a child is obligated to admonish his parent if he is violating a Torah commandment here too if the parent is speaking to the child abusively – clearly a violation of halacha – the child is obligated to rebuke the parent [as respectfully as possible under the circumstance]. 

Clinical consideration
I have elsewhere discussed at length the clinical challenges of treating Orthodox adolescents with abusive parents. One area of conflict is the kibbud av va'eim obligation. I explain why children are so resistant to acknowledging the abusive nature of their parent's behavior (even when it is blatant) and why it is important to help the child to overcome this resistance. I also elaborate on why it is imperative that abused youngsters be told clearly that what their parents are doing is abusive, against the Torah and inexcusable. Likewise, they need to be told that the parental abuse does mitigate their kibbud av va'eim obligations (the degree and nature of mitigation needs to be determined by a knowledgeable Rov). 

The Maharik on the limits of the kibbud av va'eim obligation
The popular perception (often reinforced by self-serving parents) is that the mitzvah of kibbud av va'eim is all-encompassing and without limits or qualifications. It is important to realize that there are clear parameters to this obligation. For example, the Maharik states that a father does not have the authority to forbid his son to marry the women he desires and the Ramo rules like the Maharik.
The Maharik gives three reasons for his ruling and I believe these reasons are clearly applicable to a child contending with an abusive parent.
  1. The halacha is that the parent has to bear the financial burden of the son's fulfillment of the mitzvah of kibbud av va'eim (e.g., the son has to prepare and serve the food for his father but the father pays for the food). If the child is not required to undergo a financial loss then he certainly does not have to endure personal suffering by not marrying the women of his choice.
  2. We see in many places in the Talmud that the Rabbis are concerned that a wife find favor in her husbands eyes so that they have a good marriage. By trying to force his son to forgo his choice in a wife it is as if the father is ordering his son to go against the Torah since he is not likely to have a good relationship with a choice forced upon him. [One can perhaps likewise argue that abused children frequently rebel against their parent's religious beliefs, or develop serious emotional disorders, neither of which is desired by our Rabbis].
  3. The Maharik rules [and this is the normative halacha] that the obligation to honor parents applies only when the parent asks for something that benefits the parent directly. The obligation does not require obeying commands that do not directly benefit the parents, for example, whom the child marries.
Defending the strong at the expense of the weak
It is sad that, as a society, our religious sensitivities causes us to be more concerned with the obligation of abused children to honor their parents than with the serious violations of halacha being committed by abusive parents! We are very comfortable saying to an abused boy, "Sure, it's unfortunate that your father is abusive, but that's how he is and he isn't going to change. You are obligated by the Torah to honor him so just get over it." What's more, abused children are often told that they are obligated to forgive their abusive parents even when their parents never acknowledged the abuse and have certainly never apologized for it. What's more, they are often compelled to apologize for getting angry over the abuse. 

In contrast, we seem to be too intimidated to say to the abusive father, "It's unfortunate that you are having difficulties with your boy, but every time you speak to him abusively you are violating numerous Torah commandments (e.g., V'ahavta l'rayacha komocha), and these violations are especially egregious because the victim is a family member. 

As Harav Dovid Cohen pointed out in his address to the Young Israel Council of Rabbis, when a prominent person is arrested for molesting children there is often more concern in the community for the fate of the molester than for the wellbeing of the child victims. 

The abused become abusers
A substantial body of research has shown that, while far from inevitable, children who are emotionally abused tend to develop a variety of emotional and behavioral problems including drug abuse, addictions and "revictimization". They also are more likely to be emotionally abusive of their own children later in life as compared to children who are not abused. 

Research by Briggs on sexually abused children found that those victims who minimized the depravity and negative consequences of their abuser's actions were substantially more likely to become abusers themselves in adulthood. It is as if they say to themselves, "If what was done to me wasn't such a terrible act, then it won't be so terrible if I do it to someone else." 

Children have a natural tendency to deny and/or minimize the harmful nature of parental abuse. It would seem likely that compelling children to honor their abusive parents would reinforce this tendency by indicating that abusing children does not diminish a person's honor. This would likely increase the likelihood of perpetuating this type of behavior. 

When the community starts putting more pressure on parents not to be abusive than on children to honor abusive parents, we may begin to make a dent in the ever increasing tide of youngsters with serious emotional and behavioral disorders. 

Excerpts from a speech by Harav Dovid Cohen shlit"a.
"Counseling the contemporary Orthodox Jewish family."
Young Israel Council of Rabbis Annual Conference, February, 2000

.......It happened in our community [that] the person who was [sexually] abused was made to suffer by the community. [They were not so concerned] about the person that was being abused, [rather they were] worrying about the abuser that he not Chas V'Shalom go to jail........... 

To address some of the questions [presented by] Dr. Sorotzkin [regarding the obligation of Kibbud Av Va'Eim when parents are abusive]..... In a case where children were abused by their parents. Now I maintain there is a difference as far as the type of abuse concerned. Kibbud Av Va'Eim comes with Nisyonos, as the Gemara in Kedushin tells us, Ad Heychan Kibbud Av Va'Eim the Gemara tells us where the mother of the Melech came and took off this chashuva beged and spat at him, so the Tosfos brings that she was a meturefes, she was insane. So, of course, that has a lot to say why the son, the Melech, did not really feel that his mother was embarrassing him, maybe he felt a tinge of embarrassment, but everyone understood because they saw she was a Meturefes. But, in a situation where a child was [sexually] abused by a parent.... we know it is worse than being a choleh [ill person]. A child who has to deal with a parent, who sexually abused that child, it's almost to say that that child will never become meshuchrar [freed], it's very difficult to get the damage out, and if the person has to deal with the parent, there are very few people that can possibly do so. So certainly when it comes to sexual abuse, I feel that it is not worse that a Mitzvah where most Poskim will tell you that a choleh is potur [exempt], we are talking about Mitzvas Aseh now, just as there is a shiur of mitzvos ad chomesh [one is only obligated to spend one fifth of his assets for a positive commandment]...., so the Poskim say when it is a question of being a choleh that it is the same thing, that being a choleh is like ad chomesh, so that there is really no chiyuv [to make one's self ill for the sake of Kibbud Av]...... 

There is another snif to be matir [reason for leniency], because when a parent is a Rosha [wicked person], in sexual abuse the parent has a Din of a Rosha.... So in the case of a Rosha, even though there are two daos [opinions] in the Shulchan Aruch, which is a little strange, because rov Rishonim disagree with the Rambam, and they hold like the pashtus of the Gemora, that there is no Chiyuv Kibud Av by Eino Oseh Maaseh Amcha [i.e., a rosha]. The Rambam says there is a chiyuv. But there are many, and the Bach is clear on this that the Rambam only meant this that it is a D'Rabanon. So again we have an extra kula [leniency], we have a machlokes Rishonim [most Rishonim rule that there is no obligation of Kibbud Av by a wicked parent] , and we also have the kula that it is only M'Darabonin, so we can be meikil, as far as that is concerned. 

[Regarding the question if it is permissible for a child to speak negatively about his or her parents in therapy]. In a situation of speaking to a therapist concerning these things, I'm not speaking [only] of sexual abuse necessarily, but all [issues] where the therapist feels that by discussing these things they can turn the patient around, [for example] where the patient could acquire affection from the parent, even though the patient has various tainus [complaints] on the parent, I believe the mekor [source to permit this] is the Gemora in Sanhedrin (84b), where the Gemora speaks about a child taking a splinter from a parent, where it can cause a chabura [wound] and the Gemora says a very interesting heter [reason for leniency] - V'Ahavta L'Rayacha Komocha [love your neighbor like yourself]. The way Rashi explains it to mean [that one is only prohibited to do to others that that he would not want done to himself – this excludes being "wounded" in the process of having a splinter removes]. This to my mind [is similar to when] the Poskim speak about Lashon Harah L'Toeles [for a helpful purpose], which is not limited to Loshan Harah. Any [transgression of] Bein Adam L'Chaveiro [when it is] L'Toeles is Mutar..... Indeed, the heter of a parent to hit a child is because it is L'Toeles for the hadracha [guidance] of the child. All [transgressions of] Bein Adom L'Chaveiro is Mutar [permissible] when it's L'Toeles. That's why a parent [is only permitted] to hit a child [if it's] L'Shem Shamayim. And from that Gemora you see, and it's a Safek, that Kibbud Av Va'Em has a Din of Bein Adom L'Chaveiro. So this of course, there are many other sevaros [reasons] to be Matir [be permissive], but I feel it is certainly Mutar Be Che'hai Gavna.

Response from Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Please note: Dr. Salamon is a member of The Awareness Center's Executive Board of Directors
The abused become abusers:
Dr. Sorotzkin presents some interesting points regarding the limits of the Commandment's directive to Honor One's Father and Mother. It should be noted that the focus of his paper remains on the issue of children who were abused becoming abusive parents. While there is of course a likelihood of that occurring it is not the most frequent outcome. Observational findings reported through the early 1970's implied that this was an inevitable outcome. More recent research (cf. US Dept. of HHS, Administration for Children & Families; Kaufman & Zigler, 1986; Gershaw, 1992; Hunt, 2000; Bavolek; 2000) indicate that in the general population five percent of the population become abusive parents, whereas children who are abused are about 20% likely to become abusive parents. A significantly larger number, of course, but other outcomes are even more likely. These other outcomes of childhood abuse include higher rates of substance abuse, sexual acting-out and other self destructive behaviors.
I would suggest that Dr. Sorotzkin's work be viewed from a broader perspective. Children who are abused should be protected for a multitude of reasons. All of these reasons are perhaps sufficient to warrant a changed perspective on the commandment to honor parents.

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Nation: California loses track of more than 30,000 sex offenders

National:  California loses track of more than 30,000 sex offenders
By Kim Curtis
Associated Press - January 7, 2003

SAN JOSE, Calif. California has lost track of more than 33,000 convicted sex offenders, despite a law requiring rapists and child molesters to register each year for inclusion in the Megan's Law database.

"We don't know where they are," acknowledged Margaret Moore, who until recently ran California's sex offender registry.

Sex offenders are not checking in with law enforcement, which in most cases is a felony. And many overworked police departments are not following up.

Experts say sex offender databases nationwide have fallen short of their promise.

"It's not only in California," said Laura Ahearn, executive director of Parents for Megan's Law, a national victims' rights group. "We're expecting sex offenders to be reporting their addresses and that's the problem."

According to 2002 data provided to The Associated Press after repeated requests over nine months, the state does not know the whereabouts of at least 33,296 sex offenders, or 44 percent of the 76,350 who registered with the state at least once. These rapists and child molesters vanished after registering.

The total number of convicted sex offenders whose whereabouts are unknown may be even higher: No one knows how many offenders never registered at all after leaving prison.
Failing to register could put high-risk offenders in jail for up to three more years, but most police departments are not enforcing the law.

No one knows how many of these missing sex offenders have struck again. But nationally, 52 percent of rapists are arrested for new crimes within three years of leaving prison, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Among those missing is Richard Flick, convicted of molesting four young children in the 1980s and '90s. Flick was freed from Atascadero State Hospital in 1999 despite warnings from the hospital staff that he hadn't resolved his sexual attraction to children. Even he said it would be "disastrous" to be released without supervision. A search of the database turned up nothing about him.

The 1996 law is named for 7-year-old Megan Kanka, a New Jersey girl who was raped and killed by a child molester who had moved in across the street. All states have similar laws designed to warn communities about the presence of such ex-cons.

Megan's Law databases are supposed to help the public and police monitor convicted sex offenders by keeping track of their home and work addresses and other personal details. Adults can search the database at sheriffs' offices or police departments.

But no one audits California's database for accuracy. State Justice Department officials cannot even say how much the program costs.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer touts the sex offender database as a valuable tool for the public, one that is updated daily and available in 13 languages. But when presented with the AP's findings - the first-ever analysis of the database's accuracy - he acknowledged changes are needed.

"Our system is inadequate, woefully inadequate," he said. "It can only be improved by putting money into the local law enforcement agencies. It's a matter of resources."

Former state Assemblywoman Barbara Alby, the child advocate who wrote California's Megan's Law, said she was appalled by the findings.

"We've got to put some teeth in the law for law enforcement," she said. "We should tie some of their funding to making sure this is getting done."

Some states take a firmer approach. In Washington, law enforcement officers go to sex offenders each year to confirm their information, rather than relying on ex-cons to report in. Only 10 percent of that state's 17,105 offenders could not be found, said Toni Korneder, Washington's Criminal History Records Manager.

Among the bright spots in California are Los Angeles and San Jose, which spends $600,000 on a staff of seven people working full-time to monitor 2,700 rapists and child molesters. In San Jose at least, police say they can instantly identify every known molester living or working nearby as soon as they learn of an attack on a child.

Most other local efforts are less organized and understaffed.

"We could definitely use some help," said Detective Terry Chew, the lone officer responsible for tracking Sacramento's 1,945 registered sex offenders.

He said he thinks 300 or more are not complying, but "there's so many of them out there, it's hard to keep track."

Also See:

Friday, January 03, 2003

The OU, Revisited

The OU, Revisited
By Gary Rosenblatt
The Jewish Week - Jan 3, 2003

Gary Rosenblatt is the editor and Publisher of the New York Jewish Week.

I was more than a little apprehensive about attending the biennial national convention of the Orthodox Union at the Rye Town Hilton this past weekend. I told friends maybe I should have first gone through the witness protection program.

After all, the last time the group met, in the midst of the Baruch Lanner scandal, I was persona non grata at the OU conference, booed by many in attendance for, in their eyes, damaging the reputation of a vital organization by exposing the longtime youth leader’s three-decade history of abusing teens in his charge.

In the last two years, though, much has happened. Rabbi Lanner has been convicted of sexual abuse and sentenced to jail, though he is out on appeal.

And the OU has gone about the business of trying to restore its good name. A year ago it hired a new chief executive, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, who is given high marks for his integrity, outlook and tireless travels around the country to drum up support for the OU. And the organization has followed some of the key recommendations of the blue-ribbon commission it created when the Lanner episode broke, namely establishing new guidelines, standards and procedures to train youth advisers working with teens and calling for more parental supervision of its National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) events.

Clearly, the OU has the potential to play a critical role in the changing Orthodoxy of the 21st century, highlighted by ongoing tensions between the religious left and right and the ascendancy of Richard Joel as president of Yeshiva University. Will the OU, the largest movement of its kind, serving 1,000 synagogues in North America, regain its role as the voice of mainstream Orthodoxy? Or will it continue to look over its right shoulder at the vigorous growth of the haredi community, led by the Agudath Israel of America, and cede religious authority to this more fundamentalist group?

Personal concerns aside, I felt it was important to see and hear what was on the OU’s agenda. And after more than three days of attending sessions, talking to delegates and interviewing the leadership, I came away hopeful that convention chairman Elliott Gibber’s proclamation to the participants that “the OU has turned the corner” was more than wishful thinking.

It is true, as OU leaders admit, that serious internal issues remain to be resolved, including matters of bureaucratic structure, financing and staffing. There is still no chief financial officer in place. But there is a push to make the organization’s work more relevant and helpful to a broader constituency in terms of age, gender and geographical setting. More young blood is needed; the OU remains too New York-centric; and there are woefully too few women in positions of leadership. These points were addressed head-on in sessions that challenged the OU leadership, and which the leadership welcomed.

Most notably, a woman was invited to give the keynote address Saturday night, seen within the OU as a major symbolic step. Karen Bacon, dean of Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, in a respectful but forceful address, urged that “women’s voices” be “solicited and listened to on all levels” of the OU. She pointed out the vulnerability of the family unit in Jewish life and suggested that women have an important role to play in helping to achieve balance among career, family and spiritual needs.

Praising Bacon’s participation and her message, Rabbi Weinreb reminded the “Town Hall” audience Saturday night that “the theme of this convention is really about us listening to you.” He and OU president Harvey Blitz, who have been refreshingly open in articulating the group’s challenges and goals, emphasized their commitment to bring more women into positions of leadership.

It hasn’t happened yet, though. None of the top 70 OU officers elected this week are female. (Officials complained privately that a number of women who were asked to join the OU board declined, skeptical about how much clout they would have.) That suggests the OU will have to prove it not only means well but is prepared to carry through on its promises.

For good or for bad, the Lanner scandal was never mentioned publicly during the convention, though it continued to hang over the proceedings. (I should note, gratefully, that a number of people approached me to offer words of encouragement, though a few lay leaders steered clear.)

Some critics say the NCSY reforms have been too little, too late; they complain that the culture of the OU has not changed, that it continues to be driven by a handful of older men who still don’t “get it.” But some of the organization’s defenders say they are well past the Lanner chapter, that it has hurt them communally and financially, and it is time for the community to let the wounds heal and appreciate and support all the good work NCSY does in reaching out to teens and inspiring many of them to lead more observant lives.

The OU has an ambitious list of planned programs. It has played a pivotal role in providing moral support to Israel, involved in arranging dozens of synagogue and other missions in the past year, and has increased the activities of its Israel Action Center in Jerusalem to include work with youngsters traumatized by the violence. It hopes to respond to the pressing need of singles in the Orthodox community, from sponsoring programs to addressing the excesses of shidduch arrangements. It intends to expand
services to Jewish collegiates, create a young leadership training program for men and women in their 30s, and provide more education about kashrut, for which it is best known, and on and on.

It remains to be seen how successful the OU will be in these and other areas, but it is on the road toward progress. Now is the time for those would-be advocates and activists in the Orthodox community who have watched from the sidelines these last two years, with varying degrees of skepticism, to step forward. They should put the OU to the test by offering their participation. If they do, I will be very surprised if they are not embraced, and encouraged to share their ideas about how to restore and advance the OU and its mission.

Characteristics of a Destructive Cult

Characteristics of a Destructive Cult
by ReFocus (reprinted by permission)

1. Authoritarian pyramid structure with authority at the top

2. Charismatic or messianic leader(s) (Messianic meaning they either say they are God OR that they alone can interpret the scriptures the way God intended . . . the leaders are self-appointed.)

3. Deception in recruitment and/or fund raising

4. Isolation from society -- not necessarily physical isolation like on some compound in Waco, but this can be psychological isolation -- the rest of the world is not saved, not Christian, not transformed (whatever) -- the only valid source of feedback and information is the group

5. Use of mind control techniques (we use Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's criteria from chapter 22 of his book " Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism" to compare whether the eight psychological and social methods he lists are present in the group at question)
    Mileu Control: Control of the environment and communication within the environment 
    Mystical Manipulation: Seeks to promote specific patterns of behavior and emotion in such a way that it appears to have arisen spontaneously from within the environment, while it actually has been orchestrated totalist leaders claim to be agents chosen by God, history, or some supernatural force, to carry out the mystical imperative the "principles" (God-centered or otherwise) can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment)  
    Demand for Purity: The world becomes sharply divided into the pure and the impure, the absolutely good (the group/ideology) and the absolutely evil (everything outside the group) one must continually change or conform to the group "norm"; tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group's controlling and manipulative influences 
    Confession: Cultic confession is carried beyond its ordinary religious, legal and therapeutic expressions to the point of becoming a cult in itself sessions in which one confesses to one's sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward personal change 
    Sacred Science: The totalist milieu maintains an aura of sacredness around its basic doctrine or ideology, holding it as an ultimate moral vision for the ordering of human existence questioning or criticizing those basic assumptions is prohibited a reverence is demanded for the ideology/doctrine, the originators of the ideology/doctrine, the present bearers of the ideology/doctrine offers considerable security to young people because it greatly simplifies the world and answers a contemporary need to combine a sacred set of dogmatic principles with a claim to a science embodying the truth about human behavior and human psychology 
    Loading the Language: Words are given new meanings -- the outside world does not use the words or phrases in the same way -- it becomes a "group" word or phrase
    Doctrine Over Person: If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question -- it is always "turned around" on them and the questioner/criticizer is questioned rather than the questions answered directly the underlying assumption is that doctrine/ideology is ultimately more valid, true and real than any aspect of actual human character or human experience and one must subject one's experience to that "truth" the experience of contradiction can be immediately associated with guilt one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one's own evil when doubt arises, conflicts become intense 
    Dispensing of Existence: Since the group has an absolute or totalist vision of truth, those who are not in the group are bound up in evil, are not enlightened, are not saved, and do not have the right to exist; impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed one outside the group may always receive their right of existence by joining the group; fear manipulation -- if one leaves this group, one leaves God or loses their salvation/transformation, or something bad will happen to them; the group is the "elite", outsiders are "of the world", "evil", "unenlightened", etc

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Certification Program: For Rabbis, Cantors and Other Community Leaders Supporting Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence

Certification Program
For Rabbis, Cantors and Other Community Leaders

Supporting Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence TM  
(Childhood Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Clergy Abuse, Professional Sexual Misconduct) 

About The Awareness Center, Inc.

We are the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault (JCASA). 

The Awareness Center was developed in Chicago and Jerusalem, Israel in 2001 and incorporated in the state of Maryland in 2003 as a nonprofit organization. We are dedicated to providing education, information and resources to survivors of sexual violence, family members of survivors and family members of sex offenders, religious leaders rabbis, and our communities globally.

About the Program

The Awareness Center’s 40 hour educational training program is the first part of the certification program designed to teach Jewish Community leaders and other professionals to Support Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence. It is designed to provide rabbis, cantors, educatiors, mental health provider and law enforcement professionals a understanding of the issues and facts. 

Topics covered in this educational program include working with survivors of sexual violence, family members, the Jewish community and offenders who perpetrate sex crimes. 

At the completion of the 40 hour training each participant will schedule an evaluation interview. Upon completion of the requirements a certificate will be provided.

This program is recommended for:

• Rabbis
• Cantors
• Community Educators
• Kiruv Workers / Jewish Outreach Workers • Mental Health Providers

• Legal and Law Enforcement Professionals

For more information call: 224-534-9155