Demonstrate Against Agudah’s Protection of Child Molesters this Sunday at 3pm

I urge all my readers to become part of this demonstration in front of the Midwood home of the Exec VP of Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah), Dovid Zweibel.

Agudah discourages reporting of child molesters by misrepresenting halacha to claim one must consult with a rabbi. Most Agudah rabbis then either rule against reporting or discourage it for non-halachic reasons

Agudah, together with the Catholic Church, has blocked New York State legislation to strengthen prosecution of molesters as criminals and to force them and their protectors to pay for the damage they cause. For the 9th year in a row, they have blocked attempts to reform the NYS  Statute of Limitations. Why? Because they want to avoid embarrassment and avoid paying for the damage caused by tolerating and covering up for molesters.

Agudah just does not care that much about the horrors inflicted on our children. Oh, they shrei gevalt that it is terrible. But not terrible enough to act. At the end of the day they care more about the finances of mosdos than about children. Incredibly they are not even ashamed to admit as much. The Novominsker Rebbe, openly said that changing the laws will destroy mosdos torah.

This won’t change till they are shamed into changing. Survivors and activists have spent many hours trying inside persuasion. Es toigt gornisht.

If you want safety for children in the orthodox world, join the demonstration.

Where: 1146 east 9th St (between K & L), Brooklyn, NY 11230

When: Sunday June 25, 3pm

Please contribute to the costs of posters and publicity for this and similar future protests. Direct donations through PAYPAL. At present, Zaakah, the organization that did so much on the Weberman case is not an IRS certified 501c3 charity so this contribution will not qualify for a tax deduction.

I know all parties involved in handling the funds and I am confident the funds will be handled with integrity and exclusively used for work to fight child sex abuse. Right now the costs are being met out of pocket by an individual of modest means, who volunteers a lot of time.  I have already contributed and a very few others have committed. But let’s spread the load.

Agudah Follows the Romans For the Same Dirty Reasons

Zweibel and Cardinal

David Zweibel of Agudah and Cardinal Dolan

Only two important groups stand in the way of strengthening legislation against child sex abusers in New York State: the Roman Catholic Church and its pipsqueak partner, Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah).

Both groups decry sexual immorality, preach protection of the weak, and rhapsodize about their children. Yet they both have long, ugly histories of helping their molesters escape prosecution and financial reparations.

In 2010, Governor Andrew Cuomo badly wanted to legalize gay marriage in NYS. As always, the obstacle was the lobbying of the RCC and Agudah. So he cut a deal with them. They would denounce the act but not pressure legislators. In return they got his off-the-record promise not to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse. Instead, NYS would continue to have one of the shortest SOL’s in the US, requiring survivors to file criminal and civil complaints before their 23rd birthday.

Most survivors need more time before they are ready to confront their own demons and take on their abusers. He also protected them from what they feared, a window allowing survivors to sue for abuse that happened before the SOL’s were changed. Such windows expose abusers and force culpable individuals and institutions to compensate victims. They are embarrassing and costly for institutions that long covered up abuse, such as yeshivas, camps (e.g., Camp Agudah), and the RCC.

That deal has stuck. Every year since then, SOL reform legislation gets passed in the NYS Assembly and dies in the NYS Senate. Last year Cuomo promised to get such legislation passed. But it again died in the legislature. When Cuomo really wants something, it gets passed.

It seems to be happening again this year. A bill passed by an overwhelming margin in the Assembly and various SOL extensions are proposed by senators, but none seems likely to succeed. All sorts of spurious arguments are offered. The RCC and Agudah insist it would cost too much to comply and would bankrupt their institutions. As Marci Hamilton points out, the only bankruptcies were engineered by Catholic dioceses to shield assets. I have no doubt, that if a window is opened for suing for abuse in the past, some yeshivas and camps will also try to go down that route. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz in fact floats the idea of exempting institutions with new management. He conveniently ignores how easy it is to change the formal management while leaving the same players and beneficiaries behind the scenes.

If you are upset about all this, contact Governor Cuomo and your NYS senators and let the know this is your big issue. Unless they are committed to get an SOL reform passed, let them know you will vote against them in the primaries and elections if they fail this test. Act now because there is only about a week before the legislature goes into recess on June 23.

Governor Andrew Cuomo:
Fax:(518)474-3767
Tel:(518)474-8390
email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
web: http://www.state.ny.us/governor

HOW TO CONTACT YOUR NYS SENATOR: If you don’t know who your senator is, go here to find out. But don’t waste your time on a written message if you can spare 5-10 minutes to call. That has much more impact. So now go to this site to find your senator by name. Click on their name, then on their contact tab. They will list their offices and their phone numbers. For good measure, call all their offices. Then get ten of your friends and family to do the same. There is only one thing certain about 99% of politicians. They want to get reelected. Let’s make them earn it.

Join the Protest Against Agudath Israel’s Protection of Child Sex Abusers on Sun. 6/25 @ 3 p.m. in Midwood, Brooklyn.

This event, which I heartily endorse, was announced on the Hareini blog of frum anti-abuse activist, Asher Lovy. It is sponsored by Zaakah, the group that organized the protest against the pidyon shvuyim fund raiser for now-convicted child rapist, Rabbi Nechemya Weberman.

Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah) continues to deter reporting orthodox sex abusers by misrepresenting the halacha and claiming one must always consult with a rabbi before reporting child sex abuse to the police. In an unholy alliance with the Catholic Church they lobby state governments to make it hard to prosecute and sue abusers. In his post, Protest Agudah’s Abuse Enabling and Opposition to SOL Reform,” Asher lays out the case against Agudah.

Novominsker Rebbe

Novominsker Rebbe – Yaakov Perlow

I have often written about Agudah’s disgusting culpability in protecting those who desecrate our children with its horrendous effects on child victims, and adult survivors. In fact, I stumbled into blogging because I was angry enough to write a trenchant satire of an imaginary Agudah speech on abuse (Moetzes Gedolim Speak About Znus Affecting Children) This was back in 2009. Since then they have actually openly spoken about abuse. While their speeches have not been as funny, they have been as evasive and destructive. See for example the most recent speeches by the head of their moetzes (Council of Torah Sages), the Novominsker Rebbe, Yaakov Perlow.

This must stop. But it will only happen when enough frum Jews let Agudah know they want the change. Save the date, help share the message, and take the time to attend this protest in Brooklyn.

Be there at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 East 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn, 11230

Below is the full text of the original announcement of the protest:


Author’s Note: Here is a link to the protest event, which will be taking place at 3 PM on June 25th, at 1146 east 9th street in Midwood, Brooklyn: https://www.facebook.com/events/1861272087529969

Agudath Israel, headed by Chaim David Zweibel, as been opposing and lobbyig against the Child Victims Act, which would protect children from sexual abusers by eliminating the Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse. Currently, according to the New York Statute of Limitations laws, child sexual abuse survivors can’t prosecute or sue their abusers in court once they’re older than age 23.

According to many studies, it takes, on average, between 10 and 30 years for victims to even come forward about being abused sexually. Agudath Israel, the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel know this, and yet they continue to oppose legislation which would eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and open a 1 year retroactive window for old cases, thus allowing survivors of child sexual abuse to get justice from their abusers and the institutions that protect them.

Furthermore, it is the official policy of Agudath Israel of America, The Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, to forbid victims of child sexual abuse and the parents of victims of child sexual abuse to go immediately to authorities to report child sexual abuse. They require that victims and their families first consult a rabbi who can choose whether or not he wants to give them dispensation to go to the authorities.

This law is not just grossly illegal, but it also ensures that coverups continue unchecked in the Charedi community that constitutes Agudah’s base. Thousands of children are put at risk, and scores of abusers are protected, by this policy. Abuse is routinely covered up, and abusers are routinely protected by this policy as a matter of course.

That’s why ZAAKAH will be protesting outside of the house of Chaim David Zweibel, 1146 east 9th street Brooklyn, NY 11230, at 3 PM on June 25th, to send a message to him, and the other members of Agudath Israel of America, that they don’t get to escape the damage they’re causing by supporting these harmful and illegal policies. Their policies continue to make homes and communities unsafe for victims of child sexual abuse, so we’re bringing the issue to their homes and communities, and confronting them there where they can’t avoid it.

The only way we will ever truly end child sexual abuse in the charedi community is by making Agudath Israel of America, headed by the Moetzes Gedolei Hatorah, and Chaim David Zweibel, change this harmful, illegal policy, and support legislation that will end the Statute of Limitations for child sexual abuse, and give existing victims the window they need to get restitution for their suffering from the people and institutions that abused them.

For more information, please contact Asher Lovy at Asher@Hareiani.com.

Enough with the “Penetration Fallacy”

We have a serious problem when people say, “But it wasn’t rape,” or “Sexualizing a child without touching is creepy but not sexual abuse.” Creepy is practically a synonym for sexualizing.
Sex crimes should be seen from the point of view of harm to the victim/survivor, not in terms of the mechanics and body parts. There is what I call a “penetration fallacy” where the halachic and legal criteria of severity ignore the psycho-emotional harm.
Professionals report profound harm including suicides and overdose deaths because of sex abuse that did not involve penetration  of any sort. As long as the sexual dimension is apparent enough to make it creepy, it becomes possible for it to seriously harm a child. Not every child. Resilience varies. Some can come out pretty well from horrific things while others are deeply harmed by lesser things.
Even the law recognizes the victim’s perspective by considering victim impact reports and statements in setting sentences. The law bases the amount of civil judgements on the basis of the effects such as subsequent functional impairment, not just the acts. This is correct because some children are more harmed by fondling than others are by penetration.

Jewish law has explicit categories for harm: nezek, tzar, ripui, sheves and boishes. Sex abuse, depending on the particulars can include all five: physical harm, pain, medical healing costs, incapacitation, and shame.

Even those who don’t know technical halacha ought be sensitive to the ethical concern woven through rabbinic teaching about the grave sin of shaming others or even speaking hurtful words. It ought to be so much more obvious that violations of intimacy and tznius in ways that shame are especially grave sins and deeply harmful.

Yeshivish guys, stop asking, “Is she still a besulah (virgin).” It is almost never of any halachic consequence for their future marital status. It is true that a cohen gadol (high priest) can only marry a besulah. But even the most highfalutin schadchanim (matchmakers) are not offering any of them up.
There is a problem of discrimination against survivors of abuse who are open about their victimization. But the cure is not halachic, it is waging war on abusers instead of stigmatizing victims.
The rabbinical community should educate the public to understand these many aspects of the harm of child sex abuse. Instead we still hear echoes of the claim that it was nisht geferlich (not terrible) because there was no penetration. It is time to replace the penetration fallacy with a victim-centered understanding of the harm. It is time for more rabbinic leadership to give attention to these grave tznius violations instead of obsessing about the gauge of stockings and the length of skirts. A longer skirt is of no consequence if it can be lifted and removed with impunity because there is no penetration.

 

There Are No Warnings when Sex Offenders Move From Israel but We Can Fix That

scales of justice and childSex offenders, like smugglers, take advantage of borders to avoid paying for their crimes. Sometimes they hop borders one step ahead of the cops. Israel, unfortunately is a popular destination for our miscreants.

But there is also a reverse flow where Israel’s flotsam washes up on America’s shores. Local communities are often clueless. This is true, even if there was a conviction in Israel because Israel does not have a public sex offender registry.

Let’s say Shlomo Shimon Ben-David gets convicted for molesting a neighbor’s child in Israel. He serves his time and then heads off to the United States. For good measure he starts using his middle name, Shimon, or perhaps, Simon, and becomes an accepted member of his new community and volunteers with a youth group. No one is the wiser about his past history.

Don’t start saying there ought to be a law to deal with the problem. There is a law: the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). If offenders move, start work, or start school in a new state they have to register within three days or can be sentenced to a year. SORNA’s regulations also apply to foreign convictions (IV-B).

Mr. Ben-David should register himself within 3 days of arriving in the the US. But he probably won’t register, even if he knows the law. He has nothing to fear. After all, how will the local jurisdiction even know he has an Israeli conviction. As far as I can tell, local registry enforcers don’t even try to deal with this problem.

Six months ago, on Feb. 8, 2016, President Obama signed a law designed to deal with some of those problems. The bill requires child sex offenders to notify their registry office of their plans to travel abroad. The US government is supposed to transmit  this information to foreign countries and where appropriate, to  INTERPOL. The law also requires the US State Department to mark offender’s passports with indications of their child sex offender status.

Under the International Megan’s Law (HR 4573; 113th Congress, 2nd session) the US government should Continue reading

Chief Rabbi Lau’s Statement about Child Abuse

Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, David Lau issued a public statement about child abuse. As far as I know it is his first to date.

Below is a translation of its flowery language gracefully executed by *Danny Wool. An image of the original in Hebrew is at the end of the article.

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R. David Stav

It is addressed to religious educators. I suspect it was written in response the arrests of yeshiva teachers last week. See, 6 Alleged Offenders, 22 Children (Ages 2-10), Over 11 Years in Tel Aviv Belz School

It may have also been a response to a statement by Rabbi David Stav, head of Tzohar, that not reporting sexual abuse violates the Torah. Stav was Lau’s main competitor in the election for chief rabbi.

It is interesting that he managed not to make public statements about other sex abuse scandals involving prestigious religious teachers such as Motti Elon, Ezra Sheinberg, Naftali Maklev, Meir Pogrow, Elimelech Meisels, Eliezer Berland, Ben Tzion Sobel, and Matis Weinberg. Lau doubtlessly knows of many others who  escaped public exposure,  criminal prosecution, or any sort of consequences.

But he has finally spoken, so let’s read it and then evaluate it.


Tammuz 29, 5776

August 4, 2016

To All Who Work Educating the Children of Israel in Good Faith

Greetings,

Re: Awareness of Injuries Caused to Students

Much to my regret, terrible incidents occurring in our courtyards and domains have recently been made public. Cases in which boys and girls alike have been hurt in their homes or educational institutions have taken place recently, shocking anyone with a heart. How painful it is to hear that those very places, which should be a support, a stronghold, and a source of succor for our children and youth have turned into a nightmare and source of terror for them.

At this time, it is incumbent on parents, educators both male and female, family members, and anyone else involved in the sacred work of education to open their eyes and assist anyone who needs help insofar as possible. Turning away is not an answer to these difficult and painful issues, and everyone must know that they bear responsibility, even if the matter does not affect them directly. Continue reading