Sunday, March 27, 2011

Case of Rabbi Gavriel Bidany

Case of Rabbi Gavriel Bidany 
Tel Aviv, Israel; New York City, NY
Unlicensed Marriage Counselor - Tel Aviv, Israel

Convicted on charges of groping passenger on Delta flight between Tel Aviv, Israel and New York. 

Gavriel Bidany, 48, a married father of 11 children, was sentenced to serve ONLY 60 days in a federal prison for groping a female Israel Defense Forces officer on a Delta flight to JFK Airport. 
In Israel, Bidany spends his time in Israel studying at a yeshiva and running a soup kitchen.  He is also an unlicensed marriage counselor.


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. Legal Document  (04/01/2011)
  2. Rabbi charged with groping passenger on Delta flight  (04/15/2011)
  3. Rabbi accused in flight grope case (04/15/2011)
  4. Rabbi who is married and the father of 11 kids on trial for allegedly molesting Israeli Army officer (05/04/2011)
  5. Orthodox rabbi Gavriel Bidany found guilty of molesting female Israeli Army officer on flight (05/05/2011)
  6. Rabbi and Father of 11 on Trial for Molesting IDF Officer (05/05/2011)
  7. Rabbi 'grab-bi' (05/05/2011)
  8. Orthodox rabbi convicted of molesting female Israeli soldier on flight to New York (05/06/2011)
  9. Rabbi gets 60 days in prison for trans-Atlantic jetliner grope (05/11/2011) 
  10. Gavriel Bidany, rabbi convicted of molesting sleeping Israeli soldier on plane, gets 60 days in jail (05/12/2011)
  11. Israeli rabbi jailed for fondling sleeping woman on plane  (05/12/2011)
  12. Rabbi who groped Israeli soldier sentenced to jail (05/13/2011)


Legal Document
April 1, 2011 


Rabbi charged with groping passenger on Delta flight
By Kelly Yamanouchi
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - April 15, 2011

A rabbi has been charged with groping a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Tel Aviv to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

According to a complaint filed by Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Janet Ambrisco, the rabbi, Gavriel Bidany, groped a female passenger twice while she was trying to sleep during a March 27 flight.

Bidany pleaded not guilty. His attorney Saul Bienenfeld said "Nothing happened. He was fast asleep, and a woman next to him started screaming." He added that Bidany did not touch the woman and was not permitted to change his seat to avoid being seated next to a woman.

Susan Elliott, a spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Delta said the airline does not comment on pending litigation.

The female passenger, who was not named in the complaint, was assigned to a middle seat on Delta flight 269 next to Bidany in the aisle seat. After falling asleep, the passenger awoke to find Bidany "had placed his hand under her blanket" and was groping her, according to the complaint. She jumped back and Bidany removed his hand, then she pulled her blanket back over herself.

Several minutes later, Bidany again reached under the female passenger's blanket, according to the complaint. In sum and substance, she then said, "What are you doing, stop touching me," and Bidany responded "It's a mistake, I'm asleep."

Bienenfeld said what Bidany actually said was, "You are mistaken, I am sleeping," and that it was incorrectly translated from Hebrew.

The female passenger went to tell the flight crew what happened, and one member of the crew described the passenger as "visibly shaken and frantic," according to the complaint.

Bidany has been released on bond under special conditions to allow him to return to Israel, where he lives, for Passover. According to Bienenfeld, Bidany will return to New York before his case is scheduled to go to trial May 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.


Rabbi accused in flight grope case
By Jennifer Lipman
Jewish Chronicle - April 15, 2011

A rabbi has been arrested for allegedly groping a woman as they flew to New York.

Rabbi Gavriel Bidany told the female passenger sitting next to him that he was "asleep" during the incident, on a Delta Airlines flight from Tel Aviv last month. He was later charged with misdemeanour assault. 

According to US federal court records, the 47-year-old Israeli lifted the woman's blanket and twice touched her inappropriately, then, when she complained, said it was "a mistake".

Airline staff said the woman was left "visibly shaken and frantic."

Saul Bienenfeld, Rabbi Bidany's lawyer, said his client asserted his total innocence. The rabbi was released on £305,000 bail before his trial on May 4. 

He is understood to have sought permission to return to Israel for Pesach.


Rabbi who is married and the father of 11 kids on trial for allegedly molesting Israeli Army officer
By John Marzulli
New York Daily News - May 4, 2011 

She's an officer - and says he's most definitely not a gentleman.

An Israeli Army officer testified yesterday she was molested by an orthodox rabbi sitting next to her on a trans-Atlantic flight.

The alleged assailant, Gavriel Bidany, married and the father of 11, told authorities the touching of her groin and breast may have occurred while he was asleep and was a mistake.

"I want justice to be made," said the 23-year-old victim, who commands a missile defense unit back in Israel.

She was on Delta flight 269 last March 27 traveling to New York City on a fundraising trip sponsored by the group Israeli Bonds.

After watching the in-flight flick "Narnia," she lowered her head on the food tray and tried to sleep.

Bidany was sitting to her right covered by a blanket, she said. Suddenly she awoke with a start. "I felt someone touching my groin," she testified in Brooklyn Federal Court.
"He jumped also and took his hand away."

Bidany appeared to be pretending he was asleep so she wanted to catch him "red-handed," she said.

"A short time afterward his hand was on my breast," she said. "I said 'What are you doing?' And he said, 'No, no, it's a mistake. I'm asleep.'"

She reported the incident to crew members and Bidany was arrested at Kennedy Airport.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Sarratt called Bidany's actions a "brazen assault."

"The defendant was leering at her with his eyes wide open," the prosecutor said.

Defense lawyer Saul Bienenfield said the rabbi has consistently maintained that he did not "knowingly" touch the woman.

On the stand, Bidany insisted he never touched her at all and could not understand why she was "slandering" him.

"I would not undertake a risk to do such nonsense and risk my entire life," Bidany, 47, said through a Hebrew translator.

The lawyer said Bidany is a respected rabbi in Israel and also performs marriage counseling in New York.

Bidany faces up to six months in prison if found guilty of the misdemeanor sexual contact charge by Magistrate Ramon Reyes.

Orthodox rabbi Gavriel Bidany found guilty of molesting female Israeli Army officer on flight
By John Marzulli
New York Daily News - May 5, 2011

An orthodox rabbi was convicted Thursday of molesting a female Israeli Army officer on a trans-Atlantic flight.

Gavriel Bidany was sitting next to the 23-year-old woman on a Delta jet last month and reached out from under his blanket to fondle her as she slept.

Magistrate Ramon Reyes said the victim's testimony about the assault was "compelling and wholly believeable."

Reyes, who presided over the bench trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, said there was "no question in my mind" about the rabbi's guilt.

Bidany, the married father of 11 children, showed no emotion when the verdict was announced.

The woman, a lieutenant commander of a missile defense unit, declined to comment. The Daily News is withholding her name because she is the victim of a sex crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Sarratt ridiculed Bidany's claim that if there was touching, it happened inadvertently while he slept.

"If these were random reaches of a sleeping man why is it the defendant had such precise accuracy, reaching private areas?" Sarratt said.

The prosecutor also blasted defense lawyer Saul Bienenfield's argument that the victim would have pummeled the defendant with self-defense skills learned in the Army if she was attacked.

"[The victim] acted perfectly and with remarkable poise despite the defendant's repeated violations of her personal space," Sarratt said.

Bidany faces up to six months in prison when he is sentenced next week by Reyes. He is free on $500,000 bail.


Rabbi and Father of 11 on Trial for Molesting IDF Officer
By Renee Ghert-Zand
Forward - May 5, 2011

Editor’s Note: Yesterday Bidany was found guilty of the charge of molesting a female Israeli Army officer.
A female IDF officer is not taking an alleged case of misdemeanor sexual contact sitting down — especially not while sitting on an airplane.

The NY Daily News reported that the 23-year-old officer, who commands a missile defense unit, has accused an Orthodox rabbi and father of 11 of groping her groin and breast while sitting next to her on Delta flight 269 en route from Tel Aviv to New York last March 27. The rabbi, Gavriel Bidany, is currently standing trial in Brooklyn Federal Court, and faces six months in prison if found guilty by Magistrate Ramon Reyes.

The woman has testified that Bidany, who was in the seat next to hers, first touched her groin and later her breast, both times bogusly claiming to have been asleep when it happened. The first time, he took his hand away when she was startled awake by the groping after having put her head down on the tray table to rest. The second time, she reportedly asked him what he was doing, and he said, “No, no, it’s a mistake. I’m asleep.”

The woman reported the alleged incident to the flight crew, and Bidany, sporting glasses and a long white beard, was arrested upon landing at JFK airport.

The case’s prosecutor claims that the rabbi, who lives in Israel and also does marriage counseling in New York, was leering at the woman with open eyes. While the rabbi’s defense counsel maintains that his client did not “knowingly” touch the woman, the rabbi himself testified on the stand that he did not touch her at all.


Rabbi 'grab-bi':  On trial in flight-grope
By Mitchel Maddux 
New York Post - May 5, 2011
A touchy-feely Orthodox rabbi stood trial yesterday for allegedly groping a female Israel Defense Forces officer during a flight aboard a commercial jetliner bound for New York. 

Gavriel Bidany, 48, a father of 11 children, was traveling on a Delta flight from Tel Aviv and seated next to the young woman, who had fallen asleep. 

The woman testified yesterday in Brooklyn federal court that she awoke to find the man's hand massaging her crotch and then her breasts. 

"I immediately said, 'What are you doing? You're touching me!' " she said. 

The rabbi pretended to be dozing and feigned innocence, she said.

Accused by lady soldier.
"No, no, it's a mistake -- I'm asleep," the rabbi protested, according to the Israeli military officer, who is assigned to a missile-defense unit. 

Then, bizarrely, "He tried to put his blanket over his head," the woman continued. 

"I told him it's not a mistake -- you've touched me, and you've been doing it the whole flight!" she testified. 

Bidany took the stand in his own defense before Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes Jr. 

"Did you ever touch the passenger sitting next to you?" his lawyer, Saul Bienenfeld, asked. 

"No," Bidany replied through a Hebrew-language interpreter. 

The woman, a 23-year-old career military officer who holds the rank of lieutenant, said she then stood up and reported the assault to a flight attendant. 

Bidany apparently fled to the back of the plane, and the attendants found him there.

Orthodox rabbi convicted of molesting female Israeli soldier on flight to New York
Daily Mail Reporter - May 6, 2011

An orthodox rabbi has been convicted of groping a female Israeli army officer on a transatlantic flight to New York.

Gavriel Bidany, a 47-year-old father of 11 children, reached out under a blanket and fondled the woman twice as she slept next to him on the Delta Airlines flight to JFK.

Bidany, who is also Israeli, tried to claim he accidentally touched her in his sleep, but a Brooklyn magistrate yesterday dismissed his testimony as 'not worthy of belief'.

Judge Ramon Reyes found him guilty of molesting the 23-year-old woman after a two-day bench trial.

The incident happened on March 27, on a flight from Tel Aviv to New York. The woman, a front-line soldier who commands a missile defence unit, said she woke up to find Bidany's hand creeping under a blanket over her lap.

She told the court he then groped her genital area. When the woman 'jumped back', she said the rabbi 'quickly removed his hand from her groin.'

But minutes later Bidany tried again, the woman said, reaching under the blanket and groping her breasts.

She jumped back again and confronted Bidany, who claimed 'It's a mistake, I'm asleep'.

The woman, who has a 'substantial number of soldiers serving under her charge', reported what had happened to Delta crew flight members.

They told the FBI the woman was 'visible shaken and frantic', according to court documents seen by The Smoking Gun.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Sarratt dismissed the rabbi's claims that any touching was 'inadvertent'.

According to the New York Daily News he said: 'If these were random reaches of a sleeping man why is it the defendant had such precise accuracy, reaching private areas?'

Mr Sarratt also attacked the rabbi's defence lawyer for saying the victim would have fought back with her Army skills if she had been molested.

He said: '[The victim] acted perfectly and with remarkable poise despite the defendant's repeated violations of her personal space.'

Speaking through a Hebrew interpreter Bidany, who is married, said he would never 'do such nonsense and risk my entire life'.

But Judge Reyes described the victim's testimony as 'compelling and wholly believable', and told Bidany he would be sentenced on May 12.

He is currently free on $500,000 bail, but  faces up to six months in jail


Rabbi gets 60 days in prison for trans-Atlantic jetliner grope
By Mitchel Maddux
New York Post - May 12, 2011

Rabbi Gavriel Bidany - Convicted Sex Offender
An Orthodox rabbi was sentenced to prison today for fondling a woman during a trans-Atlantic flight aboard a commercial jetliner bound for New York. 

Gavriel Bidany, 48, a married father of 11 children, was sentenced to serve 60 days in a federal prison for groping a female Israel Defense Forces officer on a Delta flight to JFK Airport.

"Rabbi Bidany committed a serious crime...and such conduct cannot be tolerated," said Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes, Jr. in Brooklyn federal court.

"It took a lot of courage and personal sacrifice for [the victim] to come forward and testify," he said.

Assistant US Attorney David Sarratt told the court that Bidany's conduct was particularly troubling, given that "he selected a victim who is 23-years-old, but who appears much younger than that." 

The diminutive woman who took the stand last week and recounted the incident during Bidany's bench trial was not present for today's sentencing, but the prosecutor read aloud a letter she had filed with the court.

"I lost, in a most human way, my most precious thing - my innocence," the woman wrote about the in-flight assault. "I won't be trapped again. I also won't trust again."

The woman also wrote that she was even more troubled, considering that Bidany is  a rabbi who wears clerical dress.

"From him, I expected more," the woman said of Bidany, emphasizing she hoped he would "admit his mistake" and demonstrate unflinchingly "the behavior of spiritual leaders who believe what they preach."

In pronouncing sentence, the judge also noted that he was troubled by the fact that rabbi's account of what happened aboard the aircraft was at odds with all other testimony in the case.

"Rabbi Bidany testified falsely," the judge said.

Bidany, his wife, and children, all live in Israel in a close-knit neighborhood near the Tel Aviv airport.

Friends who attended last week's trial said Bidany was a respected fixture in the local Orthodox community, where interactions between unmarried men and women are restricted.

Bidany was trained as a rabbi, but does not serve as one, and instead studies at a yeshiva and runs a soup kitchen, said his attorney, Saul Bienenfeld.

He was convicted of groping the female Israel Defense Forces officer as she slept in her seat. The two were seated next to each other on a Delta flight from Tel Aviv earlier this year when the young woman fell asleep.

She testified at the trial that she had awaken to find Bidany's hand massaging her crotch and then her breasts.

After she accused him of molesting her, the rabbi pretended to be dozing and feigned innocence, the woman testified.

The woman, a 23-year-old career military officer, who holds the rank of lieutenant, said she then stood up and reported the assault to a flight attendant.

Bidany apparently fled to the back of the plane, and the attendants found him there.

Bidany, an Israeli national, was immediately remanded to federal custody by US Marshals after the judge announced the sentence.

Before today's hearing, several of his children wrote the judge to urge leniency in the case.

One of Bidany's daughters, Eden, wrote to Judge Reyes explaining the personal dilemma she faces.

"I am begging you your honor, I have reached an age (22) where I need to find a groom and start a family," Eden Bidany wrote. "And without my father it is very difficult."

"This could harm my matchmaking process - starting a home. My whole future depends on it," she wrote.

Her brother, Ariel, made a similar plea.

"Have pity on me. I have reached the age of 21, and need to find a bride, get married and have a family," Ariel Bidany wrote.

"When my father is not with me, it is going to be very hard and would hurt my matchmaking," he wrote. "I would like to get married properly with my father at my side please."

At the conclusion of Bidany's bench trial last week, Judge Reyes said that he had found the female Israeli Defense Force officer's testimony to be "compelling and wholly believable."


Gavriel Bidany, rabbi convicted of molesting sleeping Israeli soldier on plane, gets 60 days in jail 
By John Marzulli
New York Daily News - May 12, 2011  

An Orthodox rabbi convicted of fondling an Israeli Army officer on a plane was socked with 60 days in jail.

Brooklyn Magistrate Ramon Reyes considered numerous letters written on behalf of Gavriel Bidany, but when it came time for the rabbi to speak for himself on Thursday, he sat in stony silence.

"Rabbi Bidany committed a serious crime, touching a young sleeping woman on her private parts," Reyes said. "Such conduct cannot be tolerated."

The judge also praised the 23-year-old victim, a lieutenant in charge of a missile defense unit, for having the courage to come forward about the assault last month on a transatlantic Delta flight from Israel.

Bidany, 48, a marriage counselor, faced up to six months in prison for the misdemeanor crime of sexual touching without consent. He was found guilty last week by Reyes after a two-day bench trial in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The victim, whose name is being withheld by The Daily News, testified that she was sleeping in the seat next to Bidany who had covered himself with a blanket.

She awoke to find him fondling her groin area. Then he assaulted her a second time, groping her breast. When she confronted him, he claimed he was sleeping.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Sarratt noted that the victim looks younger than her age and suggested Bidany "selected her because she wouldn't have the courage to report the attack."

In a letter to the judge, the victim called Bidany a "coward" who does not deserve the admiration of the people who spoke up for him.

Bidany, married and the father of 11 children, had submitted letters to the court from two sons and a daughter who feared his incarceration would jeopardize their matchmaking and marriage prospects.

"I think it's a very heavy sentence," defense lawyer Saul Bienenfeld said after the rabbi was remanded to begin serving the jail time.


Israeli rabbi jailed for fondling sleeping woman on plane
By Aman Ali
Reuters - May 12, 2013 

A Orthodox Jewish rabbi and father of 11 was sentenced to 60 days in prison on Thursday for groping his sleeping female seatmate, an Israeli soldier, aboard a transatlantic flight.

Gavriel Bidany, 48, an Israeli citizen, remained silent in federal court in Brooklyn as a Hebrew interpreter informed him of the punishment meted out by Judge Ramon Reyes.

"He is a well respected man and a well valued person in his community," the judge said. "That said, the need for the sentence imposed is great because this is a serious offense."

Bidany was convicted of fondling a 23-year-old lieutenant in the Israeli Army. She testified against him in court earlier this month.

The victim did not appear at the sentencing but issued a statement saying she expected more from Bidany considering he's an Orthodox rabbi.

"Whatever was taken away from me cannot be returned," she said. "This cannot be learned any other way. A burn leaves a scar that cannot be removed."

According to court documents, Bidany was on a Delta Airlines flight from Tel Aviv, Israel to John F. Kennedy airport in New York in March, seated next to the woman. Bidany placed a blanket over his head, appearing to fall sleep, and that's when the victim decided to place a blanket over herself too and sleep, the court documents said.

About 30 minutes later, the victim woke up to find Bidany groping her genital area and jumped back before the rabbi pulled his hands back, the documents said. The victim then placed the blanket back over herself before Bidany tried to grope her again, this time reaching for her breasts.

When the woman questioned the rabbi about what he was doing, the rabbi replied, "It's a mistake, I'm asleep," the documents said.

She immediately reported the incident to a flight attendant, leading to Bidany's arrest.

Many of Bidany's 11 children wrote letters to the judge pleading for his release and about a dozen of the rabbi's friends appeared in court at the sentencing and said they valued his for his spiritual counseling.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)


Rabbi who groped Israeli soldier sentenced to jail
By Jennifer Lippman
Jewish Chronicle - May 13, 2011

The rabbi who was convicted of groping a female IDF officer on a flight to New York will spend two months behind bars.

Father-of-11 Gavriel Bidany was arrested after the woman, 23, accused him of touching her underneath her airline blanket without her consent.

Last week a court heard that she was sleeping and woke to find him fondling her groin area and groping her breast. When she confronted him, he claimed he was sleeping.

Yesterday Bidany was sentenced to 60 days in a federal prison.

In his defence Bidany claimed that he never touched the woman. But the prosecution said her account of events was "wholly believable" and he was convicted of assault.

Assistant US Attorney David Sarratt said that Bidany's conduct was shocking not least because he chose a victim who appeared "much younger" than her age.

According to the New York Post the victim gave a statement which was read by the prosecutor. In it, she said: "I lost, in a most human way, my most precious thing - my innocence."

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

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

For more information go to: . If you wish to use copyrighted material from this update for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

As Purim Rolls in The Awareness Center Closes

On Friday, March 18, 2011, The Awareness Center will be sending out our last daily newsletter -- as our organization will be closing at the start of Shabbat.  

It's been an amazing journey over the last twelve years since transforming an idea into a functioning organization.  Who would have ever thought that in such a short period of time so many Jewish survivors of sexual abuse/assault would have felt so empowered that would feel safe enough to speak out publicly.  

I really wish I would have kept count of the number of Jewish survivors who called The Awareness Center  looking for help, yet all I can do is estimate that it's been at least 18,000 or more.  Considering The Awareness Center averaged about 150 - 200 e-mails a day, and then times that over a 12 year period -- I'm guessing that we received close to a million e-mails.  I've also lost track of the number of workshops and conferences we were invited to speak at, or the number of legislative hearings our membership provided testimony at.

The Awareness Center has always been an extremely grassroots organization with very little funding, yet even so -- I believe we were able to make a huge impact in helping to make positive change in the course of history for so many people.  I think one of the most important goals our organization was able to foster is the fact that so many Jewish survivors no longer are remaining silent, every day more and more individuals are speaking out against sex crimes and helping other survivors to know they are not alone.  

Shining a light on sex crimes  has never been easy task, especially when you are letting a community know that someone they love and respect -- was also a sexual predator.  Everyone connected to The Awareness Center always knew the risks of taking on such a monumental task of having a Jewish sex offender registry.  We knew there would be a small group of people who would do everything in their power to try to silence the messengers -- yet The Awareness Center prevailed.  We knew that what the attackers were attempting to do to us, was NOTHING compared to what the survivors of sex crimes were forced to endure.  If we didn't forge forward nothing would have ever changed.

I have so many unique and wonderful memories of running The Awareness Center, yet there is one very special moment that will stay with me forever.   

Never in a million years did I ever think that The Awareness Center's message would reach into the more insulated orthodox communities.  It was a world which was very unknown to me.  A few years ago The Awareness Center started crossing paths with individuals connected to the Bobov, Satmar communities, along with that of other chassidish movements.  When this first started happening I was very grateful for my cultural diversity training. You see, I grew up in a very liberal lifestyle without any real religious training.  It wasn't until a few years before I turned forty, that I started searching out and learning about my Jewish identity.

I'll never forget the first time I met my dear friend, Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg in person.  Prior to meeting him I had only heard his name and had his e-mail address.  I was searching the internet to learn who he was, when I stumbled upon an article talking about him getting shot.  I was in total shock.  This was the first time I've ever heard of someone advocating for children getting shot.  I immediately sent him an e-mail asking him if he was OK.  Before I knew it I was speaking to him on the phone, and the next day he was taking the Chinese bus from Brooklyn, all the way down to Baltimore to meet with me.   

Our first meeting was one of the most ironic moments of my life as I'm sure it was for him too.  Here I am, a woman who has an undergraduate degree in women's studies (Feminist studies), meeting with a rabbi who is Satmar.  At the time I kept flashing in my mind to the day that I was carrying a "Chicago NOW" banner in a Pro-Choice march in Washington DC.  As you can imagine our cultural differences were as different as night and day.  Yet, we had a few major things in common -- we were both dedicated to helping those who were sexually victimized within Jewish communities and we were both dedicated to ending these sorts of heinous crimes. 

Though The Awareness Center's journey is coming to an end and we are forced to close due to lack of funding, I know deep in my heart that the Anti-Rape movement within Jewish communities globally will continue.  I am also so grateful for every survivor who stayed alive to speak out, every individual who volunteered their time and am so thankful for The Awareness Center's board of directors and international advisory board.  We never would have been able to accomplish as much as we did without them.

The Awareness Center does still need your help though.  We still have bills that need to be paid.  If you can find it in your heart to financially support us we would be greatly appreciative.  


Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC
Founder - Director

Honoring Marcia Cohn Spiegel

Honoring Marcia Spiegel Cohn 


Founder of the Domestic Violence Movement in Judaism 

Back in the early 1960s, when I realized that my husband was an alcoholic, I turned first to my rabbi and then to a Jewish psychotherapist. Both assured me that since it was well known that Jews are not alcoholics, if my husband had a drinking problem it must be something I was doing. I was devastated. What was I doing wrong? For many years I wore two faces, a public face and a private face.

In the 1970s, when I joined a feminist consciousness-raising group, I heard other women’s stories. I recognized that I was not alone. Other Jewish women were living with alcoholic husbands, or with domestic abuse. Each woman believed, like me, that she was alone in her suffering. I realized that we had to change community attitudes and behaviors. I wanted to insure that when any woman sought help for addiction, alcoholism, or abuse in her family she would not be blamed for the behavior of her significant other.
By the mid-1980s, some Jewish professional social work agencies and organizations began to address these problems, but these stigmatized behaviors were still not recognized by the general Jewish population. When I spoke publicly about these issues, audiences tended to dismiss statistics, refused to recognize the symptoms of these problems, and continued to believe the myth that these behaviors did not impact the Jewish community. With great trepidation I decided to tell my story, owning what had happened to me, so that others could own what was happening to them. 
In August 1987, the Feminist Task Force of New Jewish Agenda asked me to keynote a panel entitled “The Changing Jewish Family.” The evening before my talk I attended a 12-step meeting at which I heard many conference participants tell the horror stories of their lives. When I rose to speak, I stated that before we could heal the world we first had to heal ourselves. I was amazed to watch hundreds of people burst into tears. By destroying the myths that had imprisoned us we had begun the process oftikkun olam, repairing the world.

Marcia Cohn Spiegel was born in Chicago on October 16, 1927, and earned a B.A. in psychology from Rockford College in 1949. She was an active volunteer in her suburban community and synagogue until two simultaneous awakenings changed the course of her life: she discovered how few women were included in Jewish texts and anthologies, and at the same time she was forced to acknowledge that her husband was an alcoholic. In 1976, she enrolled in the School of Jewish Communal Service of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where her thesis The Heritage of Noah: Alcoholism in the Jewish Community Today was the first documentation of the disease in the Jewish community. Spiegel has taught at the University of Judaism, UCLA, and synagogues and centers across the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, London, Jerusalem, and Sydney. She has written extensively in scholarly journals, Jewish periodicals, and anthologies, about Jewish women’s poetry, alcoholism, addiction, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

WARNING: Kallah Teachers Beware!

The Awareness Center has been informed that there is chassidishe man calling Kallah teachers pretending to be a woman newly married.  

The man calls asking all types of sexual questions using a female voice.  He is claiming he needs "advice", yet it is believed he is doing this for his own personal sexual gratification.  

This man has been calling Kallah teachers on international basis.  If you've received a call from this individual please contact The Awareness Center immediately.  

It's advisable that you also report this harassing call, which could be considered a sex crime to your local police department.  If the police refuse to take a report, be sure to write down who you spoke to and the time and day you attempted to make the report.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

REMINDER: Rally in support of crime victims - Tuesday in Crown Heights (Brooklyn, NY)

Mark This Date: March 8 – Peaceful Rally for Justice in Crown Heights

Crime Victims in Brooklyn’s Jewish Community Need Your Support!
Please  join us in a peaceful rally for justice in Crown Heights
When: Tuesday, March 8, 2011  -  8:00 PM – Midnight 
Where: Bais Rivka, 310 Crown Street, Brooklyn, NY 
Sponsor: Coalition Against Legal Abuse  (dedicated to offer to support crime victims).
For more information: Call 1-800-958-2904 or send an e-mail to:
An educational seminar on sexual abuse will be taking place March 8th, 2011, at 8:00 PM, at Bais Rivka.  Unfortunately, there have been serious accusations made against both Henna White and those associated withOhel Family Services, including Dr. David Pelcovitz — regarding mishandling of cases which include child abuse (emotional, physical and sexual) and domestic violence.
Mrs. Bronya Shaffer who is internationally known for her involvement with cases of child abuse in the Chabad community will be emceeing the evening.  Other presenters for the evening include Dr. David PelcovitzRabbi Shloime Sternberg, Professor Gavriel Fagin and Henna White, who is employed as the liaison between theBrooklyn District Attorney’s office and the Jewish community.
It is the belief of several advocacy organizations that community members should be warned that Henna White, Dr. David Pelcovitz and anyone associated with Ohel should not be trusted, and should not be considered experts in the field of abuse and neglect.  Speaking at events like this give possible victims of crimes the impression that these individuals are trustworthy and have their best interest in mind.
Please show your support by letting us know that you plan on coming to this rally.  You can do this by either calling:   1-800-958-2904 Or by sending an e-mail to:
Background information: