Call Magen or Police About Harassment or Abuse in Seminaries!

Magen IconMagen is an independent, non-profit, victims advocacy organization in Israel. Magen’s English-speaking staff are well acquainted with the seminaries culture. Magen is now working to assemble information about abuse of students at seminaries, in order to:

  • Advocate for and provide support to past victims
  • Develop  safety protocols & programs for seminaries to protect students in the future.

Magen has opened a file about the Meisels seminaries (in addition to others) and have already begun speaking to people who attended those seminaries.  Any information you could share might help them better protect students.

Information provided could also help support prosecution of abuse crimes.

Elimelech Meisels

Elimelech Meisels

In Israel it is illegal for a clergyman or educator to have sexual relations with students. Consent is not a defense against such charges. In addition, sexual assault are prosecutable under additional statutes.

If you have information about harassment or abuse of seminary students  (whether you experienced it or observed it, or have grounds to suspect it) contact:

Shana Aaronson
shoshana@magenprotects.org

02-9999.678 (press 1)
magenprotects.org

Any information shared will be kept in strict confidence.

I have dealt with Magen and I respect their professionalism, their strict standards for confidentiality,  and their commitment to victims/survivors. Their services are free, including legal consultations to assist in bringing cases to the police and public prosecutors.

If you were a victim of criminal acts by Meisels (or anyone else) in the US, please contact me (Yerachmiel Lopin) by one of the methods described on the upper right of my web page for advice about where to lodge complaints. Even if you think or know your abuse was outside the statute of limitations, the information you share can facilitate the  prosecution of similar crimes inflicted on others.

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You can see other posts on Frum Follies about the Meisels seminaries scandal. They will appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first). You will get several pages of titles, so when you get to the bottom make sure to click on “<– older posts.” If your prefer reading in chronological order, keep going back and read from the bottom up.

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17 thoughts on “Call Magen or Police About Harassment or Abuse in Seminaries!

  1. To fellow alumni-

    I know there are many of you out there who have experienced/ saw Meisles actions and/ or complained to teachers.

    PLEASE speak up. Nothing can be done unless you do something about it.

  2. I want to thank Magen for being there to help against abuse. I am of the opinion that asking parents to call police is NOT the solution when abuse happens.

    911 operator: where is your emergency?
    Well, this rabbi was talking to me, and then he tried to kiss me.
    911 operator: did he have a weapon?
    No
    911 operator: is anyone injured
    Well, no.

    It is just less intimidating, and more reasonable to have an organization that can help people process what happened. If it is abuse, they can explain to the victim how to go about protecting themselves. I believe Magen should expand and be in every house, on the refrigerator, as is Hatzalah, Shomrim, etc.. This would allow for an independent organization that had only the public’s interest at heart to deal with abuse.

    Also, they will know if there were previous complaints, and would be involved in seeking termination of the rabbis who are accused of these abuses. If they were a household name, most of the famous abusers would have been outed long ago.

    • Why are you assuming that the call might not be, “Rabbi zyxwitz {groped me | pressed his body against me in aroused state |asked me to perform oral sex on him | raped me}. These things have all happened in other cases. You are forgetting that under Israeli law, persons with authority over others such as educators and rabbis can be prosecuted for so-called “consensual” sexual activity. In fact, Israeli police hearing that a teacher or principal had sex with an adult student would know they have a criminal complaint. The issue of force and coercion would determine the additional criminal charges.

      Why are you assuming that existing organizations are doing a good job in dealing with abuse. Shomrim and hatzalah regularly cover up abuse in many communities. Only a few of them usually report, or promote reporting to the police.

      • “I am of the opinion that asking parents to call police is NOT the solution when abuse happens.”

        I strongly disagree with this statement. If you call 911, they would put you through to the local police precinct which has an abuse department. No, there is no immediate emergency, but someone WAS hurt by sexual assault, which is why they would either give you the phone number and address of your local police to report the crime there, or they would call the police for you and connect you, or they would have the police come to your location. If the police would come to your location, it may take them more time than if it was an emergency, and it is doubtful that they would drive up with lights and sirens blazing, but they would follow procedure for a non-immediate-emergency sexual assault.

        “It is just less intimidating, and more reasonable to have an organization that can help people process what happened.”

        If you need help to “process” what happened, ask the police for a referral to a mental health professional who regularly deals with sexual abuse and they will give you names of mental health providers who help with these cases. They may even have one on staff. There are lots of support groups out there. Finding emotional support does not have to TAKE THE PLACE OF reporting abuse, simply because “it’s intimidating.” A parent who is too “intimidated” to take steps necessary to protect their child is not a very normal, natural or sane parental response.

        What DOES often happen in the Yeshivish and Chassidish world is COMMUNAL SOCIAL INTIMIDATION where leaders and society punish those who report abuse, because it reflects badly on the community. But that’s not the same as being intimidated to report abuse to authorities. If you’re old enough to raise a child, you better be old enough to do what needs to be done in order to protect that child, and not avoid it because it’s “intimidating.”

        • I agree with what you write with a few additional specifics.

          1. RAINN is a national network of support for victims of sexual abuse that operates a hotline with trained staff on call 24/7. They can do referrals and advice in non-emergency situations.

          2. When an assault is recent, the sooner police can start investigating the more they can succeed in locating and preserving evidence ranging from DNA, bystander testimony, video recordings, etc.

          3. In most larger communities, you are better off contacting the unit specialized in sex crimes rather than the local precinct house. Their staff are more sensitive and skilled, and they are often more committed to fighting sex crimes. In Brooklyn, the precinct houses in Boro Park and Williamsburg are notorious for limp/lackluster responses to BlackHat-on-BlackHat crime. Definitely contact the Special Victim’s Unit and not the precinct houses in Brooklyn.

    • This would allow for an independent organization that had only the public’s interest at heart to
      deal with abuse.

      I was under the impression that was the function of the police and child protection agencies, Moreover, the police are not the same as the 911 operator and if you called the sex crime unit you would almost certainly get a professional response.

      What many are forgetting is that in Israel when a teacher has any sort of sexual relationship/contact with an adult student 18 years and older, it is treated by Israeli law as non-consensual. If the student is 17 years or under, there are also mandatory reporting laws with criminal consequences for failure to report abuse that apply to almost any adult with suspicions/information.

      The fixers in our communities and our community leadership have for a long time protected and continue to protect well known abusers and abusers in well known institutions that is the main reason many abusers were not “outed long ago”.

  3. What do victims gain in the long run by not reporting abuse? If you don’t acknowledge it now, you will live a life consumed with guilt and doubt. Your relationships with men will suffer too..

    If you attended a school with even rumors, you will be tainted. People today and 10 years from now will look and you and think, “did she or didn’t she.” What de she know about what really went on and goes on in seminary? Will you feel comfortable sending your own daughter to sem?

    • “If you don’t acknowledge it now, you will live a life consumed with guilt and doubt.”

      Just because a victim is not reporting it, does not mean they are not acknowledging it.

      “Your relationships with men will suffer too.”

      This will be the case whether or not they report it.

      “What do victims gain in the long run by not reporting abuse?”

      Reporting abuse to the authorities or a law suit opens the victim up to publicity, and once the information is public, a girl’s reputation in the frum world is “ruined” and her prospects for shidduchim or are nil. There can be repercussions for other siblings in her family as well, if it is a community that socially shuns and punishes the victim, instead of the abuser, as Yeshivish and Chassidish communities are known to do.

      “If you attended a school with even rumors, you will be tainted.”

      Victims feel it is better for them to be under a cloud of suspicion together with hundreds of other girls, rather than DEFINITELY be ruined if they report the abuse to police or enter into a civil suit.

      • Seriously? “once the information is public”.
        Even in very high profile sexual abuse trials in Israel, such as ex-President Moshe Katzav and R.Motty Elon, the victims identities never became public. This is the norm in Israel, where victims identities are protected as Classified from the public view.

        • @David Morris: As an example – within a short period of time when the young woman accused Weberman – her photo and name were posted and went viral.

        • One problem with that is that both plaintiffs again then-President Katzav might have testified falsely. (I realize this comment will result in immediate responses condemning me for even daring to speculate.) The State of Israel has much corruption. Rabbi Uri Lopiansky was “found” guilty by a judge who refused to allow a ton of evidence that proved his innocence (I know this for a fact).

          I also know of 2 cases wherein false accusations were made, including one case in which the accuser was a serial accuser, who had a personality disorder.

          Okay, now everyone can bash me!

  4. Yerachmiel, by bringing up the coverups of Shomrim and Hatzala (you could add Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, Torah Umesorah’s Counterforce, the now defunct Kol Tzedek, all schools and all rabbis and all community leaders) , you appear to be casting aspersions on the work of Magen.

    However, this begs the question:

    While I know that Magen’s stated policy is to report abuse, they do a diservice by calling on victims to “call the police, or Magen.” The call should be to report to the police, with NO MIDDLEMAN.

    They should of course offer to provide trained rape victims advocates to go WITH the vctim. And all of us, you, me, Magen, truthseeker, etc. need to lobby with a strong and powerful voice, that leaders like the CBD come out with a psak that it is a MITZVA and a CHIYUV to go to the police, not just that they do “not preclude the right of the victims to report” as their original publc letter stated.

    In fact, why not do something really historical? Why not have a rabbi or group of rabbis like the CBD who KNOW MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MEISELS CRIMES, be the ones to show how its done? The Mitzva to report applies to anyone and everyone who knows information, and it is really wrong and adds insult to injury that people here are asking the girls who were shamed and traumatized to take this responsibility on their shoulders. As a survivor of rabbinical abuse myself, let me say that in fact it is downright cruel.

    People are asking the girls to “come forward.” They did come forward. They told their stories. Thankfully, finally for once, there are rabbis who are acting on it. Now it is time for them to take the next step and openly call the police and accompany the girls to press charges. And they should publicize a psak that anyone who leaks the identity of the victims is guilty of REAL lashon Harah, and should be put in cherem.

  5. Yerachmiel, and others, you gave different scenarios of victims making their original contact with the police. I have another one that I believe would be the most effective, healing, humane and Torahdik. Imagine if all of the victims who have spoken to the CBD get the following call or letter:

    “Hello, this is Rabbi Shwartz/Fuerst/Cohen. We are contacting you to find out how you are doing. Do you have enough emotional support going forward from this terrible crime that was done to you? Do you have professional help with healing and moving forward? Do you need a referral? Do you need financial assistance in paying for the best mental health care? We are doing what we can to raise communal funds just for this purpose. With G-d’s help, we plan on forcing Meisels to pay for all of his damage including for medical bills, but in the meantime it is the responsibility of the community to shoulder the cost. You are NOT alone.

    There is another matter. We and all of Klal Yisroel are eternally grateful to you for acting with great courage and heroism to protect others and to stop the monster who hurt you. While the need for privacy does not allow it, you should be the guest of honor at a banquet we are considering making to show solidarity and raise money for all of the monster’s victims.

    We have been in contact with the sex crimes division of the police department in Israel. Magen has put us in touch with detectives there who are well trained in how to approach these issues within the special nature of our Torah community. We will be meeting with them to give the information we have that will help them stop Meisels from ever hurting another girl.

    We are asking all the victims and witnesses who spoke with us and told their story, to return and tell it one more time. The reports we all file will be confidential, and the police are not allowed to release our names. The hope is that there will be some girls who are comfortable, with our support and the support of the entire community, to press charges against Meisels for his crimes, so that the justice system can incarcerate him or take any other measures to stop him from harming others. We are well aware of how difficult this reques of ours will be for you to do, and we do not feel any sense of judgment or hard feelings if you decline. You have done more than your share already.

    But if you are willing to at least meet with us about this idea, depending on where you are at in you healing process, this experience, when we do it together as a community, can often be helpful to victims as a way of helping empower them, and ease the emotional trauma. It is a chance to be supported in overcoming fear and feelings of shame and depression. We do recommend you speaking it over with your therapist if you have one, and letting us know if you have any questions.

    Hashem should reward you for your heroic acts in coming forward, heal you from your pain, and help you continue to grow to be the great Jewish wife, mothe and woman you were meant to be,

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