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.

Purim Can Be Risky

purim_binge_drinking_640_29Purim is fun. Purim is drinking. Purim has people coming and going in all sorts of places. Purim means too many kids who are not sufficiently supervised.

Purim is paradise [pardes and the English paradise are Persian words] for sex abusers. They themselves may be less inhibited while under the influence. Giving alcohol to younger boys can make them less resistant to influence and to abuse. Afterwards, the offender can claim it was silliness, not as claimed, abuse. I have heard too many stories of abuse that happened on Purim, typically involving older boys or young men with teens. Similar stories also happen other times of the year in Chabad with its ubiquitous vodka. That elixir of kiruv (outreach) knocks down boundaries and restraints.

Parents need to monitor settings where kids are, or be sure some other responsible adult is monitoring. They also need to regulate alcohol use. I am not puritanical about alcohol for under-age kids on Purim. But it becomes dangerous beyond limited quantities.

Alcohol kills in large enough quantities. Hatzolah organizations around the country report deaths and serious emergencies after Purim. Don’t let it happen to your kid.

Be funny, be smart, be happy afterwards.

Chag sameach! Happy Purim

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.

 

Beware of Moshe Friedman: Your Stomach Will Turn After You Read the Police Report

Moshe Friedman got a sweetheart deal which kept him out of jail and off the sex offender registry when he pled guilty on February 1, 2017 to a misdemeanor charge of “child endangerment” (NY Daily News).

Some of his defenders will say he didn’t really do anything serious. Maybe he just slapped a boy who was misbehaving. But you won’t say that after you read the police report with allegations of a string of sadistic sexual tortures that led to his indictment for multiple felony acts which could have put him in prison for decades.

According to the signed and sworn police report which was the basis of his indictment: The People of the State of New York County of Kings v Moshe Friedman:

…Between September 01, 2013 … and June 06, 2014 … at … [a yeshiva in Boro Park], the defendant … on multiple incidents per month

  • Did strike the informant’s hand with defendant’s hand when informant’s hand was injured and treated with a cast
  • Did place defendant’s hand on the informant’s exposed buttocks
  • Did grab the informant’s penis,
  • Did insert the defendant’s finger into the informant’s anus
  • Did insert a banana into the informant’s anus
  • Did put the defendant’s mouth on the informant’s buttocks
  • Did place the informant’s penis inside the defendant’s mouth
  • Did bite the informant’s penis with defendant’s mouth
  • Did tie a string around the informant’s penis
  • Did shove a rag into the informant’s mouth
  • Did tie the informant’s lips shut with string
  • Did display a gun to the informant and state to the informant in sum and substance, “you’d better not tell your parents, or I’ll kill you and your family.”

The … [boy was born in] 2007.

Continue reading