Monday, December 31, 2007

Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau

Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau - Alleged Sex Offender
Principal of the Torah Institute - Baltimore, MD
Instructor, Ner Israel Rabbinical College and High School, - Baltimore, MD

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau is accused of physically and sexually assaulting one of his daughters. There have also been allegations that two families were "run out of Baltimore" because they wanted to go to secular legal authorities to deal with the accusations of child abuse against Rabbi Eisgrau.  Rabbi Eisgrau is currently the principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore, MD.

The Baltimore Orthodox establishment stated that they have investigated the charges and found them completely baseless.

A Baltimore police detective attempted to investigate the abuse complaints regarding Rabbi Eisgrau.  He stated that he did not find enough evidence to persuade the district attorney to bring charges against Rabbi Eisgrau. The detective also disclosed that he never encountered such opposition to a child abuse investigation from a community as he encountered in Baltimore's Orthodox community.

If you or anyone you know were sexually victimized by Isaac Neuberger and are looking for resources, please feel free to contact The Awareness Center and or your local rape crisis center.
  • Mrs. Goldberger is the sister of Mrs. Eisgrau
  • Rabbi Moses Eiseman is a cousin to Rabbi Moshe Eiseman

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. Letter from A concerned member of the Baltimore community  (11/09/2004)

  1. A Story of Survival - Surviving Incest (05/16/2005)
  2. The Day The Torah Was Molested (01/21/2005)
  3. The Day G-d was Excommunicated (01/17/2005)

  1. Dear Famiy by Eliezer Eisgrau's Daughter (07/10/2006)
  2. Eisgrau's Daughter Talks About Shmuel Juravel  (08/01/2006)
  3. Message from the Son-In-Law of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau  (09/30/2006)

  1. Awareness Center a clearinghouse of concern — and controversy  (01/10/2007)
    • Call To Action
  2. CALL TO ACTION: Allowing A Survivor Civil Rights - Awareness and Education
  3. Testimony Provided at Maryland Senate Hearing on SB575 (03/01/2007)
  4. Regarding R'Yisroel Meir Lau  (12/01/2007)
  5. CALL TO ACTION:  Calling for the ethical treatment of the daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau.  (12/31/2007)

  1. Breaking the code of silence (02/20/2013)

Other Related Cases:
  1. Case of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann
  2. Eisemann Family Tree
  3. Case of Aron Goldberger
  4. Case of Shmuel Juravel (AKA: Samuel Juravel) 
  5. Case of Stanley Levitt
  6. Case of Rabbi Yaakov Menken
  7. Case of Rabbi Isaac Neuberger, JD
  8. Case of Rabbi Aron Tendler
  9. Case of Rabbi Mordecai Tendler
  10. Case of Rabbi Matis Weinberg

Call To Action: Calling for the ethical treatment of the daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
December 31, 2007

Rabbi Elieizer Eisgrau
Over the last six years, The Awareness Center has made the case of Rabbi Elieizer Eisgrau public. It's been around eleven years since one of the children of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau was has been excommunicated from not only her family, yet also her community. This is due to a decree bestowed upon her by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer who has absolutely no education or training in the field of sexual violence.

Just under six years ago Rabbi Eisgrau's daughter called Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer asking him to remove the decree. Unfortunately, Hopfer could not remember why he made the decree, yet stated he must have had a good reason to have made his decision and decided to continue to stand behind his ignorance and deny the daughter the right to communicate with her siblings.

Torah Institute of Baltimore
While talking to Rabbi Hopfer, Eisgrau's daughter disclosed that Rabbi Hopfer admitted that he "did not think she was crazy", and agreed that she may have changed over the five years that had gone by. The last time Hopfer spoke to her was when Eisgrau's daughter was when she young barely out of her teens. The survivor is currently in her thirties.
Rabbi Hopfer stated, "the brothers and sisters of `the survivor' would be put into a place where they would have to choose between their sister and their father". He felt this was unfair to do, needless to say he decided that the siblings needed to cut her off, unless the Eisgrau Survivor promised never to say anything about her alleged memories of incest between herself and her father. 

The survivor/daughter of Rabbi Eleizer Eisgrau has not seen her siblings for over eleven years. She does not know her nieces or nephews. Her children are being brought up without knowing their aunts, uncles or cousins. The reason why is because she had the courage to get help and refused to keep silent.

As a people, we all need to stand up and say that the decree made by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer was unethical and wrong?  

Call Rabbi Hopfer and let him know how you feel about this injustice.  Tell him that it's time that Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau be evaluated by a mental health professional who specializes in doing evaluations on sex offenders.  This specialist needs to be someone who is recommended by The Awareness Center to insure the professional has the correct qualifications and has no connection to those who want to keep the truth secret.

Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer
President, Baltimore Vaad HaRabbonim


Letter from A concerned member of the Baltimore community
Protocols - November 9, 2004

The following has been circulated, and mailed to several different Jewish newspapers. As of today, no one has published it. Through my sources, I know who wrote this. The letter and its author are credible.

To the editors

Entrance to The Torah Institute of Baltimore
I would like to address a very important and very troubling issue affecting our entire community and its future.

The taboo surrounding the issue of child sexual abuse in general, and even more so within our own community is very real and difficult to surmount for many reasons. Our silence is what child sexual offenders count on to enable them to continue abusing. We must break this silence and as a community begin to address this issue openly.

This sensitive issue becomes even harder to deal with when allegations are made against a rabbi or trusted leader within our community. Most of our rabbis and leaders are not child molesters, but most also have no training or expertise in this area. Most rabbonim confronted with allegations of abuse against a trusted and respected colleague are simply not equipped to deal with the situation. Obviously, they do not want to believe the allegations. It is a lot easier to stigmatize an obviously troubled or angry victim then to believe that a well respected, influential, colleague could be a sexual predator. 

Instances of childhood sexual abuse are very hard to prove (or disprove), as there are rarely any witnesses, or visible scars. Training in recognizing the short and long-term effects affects of abuse is essential, and the responsibility of every Rabbi to obtain. 

We have recently read stories of perpetrators within our community who have used the silence of the community and its leaders to allow them to continue abusing children, sometimes for decades. Some say that it is a chillul Hashem for papers to have published such information. The sad truth is that going to the papers is the only thing that finally stopped the abuser and prevented future victims. The real chillul Hashem is that many Rabbonim knew of allegations for years and did nothing. The real chillul Hashem is that when a sexual abuse or assault victim dares to speak out publicly, instead of helping the victim, and confronting the issue, Rabbonim and community leaders rally around the accused perpetrator trying to protect the image of the community at the expense of his victims. 

Many of our "at risk teens" who have gone "off the derech" (OTD) are victims of childhood sexual abuse and have gotten the message loud and clear that they will not be helped or believed, and so have left the community. 

When allegations are brought against a person who is in a position of authority over innocent children this person should very quickly be directed to another line of work. To date there is no known cure for pedophiles. The only way to manage these tendencies is for perpetrators to never be alone with a child. 

Parents have a right to know about allegations made against those caring for their children and to make an informed decision about the risks that they are willing to expose their children to. The Baltimore community must be made aware of and take responsibility for any accused perpetrators in our mist, especially when they hold positions that enable them to continue to offend. 

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, the principal of the Torah Institute, is one such individual. Rabbi Eisgrau has, on at least two known occasions, been accused of child sexual molestation and on at least one occasion of physical abuse. (He allegedly hit a child in the face and broke his glasses.) One of the accusations of sexual abuse was made by a former student, and the other by one of rabbi Eisgrau's own daughters. (Both of his alleged victims are now adults.) 

The charges brought against Rabbi Eisgrau by his student were formally investigated and later dropped because of insufficient evidence. In the words of the investigator, Detective Richard Hardick, he was "stonewalled" by the community. Concerned and aware members of our community (including myself) who have tried to speak out about the potential danger to our children have been threatened with loss of their job, membership to shul, and even personal safety. Rabbi Eisgrau's rav has advised rabbi Eisgrau's other children to excommunicate their sister unless she agrees never to speak out about her experience. This, in my opinion, is a horrible chillul Hashem and abuse of rabbinic authority. 

Let us, as a community, take responsibility for protecting our children and educating ourselves about sexual abuse. A good resource, which deals specifically with sexual abuse in the Jewish community, is The Awareness Center at,

Rabbi Yosef Blau (mashgiach Ruchani of the Rabbi Isacc Elchanan Theological Seminary) in his article, Confronting Abuse in The Orthodox Community, (Nefesh News, 7:9, July 2003) writes: 

"Our community has not been educated to recognize abuse nor to appreciate the ongoing trauma of victims...Often the response is to express anger at the paper (publishing letters such as this one) and then ignore the abuse. Until the mentality of the community changes little progress will be made." 

I hope everyone reading this will take his message to heart.

A concerned member of the Baltimore community.


A Story of Survival - Surviving Incest
© (2005) By Survivor of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau 

Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau and Rabbi Boruch Neuberger
The reason I am telling my story is because I want people, especially rabbis, to realize that when allegations of child abuse are made by a child against a parent, (regardless of whether the allegations are true or not) it is an indication of a serious problem in the family. When abuse is covered up and denied it is usually handed down to the next generation. Cutting off the family member who dares to expose the family's pain and shame does not make the problem go away. My family and I needed help and the rabbi's failed us. My family and I still need help and the rabbi's are still failing us. If I had a child who said I had sexually abused them, whether I thought I had or not, I would realize that there was a serious problem in my relationship with that child. I would do all I could to help my child understand what had happened. I would get my whole family help. 

When most people in the orthodox community look at my family they see a normal family. Everyone is religious, married with kids, seems happy, and appears not only to be functioning well but also contributing to their community. 

I come from a very large orthodox family. Most of my early childhood was spent in a small town on the east coast. My father met and married my mother there while he was a student at her father's yeshiva. My grandfather's yeshiva was in a remote area jewishly and otherwise, and we were very isolated. We did not go to school and had no contact with children outside of the family. 

My father was physically abusive and sexually molested me repeatedly while we were living near my grandfather's yeshiva. I was also molested by some of the students in the yeshiva. I don't remember their names. My father stopped abusing me when we moved to Baltimore and he started teaching. 

My grandfather was also inappropriate with me. He exposed himself to me once when I was three. When I was seven he had a serious discussion with me. He told me how lonely he was and ask me if I thought he should get remarried. At that age he told my sister and I that he loved one of us more than the other. I was sure it was she who he loved more than me. 

I know that my grandfather physically abused my mother, (although she will insist that her experience was not abuse). She would get hit, for example, if she couldn't keep the baby from crying. My mother is the oldest of ten children. Her mother died of an illness when she was fifteen. She said that my grandfather always hit his children too much, but after her mother died it got worse. She told me that her brothers would try to protect her. My mother's brothers are the only safe men who I remember having close contact with in my childhood. 

My father was physically abused by his mother. She would hold his nose to force him to swallow foods that he d. She would beat him with a broomstick. He was a troubled teen and was kicked out of more than one yeshiva. He told me that my grandfather rescued him, "pulled him from the garbage can." He shared with me his first encounter with my grandfather. He said that when my grandfather was speaking to him he raised his hand to make a point, and my father instinctively ducked under the table. He thought he was going to be hit. 

My grandfather also rescued Aaron Goldberger. He had been expelled from a yeshiva for "homosexual behavior." Knowing his background, and despite many warnings, my grandfather allowed Goldberger to marry his daughter. Years later Goldberger was convicted of molesting his own children and lost custody of them as a result. 

I was a troubled child and an angry teen for obvious reasons. I was also extremely depressed. My mother would tell me repeatedly that I had nothing to be sad or angry about and that I should put a smile on my face. 

When I was in the fourth grade I discovered by that I needed glasses. A classmate had a pair and I tried them on just for fun. When the room jumped into focus I realized that I needed glasses. I told my mother who said, "No you don't need glasses, you see well enough." Her response was typical. 

When my fifth grade teacher sent a note home asking my parents to get my eyes checked they finally took me to an eye doctor. The doctor assured my mother that he could see by the shape of my pupil that I was nearsighted but she was still unconvinced. She told me that I was getting glasses not because I needed them but to get the teacher off her back. My sister taunted me "you don't really need glasses you just want attention." 

As a child I often wondered what I could possibly do to become real in my parent's eyes. I remember watching other children in school and wondering what it was about them that I was missing that allowed them to exist, and have real needs and feelings. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. 

When I was sixteen I left home to go to school in Israel. When the Gulf War broke out my parents forced me to come back home and refused to let me return to Israel. When I was eighteen I ran away from home and went back to Israel. My father came after me. He told me that the only reason he could think of that I could possibly have run away was that I had lesbian relationship with a friend whom I had met and become close to while in school there. 

Aviva Weisbord, Phd
My father said that he wanted to help me and would take me to see a psychologist if I came home with him. He took me to his friend, Dr. Aviva Weisbord, who agreed to see me as a favor to him. (Apparently he had helped her with one of her children who had been having problems.) 

Dr. Weisbord should never have taken me on as a client due to her obvious conflict of interest. She allowed me to come to her house during the course of therapy and sleep over. She violated confidentiality by meeting with my parents against my wishes. She violated confidentiality by telling people that I had been a client of hers and that in her "professional" opinion my father had not abused me. 

During the course of my treatment with Dr. Weisbord she and I both realized that I had been sexually abused. She kept asking me about my uncle, Goldberger, whom I had contact with as a young child. I did not remember any specific instances of him abusing me. I did not tell her about my father. She was very willing to believe that my uncle, a convicted offender, abused me. But I knew she would not believe me about my father. She made it clear that she trusted and respected him. At some point she realized that I was hiding something. She told me that there were serious boundary issues in my family. That there were things that I wasn't sharing with her, and that she did not want to hear. She told me that she was ending our relationship and sending me to someone else. 

My next therapist would not speak with my parents at all, and when my father found out that I was talking about the abuse he told me that I had to stop seeing her. He threatened to take her to a bais din for "convincing me of things that never happened." He told me that I was heading down a dangerous path. That reading books on the subject of abuse was putting ideas into my head. He told me that he was the only one who really loved that and me if I wasn't paying my therapist she would throw me out onto the street. That was the day I left my parents home. 

I had nowhere to go. In desperation, I called a woman whom I had met only once, Hinda Goliger, and she invited me to come live with her. Many people including my parents, tried to pressure the Goligers to throw me out so I would be forced to go back home. The Goligers refused to bow to pressure. They promised me that their home would always be a safe place for me and it was. They were truly there for me when no one else was. They believed in me, and I will always be grateful. 

The abuse by my father and others left me with many issues. But even worse than the actual and abuse was the revictimization that I encountered from my family, and community, when I tried to reach out for help. 

No one would believe me that my father or my grandfather had done these things. My siblings were very angry with me and treated me like I had some horrible disease. My mother told me that she knew that nothing happened to me and that basically I was saying these things to get attention. One of my uncles told me that saying that my grandfather abused me meant that I d the Torah. Another Rabbi who I spoke with, after asking me for my grandfathers name, told me that it was my imagination that I had been sexually abused and that I should just forget about it and get married and everything would be fine. Once again I was being given the message that I was not real. My memories were not real. My feelings and experiences were not real. 

During this time one of my brothers, then in his teens, forced a six-year-old in the neighborhood to expose herself to him. He threatened to hurt her if she didn't comply. The child's mother told me about the incident. She told my mother about it too. My mother's response was that she needed to talk to my brother about staying away from s, and that my father needed to learn with him more often. 

I told my therapist about the incident. She informed me that what my brother had done was considered sexual abuse and that she was mandated to report it. I begged her not to. I knew that my family, who were already very upset with me for saying that my father abused me, would think that I had reported it. She finally agreed to ask her Rabbi, R' Menachem Goldberger, what to do. Rabbi Goldberger. told her to make the report which she did.

Torah Institute of Baltimore
Another Rabbi who I turned to for help was Rabbi Moshe Heinemann. 

I did not know how to approach him. I decided to ask him a halachic question that had been bothering me for a while. It was a question that one of my aunts had asked me when I told her what my father had done to me. I asked him if I was allowed to marry a kohen if my father abused me. I was hoping that he would hear the inherent pain in my question and offer to help me. He asked if it happened before or after age three. I said after. He then told me that if I decided to say that it never happened then I could marry a kohen but if I said that it did happen then I couldn't. End of conversation. That was the only time that I spoke with Rabbi Heinemann about this, or anything else. Some years later parents of a child in the Torah Institute went to ask Rabbi Heinemann about the allegations against my father. He told them to disregard what I said as I was, "crazy and not frum." 

I went to other Rabbi's for help and I was told, "we know sexual abusers exists in our community but we know that your father is not one of them." 

I already felt inherently damaged, and traumatized, as a result of the sexual abuse but the way my family and the rabbi's were treating me made the pain unbearable. Like all survivors of trauma I needed to talk about what happened to me in order to process it and heal. I needed (and still need) my truth to be heard. My family did not understand this and accused me of trying to hurt them by telling people about it. 

I thought that because no one believed me I must be crazy. I wanted to believe that my family was right and I was sick or evil but deep down I knew that I wasn't and that I was remembering these things because they had happened to me. 

I was in a tremendous amount of psychological pain. I often begged God to remove me from this world. I wanted to die to find out the truth. And I wanted to escape the pain. I attempted and was hospitalized. During my hospitalization I was diagnosed with a dissociative disorder (that I have since recovered from) whose only known cause is severe and repeated trauma in early childhood. I was also diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder.)

While all this was going on I was teaching preschool at the Torah Institute. The preschool director was shocked when I told her that I was quitting because I was suicidal and needed to be hospitalized. She simply couldn't believe it. She said that I was doing a great job teaching and that she thought I was the most `together' of all my sisters. I told her that my family specialized in seeming `normal' and `together' and that I was good at it, but I was tired of pretending to be ok. I needed help. 

At first the director said that she believed me that my father had sexually abused me. She told me that she knew more than one rebbe at the Torah Institute with sexual issues. She wanted to be supportive but at the same time she begged me to consider the damage that speaking about my experience would cause my siblings. She told me I could ruin my sister's chances of getting a shidduch if I didn't keep quiet. 

She offered to let me stay with her for a couple of weeks while I waited for a bed to open up on the dissociative disorders unit. During this stay she changed her mind and told me that although it was obvious to her that my parents had caused me severe emotional damage, she just couldn't believe that my father had physically molested me. 

During one of my many hospitalizations Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer came to visit me. I told him about the memories that I had of my father molesting me. I told him that I hoped my family and everyone else was right about me and that somehow my mind was playing cruel tricks on me. It was easier for me to believe that I was crazy then to believe that my father did these things to me. I wanted my family back. 

Eventually, I rented my own apartment and applied for another job in a new preschool that was opening up in the community. I was hired as a teacher for the three-year-old class. A few weeks before the start of the school year the director informed me that some people in the community threatened not to send their children to her school if I was going to be teaching there. They told her that there must be something wrong with me because I had moved out of my parents home. This woman, not knowing that there was a connection between us, asked Dr. Aviva Weisbord for advice. Dr. Aviva Weisbord told her not to let me teach but to give me a job in a back office so that no one would know I was there. 

I became completely disillusioned with yidishkeit because of the way I was being treated by the community and my family. People who should have been helping me were calling me crazy and evil. I wanted nothing to do with any of it anymore. I stopped keeping shabbos and kosher. I had to find a new way to relate to God. I also had to find a new God. One who had not allowed me to be abused in a yeshiva and by people who were supposed to be frum and uphold the Torah. A God who was all knowing and all loving and believed in me and wanted me to heal. I had to leave yidishkeit to find this. 

I explored other religions. I spoke to priests, ministers. I came back to Judaism, mostly because I missed shabbos. I had to come to the realization that my parents and the Rabbi's who hurt me did not own God or Judaism and that their behavior had nothing to do with Torah. Although I am now shomer mitzvoth, to this day I can never completely trust a rabbi. And I doubt I will never feel completely safe or comfortable in the frum world. 

About eight years after my conversation with Rabbi Hopfer my father became the principal of the Torah Institute. I had received excellent help in the trauma disorders day hospital at Sheppard Pratt and had with much effort pulled my shattered life back together. The chronic depression and psychological pain that I had carried around with me for as long as I could remember slowly dissipated as I worked through the traumatic memories. I was in school. I was working. I met and married a wonderful man. I gave birth to a baby. I was very happy. Every day felt like a miracle. 

I was very concerned when I heard that a former student had accused my father of child abuse. I had thought/hoped that his abuse had stopped with me. It suddenly occurred to me that maybe the reason the abuse stopped when we moved to Baltimore was because my father had access to other children. 

I told a parent of a child in the school that I was concerned that my father was not safe around children. It got back to my siblings and they went to Rabbi Hopfer for advice. Rabbi Hopfer told my siblings to give me an ultimatum. I was to promise never to talk about what my father did to me, or they would cut me out of the family. I told them there was no way I could ethically promise that. 

I wrote Rabbi Hopfer a letter asking him why he had not contacted me before he gave my family this advice. He did not respond. Some months later I called him up several times, and finally he called back. I asked him why he had not contacted me before telling my family to cut me off. He became very defensive and angrily asked me why I believed that my fathers other accuser was credible? Why had I not bothered to check it out? 

I told Rabbi Hopfer that I had checked it out and that although I was not in the room and could never know what really happened to this student, that based on my own experiences with my father I believed that it was possible that he had abused again. 

I told Rabbi Hopfer that I wished that he and my family would also admit that they were not in the room when my father was abusing me and could never be completely sure what my father had done to me. 

I asked him again why he had not contacted me. He said he had already spoken to me eight years earlier when he had visited me in the hospital. 

Me: I am a different person now, in a totally different place then I was eight years ago. I was going through a serious crisis then. A lot has changed. I think you should have realized that and called me. Do you remember our conversation in the hospital?
Hopfer: No.
Me: So you made the decision to break up a family based on a conversation you had eight years ago that you don't remember?
Hopfer: I made my decision then that you were not credible and I stuck with it.
Me: I think you should have contacted me. Why don't you believe me about my father? Do you think I am crazy or evil?
Hopfer: No, but your siblings say that your story is inconsistent. First you said your uncle abused you, then your grandfather, then your father. 
Me: When I first started dealing with this, I did not want to believe that my father abused me. Like you, I would rather have believed just about anything else. My therapist at the time wanted me to think it was my uncle.
Hopfer: Your own therapist doesn't believe you. 
Me: The only therapist I worked with who is unethical enough to break confidentiality and speak to you about what she believes and doesn't believe about me, is Dr. Weisbord and she is also a friend of my father.
I'm trying to understand why you would advise my family to do such a terrible thing? What good could this possibly accomplish?
Hopfer: They have too choose between you and your father. They can't be loyal to both of you. They can't stand seeing the pain you are causing him.
Me: I wonder why you and my family are so focused on my fathers pain, which I didn't cause, yet no one seems to worry about my pain. I have lost my entire family because of this. And you have ruined any chances of my family taking any responsibility in dealing with this. Any chance of healing our relationship. If they want to cut me out let them at least own their own decision. Don't you realize that they take your advise as a psak, as da'as torah?
Hopfer: Yes. I realized that.
Me: would you consider changing your ruling.
Hopfer: No, I still think they have to choose.
Me: Is it because you don't believe me, that my father sexually abused me?
Hopfer: Yes, I don't believe that he did that.
Me: How can you be objective about this considering that you trust my father so much? He has taken over your shiurim for you when you are out of town. He has taught your children. Don't you think it would have been more responsible to send my family to someone else for advice about this? Someone who is not so close to the situation?
Hopfer: I believe that I made the correct decision.
In the end my father is still the principal of an elementary school. If the Rabbi's in Baltimore care at all about the safety of the children in their community they would insist that my father be evaluated by a professional who is trained to evaluate potential offenders. If they continue to try to "protect" him and demonize, discredit, and isolate me, they are continuing to perpetuate a tremendous evil for themselves and their community. They share some of the responsibility for the horrors I went through and they will be responsible for any new victims of abuse by my father. 

I am still treated like I do not exist by my family. I don't know which of my siblings are married, and I have not been told of any births or s that have occurred. 

I am still looking for a rabbi who is willing to stand up for me and challenge Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer to take a second look at what he is doing to me and to my family. Whatever the outcome, it would help me heal my relationship with Judaism to know that there is someone representing Torah who is willing to stand up for what is right.


The Day The Torah Was Molested
© (2004) By Naomi 
 Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out - January 21, 2005

She stands in shul shabbos
After years of absence
Facing the open ark
Doors spread wide
Like angels wings
The people and the room
Slowly disappear
All that remain are the ark and the voices.
The ark and praying voices.
Suddenly She is a little
In her grandfather's yeshiva
Watching from the doorway of the women's section
Because she isn't allowed in
The people in the yeshiva slowly disappear
All that remain are the ark and voices
The ark and screaming voices
The Torah watches in horror
The Torah hears in sorrow
the little s silenced pain
As her grandfather takes her into
The bathroom and undresses.
As The bochorim (students)
Sneak her upstairs
And tear her soul to pieces
The Torah sees it all
Then the yeshiva is abandoned
Nothing remains but a mound of crushed wood
And piles of torn holy books
Cascading down broken stairs
The Torah is shipped away
Her memories buried in its parchment
This week in the synagogue
Miles and years away
She sees the Torah again and remembers
What it witnessed
She is so very angry
So badly hurt
I thought you were protective of your people
Why did you stand by silently
And watch what was done to me
I've been waiting for you,
The Torah answers
It was I
The same Torah who lives in this synagogue today
I was there in that yeshiva
From the time you were born
and I saw it all.
As I am Truth
I swear you will not be forgotten
Until then
Wrap yourself in me and I'll hold you
Tell me why
Tell me Tatty, why did you do this to me?
My stomach turns over at the thought
My holy of holies, you made impure
You violated.
Tatty, you're my father, why did you do this to me?
Who can understand a man
who would violate his own daughter?
I can't get it out of my mind.
I myself
I feel so awful and gross
Like your hand is still between my legs
and there is nothing I can do about it.
I feel a helpless rage
desperately trapped in your abuse.
I'm afraid to get married.
How can I trust any man when my own father violated me like that?
I want to run through the streets screaming crying and shouting
don't hurt me don't hurt me I'm a child!
Love me! protect me!
don't touch my privates
get away!
I'm a blazing churban.
A pile of charred debris.
A broken self.
A destruction that began
when you started touching me.
Manipulating my young body.
destroying my soul.
You d me Tatty. You raped me.
How could you?
What should I do with this broken,
burnt little who's tears are drowning me
as she cries for someone to save her?
She feels you still
hurting her down there.
I you for what you did to her
to me.
I want to kill or die . . .


The Day G-d was Excommunicated
© (2005) By Batdina (a friend of Rabbi Eisgrau's daughter)
I heard a voice coming from the fields
beyond the synagogues and the black-hatted masses
beyond the halls of study and the ritual baths
beyond the chambers of rabbi's courts.
I followed the voice and found a spirit wandering in the wind.
I asked her why she wanders so. She replied:
I have been banished from the family of my youth
Cast away from the people to whom I belong.
Why is that so? I asked,
For I knew of her family and their people,
I knew of the deeds of kindness they had done
I knew of the outstretched arms they offer to lost  cousins.
Her voice came to me,
Plaintive as the wind whispering in the reeds
She said: I opened my mouth and told the truth.
That is my sin. This is my punishment.
What is your truth? I asked.
She said: I was but a child at the time,
I was violated in unspeakable ways by my very own father.
My mother did nothing to protect me. My siblings stood by silently.
I, too, kept quiet for many years, hoping to bury the pain.
But the day came when the truth burst out from my heart
In a river of tears, in a sea of pain
In an ocean of grief and self hatred.
I went to those whom I trusted, but they did not believe me.
They told me I was mistaken, that it did not happen.
But I cannot deny the truth that lies in my heart
I refuse to betray the child within me by denying her pain.
I told the truth.
It is ugly and hideous, but it is the truth nonetheless
and I will not be silent to protect the honor
of he who does not deserve to be protected.
I have been ex-communicated because I have spoken the truth.
So, I shall wander here, in these fields of barley
Until the day when the piercing blast of a ram's horn rips away the layers
of denial and lies and the truth is known to all.


Dear Family
By Eliezer Eisgrau's Daughter
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dear Family,
You have all turned your backs and walked away from me. My father, my mother, and eleven siblings. All gone.

This reality is very sad. It is disturbing, and incomprehensible all at the same time.

What is the terrible crime I committed that warranted the loss of my entire family? What could cause parents to abandon a child? Siblings to abandon a sister? And a community to collectively turn its back in silence?

I committed a terrible crime. My unforgivable crime is that I spoke the truth about my childhood.

I could no longer keep secret the years of fear and pain. The molestation by my father, and the emotional abuse and neglect of both my parents .  . . 

I did try hard to keep it in the family as I had been taught to. I tried so hard to be the daughter you wanted me to be. To be "good" To let it go, and just forget, and somehow be OK... But I was in too much pain. I knew I couldn't continue without help.

I came to you first, remember? But you made it clear that you did not believe that I was really hurt. You made it clear that you would not, and could not, believe me that Tatty molested me nor could you support me. You denied that I had a reason to be in so much pain. I had to go elsewhere for help.

Going outside the family for help and support is a major sin. The louder you shouted that it just wasn't true, that Tatty could never do such a thing, that nothing really happened to me, the louder I had to shout to hear myself over the clamor of your thirteen desperate voices.
Oh, if only It were true, as you say, that a therapist somehow convinced me that the memories are true!!! I would sue the therapist and have my family back!

If only it were true, as you say, that the books I read on the subject of abuse are what put these horrible ideas into my head!! I would burn the books and have my family back!!

If only I were truly sick, or truly mental!! I would then pose no threat and I could have my family back!! Oh, if only I were truly evil and out to "get" my father! But I still love my father in spite of myself. I don't believe that my father is an evil monster. He has caused a lot of pain and refuses to take any responsibility for his actions. He is a human being who has done much good and also much bad. He has a serious problem and I wish he would get help.

Unfortunately It is true that I was sexually molested and abused in our family. If I am real than this did happen. I am a product of YOUR family. Thankfully, there were others who heard and I got the help I needed. I survived and I am doing well! To my siblings and my fathers supporters I say I am none of the things you accuse me of. I am just a women. I have my strengths and limitations just like you. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, a friend, and neighbor just like you. I play with my children, hug them, kiss them and love them, just like you do. I laugh and cry and feel as deeply as you do. I have a life that is rich and joyful and completely separate from my past, as I hope that you do too. And I have many close friends who truly know and appreciate me for who I am...and know nothing of my past.

But there is no substitute for my family. I miss you. In spite of your denial of my experiences. In spite of your blame and accusations. In spite of you saying that your childhood was idyllic and wonderful...and therefore mine was too. I am truly happy for you that this was your experience and I can not take it away from you. I can only envy you. My childhood also had wonderful moments and happy memories, yet the good memories are overshadowed by pain, sadness, and fear. I wish there was a way you could accept our different experiences, and reconcile.

Perhaps there are those of you who would like to be in touch with me and believe that you can't because Rabbi Hopfer advised you to cut me out of the family. It would be going against "Daas Torah" to speak with me. I am so sorry for your pain. I am so sorry for us that you have chosen a rav who apparently believes that you have more to gain by breaking up our family than by encouraging its healing. Any thinking, intelligent person can see that Rabbi Hopfer's cruel advice, which hides behind the guise of "Daas Torah," sadly, has nothing to do with either.

Tatty, I miss you too.

You have hurt me terribly and I can't fully comprehend what you did to me. I understand why the people who have trusted you do not want to believe me. It is just too overwhelming. I also do not want to believe...I still want to believe that I am wrong. I still want to believe that I have a father who is safe. You loved me and hurt me. You gave me life, and you almost killed me. You will always be the only father I have. I will always need you.

Mommy, I think I do understand why you walked away... You made it clear from the time I was young that Tatty was much more important to you than I was. I believe that on some level you know that my memories of him are true. I believe that you needed him, and still need him more than you ever needed me. You have not been able to let yourself truly see me from the time I was very little. And that hurts. Because I needed you desperately. You are my mother and I needed your protection. I will always need you.

I am a women who was terribly abused as a child. I deal with this reality every day of my life. And because I did not keep the secret, I am now a women without parents or siblings.
With tears and always... hope for the future,
Eisgrau's Daughter.


Eisgrau's Daughter Talks About Shmuel Juravel
By Eisgrau's Daughter
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speaks Out - August 1, 2006

The Link Between Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau and Shmuel Juravel - A Response From Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau's Daughter

Thank you to all of you for your kind words, support, and validation. Each time I am truly heard it helps heal a small piece of the pain of being silenced and invisible for so many years.

I remember my father trying to help Shmuel Zev Juravel when he was a young teen. If I remember correctly (I'm pretty sure that this was Juravel, if not it was another one of my fathers "cases") He was clashing with his parents at home and rebeling by refusing to eat fish on Shabbos (Something his parents considered a Mitzvah). I Remember my father trying to convince him to "Just eat the fish to make your mother happy." From what I have seen of my fathers work with troubled kids, he does not (know how to) address or deal with the underlying (real) issues, and his focus has been on making parents happy by 'rescuing' their wayward young and setting them back on the 'right track' ( usually meaning,doing what the parents want).

About 10 years ago, I was single and not religious, and Juravel called me up one day out of the blue. He and a friend were crusing around and wanted to know if they could drop by. I had no relationship with him other than our families being close friends forever. Having a hunch that he and I likely had something in common, I said yes. I was not living alone and made that clear to him on the phone.

The two guys came over and we sat and shot the breeze a bit and then sat in silence. He looked at me and I looked at him and neither of us was going to come out and ask our questions. They ended up leaving, and to this day I don't know why he came. My questions were "So how did my father help you?" Did he hurt you too?" "What do you want from me?" I didn't ask because I was afraid that my father had sent him.
Don't know if this helps, but that's all I know.


Message from the Son-In-Law of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau
Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence - September 30, 2006

For a long time, I have been subject to intimidation through my Rabbis and Rabbis who know me because I refuse to tell my wife to shut up. They have been pressured to pressure me. Some of them gave into pressure. I don't have a relationship with some of them anymore. It's hard to find a rabbi with both a strong backbone and competence, but they are out there.

When molesters are molesting and their friends are protecting them, they believe in their own power to dominate the victim. That's part of their pathology. But occasionally they miscalculate. They run into people who can't be bought off or intimidated. They run into people who do not negotiate with terrorists. They quickly go from the all-controlling to people who have limited possibilities when faced with victims who don't play the victim forever. Then they try to control the victim harder. They threaten and ostracize and do vicious things. They may have started out as religious, but they end up conspirators.
  • How can they be such hypocrites?
  • Are they so full of their own power-trip that they are in denial?
  • Are their hearts hardened like Pharoah?
  • Do the molesters and their protectors know the extent of their sins?
  • Are they sorry?
  • Do they even doubt themselves ever as normal human beings do?
I don't care. It's not my job to figure them out. They won't get any mercy from me. 

These molesters in the religious community will preserve themselves over all else. They don't have the ability to sacrifice for what is right, and neither do their Rabbis and friends in politics. They spend their days in anger and fear and panic. They are bluffing when they try to intimidate. Their ability to control is largely an illusion. Their arms only stretch so far. The conspiracy never can maintain itself. Ask the Catholic Church. Ask Woodward and Bernstein. People who go on the record and do the right thing are always around to talk about it later, and the perpetrators end up disgraced and above all, it's the conspiracy that ends up being the biggest sin.

The people in Baltimore whose names you can find on the blogs, who tried to intimidate my wife and me, did not calculate that we could possibility be stronger than they are. But our histories have made us very strong. We've been through more than they have. There are more names and more stories. There is more information that they don't want to get out. And I have it written down. And it will come out. And any new stunt they try and pull against me will also by publicized.

As victims of abuse, we have many options and choices and weapons. We will not back down and we hold many cards. We are sleeper cells waiting for the right time to fight. With patience and strength and intelligence we will prevail. The ultimate justice comes from God and he's on our side. The Torah and the Prophets rail against corruption and in the end of days, the evil people will not be able to camouflage themselves within the good people. So sayeth the Prophets. The Baltimore establishment made an Orphan out of my wife. God does not excuse that.

Embolden yourselves. Do not stay silent. Surround yourself with support. It's your turn. Write down the names and dates and stories and keep them. This is part of your arsenal. Find organizations, lawyers, police, websites, rabbis, politicians, leaders and donors. Find yourself a synagogue with decent and upstanding people who don't fall for their tricks. They might not be the same crowd you are used to, but there is only one hashgafa, the hashgafa of truth, the hashgafa of integrity. This is the hashgafa of Isaiah. This is the hashgafa of the Torah.

They will do anything to keep you from talking, but once you talk they can't do anything, and once you're beyond their web of influence, they can't do anything. Wait for the right time. And do not fear. It's their turn to be afraid.

- Husband of Daughter of Eisgrau


Awareness Center a clearinghouse of concern — and controversy
JTA - January 10, 2006
By Eugene L. Meyer

NEW YORK (JTA) — There is no unabridged database of rabbinic sexual abusers. But there is the Awareness Center.

It´s not a physical place, but a Baltimore post-office box, cell-phone number and Web site — — where online surfers can find a listing of scores of Jewish clergy and hundreds of other Jewish officials in positions of trust or authority who are alleged to be sexual predators. Some of them have been convicted of crimes; some have not even been charged or sued. A roster of them can be found on the Web site at:

Vicki Polin, 47, is the nonprofit organization´s executive director and only full-time staffer. A licensed clinical professional counselor and an art therapist, she founded the Awareness Center in 2001 after becoming fed up over what she deemed to be inaction in bringing perpetrators to justice and protecting the public.

Her biggest weapon: exposure of alleged wrongdoers.

Polin's efforts have won her loyal supporters and harsh critics.

"Vicki´s site is very valuable," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, religious adviser at Yeshiva University and a vocal advocate for victims of rabbinic sexual abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct.

"Since you can´t get people arrested and there are no court cases, you have to use a standard that´s reasonable and [disclosure] works in that context."

The Awareness Center´s outing of alleged and confirmed abusers has inspired an army of Jewish bloggers eager to discuss the topic. Their anonymous postings appear on Web sites such as the Unorthodox Jew, the Canonist, and

"In the Orthodox community it is much harder to be heard, so people go online instead of going to police and the rabbi," said a woman now living in Israel who reported being abused as a child by her father, an American rabbi who is principal of an Orthodox school on the Eastern seaboard. "The blogs are safe for survivors."
The Awareness Center and the bloggers not only have brought this sensitive subject to the attention of a wide audience, they have also stirred up considerable controversy over issues of fairness, attribution and transparency.

"The blogorai, as I call it, is the new way of making irresponsible accusations," charged Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the fervently Orthodox advocacy organization Agudath Israel.

"Using a blog is a very easy and effective way of casting aspersions on people."

Blau said blogs are a mixed blessing.

"Since they are anonymous, they can say almost anything," he said. "On the other hand, until the community is more willing to deal with issues, I can understand why writers won´t reveal their identity."

One blog-intensive case listed on the Awareness Center site involves Mordechai Tendler, a disgraced modern Orthodox rabbi from Rockland County, N.Y., who was accused of having illicit sexual relationships with several women who had come to him for counsel.

The charismatic scion of distinguished rabbinic scholars, Tendler ironically was known as a strong advocate for Jewish women who were unable to obtain a get, or religious release from marriage, from their husbands.

Tendler was expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America in March 2005 for "conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi." The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance praised the RCA "for taking these issues seriously and instituting formal procedures to deal with them." Those procedures included hiring a Texas-based private investigative firm to conduct a probe of the matter and convening an in-house ethics panel to rule on the case.

In April, Tendler was fired from the congregation he had helped establish in the mid-1980s, Kehillat New Hempstead. Undaunted, he held High Holiday services this year in a public elementary school directly across the street from his former shul.

Tendler, married and the father of eight, has consistently denied the allegations against him, but did not respond to inquiries from JTA seeking comment. His attorney, Glen Feinberg, said his client retains a large following in Rockland County. JTA asked Feinberg to encourage Tendler´s supporters to contact JTA, but none did.

The scandal has spawned at least three lawsuits, including one filed by Tendler against his former congregation for alleged breach of contract. That suit has been dismissed, but the ruling is being appealed. The litigation filed against Tendler has publicized the sort of matters that once would have only been whispered about in private.

For example, a lawsuit filed in December 2005 by former congregant (Name Removed) states that Tendler, who portrayed himself as "a counselor and advisor with expertise in women´s issues," advised (Name Removed) to have sex with him so that "her life would open up and men would come to her," and she would then marry and have children.

The suit also claims that Tendler told (Name Removed) that he "was as close to God as anyone could get" and that he "was the Messiah." And when the relationship ended, the suit contends, Tendler encouraged congregants to "harass, threaten and intimidate" (Name Removed) in an apparent attempt to discredit her accusations.

As for Tendler, his legal filings included petitions submitted in Ohio and California seeking to force the disclosure of the identities of anonymous bloggers who had been attacking him publicly for his alleged conduct. But he withdrew both petitions.

In the California case, a judge ruled Oct. 12 that Tendler must pay the bloggers´ legal fees — a decision that was praised by attorney Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, who represented three of the bloggers involved in the case.

"The right to criticize anonymously on the Internet is a fundamental free-speech right and an important tool for whistle-blowers and consumers who speak out about the misconduct or corruption of big companies or public figures," Levy said in a press release.

A letter from Tendler to the judge who had ruled in the California case was posted Nov. 15 on a victims´ advocacy blog. In the letter, Tendler asked the judge to reconsider his decision on attorney´s fees, adding: "I have been the subject of a concerted and constant Internet campaign to destroy my reputation, livelihood, and family. Disgusting allegations of sexual impropriety, all of them false, have been circulated about me and amplified in such horrific proportions as only can happen on the Internet. These allegations and threats have, in fact, destroyed my reputation as a rabbi and teacher and have caused me hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in actual and future damages."

The letter described the bloggers as being "like poisonous snakes" who "want to continue to do their damage and spread their filthy vicious lies with no accountability."

The Awareness Center, also known as the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, has its own confidentiality policy regarding victims of sexual misconduct and others.

"As a victim advocate, I never name the survivors," Polin said.

The Awareness Center no longer names its board members, either, "due to harassment," according to Polin, who said she herself has been threatened repeatedly with physical harm and once was spat on by a woman who was angry over an Awareness Center disclosure.

In 2003, Polin said, a supporter of an alleged abuser named on her site did background checks on her advisory board members, "found something about them or someone they cared about and threatened to make it public." Half a dozen resignations ensued, she said.
Among those who were formerly listed but resigned for other reasons is Rabbi Mark Dratch, who chairs the Rabbinical Council of America´s Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties and has founded the organization JSafe to deal with sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

Dratch said he left the Awareness Center board in "disagreement with [Polin] on the standards required for publishing on her Web site. I wasn´t satisfied with the threshold of verification. There are people who´ve been victimized and others who´ve been subject to false reports also being victimized. The big problem we have in this area is verifying the allegations and moving forward."

As of early December, the Awareness Center site still listed 236 "supportive rabbis." Polin said more than 500 people receive her e-mail alerts, and the Web page averages around 35,000 visitors per month.

One of the e-mail recipients is Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and a trained psychologist.

"I read everything with a grain of salt," he said. "On the other hand," Weinreb said, the Awareness Center and the blogs "have served the purpose of keeping this in the public spotlight and keeping the pressure on established institutions to police their constituencies."

As of late December, the Awareness Center was in danger of closing for lack of funds, according to Polin, who was seeking donations to keep the organization afloat.


CALL TO ACTION: Allowing A Survivor Civil Rights - Awareness and Education
March, 2007

The situation described below has happened in several observant Jewish communities around the globe. I'm using the case in Baltimore as an example since it is the community in which The Awareness Center, Inc. is based.

As we all know there is rarely any witnesses when a sex crime committed.

Two stumbling blocks advocates for Jewish survivors of sex crimes repeatedly encountering is the fact that according to halach (Jewish law) there needs to be two male witnesses to the crime and that women do not count as kosher witnesses.

There has been on going concerns in the orthodox community of Baltimore -- that those with power have been consistently more concern with the rights of alleged and convicted sex offenders then they have been with the rights of those who have been sexually victimized.

Many individuals in the Baltimore community feel that one of the reasons the Baltimore Jewish Times rarely writes about sex crimes is due to the influence of various rabbinic leaders.

Over the past five years I've had discussions with various rabbonim in the Baltimore community regarding a case that occurred over ten years ago. The child of an alleged sex offender was basically chased out of town. When asked about the case, various religious leaders stated that there was not enough evidence that a crime was committed. The problem continues to be that the religious leaders of Baltimore do not know what to look for in cases of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault.

In the case of the child being chased out of town, the rabbis questioned the survivor who was undergoing intensive treatment for a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder, and then questioned the alleged offender -- who denied the allegations. Unfortunately, the alleged offender was and continues to be a close friend of the rabbis who conducted the investigation.

For years the survivor in this case has been wanting to have contacts with siblings. Because of a decree made by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer this survivor has not been allowed to have contact with the majority of family members.

The survivor is basically in cherem (shunned, in excommunication). The Awareness Center is a strong supporter of this survivor and is asking everyone to contact Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer. Please request that he allow the survivor to have contact with family members. Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer can be reached at: 410-358-8281.

At one time the Baltimore Jewish Times was going to run this story of this survivor, yet suddenly backed down. One has to wonder if the rabbonim of Batlimore influence of the paper back then and if they continue to influence the paper today and in what news is shared in this community.

A few weeks ago JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency) ran a series about clergy sexual abuse called "Reining In Abuse". Many Jewish papers across the United States ran the series. Unfortunately, The Baltimore Jewish Times did not.

The following is a dialog I had with Mr. Neil Rubin, editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times. I also have to mention that the New York Jewish Week also did not run the series. You may also want to contact Gary Rosenblatt to ask why he decided not to run this vitally important series.

After reading the dialog below I'm asking everyone to provide me with feedback.
  1. Do you think that The Awareness Center should ask everyone to boycott the Baltimore Jewish Times?
  2. Do you think we should encourage everyone to purchase a subscription and send letters as a subscriber to demand they start writing about sex crimes in the Baltimore community?
  3. Or can you think of other pro-active methods that can be utilized?
Remember the goal is awareness and education. They both are key if we want to end sexual violence!

Please contact the following individuals:
Neil Rubin - Editor, Baltimore Jewish Times

Gary Rosenblatt - Editor, New York Jewish Week
212-921-7822, ext. 215

Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer
President, Association of Orthodox rabbis in Greater Baltimore


E-mail exchange with the Baltimore Jewish Times
-----Original message-----

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2007 10:45:03 -0500
To: editor@
Subject: JTA Series

Dear Mr. Rubin,
I wanted to thank you for publishing the one of the many article from the JTA series "Reining in Abuse". I think it's vitally important that everyone in Baltimore is aware that it's not just the orthodox community that has problems. It's a problem faced in each and very movement of Judaism.

The only way things will ever change is by our communities becoming aware of the issues so that we can start educating ourselves in hopes of preventing one more innocent person from becoming the next victim. For that reason I want to do what ever it takes to encourage you to publish the entire series.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I can be reached
at 443-___________.


In a message dated 1/28/07 5:19:59 PM, nrubin@ writes:

From: Neil Rubin
cc: Phil Jacobs

Thank you Vicki. I believe we posted the whole thing at our website over the course of a week.

All the best,


-----Original message-----

Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 19:05:50 -0500
To: nrubin@
Subject: Re: JTA Series

Thanks for letting me know. I've only been able to find one of the articles.
Do you think you can send me the links? I also wanted to know if you are
you going to also publish the series in your paper?


In a message dated 1/28/07 8:42:07 PM, nrubin@ writes:
From: Neil Rubin
cc: Phil Jacobs

Our links are unfortunately not in great shape right now. But I will check.
I don't know what we will do in print as we're so overwhelmed with the need to write about local news and people. As you know, we've not avoided the issue (including writing about you).

-N (Neil Rubin)


In a message dated 2/1/07 5:15:14 PM, nrubin@ writes:
From: Neil Rubin
Hi Vicki. I added a few of the JTA abuse stories to the website. They should be up tomorrow or the next day. I chose not to put in the one about the Awareness Center as we've obviously already written about that.

Shabbat Shalom.

In a message dated 2/1/07 10:45:30 PM, VICKIPOLIN writes:

Dear Neil,
I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised that you chose not to publish the entire series written by JTA in print and even more surprised your paper would exclude on of the artices in the series on your web page, especially since it's about an organization based in Baltimore.

The reality is that the Baltimore Jewish Times has not written anything about our organization since 2002. I am fully aware that your paper has repeatedly written articles about other Baltimore organization more then once.

Considering a few of the articles mention our organization, it seems fair enough to believe you would want your readers to fully understand they dynamics of what's going on when it comes to those who advocate for survivors. Do you mind letting me know why you feel the need to delete it from the series? I wonder if it's because it mentions the case of Mordecai Tendler. I am aware there are several of his relatives who live in this community. I also want to know if it is because the article quotes me as saying someone in the Jewish community of Baltimore spit in my face?



In a message dated 2/2/07 11:01:08 AM, nrubin@ writes:

We don't have room in print. The paper is smaller than it used to be due to what' s happening in the industry. If we had room, we could. We also didn't print JTA's series on the need for new rabbis, on the changes in Latin American Jewry, on GM's relationship with Nazis, on the Israeli-Jordanian partnership, etc.

Rest assured that we are not going to cover every issue that is important to everyone simply because we can't.

I'm comfortable with what we've done.
-N (Neil Rubin)


Regarding R'Yisroel Meir Lau
© (2007) By Naomi

Today I read an article about R' Yisroel Meir Lau, the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and his horrific experiences as a child during the holocaust. It made me sob because on some level I could deeply relate to that level of trauma and loss...But through my tears and grief I couldn't help thinking that he was lucky. At least as a child he knew who the bad guys were...and they weren't his parents!

When it is your frum parents who are molesting and torturing you and no one notices or helps, it breaks something inside of you. The psychological pain is indescribable. You cease to exist. Your ego and identity are shattered. No matter how hard you work to move past it and live a normal life, your sense of trust in people, in the Torah, and Hashem, is never completely healed. You can not morn your lost family, your lost childhood, and lost self, like a holocaust survivor can. You can't even talk about your experiences without people doubting and questioning your memories. Most people who you tell beg you to deny...They plead with you to recant...They can not let you rock their world in this way. They can not begin to question their faith in Rabbonim and in Daas Torah. You must be crazy. You must be wrong. You wish with every ounce of your being that you could agree with them..

... If only I had lost my family in the holocaust and not in this cruel confusing way, I could cry aloud and people would cry with me! They would understand my grief, anger, and pain and my need to talk about it. Instead I sit an endless shiva in secret isolation. No one really wants to listen or to believe me. I sit in a shiva of shame. I cry alone.

There are people who deny that the holocaust ever happened, and we are incredulous. We personally know survivors! How can they be so evil? Are frum people who deny the personal holocaust of any survivor of sexual abuse any different? What they are doing is cruel. What they are doing is wrong.


CALL TO ACTION:  Calling for the ethical treatment of the daughter of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau.
December 31, 2007
Download PDF
Over the last six years, The Awareness Center has made the case of Rabbi Elieizer Eisgrau public. It's been around eleven years since one of the children of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau was has been excommunicated from not only her family, yet also her community. This is due to a decree bestowed upon her by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer who has absolutely no education or training in the field of sexual violence.

Just under six years ago Rabbi Eisgrau's daughter called Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer asking him to remove the decree. Unfortunately, Hopfer could not remember why he made the decree, yet stated he must have had a good reason to have made his decision and decided to continue to stand behind his ignorance and deny the daughter the right to communicate with her siblings.

While talking to Rabbi Hopfer, Eisgrau's daughter disclosed that Rabbi Hopfer admitted that he "did not think she was crazy", and agreed that she may have changed over the five years that had gone by. The last time Hopfer spoke to her was when Eisgrau's daughter was when she young barely out of her teens. The survivor is currently in her thirties.

Rabbi Hopfer stated, "the brothers and sisters of `the survivor' would be put into a place where they would have to choose between their sister and their father". He felt this was unfair to do, needless to say he decided that the siblings needed to cut her off, unless the Eisgrau Survivor promised never to say anything about her alleged memories of incest between herself and her father.

The survivor/daughter of Rabbi Eleizer Eisgrau has not seen her siblings for over eleven years. She does not know her nieces or nephews. Her children are being brought up without knowing their aunts, uncles or cousins. The reason why is because she had the courage to get help and refused to keep silent.

As a people, we all need to stand up and say that the decree made by Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer was unethical and wrong?

Call Rabbi Hopfer and let him know how you feel about this injustice.  Tell him that it's time that Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau be evaluated by a mental health professional who specializes in doing evaluations on sex offenders.  This specialist needs to be someone who is recommended by The Awareness Center to insure the professional has the correct qualifications and has no connection to those who want to keep the truth secret.
Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer
President, Baltimore Vaad HaRabbonim

Baltimore Rabbi warns community about alleged sex offender: Rabbi Stanley Levitt

Examiner - JULY 15, 2012

Baltimore, MD -- Last week Rabbi Moshe Hauer released a letter which included a photograph of Rabbi Stanley Z. Levitt in hopes of protecting unsuspected children from harm. Rabbi Levitt was arrested back in 2009 in Boston and charged with sexually abusing students at a Jewish day school more then 30 years ago. Jury selection on Levitt criminal case begins on July 30, 2012 at the Suffolk County Superior Courthouse in Boston. Stanley Levitt currently resides in northeast Philadelphia, but also maintains a residence in Baltimore, MD

According to Hauer’s letter, Levitt is not allowed in any orthodox synagogue except for Shearith Israel Congregation (also known as the Glenn Ave. Shul), which is under the leadership ofRabbi Yaakov Hopfer. The letter continued by assuring the Baltimore community that Stanley Levitt would be closely monitored when going in the hallways and or the restroom, that he was mandated to be accompanied by another adult. Due to the seriousness of the allegations pending against Levitt in Boston, he is not allowed to get into any in synagogue service such as reading a Torah portion, saying any blessings to the congregation, etc. This is an amazing unprecedented response to be getting from the ultra-orthodox community in Baltimore.

View slideshow: Rabbi Stanley Z. Levitt

Video: Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer - Child Molester Enabler

Several community members in the Baltimore orthodox community voiced their concerns regarding the fact that Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer is in charge of monitoring Levitt. His synagogue has been known to be a harbor for other alleged and convicted sex offenders residing within the eruv (ultra-orthodox Jewish community) of Baltimore. In the past it has been reported that Rabbi Hopfer attempted to conduct his own investigations regarding allegations of sex crimes, instead of encouraging community members to make hotline and police reports. One such case in which many believe there was an obstruction of justice is the case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, who is the principal of the Torah Institute (TI) of Baltimore. Allegations arouse several years ago that Eisgrau had allegedly molested his daughter. When a police detective attempted to investigate the case he was told that no one knew who Eisgrau or his daughter was. A reliable source stated that community members were instructed by rabbi Hopfer along with other members of the Vaad of Baltimore (Jewish religious court) not to assist law enforcement officials in this matter. The fear was that letting the rest of the world know that problems like this existed in the charedi world, could bring on another pogrom or holocaust.

Recently, a Hillel rabbi from Baltimore came into possession of a Torah (Jewish bible) from the holocaust. He was looking for someone who was trained to repair the scroll. Rabbi Stanley Levittis a trained sofer stam (scribe) and had the qualifications needed to do the repairs. According to standard policies an individual who handles a Torah has to do so within the guidelines of purity, which includes going to a mikvah (ritual bath), prior to doing the work.

When Levitt applied to do the repairs on the holocaust Torah, he was interviewed three times prior to his application for the work was sent off the information to a Vaad in London (Jewish religious court). Immediately a member of the Vaad did a "Google search" of him, and learned of the allegations made against him along with the pending court case, which was found on The Awareness Center’s website. This was enough information for the Vaad to choose someone else to do the work.

Even though the Vaad of Baltimore has been aware of the allegations made against Levitt for several years it took the son of the Hillel rabbi to have the letter sent out by Hauer to be sent out. The truth is protecting children is everyone’s responsibility. According to Jewish law, every adult is a mandated reporter. If you suspect a child is at risk of harm, pick up the phone and call your local child abuse hotline. It is the only way to ensure that offenders are taken off the streets and that our children stand a chance at being safe.


Breaking the code of silence
Sexual abuse scandals are continuing to rock ultra-Orthodox community, as victims come forward
By Andrew Friedman
Jerusalem Post - February 20, 2013

The last time Nanette Eisgrau spoke to her father was in 1994. She was 19 years old, and her father – Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau, the principal of the Torah Institute of Baltimore – had found out she had been seeing a secular-trained (but Orthodox) therapist to deal with the emotional fallout from the sexual abuse, she says she endured as a child, inflicted by her father and maternal grandfather.

“My father forced me to perform oral and anal sex repeatedly between the ages of three and seven,” Eisgrau recounts to The Jerusalem Report during a conversation at her home in a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) community in Israel. “My grandfather also exposed himself to me, and touched me in my private areas.

“But when I confronted my father about it, he threatened to sue the therapist I had been seeing. He said she had convinced me of things that never happened. There was no fatherly attempt to hear my pain or to try to work through the issue together, just total denial; and he blamed me for trying to ruin his life.”

Following the confrontation with her father, her siblings demanded that she stop “telling stories” in public; and when she refused, the family sought the advice of Rabbi Yakov Hopfer, a respected authority in Baltimore’s Orthodox community, but with no secular training as a psychologist or family counselor.

After brief conversations with Nanette Eisgrau and a psychiatrist who treated her for crisis management following a suicide attempt several years later, Hopfer determined that her accusations were baseless. He advised the family to cut off all contact with her, saying they had to choose between their father and sister – and he advised the community to do the same.

“I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder, but it was such a shanda [shame] for them, they just couldn’t deal with it,” she says now. “My mother continued to talk to me for a while after I was cut out – we even tried joint therapy together for a while after I tried to kill myself, but she denied that I had any baggage or any reason to be in treatment.

“What they have done to me since is a lot worse than even the original abuse. They cut me off in the most complete way I can imagine.

What’s even worse, I don’t think it’s only about me. They’ve made an example of me for the rest of the community to make sure that nobody else speaks out about abuse.”

When Manny Waks went public in July, 2011 with allegations that he had been repeatedly molested by staff members at Chabad’s Yeshiva College in Melbourne in the 1980s, the news sent tremors through the Australian Jewish community. Three years earlier, the community was scandalized by accusations that a female school principal from Melbourne’s ultra-Orthodox Adass community had sexually molested dozens of students, and that the community had closed ranks when police got wind of the story. Eventually, police believe, the woman was spirited quickly out of Australia to prevent legal authorities from launching a full-scale investigation.

Like in the Baltimore case, Waks informed rabbinical authorities of the abuse, but they, too, advised him not to seek professional counseling and forbade him from reporting the abuse to the police. And like Eisgrau, Waks, too, paid a heavy price for his decision to go public.

“I’m not observant anymore, so the rabbis don’t have terribly much power over me,” Waks tells The Report. “But they have tried hard to silence me by making my family suffer: My parents are 100 percent dedicated to Chabad and its teachings, but my father isn’t allowed to have analiya in shul anymore.

Several longtime study partners have abandoned him, either because they feel I have betrayed the community, or because they fear a backlash from the community for supporting my case.”

The Eisgrau and Waks cases are only two of a slew of sex scandals that have rocked Orthodox Jewish communities around the world in recent years.

In Israel, prominent Zionist rabbis such as Mordechai Elon and Shlomo Aviner have been accused of sexual misconduct; and in the United States, modern Orthodoxy’s flagship Yeshiva University was rocked last year by allegations that rabbis there had abused students in the 1980s, and that others had failed to report the abuse to police or child welfare authorities. And in January, both the massive 103-year prison sentence handed down against Nechemia Weberman, a member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hassidic community who was convicted of abusing a teenage girl, and the reported rape of a five-year-old ultra- Orthodox girl in the Israeli town of Modi’in Illit, and the subsequent cover-up, sent shockwaves around the globe. But they, too, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Abuse and cover-up stories have been reported from Ramat Beit Shemesh to London, from Lithuanian-style yeshivas such as Baltimore’s Ner Yisrael and Melbourne’s Kollel Beth HaTalmud, from within Hassidic groups including Chabad and Satmar, and from elsewhere.

In Israel alone, support organizations that deal with sexual abuse receive thousands of requests for assistance from ultra- Orthodox communities every month.

According to Magen, a Beit Shemesh-based organization that focuses on preventing child abuse and encourages people to seek professional counseling and to report sexual offenses to civil authorities, there are strong cultural explanations for the fact that the vast majority of offenders do not get caught, but it isn’t because people don’t want to deal with this phenomenon.

“Nationally, about 2 percent of the population reports child sexual abuse cases to law enforcement officials,” David Morris, the group’s founder and chairman, tells The Report. “In the Orthodox world, that number appears to be far lower – in 2010, Beit Shemesh recorded the lowest proportion of abuse reports in the country, followed by Bnei Brak and Beitar Illit. There are several explanations for this, including strong social mores attached to sexual matters, and because of a strong social contract to deal with the issues facing the community ‘in house.’ “Traditionally, religious Jews really believed that sex abuse was just not a problem in ‘our’ communities, so strongly that any suggestion to the contrary was dismissed almost out of hand. That position is no longer tenable, and nobody who wants to appear serious would make that claim anymore.”

Morris adds that rabbis who are asked to adjudicate sexual abuse claims often have serious conflicts of interest with regard to those claims. “Some of this has to do with the multiple roles that a rabbi has in a religious community. Many times, an individual can serve as the principal of a school, the rabbi of a synagogue, the head of a local charity fund and a halakhic authority for the whole community.

So when a parent complains that his child has been abused, which of those authorities is receiving the complaint? Add in to the mix a strong desire on the part of the rabbinic establishment to maintain control of communal issues and you’ve got a recipe for at least the appearance of cover-ups,” Morris notes.

But, at the same time, Morris asserts that there are signs that grass-roots activity is beginning to combat the phenomenon. Not only have victim-support organizations cropped up in virtually every Orthodox community in the world, run by Orthodox lay people and mental health professionals, but Orthodox people themselves are taking advantage of their services.

Morris says that in 2011,the first full calendar year after Magen was founded, reporting from Beit Shemesh rose by 43 percent. In cold numbers, more than 200 victims of abuse have come forward to tell their stories, and they have identified more than 100 perpetrators, and there is an increasing trend to report abuse.

“There is a scourge that is affecting our communities and our children are at risk.

People are sick and tired of pretending these issues don’t exist, and they no longer have confidence that community rabbis can deal effectively with their problems on their own.

Community rabbis do have an important role in investigating these issues – they can calm down the community, can educate parents about child protection, encourage people to come forward, protect them from backlash and provide counseling for victims and families.

“People here are scared. They want abusers fired from their jobs as teachers and yeshiva rabbis, and they want criminals to go to jail. Moreover, people are saying loud and clear that they want professional help for their psychological trauma. More and more, people are saying ‘no’ to the suggestion that untrained rabbis can act in the place of trained social workers, mental health professionals and of police investigators.”

Nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in Australia, and nowhere has it had more of a positive effect. Manny Waks says his pleas in the 1980s for help and justice went unheeded, and he says the current community leadership of Chabad continues to criticize him and to ostracize his family. But his campaign to encourage victims to break their silence has begun to bear fruit. Two of the individuals that Waks originally accused are now on trial in Melbourne, and multiple victims have stepped forward to testify in these cases.

Perhaps even more significant has been the response by Australia’s official rabbinical bodies. Whereas Waks says that Chabad officialdom has continued its “campaign of intimidation” against him and those who cooperate with him,” the Rabbinical Council of Victoria and other official rabbinical organizations, which are dominated by Chabad rabbis, have made a series of strong statements encouraging people to report sex crimes to the police.

Furthermore, there are signs down under, even from within Chabad circles, that previously held norms may be changing. Take for example the mid-February announcement that New South Wales police had opened an investigation into the Chabad-run Yeshiva Center in Sydney for alleged sexual abuse at the school in the 1970s and 80s. The day the investigation was announced, the yeshiva issued an official statement condemning the abuse and encouraging victims to report their experiences to the police.

While there is no question that instances of sexual abuse have skyrocketed in recent decades, mental health professionals are split when it comes to explaining the phenomenon.

One Israeli psychiatrist tells The Report that there was little hard data that would allow mental health professionals to draw up policy recommendations to combat the phenomenon.

The psychiatrist also points out that the details of abuse were different in the Orthodox world than in the general population. For instance, he notes, Orthodox abusers were more likely to molest boys than girls, probably due to the fact that they had fewer opportunities to abuse girls. He compares this phenomenon to prison: It is a well-known phenomenon that men engage in homosexual acts in jail not because they are gay but because men are the only sexual outlets available.

On the other hand, he also notes that in Orthodox societies, women are essentially exempt from much of the “benign” sexual harassment (such as inappropriate comments) to which women are often exposed in secular circles. Solid data on this topic was almost impossible to come by, says the doctor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noting that many of his patients are ultra-Orthodox and he did not want to compromise his ability to treat them.

What is clear, however, is that mental health professionals say sex abuse has reached “epidemic” proportions, in Israel and abroad. In Jerusalem alone, the Crisis Center for Religious Women has handled more than 72,000 cases since its establishment in 1992. According to Debbie Gross, the center’s founder and director, there isn’t a single community in Israel that has not been affected by this phenomenon.

There are many factors to explain why sexual abuse has grown so fast, Gross tells The Report. A major factor, she says, has nothing to do with Haredi social norms – pornography.

“Thirty years ago, when people went looking for pornography they found pictures of naked ladies,” Gross says. “That would almost qualify as family entertainment today.

The porn that’s out there today is violent; it features sex with animals and with children, and most of all, it is readily available. Sexuality, then, becomes identified with aggression and predatory behavior, and people can become addicted. Once that happens, they feel a need to act out the fantasies they’ve watched in pornographic movies.

“The second thing that’s changed is that in years gone by, no one talked about boys being victimized. So more often than not, their trauma went undiagnosed and untreated, and they in turn became abusers. So you might have had one person abuse 300 kids during a teaching career. If ‘only’ 10 percent of those victims grow up to be abusers, but each of children, you’re looking at a lot of people,” Gross says.

When trying to deal with this problem, experts are split on how the war against sexual abuse should be waged. Whereas Magen’s David Morris says that rabbis must be taught that they do not possess the skills or the knowledge to correctly ascertain on their own whether abuse has taken place, or the ability to treat victims of abuse, Gross feels it would be a mistake to lay all the blame at the feet of the rabbinical leadership.

“You cannot blame the rabbis alone,” she says. “How about we talk about the police and the media role in all this? I’ve accompanied many women to the police, helped them file complaints – only to read about their cases in the next day’s newspaper. True, the reports don’t reveal names, but they can feature so many details that it’s easy to figure out who the victim is. So victims walk away feeling violated again, and sorry that they’ve reported the issue.

“If we want victims of abuse to come forward, we have to create a situation in which his or her privacy will be totally respected.

That would go a long way towards encouraging people to speak up,” Gross says.

Gross adds that civil authorities in Israel and abroad must readjust their thinking if they are to craft policies that could seriously address the issue. “We tend to look at this issue as a criminal one, but I’d suggest that the correct way to look at it is as a health issue,” she says. “It’s an epidemic, like any other epidemic.

Compare sex abuse to swine flu: We were worried about a mass outbreak of swine flu, but health officials around the world took responsible measures to prevent it.

“Sex abuse is similar. I don’t believe we can stop it completely, but we can teach people how to build safer environments for children.

Our staff and volunteers have been giving workshops for Orthodox parents, teachers and school administrators all over the world.

We give them tools to make schools safer – for example, you’ve got to make sure there are teachers on duty at the boys’ bathroom every recess period. You’ve got to have teachers or parents patrol the school during break time and after school. Remember, predators do not want to get caught, and if they know people are watching, the chances go down that they’ll be able to abuse,” says Gross.

Although there are no signs that the epidemic is subsiding, there are signs that ultra- Orthodox communities are beginning to act.

One Haredi man who spoke to The Report on condition of anonymity said the issue of protecting children is a topic of conversation today in all parts of the ultra-Orthodox world.

Another said people are talking openly with their children in a way that they would never have done even five years ago.

The ultra-Orthodox establishment, too, has started to turn to professional organizations to deal with the phenomenon. Gross says she now gives regular workshops to rabbis and schools in all Haredi neighborhoods in Israel, at the behest of the communities themselves.

“Obviously, there is no more sensitive or painful subject for a community to deal with,” Gross says. “It’s taken religious communities a long time to wake up to the reality they are facing, but it’s happening. It is our responsibility to make sure there is an infrastructure in place to deal with problems when they arise, or even better – to create a situation in all communities in which sexual abuse simply cannot thrive. It’s a slow process, but I’d have to say that it’s happening.”

Rabbi Yakov Hopfer responds: “Ms. Nanette Eisgrau’s accusations were made known to police and local social services authorities at the time. She also consulted with many psychologists, none of whom took her seriously. At the time, I advised her siblings to maintain contact with her, and to be understanding and kind to a young woman who clearly had many problems. I also suggested that Ms.

Eisgrau attend therapy sessions – with a therapist of her choosing – with one of her sisters, and that they agree to follow whatever advice he or she gave. They went for that counseling, and the therapist strongly recommended that Ms. Eisgrau put her issues behind her and get on with her life. She refused,and only then did I advise the family to break off contact.

“Sexual abuse is a vitally serious issue, and I take these allegations very seriously.

Moreover, professionals in the state of Maryland are legally obligated to report abuse to the relevant authorities. This was done in this case, by more than one professional, and we have taken action in other cases where action was warranted.

But not all allegations are true.”

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