Rabbi Blau on Why the SOL Should Be Extended -From the Archives

First posted on 3/8/13

Text of Statement to Hearings of the New York State Assembly, Committee on Sexual Abuse, March 8, 2013 by Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual adviser) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University. The Committee hearing were devoted to the Child Sex Abuse Act (CSA) to extend the Statute of Limitations for filing criminal and civil cases beyond the current limit of age 23. The CSA is also know as the Markey Bill after its sponsor, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of survivors of abuse who suffer from the present statute of limitation; this statute prevents them from starting criminal and civil proceedings against their abuser and those who covered up and protected him.

My name is Rabbi Yosef Blau. For more than two decades I have been supporting and advocating for survivors of abuse, particularly within the Orthodox Jewish community.  During these years my understanding of the trauma and its ongoing consequences has grown from conversations with the survivors and reading the literature.  Most of the people who have contacted me are adults who are first confronting abuse that occurred during their childhood.

Twenty three and a half years ago I was part of a rabbinical court that dealt with an accusation of slander.  A young man accused a rabbi [Boruch Lanner], who worked as an educator and youth leader, of sexually abusing teenagers; that rabbi sued the young man.  Naively we restricted testimony to events that had taken place during the last ten years.  Few victims came forward and they found it difficult to testify.  Soon after, I received a number of letters from survivors clearly describing acts of abuse done to them by this rabbi fifteen and twenty years earlier.  Only as adults, having had extensive therapy and in many cases a supportive spouse, were they able to openly confront their abuser.  When they were adolescents he seemed all-powerful. Continue reading

“Protecting Our Children from Sexual Abuse” Panel: Sunday Sept. 14 in Teaneck

  • Rabbi Yosef Blau

    Rabbi Yosef Blau

    Topic: Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse

  • Where: Congregation Rinat Yisrael , 389 West Englewood Avenue, Teaneck, NJ
  • When: Sunday, September 14, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
  • Co-Sponsors: Congregation Keter Torah, Congregation Netivot Shalom and Lubavitch of Bergen County
  • Cost: Free and open to entire community

Continue reading

Rabbi Blau on Why the SOL Should Be Extended

Text of Statement to Hearings of the New York State Assembly, Committee on Sexual Abuse, March 8, 2013 by Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani (spiritual adviser) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS) of Yeshiva University. The Committee hearing were devoted to the Child Sex Abuse Act (CSA) to extend the Statute of Limitations for filing criminal and civil cases beyond the current limit of age 23. The CSA is also know as the Markey Bill after its sponsor, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on behalf of survivors of abuse who suffer from the present statute of limitation; this statute prevents them from starting criminal and civil proceedings against their abuser and those who covered up and protected him.

My name is Rabbi Yosef Blau. For more than two decades I have been supporting and advocating for survivors of abuse, particularly within the Orthodox Jewish community.  During these years my understanding of the trauma and its ongoing consequences has grown from conversations with the survivors and reading the literature.  Most of the people who have contacted me are adults who are first confronting abuse that occurred during their childhood.

Twenty three and a half years ago I was part of a rabbinical court that dealt with an accusation of slander.  A young man accused a rabbi, who worked as an educator and youth leader, of sexually abusing teenagers; that rabbi sued the young man.  Naively we restricted testimony to events that had taken place during the last ten years.  Few victims came forward and they found it difficult to testify.  Soon after, I received a number of letters from survivors clearly describing acts of abuse done to them by this rabbi fifteen and twenty years earlier.  Only as adults, having had extensive therapy and in many cases a supportive spouse, were they able to openly confront their abuser.  When they were adolescents he seemed all-powerful. Continue reading

The Conversation about Gays at YU

The event, Being Gay In The Orthodox World: A Conversation with Members of the YU Community on December 22 has stirred a hornets nest with right wingers (including some at YU) claiming the event promotes a homosexual lifestyle and left wingers defending the event as a step forward for tolerance. The reality is that the event’s organizers tried to minimize the controversy by saying they recognized and were not challenging the halachah which bars homosexual activity. In fact the event itself completely sidestepped debate about halachah or discussion of any behavior. It was focused on the fact that there are individuals in the frum world with such sexual orientations. But of course admitting that reality begs the question, then what do we do? The usual frum response is to say, we don’t talk about those things. We can see where that has gotten us on sex abuse.

Anyways, I thought my readers would appreciate having the facts about the debate so they could decide what to make of it themselves. I would suggest going to JewSchool’s excellent post on the event which includes links to transcripts (sort of) of the event and the text of criticisms of the event.