Monday, February 26, 2007

Regarding the case of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

 © (2007) by Vicki Polin

When I first created The Awareness Center I was inundated by calls from women from all over the world, who disclosed that they were sexually abused by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach . I also want to mention that these calls came right before his Yahrzeit.

The callers often described the internal pain they felt each year that their synagogues were having a special Carlebach Minyon in his honor. Several women disclosed that they quit being religious, quit going to shul. A few even converted to other faiths as a result of being sexually victimized by Carlebach.

I am from an unaffiliated background. I'll be honest with you, when the calls first started I had never heard of Shlomo Carlebach. I ended up asking various rabbis for background information on him.

I was told that Shlomo Carlebach was an artist . . . a musician. . . someone who was responsible for bring hundreds if not thousands back to Judaism.

Due to the number of neshema's (Jewish souls) he saved it was enough reason for him to deserved to be respected. These same rabbis all acknowledge that Shlomo Carlebach had a little problem with loving women a little too much.

When asked what that meant, I was told "boys will be boys -- you know how musicians are, etc." Basically many were giving him an excuse for practicing clergy sexual abuse (professional sexual misconduct).

Finally one rabbi said something that I believe explains the reason for the volume of calls.

"Vicki, you have to understand some of the facts. Shlomo traveled a great deal, he was a Kiruv worker (Jewish outreach worker). Let's say Shlomo was "with" one woman a week -- times that by forty years. So basically that would mean he would have been with 2,160 women."

"The problem is that Shlomo most likely had a sex addiction. Knowing Shlomo the odds are he was with at least one or two woman a day; that would mean he was with over 14,600 women."

I have no idea if this rabbi statement was correct, yet I do know that over the last five years I've gotten more calls from survivors of Shlomo Carlebach, then any other one alleged or convicted sex offender.

Each and every one of the women who have been sexually violated by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach have a right to have their voices heard. For that reason I am sharing Ariela's story with you. Please note there is no way to verify her words, yet they are consistent with what others have shared.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Case of Craig Goldstein

Case of Craig Goldstein
Mastic Beach, NY

Convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree and sodomy in the second degree with an eleven-year-old boy.

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. National Sex Offender Registry  (02/25/2007)


National Sex Offender Registry
As of February 25, 2007

Offender Id: 12545                 Race: White                               Ethnicity: Not Hispanic

Last Name: GOLDSTEIN          First Name: CRAIG Height: 5'08"       Middle Name:

Weight: 158                        DOB: Jun 19, 1977                       Hair: Brown

Sex: Male                           Eyes: Brown

Risk Level: 2 Corr. Lens: YES

Photo Date: Feb 25, 2007

Reported Address: 85 ROBINWOOD

City: MASTIC BEACH            State: NY                      Zip Code: 11951

Sex Offender Type

Designation: Sexually Violent Offender


Date              Arrest Agency        Suprv. Agency             Victim Sex/Age
Nov 5, 1999         Suffolk County           PD Headquarters                Male, 11 Years

Conviction Charges:
(Please note: a conviction for an attempt is generally punishable at one grade below the classification of the crime attempted, i.e., a rape 2nd degree is punishable as a class D felony while an attempted rape 2nd degree is punishable as a class E felony.)
Title Section Subsection Class Category Degree Description
PL 130.65 D F 1 Sexual Abuse-1st Degree
PL 130.45 D F 2 Sodomy-2nd Degree

Incarceration Sentence: 730 Day(s), Local Jail.
Employer Info:
Status Street City State Zip
Special Conditions:
Offense Description & Modus Operandi:
Offense Description:
Actual, MoreThanOnce Deviate Sexual Intercourse
Relationship to victim: Unknown
Weapon used: Unknown
Force used: Unknown
Computer used: Unknown
Pornography involved: Unknown


National Sex Offender Registry
November 10, 2013



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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ariela's Story: A Survivor of Shlomo Carlebach Speaks Out

© (2007) by Ariela
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

It was a warm summer afternoon in 1974 and I was out in the back yard playing baseball with my brother when my mom called out, "Phone call, Ariela Hurry! It's a rabbi in New York!"

I raced inside, my heart pounding. A long distance call for me? A rabbi? Wow! Maybe it’s a response to my letter! When I heard a voice say, "Hello Ariela, this is Shlomo Carlebach".

I was filled with immense joy. My letter had not only reached him - a great rabbi, teacher, and musician - but he had read it, and been motivated to pick up the phone and call me, a lonely sixteen-year old searching for spiritual sustenance.

I had felt alone with my religious thoughts and feelings until the day a few weeks before when I had read a full-page interview with Rabbi Carlebach in our local Jewish weekly. I was thrilled to read what Shlomo said about the spiritual hunger of young people. Deeply moved, I felt compelled to write to Rabbi Carlebach and thank him for all he had said in his interview. I told him that I was seeking, and that I had many questions. In my letter I said that I imagined Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and other great spiritual teachers sharing a round-table in Heaven, discussing how best to help humanity. I had felt a little nervous writing that, but since he seemed to have such an open, loving heart I felt encouraged to be completely honest. And now he was telling me how special and wise I was! He asked me to introduce myself to him in person the next time he visited Vancouver. I looked forward to that. Maybe he could be my teacher, and I could come to know the Jewish faith deeply, and live it the way he did.

He was planning a concert with At this time, although I had been brought up in a Conservative Synagogue, I was going by myself to the Orthodox synagogue because I hoped there I would find people living Judaism with more ‘kevanah’. I told my peers at this synagogue about Shlomo’s call The Orthodox shul.  Shlomo in the near future. "But be careful," my friends warned. "Shlomo is renowned for having many special female ‘friends’."

When he came to Vancouver I felt torn. I wanted to go up to him after the concert and tell him I was the ‘special and wise’ person who had sent him the letter; but I didn’t want to be duped by a man who was actually looking to satisfy his lust. So I stayed well back and observed him from afar. Yes, he clearly was hugging and kissing a lot of young women, and it made me uncomfortable. Disappointed, I chose not to say hello.

And so we didn’t meet in person until 1991. After high school I attended a Yeshiva for six months, and then married a non-Jew after my first year of college. I continued my spiritual search but to please my father I tried to raise my three children as Jews. My marriage was very unhappy, and at twenty-five I became a single mother. The week after my oldest child celebrated her Bat Mitzvah, Rabbi Carlebach gave a concert in the very same room in which her Bat Mitzvah had taken place. Invited to attend, I went expecting to enjoy his melodies, sing along, and share in the holy atmosphere he was so gifted in creating. During Shlomo’s concerts it seemed to me as if he broke down the walls between Heaven and earth, and made me feel as if we were singing at God’s throne, together with other beloved souls who loved God too.

Throughout the concert Rabbi Carlebach’s eyes often looked over at me and I knew he had noticed me. After the concert, as people filed past him on their way home, and he hugged them good-bye, he stopped me and asked me if we had met before. I explained that although we had never met, he had phoned me after receiving a letter from me when I was sixteen. "And how is it that we have not stayed in touch all these years?" he asked me.

He told me that we must keep in touch this time, that we needed to talk, and he asked for my phone number. I had not heard any rumors about Shlomo in the years since the last concert I attended. I was still hoping to feel at home in the Jewish community, and still filled with questions. So, hopeful that maybe now I had found my teacher, I gave him my number.

Very late that night, I was awakened by a call. I was stunned to hear Shlomo’s voice, "Could you meet me for breakfast at my hotel in the morning?" he asked. I told him that I had heard rumors about him and women. I told him that I was seeking a place for myself in Judaism, and that I would love to learn from him. I asked him if he understood that I only wanted to meet with him for those reasons, and he said he did.

I felt a lot like I had after my phone call from him seventeen years earlier, and in many ways I was still the same person: lonely, hopeful, yearning for God, eager to learn how best to serve Him, excited to have others to share the journey Home with, and excited to have a spiritual community. So excited I couldn’t sleep

I remember the beautiful sunny morning and the long bus ride to his hotel. When I got there he wasn’t in the lobby, and upon calling his room to let him know I was there, he asked me to come up to his room. Somewhat frightened, but ever hopeful, I went up and he immediately took me in his arms and french-kissed me. I felt disgusted and disappointed, but rather than simply leaving, I begged him to go back down to the lobby restaurant so we could talk over breakfast.

It is very hard in retrospect to admit to my foolish and incredibly na├»ve behaviour. It seems that my capacity for hope overrode my ability to believe what was happening. From my own past experiences I have learned to blot out parts of the picture that are too painful, and focus on that which is good. Life is so filled with pain that this is a common coping mechanism. I wanted someone to help me feel close to God. I wanted this very badly. And Shlomo was clearly close to God. His sexual impulses were, to my way of thinking, immoral, but that didn’t mean he didn’t have his gifts. He had incredible gifts: to make melodies, to sing, to touch hearts. But Shlomo needed help to overcome his addictions. The real tragedy to my mind is that his world-wide Jewish community didn’t hold him accountable for his sex addictions.

Shlomo went down to the restaurant with me but all his sparkle was gone. He had no words of encouragement or wisdom for me. He seemed tired and lonely; remote. I left disappointed once again.

And then the phone calls started. They were about every few weeks, sometimes more frequent and sometimes less. He called from all over the U.S.A, Israel, and South America. The calls were always past midnight, and roused me from deep sleep. He spoke about his sexual attraction to me, and asked me intimate questions about what I was wearing. He spoke about the exotic places he visited and how he’d like to be there with me. His breathing was heavy and labored. The scenario he described which disturbed me the most was when he talked about taking me naked into the mikvah in his community in Israel.

Why didn’t I get angry or hang up? It was the middle of the night and I was fuzzy-headed. I felt uncertain of my own clarity of mind. He kept telling me how special and incredibly spiritual I was and I wanted to believe him. He said he loved me, and he talked often about our getting married. I was lonely and wanted to believe that it was true: that I was special and wise and therefore able to help him mend his ways. Maybe we could be a wonderful, spiritual couple, I thought. I sent him many long loving letters to New York and to his Moshav in Israel. I always expected him to write back, but he never did. I told him over and over again that I needed him to teach me about Judaism. I told him that I needed to be in love with Judaism the way he was. I told him that after years of searching I still felt that I didn’t belong, and I was on the verge of giving up. I told him I was getting attracted to Christianity and that I was even considering being baptized. He said nothing to dissuade me nor did he ever offer me a teaching about Judaism. In fact, since he often spoke of marriage, we laughed about the idea of a rabbi marrying a Christian woman.

I invited Shlomo to stay with me in my home when he next came to Vancouver to give a concert. I told my children that we might have a rabbi staying with us. But when he came to Vancouver he never called or tried to see me. He avoided me, and didn’t even catch my eye at his concert. Finally I knew his love wasn’t sincere, and something was very wrong. I met another Jewish woman who had received similar calls to mine. I spoke to him about it the next time he called. "You need to make amends before you die. It’s not too late to own up to your problems and get help," I told him. He said he agreed with me; that I was right, he did need to do something before it was too late.

I don’t know if Shlomo made any amends to any of the people he hurt. I don’t know how it stands between him and God today. But I do know that the Jewish community let him down, and let down all those whom he hurt. They enabled his sickness to perpetuate itself because he was never called to account. And because of the blind eye that the Jewish community chooses to cast on Shlomo’s sins they choose to ignore those who were hurt, undermine their pain, and isolate them on the fringes.

I said earlier that because of my own suffering I had learned to blot out the truth and focus only on the good. It is a coping mechanism, but it is not living in the real world. The Jewish family has known tremendous suffering, and maybe they have collectively learned to blot out a truth which hurts, which is that Shlomo sexually exploited women. After much therapy I have learned not to blot out the truth, but to see it and let it guide me to good, healthy choices. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given Shlomo my phone number, or gone to his hotel room, or taken his calls in the night. I wouldn’t have written him letters or believed him when he spoke of marriage. I would have been safe from harm.

I made appointments to see two rabbis about what Shlomo did: one through my sister because she wanted me to get some healing, and one through a friend for the same reason. One rabbi thought it wasn’t very significant. The other was more sympathetic and told me he wouldn’t attend a Carlebach concert anymore. I wrote about what had happened to me and sent an article to the same local Jewish paper in which I had first read his interview. They didn’t want to publicize my experience. Even a woman I shared with at the synagogue I sometimes attended told me to let it go and concentrate on all the good Shlomo had done.

To this day I am very sad that Shlomo wasn’t compelled to offer me any encouragement in my spiritual quest to find my niche within Judaism. It is often said that he would do anything to save one Jewish soul, but he did nothing to save mine. I have been a practising Christian for the past ten years and one thing that comforts me in my church is that when a minister or priest is caught being abusive, the abuse is brought to light and the abuser is held responsible for what he has done.

Reconciliation is only available to those hurt by Shlomo, if Shlomo’s community: the Jewish community, opens their ears to hear the truth. They must find the courage to remove their blinders, and apologize for having needed to believe in Shlomo more than they needed to stand in truth before God.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Today, Steve Is 25

Today, Steve Is 25. By Phil Jacobs Baltimore Jewish Times - February 23, 2007

The teacher's son.    Steve was 11. (Case of Shmuel Juravel)  

The yeshiva administrator.   Steve was 13. (Case of Yosef Meystel) 
The attorney.  Steve was 15.  (Case of Brad Hames)

Today, Steve is 25. He graduated recently from Towson University with a degree in science. He is awaiting response to graduate school applications.

Steve is from an Orthodox family of eight children. He is no longer observant. Still, he remains close to his parents and siblings. He was a student at a Baltimore-area yeshiva and then a yeshiva high school in the Midwest.

But along the way, everything went so very wrong.

Steve still makes his home in the Orthodox community here in Baltimore. He was one of the disenfranchised teens who hung out over on the corner of Strathmore and Park Heights avenues. People grouped him and the others as "reject" kids. They had, the community said, "Fallen off the derech," fallen off the righteous path.

"I was probably taking more trips to the principal's office than most kids, because I liked to joke around," he remembered.

His fifth-grade rabbi held a summer camp for the boys. The highlight of the summer was an overnight camping trip to Glyndon. Steve remembers a barbecue, baseball and swimming. It was an experience that was supposed to be fun. It should have been memorable. Instead, it started a process that Steve wishes he could forget.

That night, Steve and the friends in his tent just couldn't fall asleep and were talking. This is what children do when there's the excitement of camping, sleeping outside in tents on a summer night.

The cackling and giggling of the children drew attention, not from the rabbi but from his teenage son, who was acting as a chaperone on the trip. He told the boys to stop the noise. Finally, he told them to come to his tent.

"Shmuel Zev called us to his tent," said Steve. "He told us to lay down, and he started telling us stories. I noticed a hand where it shouldn't have been. It was weird."

Shmuel Zev Juravel, the rabbi's son, was fondling Steve.

"I knew something wasn't right, and I reacted, but he told me to be quiet or 'My father will hear you.' But I remember that one of the other kids started to laugh. Shmuel Zev was switching off between the four of us underneath the blankets."

Shmuel Zev apparently was known for this sort of behavior. Steve learned from others that he wasn't the first, nor would he be the last.

It wouldn't be the last experience for Steve, as well.

Shmuel Zev, now 30, is in federal prison, serving 21 years after he pleaded guilty to traveling to Alabama to have sex with two young boys. Juravel, an insurance salesman in Savannah, Ga., admitted to three counts of traveling to have sex with a child and the use of the Internet to entice a child to engage in illegal sexual acts.

He was arrested by the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service agents about a year ago at a Birmingham, Ala., hotel after he arranged to have sex with people he believed were to be 11- and 12-year-old boys. Juravel admitted using the Internet "to attempt to persuade, induce and entice boys to meet him for sex."

Juravel gained the attention of federal agents when he responded to an online advertisement for "rare and hard-to-find escort services," according to the U.S. District Court in Savannah. The ad was posted on the Internet by an undercover agent. Juravel requested 11- to 14-year-old boys for sex and child pornography DVDs, according to a government affidavit. According to newspaper accounts, Juravel mailed cash to a post office box in Birmingham and specified the child he wanted, along with another boy "on standby."

He arrived in Birmingham on Feb. 21, 2006, to find federal agents waiting for him.

News of his arrest didn't take long to spread, but it took Steve by surprise. He wasn't sure exactly how he would or could handle it.

"When I first heard he was caught, it put a fire underneath of me," said Steve. "When his story came out, it gave me a weird feeling. I felt as if I could have done more to prevent him from molesting other children. You know, the human mind is amazing, that someone could take this sort of action out on a child."

Shmuel Zev was, as Steve described it, "only the beginning of his experiences with people like this."

Like many Baltimore yeshiva boys, Steve went out of town to a high school yeshiva. His parents sent him to a major school in the central part of the country.

It would be good for him to get a fresh start and meet new faces. Plus, Steve describes himself as extremely neat and meticulous. It was important that the housing offered by any school be neat and not cluttered. And most importantly, it had to be a school that took secular courses seriously. His science, math, English and history courses had to mean something. He wanted to go to college one day.

His first weeks there, Steve described himself as being homesick. Nothing strange, especially for a 13-year-old who had never really been away from home before. He had a need to call home. There was a phone in a corridor, but that was way too public. He was embarrassed to let any of his classmates see the tears associated with homesickness. The only privacy he could have to speak to his parents on the telephone was located in the yeshiva administrator's room.

"He started befriending me," said Steve. "He allowed me use of the phone in his room, which was located next to the beis midrash [study hall] dorm. Once, I was using the phone in his room to call home. He pulled out a porno magazine. It was shocking, it didn't seem real."

The "price" to use the telephone privately was his administrator's obsession with these magazines.

"This went on," Steve continued. "I needed to use the phone to call my parents, and he'd be in the room with these porno magazines. He then asked me if I would masturbate in front of him. It was too much."

Steve kept silent about the incidents, about the request. He did feel harassed and coerced and confused. When he returned to the yeshiva in 10th grade, the same administrator kept offering him the explicit magazines.

Steve was a consistent A and B student, but now his grades started to drop. The administrator, he said, was now offering him money to masturbate in front of him. When Steve refused, the administrator grabbed him by the neck.

He would go on to finally tell a friend who would tell his father. Steve was told by the school's administration to keep the incident quiet. The administration received the complaint about its employee three days before parents' visiting day.

Three days later, the administrator was fired. And Steve started to take personal steps backward from his Orthodox lifestyle.

"I was told by the rabbis that I was using this as an excuse to not be as religious as I should be," he said.

When Steve learned that the administrator was engaged to be married, he had his mother telephone the bride's family to warn them. He was then called back into the office of the rosh yeshiva, or dean, where he was screamed at for "threatening the sanctity of marriage." Steve's yeshiva experience ended with expletives directed at the rosh yeshiva and screamed so loudly that his classmates heard them come from behind the rosh yeshiva's closed door.

The administrator ended up on the staff of a Chicago-area nursing home. Its management was under question by state authorities for a number of reasons, including alleged sexual abuse charges in 2005.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that something like 10 sex offenders were living at the nursing center. Illinois also cited incidents in which residents were trading sex for cigarettes, passing out from drinking, and wandering off and setting fires inside the facility. Steve would come back to his parents' home in Baltimore after the yeshiva experience. At first, he'd spend 18 hours a day just sleeping. He contemplated suicide. On one occasion, what kept him alive was simply hearing the happy voice of a younger little sister. He did not want to hurt her or miss her growing up.

But then came "the attorney." He was a ba'al teshuva, a returnee to observance, who became involved in the community, a guest of frum families in town for Shabbat lunches. By now, Steve was 15 and still in a despondent state of mind. He and his family were introduced to the bright, vivacious young man. Steve said the attorney could sense there were issues, depression even. He would talk with the attorney, make light conversation at the Shabbos table.

The affable attorney invited Steve to go rent a movie with him and then head out to a "sister's" apartment in Columbia. The attorney rented the movie "Fargo." But when the movie was over, he put a porno movie in the VCR. There was, by the way, no sister in Columbia, Steve would later learn.

"I just started screaming," recalled Steve. "I asked to be taken home. He freaked out, and told me he'd take me right home, and he asked me not to tell anyone.

"You think you're climbing up a hill and you're about to emerge from it, and then there's a mudslide."

Steve kept silent, but then while in the neighborhood, he and a friend passed the attorney walking along Cross Country Boulevard on a Shabbat afternoon. Steve's friend volunteered, "There goes the child molester."

"He told me that the guy did stuff to him. The guy was a guest in his house, like, every Shabbos."

Steve and his friend did go to the rabbis, and the attorney has since left the Baltimore area. There were never any charges or disciplinary actions taken against the attorney.

In a meeting with a rabbinic official, Steve was told he should work hard in own personal life to be close to the "kisse ha coved" (the throne of glory). Instead, Steve wanted to kill the attorney who abused him. And for months, he and a friend would trash his car or stand outside of his Cross Country Manor apartment and yell expletives at his window.

"I thought sometimes that I had written on my forehead the words, 'Molest me.'"

There is a way Steve describes these incidents. He talked about how in a science class, he learned that a cheetah can sprint swiftly at short distances, but could never keep up with entire herds of gazelles, who can run at a quick rate for miles.

"But the cheetah," he said, "watches for hours until he can pick out the gazelle who is lame, or the young who can't find its mother. That's when it strikes."

What also started to "strike" Steve was the availability of drugs. He contends that an overwhelming number of his friends or acquaintances who were victimized by sexual predators would begin to self-medicate, be it with alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, cocaine or even heroin.

At 12-step meetings, he was overwhelmed by the number of sexual molestation incidents he would hear as part of the lives of those Jews in recovery. He was also, in a sense, relieved that he wasn't the only Jewish person victimized.

Steve smoked pot, but he said his priority was getting an education. He would go on to attend the Community College of Baltimore, earning his degree, and then attend Towson. He wants to work in the sciences.

"There's a lot of sick people out there," he said of sexual predators. "These people are in all of this for themselves. They do not care about anybody, about you or your mental state when they violate you. It's so rampant. It's like the AIDS virus, it's gone wildfire. For guys like me, there used to be a sanctity about Judaism that prevented these things from happening. That sanctity is gone. When it comes to religion, I might talk the talk, but I'll walk my own walk."

It "sickens" Steve to even walk into a synagogue these days. He called the yeshiva system a "breeding ground for sexual molestation."

He said the best "therapy" he's had has been to talk to other victims, or "survivors," as he calls them. There's an anger, tears are in his eyes as he gets ready to say his next comment, which simply is, "Nobody is ever going to hurt me again."

He spends his days working as the office manager of a medical facility. Many nights are spent in the gym, where the strenuous exercise he puts himself through is often the best therapy. He hopes to get his post-graduate education, and eventually find the woman of his dreams and raise a family. And he wants to continue doing what he can to make the issue of sexual molestation a bigger part of the social conversation.

"A lot of people overlook this thing, especially in the religious community," he said. "God forbid, we should talk about it," he said in a mimicking way. "But these predators are among us, and they are a danger to our children."

What of now, what of the future? Steve said he doesn't live through a day when he doesn't think about his abuse. He added that in his life, he has met a lot of "good people" who are also survivors.

Does he believe in God any longer? He quickly answers yes, it's the system that he said lets him and other survivors down.

In his discussion, he'll insert a word of Torah, an expression of Hebrew here and there. It's the neshamah (soul) of this young man speaking. He sees many Jews in terms of the biblical description erev rav, or mixed multitudes.

"These are the people who gave us the story of the egel, the golden calf," he said. "These are people who say they are Jewish, dress like they are Jewish, but then go ahead and hide from the reality of sexual abuse. It's like they think it will just go away, or it would never happen in the Jewish community."

If there is a hero in his life, he quickly points to his grandmother, who survived the Holocaust.

"When I think I've been through some bad times, I try to pick up the phone and talk to her. She's in her 80s, and I know if she's OK, then I know I'll be OK."

His answer for the future is to educate the public.

"This is a big deal. It's like if you throw a pebble in the water, it creates a ripple effect, that's how we have to educate people about what we've been through."

Steve's eyes are intense and he's staring off to the side.

"Considering what I have been through," he said. "I'm going to be OK."

Steve's Dad "It's affected my wife and the entire family, and it's been going on through years." Steve's dad is the child of Holocaust survivors. Israeli born, he's survived two wars. Yet, he's never seen such a struggle as the one his abused son has lived through. "This isn't like a medical problem, you treat it and it's over," he said. "This is a lifetime problem, and it takes a long time to recover from sexual abuse."

The family did approach an attorney and Steve's yeshiva was questioned. But key evidence, said his dad, was destroyed by the yeshiva administration, evidence that might have resulted in charges against the former administrator. When reached on his cell phone, the person at the Center of Steve's nightmare admitted that he was the former administrator of the Midwest yeshiva. But when given details of the former student's allegations against him, he responded by saying, "I have no idea what you are talking about." He hung up the phone. By press time, a call to the yeshiva president, himself, was not returned.

The yeshiva authorities, Steve's dad said, ended up victimizing the victims of their administrator. And both he and his wife suspect that their son hasn't told them everything, that the abuse was much worse.

"I would never suspect something of this nature existing in the religious community," said the dad. "I would expect that the yeshivas would address these issues as soon as they discover them. It appears that the people who abused my son were both known to have these tendencies, yet they were kept in their positions. But because I didn't suspect anything, I never exposed my kids to these possibilities of abuse. Before kids go to yeshiva, I feel parents should educate them about sex offenders.

"We read news accounts of Palestinian terrorists who disguise themselves in the clothing of Orthodox Jews and then they blow themselves up as suicide bombers," continued the dad. "A person who wears the clothing of an Orthodox Jew and molests another person is the same as that suicide bomber, only he's killing the soul of a child."

Why Is This A Big Deal? So Steve was touched on his penis, asked to masturbate in front of another man, and pressured to watch a porno movie.

There are those who might scoff at the notion that these acts constitute sexual molestation. They might also ask why Steve simply can't "get over it" and move on with his life. After all, the sexual molestation could have been a great deal worse. Why is all of this such a big deal? Yet for Steve and survivors of sexual molestation, these actions of abuse, no matter how major or minor, impact them every day of their lives.

Lisa Ferentz, a clinical social worker based in Pikesville, and the creator of a certificate program in Advanced Trauma Treatment, has spent years working with survivors of sexual abuse. Ms. Ferentz believes that "we should never minimize acts of sexual molestation because the experience profoundly affects a child's fundamental sense of trust and safety in the world. Regardless of what is attempted or done to a victim, it can lead to a deep sense of loss. There is the loss of safety, innocence, appropriate boundaries, protection, trust, physical and emotional safety. Having to keep the abuse a secret exacerbates a sense of rage, shame and despair. This can lead to a multitude of inevitable symptoms and problems as the survivor develops. When the pain is overwhelming, many survivors attempt to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. The experience can be truly life-altering." In addition, she said it is not unusual for a person to be repeatedly victimized, often by multiple perpetrators.

"When children are abused and threatened into silence, they often exude a vulnerability, helplessness and despair that resonates for perpetrators, making them potentially easy targets. Pedophiles look for kids who are lacking in self-esteem, despondent or passive. They tend to stay away from kids who appear to be confident, happy and strong. They want to make sure their victim will not put up a fight, and won't tell anyone afterward. Sadly, survivors are left asking themselves, 'What am I doing to attract these people?' Although abuse is never the victim's fault, this questioning begins a spiral of self-blame, guilt and shame. And it decreases the survivor's ability to advocate for safety in the future." Ms. Ferentz suggests that victims or survivors start their journey toward healing by "finding someone they can trust to disclose to: someone they know will absolutely believe them. Therapy is an important tool toward recovery. With the proper support and guidance, victims can truly survive and transcend their abuse."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Testifying at Legislative Hearings

© (2007) By Bob Russel and Vicki Polin

If you are a survivors of childhood sexual abuse who is considering to provide testimony at legislative hearings please be aware of some the risks you may endure. 

Please note that it is NOT mandatory that you sign the statement to testify, it is simply a request that you read and fully understand the risks involved in taking an active role in this legislative process. 

In the past survivors who testified, shared a common experience -- the feeling of DEVASTATION, was moderate to severe. While providing testimony to make laws better is just and noble, yet it is also important to be aware of the risks. We all need to have support people in which we can debrief with immediately afterwards and the weeks or months afterwards. Doing so can help elevate the degree of devastation we may experience. 

In an effort to warn each and every person who is considering providing testimony, it is suggested that you read and accept the statement below before agreeing to testify. The choice is totally yours and there is no expectation for you to publicly take a stand. There is the requirement that you put your own personal needs first. It is vitally important for you to take care of yourself!
  1. I acknowledge that I or someone that I love was sexually abused, as a child. 

  2. I acknowledge that significant to severe trauma resulted because of that abuse (to myself or my family member, friend, etc.). 

  3. My intention is to bring public awareness and attention to what has happened in the past. 

  4. I believe that by speaking publicly, my testimony will enable me to seek some level of justice for my own personal victimization that I experienced as a child and endured over a lifetime (or that of someone I love). 

  5. I understand that providing testimony could result in me feeling re-traumatized/victimized. 

  6. I understand that there are very powerful opponents to this legislation that have significant influence on legislators in stealth like manner. 

  7. I understand that no matter how wrong I feel they are, they still wield influence that is secretive, very well financed and have been historically successful in killing legislation to right this wrong and to protect future generations of children. I understand this is at the expense of current and future generations of children as well as the re victimization of myself as a survivor. 

  8. I UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THE PERSONAL RISKS of feeling overwhelmed by sharing my abuse experiences. 

  9. I understand that I may feel angry, sad, depressed and re-victimized should this proposed legislation not pass. 

  10. I agree to have safe people in place to debrief with immediately after providing my testimony and for the months to come. These safe people can include other survivors, family members, friends and or a therapist. 

  11. Above all else, I agree to put my own well being first.

With this understanding I still wish to testify in hopes of seeking justice for what happened to me as a child (or my loved one) and most important to ensure that I do what I can to protect future innocent children from harm in the future. 




Bob Russell is the coordinator of SNAP of Maryland

Vicki Polin is the founder and director of The Awareness Center

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The best little whorehouse in Haifa

By Yocheved Miriam Russo

Fifteen people were indicted as a result of Sharon's undercover work as a 'Madam' in a whorehouse, but even so, her family was outraged.
Today, three years after her unpaid eight-month stint as a brothel proprietor, she still recalls not only the social stigma and neighborhood harassment but her family's horror as well. "You can take my picture, but please blur my personal details a little," she says. "I was a pariah in the neighborhood where I lived. Even though the whorehouse itself wasn't nearby, when the news got out, my neighbors were angry. They thought I'd be bringing men home, into my own apartment. That was completely ridiculous, but I don't want to live through all that again."
Her family was disgusted. "My sister is a social worker, so I told her what I was doing," she recounts. "I thought she'd be supportive of my desire to help these women, but when I told her, her face went white. She refused to listen to another word. Even after all the indictments came down, it remains a sore subject."
Sharon - not her real name - is 66 years old and looks more like someone's grandma than a Madam. A graduate of one of the US's most prestigious Ivy League law schools, she served in the US Department of Justice, US Attorney's office, under Robert M. Morgenthau. She also holds a Masters Degree in Tax Law. She made aliya in the late 1970s and is now studying for another degree, this one in an offshoot of veterinary medicine.
All jokes about lawyers and whores aside, Sharon apparently excelled in running a house of ill repute in Hadar, the old commercial center of Haifa. "I loved the job," she admits. "I loved taking care of the girls, and enjoyed the business. I'm happy to tell the story because so much misinformation about prostitution exists, especially about the women themselves. I'd like to see some serious reform, and maybe this will help."
So how does a nice, smart, honorable woman - once married, no children - get involved in running a whorehouse? "The roots go back to the US," she says. "I'd been reading about foreign immigrants - or maybe emigrants - to Israel, and became interested in some of the legal issues involved. I packed up and made aliya but once here in Israel, I floundered. First, I was swept off my feet by a handsome Israeli guy, but the marriage was a disaster. Then I was having trouble with Hebrew, so I finally took a job as an English secretary. To practice law, you need both verbal and the non-verbal language, and I was struggling."
She studied hard and finally qualified for legal practice in Israel. "I was practicing law and teaching at one of the universities. There was a prison nearby - it's now closed - where someone I knew was incarcerated. He'd gotten involved in a real mess and because I had a legal license, I was able to visit him more often than other friends. I'd go visit, and while I was there, I met a lot of other people who were in prison. It occurred to me that working with some of them might be a whole lot more interesting than what I was doing."
On one visit, Sharon saw something she'd assumed didn't exist anymore. "There were a number of people walking around rather freely. They didn't look like either prisoners or criminals, but they certainly weren't guards. Then I found out. Do you know Israel still has debtor's prisons? People who can't pay their debts are jailed. And because the courts tend to set the size of repayments according to the size of the debt - not the size of the income - they end up in jail repeatedly, and obviously lose any job they'd had. It also dragged in good-hearted people who'd co-signed loans for others. Needless to say, most of these prisoners were way beyond broke, and basically none of them had lawyers to protect their interests. I decided that even though I wasn't really proficient in Hebrew, whatever I could do was better than nothing, so I began volunteering to represent debtors. Then came other clients, all sorts of crimes, including prostitutes. That was the beginning."
Practicing criminal law carries a stigma all its own. "It makes me laugh," she says with a giggle. "In my law school, no one would have admitted to even thinking of practicing criminal law - that's worse than ambulance chasing. But there I was, enjoying it."
Then the opportunity to be a Madam arose. "One of the people I met was a police informant, a really bright guy," she says. "He was trusted by both the criminals and the police. So one day he came to me and said he needed to open and run a whorehouse in an attempt to catch some of the people involved in the infamous 'trafficking in women' trade. Would I consider being the Madam for the sting operation?
"I jumped at the chance. I'd represented a number of prostitutes, and liked the idea of being able to help the women. I agreed."
Sharon declined to comment on any of the legal issues that evolved from the sting operation, except that the suspects were indeed indicted with 'trafficking in women.' In any event, she added, she wasn't involved. Her 'partner' was the one involved with the legal issues, and her involvement was limited to running the brothel.
The whorehouse was located in a low-rent district, in a four-bedroom apartment that had previously served as a house of ill repute. "My partner set the whole thing up. He knew prostitutes, and put the word out. He had no trouble finding the women to work - they were all prostitutes already. We didn't corrupt anyone."
Most of the women were here illegally from Eastern Europe. "They came from Romania, Kazakhstan and Russia, smuggled in over the Egyptian border, although a few may have had tourist visas. The main point to understand is, these women knew very well why they were coming to Israel. If they didn't exactly relish the work, for them it was a chance to earn pretty good money. On the whole, they'd do a lot better as prostitutes in Israel than they'd do at any job they could get in their home countries. One woman called both her mother and sister in Romania frequently, every time encouraging them both to come to work in prostitution. Compared to life there, they did well in Israel."
There was no compulsion, she notes. "They could leave, get out of the business, anytime they wanted. That wasn't a problem. One woman I really liked had worked in Holland as a prostitute, was imprisoned in Turkey for prostitution, and now was here. Every week, either my partner or I would go with her to the bank where she bought money orders to send to her family in Romania. Both her parents were disabled, and she was their sole support. Another woman had been a literature professor at a university in Russia - she couldn't get a job. Another was very elegant, extremely well dressed. She came because she could make a better living as a prostitute here than there."
Most didn't resemble either Miss Kitty or Pretty Woman's Julia Roberts. "There's a legion of myths about prostitutes. Ours had Russian names - Tanya, Alisa, Nadya. Most were in their 20s and moderately attractive. Many were overweight, a few even obese. When I was a kid, my mother used to tell me that all prostitutes were lesbians and drug addicts, but that's not true. Many had boyfriends or husbands, and several had children. Only one was a drug addict - many used ecstasy, but only one was addicted and I tried to get her into treatment. A few had problems with alcohol. They were all heavy smokers. Most of the men smoked too, and sometimes the air was blue with smoke."
It wasn't Matt Dillon or Richard Gere who came calling, either. "We were in a low-rent district - no high-fliers. Our clients were people from the neighborhood - cab drivers, truck drivers, men who worked in the shuk. Lots of Arabs. In the mornings, we'd get men who worked at night."
Sharon ran the whorehouse like a sorority. "The girls could live there if they wanted. Or they could just come in when they wanted to work. There was a kitchen, and we supplied food, medical care and abortions if needed. I arranged for anonymous HIV testing for them, but only one woman went - I think many of them lived in denial - the 'I always use a condom except with my boyfriend' kind of thing. The girls were supposed to do the cleaning but they didn't, so we had a woman come in occasionally. I answered the phone. We advertised in the newspaper as an 'escort service,' but we'd never have let the girls go out because then we couldn't protect them."
A typical day began in late morning. "I'd come in at about 11:00 a.m. The girls would come in when they wished. Some men would call first and I'd kind of flirt on the phone - which was fun. If they wanted something special - a woman who didn't shave, or two women, or wanted some unusual act - then I'd ask the girls who were there if anyone was interested in accommodating the man. They didn't have to. They could work as much as they wanted, perform whatever acts they wanted, refuse anyone they wished. It's hard to say how many clients each would see in a day, but maybe 10 is average. We insisted they use condoms, but didn't check to see if they did. In terms of cost, Haifa is more expensive than Eilat or Tel Aviv - which might indicate that there are fewer prostitutes in Haifa. We charged NIS 100 for the first 10 minutes, then more for 15 minutes or 20. The price went down with more time -an hour wasn't NIS 200, for example."
"Basically it was very low key. The girls would hear the knock on the door, and the man would come into the living room. If a girl felt like it, she'd come out. Many of the men were regulars, so they knew the women. They sit and talk awhile, relax. It was a very friendly place. Then, at some point, the mood would arise, and they'd go off with one of the women. She'd take him into her bedroom, they'd agree on how much time, and what services. The man would pay the girl, and she'd bring the money out to me, and tell me how much time. It was safer for me to hold the money - all cash, no credit cards. Then she'd go back to the room. If they hadn't come out when time was up, I'd knock on the door. Then the man would come out, he could shower if he wished, and the woman could shower. Then she could decide if she wanted to appear for the next client. At the end of the day, we'd settle up with the girls, who got half - so if it was NIS 100, she'd get 50, and I'd pay the VAT and all other expenses out of my NIS 50. I doubt all whorehouses operate like that. We lost money during my term. But we paid taxes - if we hadn't, we might have been okay."
The women were free to negotiate side deals as well. "If a girl could get more than NIS 100 for her work, either for extra services or a tip, that was perfectly okay. If the agreement was for 10 minutes, then all I wanted was my NIS 50. If they could earn a good tip, good for them."
Attire was up to the women, too. "They didn't wear anything very much different than what you see on the streets, nowadays. Sometimes a dress or skirt that was too low or too short, or too-tight pants. They were advertising the merchandise, after all. Sometimes in the living room they'd sit on a guy's lap, encourage him a little."
Was there security? A guard at the door? "No - which probably contributed to the fact that we didn't need it. There's a lot of testosterone in this business. If we'd had a big guard standing at the door, we might have had more problems than we did. The truth is, most men are reluctant to beat up a woman - and besides, they tend to value what they're paying for. I was the only guard there, but it worked - I have a big mouth. I honestly think I could be tougher than a man could, and get away with it. We never had fights, never a stabbing. Before I came, there was a death in that whorehouse - a man who'd taken viagra had a heart attack."
Frightening moments did occur. "One time a really enormous guy came. He insisted that because he knew someone, he should be able to see one of the women for free. I said no, I wasn't willing to waive my share, and I wasn't going to ask a woman to waive hers. He started to threaten me, became really unpleasant, but I just stood up to him, defied him, dared him to do something, and he backed down. He didn't touch me."
A couple of times the police came. "One time the police were called in by someone - I'm not sure who - but they said illegal women were working as prostitutes, which was true, of course. So the police arrived and one man decided to stand guard at the door, to prevent the women from escaping. That was bad - the police took all the women downtown for questioning. My partner finally got it all worked out, and everyone was released. At the time, the women didn't know we were running an undercover operation - all they knew was that we had a really excellent relationship with the police. Later on, they knew because some of them testified in the court cases."
There were some awkward incidents, too. "A couple of times, I'd open the door and find a man I knew standing there - maybe a former client. That was awkward. One time, on a totally unrelated case, I went into a different division of the police department to copy a file, and the woman who worked there, with whom I'd had a very nice relationship before, was very hostile to me. I asked her what the problem was. She said, 'I didn't know you were running a whorehouse!' I couldn't tell her - we had to keep it absolutely undercover. Another time at my home, I needed to hire a handyman.
One guy came over, but when he saw me, he refused to do the work. 'I know you - you run a whorehouse! I'm not going to take blood money from you!'"
In the neighborhood itself, people were generally friendly. "Some of the local business owners knew what we were doing, and had no problem with it at all. One day we ran out of condoms. My partner usually bought supplies, but that day, I had to go. I went to the shuk and walked around asking, 'Do you sell condoms?' and finally found a guy who did. I told him I wanted a whole box - like 50 condoms. He gave them to me, then said,'Do you mind if I ask?' and made some remark about my age. So I said, "They're not for me. I'm running a whorehouse.' He was just staggered. Then he gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up. He wrote down our phone number and said he'd spread the word."
The operation ended when the apartment building, which had been in foreclosure, was vacated.
"Most likely the women went on to work elsewhere," Sharon says. "Some may have been sent home, others may have gone back voluntarily, if they'd earned what they set out to earn. Others, I don't know. It's not a business without risks."
In retrospect, how bad is the life of a prostitute? "On the whole, it's probably more pleasant than doing drudge work in a factory, standing on your feet all day. For many, it's better than working in one of the chemical plants. Look at some of the places where people work in Haifa - terrible conditions, fumes, caustic substances, hard work, long hours, low pay. Many women would rather be prostitutes. One thing is for sure: I won't sit in judgment on women who made this choice - their biggest mistake was not being smart enough to choose parents like mine, who saw to it that I had every advantage."
Would you do it again? "You bet," Sharon says with a grin. "In a heartbeat. It was fascinating."