Friday, June 30, 2006

Case of Cantor Philip Harold Wittlin

Case of Cantor Philip Harold Wittlin
 (AKA: Phillip Wittlin, Philip Wittlin, Phillip H. Wittlin)
Cantor - Chisuk Emuna Congregation - Harrisburg, PA

Plead guilty to a number of charges, including five counts each of corruption of minors and two counts of aggravated indecent assault.  According to court documents, Wittlin's probation ends in 2023.

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Table of Contents:  

  1. 2 girls accuse cantor of touching Religious instructor Wittlin faces assault, corruption charges  (09/01/2001)
  2. City cantor to stand trial ; 2 girls claim molestations took place during lessons (09/22/2001)

  1. Phillip Wittlin faces 15 to 30 months in prison  (02/12/2002)
  2. Cantor pleads guilty in molesting  (02/12/2002) 
  3. Cantor at Pennsylvania synagogue pleads guilty to molesting two girls  (02/12/2002) 
  4. BC-Clergy-Molestation  (02/13/2002) 
  5. Synagogue Leader Convicted, Man Pleads Guilty to Molesting Girls (02/13/2002) 
  6. Ex-cantor gets one year for molesting girls  (06/16/2002)
  7. Ohio bill would require rabbis to report child abuse  (06/28/2002)
  8. Pennsylvania State Registry (06/30/2002)
  9. The Victims' Lament - Sexual abuse in the community is all too  (12/20/2002)

  1.  Raising A Mensch (09/30/2008)

  1. Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry (12/21/2012)


2 girls accuse cantor of touching Religious instructor Wittlin faces assault, corruption charges
By Theodore Decker and Brett Marcy
The Patriot (Harrisburg) - September 1, 2001

[Cantor Philip H. Wittlin], a prayer leader at Chisuk Emuna Congregation for 34 years, was arraigned on the charges yesterday morning before District Justice James Pianka. 

Chisuk Emuna Rabbi Ron Muroff would not comment on the charges against Wittlin, except to issue a prepared statement on behalf of the congregation. 

"Chisuk Emuna Congregation is surprised and anguished at the charges involving Cantor Philip Wittlin," the statement read.


City cantor to stand trial ; 2 girls claim molestations took place during lessons
By Theodore Decker
The Patriot (Harrisburg) - September 22, 2001
Cantor Philip H. Wittlin, 56, of the 3500 block of North Second Street, Susquehanna Twp., is charged with five counts each of corruption of minors, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, and two counts each of aggravated indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child. 

As cantor, it was Wittlin's responsibility to prepare young people for their bat/bar mitzvahs, which occur at age 12 for girls and age 13 for boys, respectively. He has been on administrative leave since the charges were filed. 

The girl began preparation for her bat mitzvah -- a ceremony for girls marking their attainment of religious adulthood -- with Wittlin as a mentor. During the 30-minute weekly lessons, Wittlin taught her chanting and singing in his office, she said. 


Phillip Wittlin faces 15 to 30 months in prison
Associated Press - February 12, 2002

(Harrisburg-AP) -- A cantor at a Harrisburg synagogue pleaded guilty yesterday to molesting two girls during their religious training. Fifty-six-year-old Phillip Wittlin faces 15 to 30 months in prison plus 20 years parole under a plea bargain accepted by Judge Joseph Kleinfelter. Wittlin's bail was revoked. He is to be sentenced on May 16th.

Cantor pleads guilty in molestings
City clergyman faces prison, long parole

By Pete Shellem
The Patriot-News - Tuesday, February 12, 2002

The cantor of a Harrisburg synagogue pleaded guilty yesterday to charges related to molesting two girls during their religious training in a deal that leaves him facing a state prison term plus a lengthy period on parole.

Phillip Wittlin, 56, of Susquehanna Twp., faces 15 to 30 months in state prison plus 20 years on parole under the deal accepted yesterday by President Judge Joseph H. Kleinfelter.

Wittlin was committed to Dauphin County Prison after Kleinfelter revoked his bail. Sentencing is scheduled for May 16 after Wittlin undergoes an evaluation to determine whether he is a sexual predator under Megan's Law.

He pleaded guilty to five counts each of corruption of minors, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, and two counts each of aggravated indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child.

Had he been convicted on the charges, he could have faced two mandatory 5-year prison terms.

Deputy District Attorney Kimberly A. Alfieri said she was prepared to present the testimony of five other women who said they were molested by Wittlin while attending the Chisuk Emuna Congregation, where he has served as a clergyman for 34 years.

Alfieri said the assaults date to 1967.

Wittlin has been on administrative leave since the charges were filed in September.

Wittlin's attorney, Joshua Lock, declined comment after the plea.

In the Jewish faith, congregations are served by two clergy: a rabbi and a cantor. The rabbi is the spiritual leader, preacher and teacher of the congregation, while the cantor is the musician and minister.

As cantor, it was Wittlin's responsibility to prepare young people for their bat or bar mitzvahs, which occur at 12 for girls and 13 for boys, respectively.

Wittlin was accused of fondling two girls in his office during their bat mitzvah preparations at the synagogue at Division and North Fifth streets at various times dating to 1995.

The girls, one 12 and the other 17, said Wittlin touched them inappropriately during their training.

According to court papers, Wittlin confirmed that he had been teaching the 12-year-old and admitted that he placed his hand under her shorts. He claimed he was showing her a singing exercise, the documents said.

The younger girl said the cantor pulled down her pants and touched her under the guise of trying to improve her singing. She said he told her he was checking whether her underwear was too tight.

The last incident occurred Aug. 16, she said, when the cantor touched her and told her he was trying to show her how to use her diaphragm when singing.
The Victims' Lament - Sexual abuse in the community is all too 
By Faygie Levy, Jewish Exponent Staff
Jewish Exponent - December 19, 2002

(NAME REMOVED) was 11 years old when it happened. 

A student at the Chisuk Emuna Congregation's Hebrew school in Harrisburg, she had lagged behind her classmates during a break between lessons. That's when she says the synagogue's cantor, Philip Wittlin, "came up behind me and did that gross old-man thing."

(Name Removed) defines that behavior as Wittlin touching her breasts, one time, during that afternoon a decade ago. In August 2001, about a month after Wittlin was arrested for abusing minors, (Name Removed) approached the district attorney in Dauphin County, where she grew up and where her family still resides, and recounted the incident.

At 21, (Name Removed) is still troubled by the encounter, saying, "I have a big problems trusting men."

She is not alone.

Today, you can't pick up a newspaper or turn on a television station without hearing about the latest sexual-abuse claim within the Catholic Church. Although the known number of cases of child sexual abuse by cantors and rabbis is presumed to be nowhere near that of priests and other clergymen right now, even a single instance is a problem for the Jewish community.

The victims of abuse have been both boys and girls, and their attackers are often trusted members of the community who have known the children's families for years. Abuse has occurred in synagogues and day schools, places where families look for the installation of Jewish ethics and values, places where people should feel safe.

Those who prey on children, say the experts, often build up a relationship with the child, gaining his or her trust before making a move.

"Whether the child is an alter boy or a girl in Sunday school, who loves and respects the person in authority, the scene is set, the dynamic is there. That's so with any religion," says Wendy Demchick-Alloy, an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County who prosecuted many such crimes over the years. "You inherently want to respect and put trust and faith in your religious leaders."

She goes on to explain that sexual assault of children "is, as disgusting as it sounds, a very quiet event committed by a very warped person and doesn't leave physical evidence." What they do leave behind, she says, are "devastating emotional scars."

Rabbi Juda Mintz pleaded guilty earlier this year to possessing child pornography.

"These cases often are based on a dynamic of authority, power and trust that's violated in the deepest way," explains Demchick-Alloy.

Technically, the words "sexual abuse" as defined in Pennsylvania's crimes code deal with criminality of making or disseminating photos, videos, pictures and films of children engaging in sexual acts. Lay people often use that term interchangeably with what the crimes code calls "sexual offenses," the actual criminal act ranging from indecent exposure to sexual contact and intercourse.

Among the most recent cases involving rabbis or cantors are:

·Cantor Philip H. Wittlin, formerly of Chisuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg, Pa., pleaded guilty on Feb. 12 to a number of charges, including five counts each of corruption of minors and two counts of aggravated indecent assault. His sentencing hearing earlier this month will be continued next month.

Rabbi Juda Mintz, formerly of Mount Freedom Jewish Center in Randolph Township, N.J., pleaded guilty on Feb. 26 to possessing child pornography and is expected to be sentenced on June 12. He faces up to five years in prison.

Rabbi Richard M. Marcovitz, religious leader of Emanuel Synagogue in Oklahoma City, was charged Feb. 26 with numerous counts of indecent or lewd acts with minors, as well as sexual battery. The charges stem from allegations by two students and two adult employees at the Oklahoma City Jewish Community Day School, which is housed in the synagogue.

Cantor Howard Nevison, of Temple Emanu-El in New York, was arrested Feb. 20 by Lower Merion Police after his nephew told authorities that Nevison had sexually abused him from the time he was 3 until he was 7.

Facing the problem

For all the known cases - these are just a few - those involved in the issue say other perpetrators are probably out there, and that the Jewish community has yet to step forward and deal with the problem head-on.

"It's not something we ever thought could happen here, and now we realize it is happening," says Rabbi Abraham Twersky, a Pittsburgh-area psychiatrist who founded the Gateways Rehabilitation Center, a drug- and substance-abuse center, in Aliquippa, Pa.

Twersky, who was consulted on a number of cases involving sexual abuse by religious leaders, is credited in part with bringing social issues like domestic violence and drug abuse to the forefront of Orthodox Judaism.

"In English, you say it's a shame, it's an embarrassment, a disgrace," but in Hebrew, Twersky says, "you would use the word shandah, the most disgrace possible. And the Jewish community has always been careful not to have a shandah. ... We're just reluctant to accept that these problems are within us."

Rabbi Mark Dratch, religious leader of Agudath Sholom in Stamford, Conn., who wrote about the issue for the Rabbinical Council of America, and who sits on the Jewish advisory committee for the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, agrees. "My impression is the lack of the Jewish community's ability or desire to deal with these issues is based not on halachic grounds, but on denial, on the willingness to deal with difficult situations and believe these kinds of allegations."

But, he continues, when people use halachah (Jewish laws), such as the obligation against lashon hara, or speaking bad about another, to justify their actions in keeping silent or not turning in an alleged abuser, "that's an abuse of the halachic system itself."

Charlotte Schwab, Ph.D., a Florida-based psychotherapist who has been counseling victims of sexual abuse for 10 years, knows firsthand the devastation such abuse can cause. At one time, she was married to a New York rabbi who was accused of such crimes. Though now divorced from him, she acknowledges that it has led to her current work.

The victims of sexual abuse by rabbis or cantors, explains Schwab, "feel worthless, shamed, that it's somehow their fault."

Often, she says, "they don't dare tell anybody. They hide themselves, and it affects their lives in many ways - in their ability to function, to take care of their families."

The victims, according to Schwab, "often never recover. It's very traumatic."

And like people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, these victims "relive the experience" in their minds over and over again, even through adulthood, she insists.

(Name Removed), one of Philip Wittlin's victims, tried to tell her family years ago what the cantor had done, but at the time believed somehow that "it was my fault." Instead, she told her parents that he had caressed not her private parts, but her back.

Her stepmother, (Name Removed), recalls that Wittlin is "a touchy-feely kind of guy, and at the time, "we brushed it off."

But when victims do step forward, they are often the ones put on trial, not necessarily in the criminal courts, but in the court of public opinion.

"They are often accused of being troublemakers, or making it up or wanting revenge," says Schwab, adding, "that's preposterous, because ... who'd want to go make that up?"

Says Dratch: "There needs to be a lot of support for people coming forward, so they find the personal support, the congregational support, so they are not victimized a second time."

But, he acknowledges, "it's hard because many times an alleged perpetrator is known by the community, and they have a hard time accepting the accusation against him. And they may be themselves in a state of denial."

"The real tragedy of all of this," adds Schwab, "is the cover-up and denial by spokespeople of [religious] denominations who say this doesn't exist."

Educating the community

For those who have been abused by rabbis or cantors, the abuse can sometimes overshadow any feelings they have for Judaism, according to Schwab. Some, she says, leave the religion and their communities. "I try to help them see that there are some safe places, and even some male rabbis who are trying to change things," says Schwab.

Many believe that it is time for a sea change to occur in the way the Jewish community deals with the issue. "We need to be more aggressive with education, and while we're concerned with internally issues of tzinnus [`modesty'] or shandah," says Dratch, "we cannot sacrifice the safety and well-being of our children.

"There needs to be more open discussions in the schools, shuls and families with regard to this issue," he continues. "And, I think, there needs to be more of a grass-roots effort" to address it and combat it.

"If there's a situation where [communal] leaders are negligent in their leadership, then lay people need to step forward and change the facts on the ground on how the issue is discussed or addressed."

To be sure, some steps are being taken to educate upcoming rabbis and cantors about appropriate behavior and how to deal with the issue of sexual abuse by religious leaders when it is brought to their attention. The education, some say, is also to help cantors and rabbis avoid being in a position where false allegations can occur.

The Cantors Assembly of the Conservative movement, for example, issued guidelines last year in the form of a letter to members. According to Stephen Stein, the group's executive vice president, those recommendations include having parents sit in on Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons or having another child in the room. Cantors should also sit across, not next to, the child. The group also advises cantors to avoid any physical contact with kids.

Rabbinic movements have codes of ethics that members are expected to abide by, but so far none are believed to have issued such in-depth guidelines.

The religious movements say they address the issue at conferences or in classes at the rabbinical schools. Several rabbinical groups mentioned that candidates must pass, at the very least, one interview and have several letters of recommendations, which they say help weed out potentially troublesome candidates.

Even with the most rigorous interview and screening processes, abusers can make it through the system, some say. The question then becomes what to do with them.

The experts say that a thorough and immediate investigation must be conducted into any claim of abuse against a child, no matter what the circumstances.

That's something that did not happen in the case of Rabbi Baruch Lanner, a former leader of the National Council of Synagogue Youth. Though rumors and allegations persisted for years about possible sexual misconduct with minors, no one - including the Orthodox Union, which oversees the youth group - investigated until a story appeared in The New York Jewish Week.

Likewise, according to members of Harrisburg's Jewish community, whispers of sexual-abuse allegations against Philip Wittlin date back at least 10 years.

Dratch hits the point home to the community in a single, albeit frightening, sentence: "Most pedophiles do not have one victim, they have many victims, and unless they are taken out of circulation, they will not be stopped."

No Remorse on Accuser's Part, as Ex-Cantor Has His Day in Court.


Inside the cavernous, poorly lit courtroom, the tension was palpable on May 16 as victims of sexual abuse gathered for the sentencing of their attacker, Philip H. Wittlin, formerly a cantor at Chisuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg.

Wittlin had pleaded guilty in February to a number of charges, including two counts of aggravated indecent assault and five counts of corruption of minors.

The charges were based on the abuse of two girls, but authorities say Wittlin victimized others, though the statue of limitations had run out on those crimes. At the time of the abuse, the victims were under 18 and affiliated with the congregation.

Some of Wittlin's older victims, including (Name Removed), 21, were on hand to lend moral support to the two teens who had reported the abuse that led to the former cantor's arrest.

Wittlin's victims and their supporters filled the middle four rows of benches behind the prosecutor's desk. They sat beside family members who occasionally would lean over and whisper in their ears, or touch them on the shoulder for encouragement.

At one point, a male relative of one of the young girls appeared to ask a woman with the district attorney's office whether Wittlin would just walk into court. The official put her hands by her waist, moved them close together and mouthed the words, "in handcuffs."

Indeed, when Wittlin entered the court nearly an hour later, he was shackled.

A stocky man with a beard, receding hairline and thick, black-rimmed glasses, the 56-year-old Wittlin didn't glance at his accusers as he entered the courtroom.

The prosecutor, Kimberly Alfieri, led the sentencing hearing with testimony by Dr. Barry Zakireh, a licensed psychologist and a member of the sexual-offenders' assessment board who testified about Wittlin's actions.

Zakireh noted that when questioned by police, Wittlin said that he may have touched the victims, but that it was "accidental."

According to the psychologist, "that suggests that he does not consider himself guilty of intending to commit sexual [assault]. It tells me he does not have much remorse or empathy toward the victim."

He also noted that over the years, Wittlin's actions escalated from touching young girls inappropriately to actual "penetration."

Wittlin, Zakireh testified, "meets the criteria for a sexually violent predator, ... considering only the two cases of which he's charged. If you consider the other victims that have since come forward, it would only strengthen that case."

Looking at the "number of times abuse occurred against the two victims," said Zakireh, you see a "deliberate, intentional pattern in which [Wittlin] planned his offenses."

Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney are allowed to call witnesses during the sentencing hearing to help the judge weigh the case and dole out an appropriate punishment. The proceedings ended in the middle of the prosecutor's presentation.

The hearing is expected to resume on June 14, when the prosecution will call additional witnesses to make statements, including (Name Removed) and other of Wittlin's victims. To date, the defense has no witnesses listed to speak on Wittlin's behalf.


Cantor at Pennsylvania synagogue pleads guilty to molesting two girls
Associated Press - February 12, 2002 

A cantor at a Harrisburg synagogue has pleaded guilty to molesting two girls during their religious training. Phillip Wittlin, 56, faces 15 to 30 months in prison plus 20 years parole under a plea bargain accepted Monday by Judge Joseph H. Kleinfelter.Wittlin, who has served the Chisuk Emuna Congregation for 34 years, was in custody awaiting his sentencing on May 16. Wittlin pleaded guilty to five counts of corruption of minors, indecent assault and unlawful . . .


The Salina Journal (Kansas) - February 13, 2002

Cantor at Pennsylvania synagogue pleads guilty to molesting two girls HARRISBURG, Pa. - A cantor at a Harrisburg synagogue has pleaded guilty to molesting two girls during their religious training.Phillip Wittlin, 56, faces 15 to 30 months in prison plus 20 years parole under a plea bargain accepted Monday by Judge Joseph Kleinfelter.Wittlin, who has served the Chisuk Emuna Congregation for 34 years, was in custody awaiting his sentencing May 16.Wittlin... 


Synagogue Leader Convicted, Man Pleads Guilty to Molesting Girls
Democrat Belleville News - February 13, 2002

HARRISBURG, Pa. --- A cantor at a Harrisburg synagogue has pleaded guilty to molesting two girls during their religious training.Phillip Wittlin, 56, faces 15 to 30 months in prison plus 20 years parole under a plea bargain accepted Monday by Judge Joseph H. Kleinfelter.Wittlin, who has served the Chisuk Emuna Congregation for 34 years, was in custody awaiting his sentencing May 16.Wittlin pleaded guilty to five counts of corruption of minors, indecent assault and unlawful...

Ex-cantor gets one year for molesting girls 
Associated Press - June 15, 2002

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A former synagogue cantor was sentenced to at least 15 months in prison for molesting two girls during their religious training.

Phillip Wittlin, 57, must spend 11 months in prison before being eligible for parole. He was credited with four months served since his surrender in February.

Wittlin apologized in court Friday to the girls, their families and the synagogue where he was a cantor for 34 years.

"I know that my actions have caused a lot of pain to my people," said Wittlin, who was terminated from his position in October.

Wittlin pleaded guilty in February to corruption of minors, indecent assault and other charges. He will be on probation for 20 years after his release from prison.

As cantor, Wittlin was responsible for preparing young people for their bat or bar mitzvahs. He was accused of fondling two girls in his office during their bat mitzvah preparations since 1995.

Ohio bill would require rabbis to report child abuse
By Marilyn H. Karfeld
Cleveland Jewish News - June 28, 2002

In response to the ongoing pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church, state Rep. Lance T. Mason of Shaker Heights recently introduced a bill in the Ohio House to require rabbis, priests and ministers to report suspected cases of child abuse to public authorities.

The proposed legislation would affect two situations: a rabbi who hears that a community member is abusing a child, and a rabbi or board of rabbis learning that a fellow member of the clergy is harming a minor.

The Jewish community is not exempt from the latter scenario. Two years ago, the Orthodox Union was accused of keeping silent about Rabbi Baruch Lanner, a top professional in the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, who allegedly sexually abused more than 20 teenage girls. Lanner was indicted last year in New Jersey on the charges.

In another case, Cantor Philip Wittlin of Harrisburg, Pa., pleaded guilty in February to corruption of minors and indecent assault. Whispers about Wittlin's sexual abuse of young girls date back at least 10 years, The Jewish Exponent reported in May.

Mason's bill would exempt clergy from revealing allegations of sex abuse communicated confidentially, such as in the confessional or in a counseling session.

But some rabbis wonder how the parameters of confidential communication will be defined. In the close-knit Orthodox community, especially, rabbis fear crossing the line between reporting lashon hora (gossip) and protecting children.

"It becomes a sensitive issue," says Rabbi Napthali Burnstein of Young Israel of Greater Cleveland. "At what point does confidentiality end and I will have to report it? Is it counseling or just something the rabbi knows from hearsay or conversation?"

In his job, Burnstein says he hears things all the time, and anything people tell him remains confidential. "The worse thing a rabbi can do is gossip." The new bill would require him to reevaluate that stance.

Patterned after a Massachusetts statute passed in April, Mason says his bill would strengthen Ohio's existing law, which requires teachers, attorneys, physicians and dentists to report any cases of suspected child abuse. Communications are protected if they are covered by attorney-client or physician-client privilege.

"I wanted there to be some accountability," says Mason, who was recently appointed to fill the seat vacated by Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones. However, the freshman legislator says prospects for the bill's passage are slim in the Republican-controlled legislature.

"The statehouse is new to me, but I'm told very few Democratic bills get passed," he says.

Since 1974, all 50 states have passed some sort of mandatory reporting law in order to qualify for federal funding for child abuse prevention and treatment. Some states exempt clergy from divulging information learned in a confidential communication, but those laws do not apply to pastoral counselors in private practice.

In the light of reports that a few Jewish clergy, as well as Catholic priests, have sexually abused children, the law is urgently needed, says Rabbi Richard Block of The Temple-Tifereth Israel.

Situations will arise where clergy are not sure if a revelation about child abuse was privileged communication, he says. Or they may be extremely concerned about a child's welfare.

"The protection of the child would be the first priority," Block says. "Clergy should err on the side of disclosure."


Pennsylvania State Sex Offender Registry 
June 30, 2002


Date of Conviction: 2/11/2002

Aliases: None listed in this registry

Year of Birth: 1945

Residence Address

Street Address 1: 541 CONODOGUINET AVENUE

City & Zip Code: CARLISLE 17013*

County of Residence: Cumberland

Facility of Higher Education

City & Zip Code: None listed in this registry

County of School: None listed in this registry

Employment Address

City & Zip Code: None listed in this registry

County of Employer: None listed in this registry


Raising A Mensch
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice - September 30, 2008

Protecting Your Children... From the silent epidemic that no one wants to talk about.  -- Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

Child abuse is an uncomfortable topic to broad, but if we want to protect our children from this trauma we must speak up. The subject has been in news lately, so we would like to give you the evidence on how to protect your children.

Child molestors can often be trusted family members or friends, men or women. The Catholic priests do not have a monopoly on the scourge of pedophilia. In fact, the
Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault details over 100 cases of Jewish Rabbis and other community leaders who have betrayed our trust. In our area, Cantor Phillip Wittlin of Chisuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg and Ari Sorkin of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park have been convicted of molesting children under their care.

Children in suburban Philadelphia are vulnerable to these attacks just as children in inner city neighborhoods.

As parents, educators or community leaders what can we do to protect children?

Supervision and vigilence is important, but education plays an essential role according to Dr. David Finkelhor of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

While a member of the Illinois General Assembly Barack Obama along with the Illinois Parent Teacher Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Public Health Association and the Illinois Educational Assocation endorsed legislation to amend the Illinois School code to include such age and developmentally appropriate child sexual abuse prevention education:

SB99: Course material and instruction shall discuss and provide for the development of positive communication skills to maintain healthy relationships and avoid unwanted sexual activity. ... Course material and instruction shall teach pupils ... how to say no to unwanted sexual advances ... and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one's judgment.

The bill called for all sex education course materials to include information that would help students recognize, among other activities, inappropriate touching, sexual assault and rape. Obama's intentions are painfully clear and valid:

"I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old daughter, and one of the things my wife and I talked to our daughter about is the possibility of somebody touching them inappropriately, and what that might mean. And that was included specifically in the law, so that kindergarteners are able to exercise some possible protection against abuse, because I have family members as well as friends who suffered abuse at that age."

While the Jewish community is relatively open about giving our children the information they need to help protect themselves, the issue of sex education has not been without debate in more conservative circles.
Political Advertisement from the McCain campaign plays on racial stereotypes, accusing Obama in essence of corrupting five-year old girls. "His [Barack Obama's] one accomplishment? Teaching comprehensive sex-education to kindergardeners. I am John McCain and I approve this message."

Senator McCain has revived attacks launched in 2004 by Alan Keyes falsely accusing Senator Obama of wanting to pervert our youth through comprehensive sexual eduation to kindergardeners. However, Obama did not support "explicit sex education to children in kindergarten". In fact, the bill granted parents the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes without question.

In 2006, the Catholic Medical Association Task Force reeling from abuse scandals characterized sex education as "ineffective" and "inconsistant with the science of emotional, cognitive, neurobiological and moral development of the child". On the other hand, some have pointed to Governor Palin's daughter Bristol's pregnancy as an example of the failure of abstinence-only based sex education.

In his study "Prevention of Sexual Abuse Through Educational Programs Directed Toward Children" published in Pediatrics, Dr. David Finkelhor concludes that:

"It is worth providing children with high-quality prevention education programs. Some research has suggested that the programs promote disclosure. One study found lower rates of victimization for children who were exposed to these programs. A study found that children who are exposed to prevention education have less self-blame if they are victimized."

Satirical video from 23/6 shows a hypothetical response in kind to the McCain attack ad.

All of this underscores the importance of protecting our children against sexual preditors.

According to Safe Place (The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Child Protection and Health) children should practice saying no. Children who are able to appropriately assert themselves are at lower risk of victimization.

Talk to your kids about what kind of touching is not okay. For example, they should be told that the parts of the body covered by underwear is private.

Encourage children to tell someone they trust if anyone tries to touch their private parts. It is very common for kids to be molested, know it is wrong, but they feel like there is nobody they can talk to about it, or that their parents wouldn't care or would not believe them. Give your kids a safe forum to be able to talk about anything. Teach children never to keep secrets that make them feel uncomfortable or bad.

Answer questions children ask with language they will understand, and answer only what was asked. This gives the child the opportunity to come back after he or she integrates the information you provided.

Children with internet resources are vulnerable to contact from neighborhood bullies and inappropriate adult contact in ways that their parents never faced. As an adult community it is up to us all to protect our children from these threats. This can mean a level of intrusiveness and monitoring which may seem to cross the line of childrens’ privacy, It is the approach we take to such monitoring which will make our children understand our intentions.

Christine Downs of Safe Place  recommends the following children's books to help parents talk to their children about this issue:

  • It's MY Body, A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch by Lory Freeman,
  • Your Body Belongs to You by Cornelia Maude Spelman and
  •  I Can Be Safe, A First Look at Safety by Pat Thomas.

 According to the Children Are Worth Saving Community Outreach Program:
  • Parents can help protect their children by teaching them awareness of dangerous people and the lures used to entice children. Children should be aware not afraid of the dangers! Through education, perhaps we can prevent a child's disappearance.
  • Set aside time to talk to your children about dangerous people and strangers. Gear the talk to your children's level of understanding. Be straightforward, without frightening a sensitive child.
  • Teach your children their full name and yours, phone number with area code, and address with zip code. They should know how to make local and long distance calls; use a pay phone; call home and law enforcement departments; and dial "0" for the operator or 911 in an emergency.
  • Be sure your children know what to do if you are separated while shopping. They should not look for you; they should go to the nearest clerk and ask for help!
  • Explain who a stranger is. Children should never enter a stranger's home, get into their car, or take gifts from them. Explain when the child has the right to say NO to an adult. Be aware of anyone who pays an unusual amount of attention to your children. Listen to your children if they don't want to be left alone with someone. Ask them to tell you about anyone who asks them to keep a secret or any new adults they meet.
  • Encourage your children to use the buddy system. Advise them what to do if a stranger follows or approaches them. Get to know your neighbors and establish "safe homes" where children can go for help.

Pennsylvania Sex Offender Registry  
December 21, 2012 



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Case of Jacob Frank and The Frankist Movement

Case of Jacob Frank and The Frankist Movement
(AKA: Yaakov Frank, Yacov Frank, Yakov Frank, Jacob Ben Judah Leib, Yakov Leib Frank, Yakov ben Judah Leib Frankovich)
(1726 - 1791)

Korolowka, Podolia, Poland
Galicia, Ukraine
Chernowitz (Chernovtsy), Ukraine
Satanov, Ukraine
Brody, Ukraine
Iwania, (Podolia), Ukraine
Lwów (Lemberg), Poland
Czestochowa, Poland
Brno, Moravian, Check Republic
Vienna, Austria

Convicted of cultic type practices and sexual offenses.

Jacob Frank and his followers went so far as to engage in orgies and incest in order to begin the Messianic era, a time in which all that was forbidden would supposedly be permitted. Condemned by the leading rabbis of his day, Frank sought refuge in Catholicism. As in the case of the Shabbateans (the followers of Shabbetai Zvi), some of Frank's disciples continued to believe that he would reappear as the Messiah, but, of course, he did not. Once again, false messianism took its toll in lost hopes and despair.

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Table of Contents:

  1. Jacob Frank (1726-1791)
  2. Horodenka during the Shabbetean and Frankist Movements

Also see:
  1. Cults and Mind Control
  2. Case of Jacob Frank and The Frankist Movement
  3. Case of Rebbe Berechiah (son of Rabbi Jacob Querido)
  4. Case of Rabbi Elior Chen 
  5. Case of Rabbi Marc Gafni (AKA: Mordechai Gafni)
  6. Case of Rabbi Hershy Worch
  7. Case of Sabbatai Zevi


Jacob Frank - (1726-1791)Virtual Judaism

Jacob Frank was a Jewish merchant who claimed to be the messiah. His followers broke away from Judaism and created a new religion known as the Frankists, which was a quasi-Jewish, quasi-Christian religion.

The development of the Frankists was made possible due to both the Jewish messianic movement of that era, which agitated the Jewish world after the appearance of Sabbatai Zevi, the pseudo-messiah from Smyrna, and which degenerated later into religious mysticism; and also the social and economic upheaval in the life of the Polish Jewry.

Historical background

The spread of Frank's messianic movement (1760-1770) occurred in the period following the killing of the Jews in the days of Bohdan Chmielnicki. Hundreds of ruined communities, in which almost every family mourned its martyred dead, awaited aid from Heaven. Some were inclined to see in the Ukraine massacres pre-Messianic sufferings, and in Sabbatai Zevi the promised messiah. Zevi's fall and subsequent conversion to Islam estranged him from most of his followers, but among the more uncultured portion of the Jewish people the belief in the mystic mission of Shabbetai Zevi persisted for a long time.

Having lost its political significance, Messianism at the end of the seventeenth century assumed a mystical coloring, and the open popular movement was transformed into a secret sectarian cult. A half-Jewish, half-Islamic sect of Shabbetians was established in Turkey. In Poland, and particularly in Podolia and Galicia, there were formed numerous secret societies of Shabbethaians known among the people as "Shabbethai Zezviists," or "Shebs" (according to the Western pronunciation of "Shabbethai").

In expectation of the great Messianic revolution the members of these societies abandoned many Jewish principles of faith and discarded Jewish religious laws and custom. The mystical cult of the Shebs included both asceticism and sensuality: some did penance for their sins, subjected themselves to self-inflicted torture, and "mourned for Zion"; others disregarded the strict rules of chastity characteristic of Judaism, and at times gave themselves over to licentiousness. The Polish rabbis attempted to remove the "Shabbethaian heresy" at the assembly of Lemberg (1722) and elsewhere, but could not fully succeed, as it was kept alive mostly in secret circles which had something akin to a Masonic organization.

Social-economic conditions

The spread of mysticism was favored by the distressing social-economic condition of the Jews in Podolia and Galicia during the first half of the eighteenth century, when Poland was falling into decay, and the Haidamak movements destroyed security of person and property in many Jewish centers. The resulting decline of the rabbinical schools and of mental activity was on the whole favorable to the growth of mystical doctrines, which among the masses assumed at times the most monstrous forms.

Early life of Frank
From among these secret circles of the Shabbethaians came the founder of the Frankist sect, Jacob Frank, born in Korolowka (Podolia) about 1726 as Jacob Leibowitz. His father was expelled from the community for belonging to the secret society of Tzeviists, and moved to Chernowitz,Wallachia in 1730, where the influence of the Turkish Shabbetaians was strongly felt. While still a boy at school Frank displayed an aversion to Jewish learning founded on the Talmud, and afterward often styled himself "a plain man" or "an untutored man."

In the capacity of a traveling merchant of clothes and precious stones he often entered Turkey; there he was named "Frank," a name generally given in the East to a European; and there he lived in the centers of contemporary Shabbethaianism; Salonica and Smyrna.

In the beginning of the fifth decade of the eighteenth century he became intimate with the leaders of the sect and adopted its semi-Islamic cult. Two Shabbethaians, followers of Osman Baba wewre witnesses to his wedding in 1752. In 1755 he appeared in Podolia, and, gathering about him a group of local sectarians, began to preach to them the revelations which were communicated to him by the successors of the false messiah in Salonica. In their secret gatherings was performed, under the leadership of Frank, much that was directly opposed to the religious-ethical conceptions of the orthodox Jews. One of these gatherings in Landskron ending in a scandal, the attention of the rabbis was drawn to the new propaganda. As a foreigner, Frank was obliged to leave Podolia, while his followers were given over to the rabbis and the local authorities (1756). At the rabbinical court held in the village of Satanov many of the sectarians confessed to having broken the fundamental laws of morality; and women confessed to having violated their marriage vows, and told of the sexual looseness which reigned in the sect under the guise of mystical symbolism.

The Anti-Talmudists
As a result of these disclosures the congress of rabbis in Brody proclaimed a strong herem (Hebrew for ex-communication) against all impenitent heretics, and made it obligatory upon every pious Jew to search them out and expose them. The persecuted sectarians informed Dembrowsky, the Catholic Bishop of Kamenetz-Podolsk, that the Jewish sect to which they belonged rejected the Talmud and recognized only the sacred book of Kabbalah, the Zohar, which they alleged admitted the truth of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. They claimed that they regarded the Messiah-Deliverer as one of the three divinities, but they failed to state that by "messiah" they specifically meant Shabbetai Tzvi. The bishop took seriously the "Anti-Talmudists," or "Zoharists," as the sectarians began to style themselves, and in 1757 arranged a religious discussion between them and Jewish rabbis. The Anti-Talmudists presented their theses, to which the rabbis gave a very lukewarm and unwilling reply for fear of offending the Church dignitaries who were present. The bishop decided that the Talmudists had been vanquished, and ordered them to pay a fine to their opponents, and to burn all copies of the Talmud in the bishopric of Podolia.

After the death of their patron, the bishop, (9 November) the sectarians were subjected to severe persecution by the rabbis and the heads of the community. The Anti-Talmudists succeeded in obtaining from Augustus III of Poland, (1733-1763) an edict guaranteeing them safety; but even this did not avail to free them from the unfortunate position of men who, having parted from their coreligionists, had not yet succeeded in identifying themselves with another faith.

Declaration of being a succesor to Shabbethai Zevi

At this critical moment Jacob Frank came to Iwania (Podolia) with a new project; he posed as a direct successor of Shabbethai Zevi and Osman Baba, and assured his adherents that he had received revelations from Heaven. These revelations called for the conversion of Frank and his followers to the Christian religion, which was to be a visible transition stage to the future "Messianic religion." In 1759, negotiations looking toward the conversion of the Frankists to Catholicism were being actively carried on with the higher representatives of the Polish Church; at the same time the Frankists tried to secure another discussion with the rabbis. The Polish primate Lubenski and the papal nuncio Nicholas Serra were suspicious of the aspirations of the Frankists, but at the instance of the administrator of the bishopric of Lemberg, the canon Mikulski, the discussion was arranged. It was held in Lemberg, and was presided over by Mikulski. Protestant missionaries even tried to detour the Frankists to Reformation.

Baptism of the Frankists

This time the rabbis energetically repulsed their opponents. After the discussion the Frankists were requested to demonstrate in practise their adherence to Christianity (1759); Jacob Frank, who had then arrived in Lemberg, encouraged his followers to take the decisive step. The baptism of the Frankists was celebrated with great solemnity in the churches of Lwów, members of the Polish szlachta acting as god-parents. The neophytes adopted the names of their godfathers and godmothers, and ultimately joined the ranks of the Polish nobility. In the course of one year more than 500 persons were converted to Christianity in Lwów, among them the intimates and the disciples of Frank. Frank himself was baptized in Lwów (17 September of 1759) and again in Warsaw, Augustus III acting as godfather (18 November). The baptismal name of Frank was "Joseph" (Józef).

The insincerity of the Frankists soon became apparent, however, for they continued to intermarry only among themselves, and held Frank in reverence, calling him "the holy master"; and it was also discovered that Frank endeavored to pass as a Muslim in Turkey. He was therefore arrested in Warsaw (6 February of 1760) and delivered to the Church's tribunal on the charge of feigned conversion to Catholicism and the spreading of a pernicious heresy. The Church tribunal convicted Frank as a teacher of heresy, and imprisoned him in the monastery in the fortress of Czestochowa, so that he might not communicate with his adherents.

Frank in Prison
Frank's imprisonment lasted thirteen years, yet it only tended to increase his influence with the sect by surrounding him with the aura of martyrdom. Many of the Frankists established themselves near Czestochowa, and kept up constant communication with the "holy master," often gaining access to the fortress. Frank inspired his followers by mystical speeches and epistles, in which he stated that salvation could be gained only through the "religion of Edom," or "dat" (Hebrew, law", by which was meant a strange mixture of Christian and Shabbethaian beliefs. After the first partition of Poland Frank was released from captivity by the Russian general Bibikov, who had occupied Czestochowa (August of 1772). Until 1786 Frank lived in the Moravian town of Brno, and was surrounded by a numerous suite of sectarians and "pilgrims" who came from Poland. For many of the pilgrims there was great attraction in the person of Eve, the beautiful daughter of Frank, who at this time began to play an important role in the organization of the sect. In his "court" of Brno, he held an army of 600 people, partly from the Cossack Jews of general Potemkin. Future zar Paul I of Russia visits him.

Accompanied by his daughter, Frank repeatedly traveled to Vienna, and succeeded in gaining the favor of the court. The pious Maria Theresa regarded him as a disseminator of Christianity among the Jews, and it is even said that Joseph II was favorably inclined to the young Eve Frank. Ultimately the sectarian plans of Frank were found out here also; he was obliged to leave Austria, and moved with his daughter and his suite to Offenbach, a small German town. Here he assumed the title of "Baron of Offenbach," and lived as a wealthy nobleman, receiving money from his Polish and Moravian adherents, who made frequent pilgrimages to Offenbach. On the death of Frank (1791) Eve became the "holy mistress" and the leader of the sect. As time went on the number of pilgrims and the supply of money constantly diminished, while Eve continued to live in her accustomed luxury. She finally became involved in debt, and died neglected in 1816. Frankist agents acted in times of French Revolution, like Moses Dobruchka who entered the Jacobines as Junius Frey and ascended to the top of Freemasonry. Many of the Frankist saw Napoleon Bonaparte as a potential Messiah.

The Frankists scattered in Poland and Bohemia were gradually transformed from feigned to real Catholics. Their descendants merged into the surrounding Christian population. The sect disappeared without leaving any traces in Judaism, they become the source of Polish gentry of Jewish origins.


The History of the Jews of Horodenka
Horodenka during the Shabbetean and Frankist Movements

By Dr. N. M. Gelber
Translator unknown; donated by Ellen Biderman

In the 1700's the Shabbetai-Zvi movement had a large number of advocates and supporters, including scholars and Rabbis. Most of its members lived in the southeast portion of the Riesen region. The Turkish Jews who immigrated to Kamieniec-Podolski during the Ottoman occupation promoted the belief in Shabbetai-Zvi as the Messiah. They spread their belief among the Jews living in Podolia and Reisen. The movement influenced Jews in Horodenka as well. The Frankist movement followed shortly thereafter. According to Rabbi Yaakov Amedin, who in the second half of the eighteenth century conducted a fierce movement of opposition to the Shabbeteans, many Horodenkans were enthusiastic followers of Shabbetai-Zvi. This occurred because Horodenka was situated in the midst of about 10 towns where the largest numbers of the movement's followers lived. These towns included Gliniany, Nadworna, Tysmienica, Rohatyn, Buczacz, Komarno, and Podhaicy.

Rabbi Zvi Hirsh was the chief Rabbi in Horodenka at that time. Later he was also the chief Rabbi in Jazlowicze and Zalesczyki. These two towns were part of the Poniatovski estate. Hirsh's son, Rabbi Meir Margaliot, took over the Rabbinate after his death. He is the author ofMeir Netivim (The Light of the Ways). He became the son-in-law of the famous Rabbi Itzik – also known as "Rabbi Itzik of Horodenka."

In 1752 Rabbi Margaliot competed with Rabbi Hayim Rappaport for the position of chief Rabbi of the entire Reisen region. Bjonowicz and Barko, leaders of the community, decided to divide the duties of the office. Margaliot was named alternate Chief Rabbi and Rabbi Rappaport ran the day-to-day business of the area. Finally the community decided to split the position and give Rabbi Margaliot the title of vice-rabbi even though this was not permissible without the authorization from the governor. This shows how much they respected the Rabbi Margaliot and how difficult it must have been for them to decide among the two rabbi.

Yitzhak Ber, Meir Margaliot's brother, was elected chief Rabbi in Jazlowicz and Zaleszczyki after their father's death. He was one of the main participants in the public debate with the heads of the Frankist movement. The debate occurred in Kamieniec-Podolski. Leib ben-Daniel, one of the leaders of the Jewish community, also took part in the debate. Another debate took place in Lvov in 1759.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ber Margaliot was the last loyalist of the Podolia county committee. He signed, together with Leib ben-Daniel, a proclamation regarding the abolishment of debts in 1763. Rabbi Ber used some of his own money to pay the debt. When it was all said and done, the committee owed Rabbi Ber 2,980 golden nuggets, which included a year-and-a-half of interest.

When he was still chief Rabbi in Horodenka, Margaliot gave a written statement to the Jewish committee in Brody about testimony given to him by the Rabbi of Satanov regarding happenings in Kamieniec-Podolski. He describes the wild parties and raucous behavior of the residents. It is also interesting to note that in Lanscron, a gathering of the Frankists was discovered in the house of Rabbi Labor Riches. According to the testimony given, they were there every night. There were orgies, dancing, and playing around by the Jews of Horodenka. The testimony of Rabbi Bel Bolichavil said:

One night a Gentile farmer drove his cart, which was loaded with firewood, into town. He heard loud music coming from one of the houses and he led his horse toward the house. He knocked on the door and asked the people if they would like to buy his wood. They chased him away and didn't buy anything from him. The farmer continued to the house of the local Rabbi Gershon Katz of Horodenka who had a lease in the town of Lansconia and who used to buy wood from the farmer. The farmer told him about the party in the house of Rabbi Labor Riches and asked if there was a wedding. Rabbi Gershon sent his servant to check it out, but the man could not see into the house because heavy drapes covered the windows. The servant was determined and he poked a hole in the wall, which was made of mud and straw. He was stunned to see men and women dancing together. Upon hearing this account, Rabbi Gershon consulted with the leaders of the Jewish community, the owner of the estate and a judge. They decided to go to the house the following night to see for themselves. The following night the group approached the house cautiously. They quietly poked a few holes in the walls. What they saw inside the house left them stunned and shocked. Jews, male and female were dancing together naked. They were singing while uttering the name of Shabbetai-Zvi and other names of their spiritual leaders. It was on the 27th of January of the year 1756.

Upon seeing the evidence, the property owner, Romanovski ordered those people to be taken to the castle as prisoners. Most of the people in the group managed to escape but Yaakov Frank and eight followers were arrested. The following day, Rabbi Isaac ha-Cohen informed Rabbi Mendel, the chief Rabbi of Satanov about the incident.

Horodenka was also one of the centers of the Frankist movement. The leaders of the movement maintained a relationship with Prince Radziwill who showed interest in religious issues and who visited Yaakov Frank in 1759. In a list of Jews who converted to Christianity after the debate in Lvov, there is not a single name of a Jew from Horodenka. It appears that they remained loyal to the Frankist movement without changing their religion.

In 1766 Aharon Yitzchak ben Moshe, son of a famous family of Rabbis, the Teomims, left Horodenka for the city of Altona Germany as a messenger and preacher for the Shabbetean movement. This is how Rabbi Yaakov Emdins described the situation in his bookStruggle:

In 1767, a person arrived in Altona from Poland. His name was Aharon Yitzchak, from the famous Teomim family in Horodenka. He came as a preacher of Shabbetai-Zvi. First he stopped at Frankfurt am Mein. When he came to Altona he inquired as to the whereabouts of Wolf Akives. At first many of the members of the community gathered in the house to welcome him with honor, but soon they realized that he was one of Shabbetai-Zvi's followers and they chased him away from Altona with shame.

After being forced out of Altona, he went to Chevering and stayed there with Yosef Nata, a respected member of the community and an agent of the Prince of Hallenburg. From there Aharon Yitzhak proceeded to Hamburg. Soon after there were rumors that Aharon Yitzhak was a preacher of the Shabbetai movement. At first Yosef Neta refused to believe this. However he became convinced when he received a letter from Professor Tichzen in January 1767. In it there was a copy of a letter that Aharon Ytzhak Teomim had sent him. In the letter, Aharon claims that Shabbetai-Zevi in the true Messiah. Here are a few paragraphs from the long and cumbersome letter:

God bestows his wisdom to the wise men. With each generation, in every nation and state and with every language, God seeks man's wisdom and truth – the complete truth of mankind. The knowledgeable Prince Radziwill, who studied in depth all the religions of the world, did not find a single religion as truthful and filled with Godliness as the religion of the king Messiah Shabbetai-Zevi. Therefore he aligned himself with us to fight in the name of our truthful Messiah. His advisors requested that we enlighten those blind Jews of Horodenka, who are dwelling in the shadow of death, by teaching them the religious wisdom of Shabbetai Ben-Zevi. His teachings will heal those with broken hearts and will free those imprisoned by the web of other religions. The prince wants to have those people, Jews and Gentiles alike, live on his estate where they will be protected and safe and will lack nothing. I have been traveling from place to place to preach Shabbetai's wisdom and seek those who believe in him. I have been wandering until I came to this town and met the writer Mr. Weiler to whom I told the reason of my visit.

Yitshak Aharon requested that Weiler introduce him to Professor Tichzen so the latter would, hopefully, help him with his request. The letter shocked Yosef Neta and he immediately wrote to Professor Tichzen:

Dear Mr. Tichzen: I was shocked and frightened by the letter that my friend, Yitzhak Teomim, a member of a family of sinners and wretched people who stand against the Torah from God, sent you. I was enraged, after having him under my roof and giving him my hospitality, to find out that he is a heretic. We must chase after his kind with whatever means we can find in order to fulfill God's revenge against those who disobey God's Torah.

It is not known whatever happened to Yitzhak Aharon Teomim. There is no evidence that he returned to Horodenka and the end of his mission.



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: . 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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