Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Lopez bill promotes and protects child predators

Showdown Over Bills On Sex-Abuse Statute

by Hella Winston
Special To The Jewish Week

The legislative effort to help victims of child sexual abuse in New York State got much more complicated this week as two competing bills have now been cleared to go to a vote on the Assembly floor.
The bills are sponsored by Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) respectively, and have already set up a showdown, pitting survivors of abuse and their advocates — who support the Markey bill — against major Catholic and Jewish institutions, which are backing the Lopez version.
The Markey bill, which made it out of the Assembly Codes Committee earlier this month by a vote of 11-8, extends the civil and criminal statutes of limitations for child sexual abuse. More significantly, it creates a one-year window during which...

Rest of article ===>

Child sex abuse bill approved in Assembly

ALBANY - A bill extending the statute of limitations on lawsuits over future allegations of child sex abuse was approved Tuesday by an Assembly committee.

In an 18-1 vote, the Codes Committee sent the legislation sponsored by Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) to the Assembly floor for a vote, which could occur in a few weeks.

The Lopez bill rivals another from Assemb. Margaret M. Markey (D-Maspeth) that also extends the statute of limitations but more controversially establishes a special one-year window for abuse victims to file suit in civil court regardless how long ago the assault occurred.

Many abuse claims against Catholic priests were dismissed because they were made after the current time limit, which is five years after the accuser turns 18.

The Markey bill passed the committee nearly two weeks ago in an 11-8 vote while the Lopez bill failed.

Lopez then amended it to make employers and other third parties liable and waive the 90-day notice of claim requirement for suits against government workers.

"My bill treats public and private schools the same," he said.

Markey contends that her legislation does so as well. It passed the Assembly three times previously, only to die in the then Republican-controlled State Senate.

Still, the Catholic Church and others back Lopez's bill over Markey's. Gov. David A. Paterson also supports Lopez's.



Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes presses to expose sex abuse in Jewish community

Wednesday, April 1st 2009, 4:00 AM

The Brooklyn district attorney's office is planning a new crackdown on sexual abuse in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where victims have hid their shame for decades.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes will announce Project Kol Tzedek - Hebrew for "Voice of Justice" - on Wednesday.

The first-ever team of prosecutors, counselors, religious leaders and Jewish social agencies will work to encourage young victims to name their attackers.

Sexual abuse in the city's Hasidic enclaves has gone largely unreported. Victims say they fear the shame of the attack and condemnation for revealing secrets to secular authorities.

But the culture has begun to change, officials said.

"Over the last several months, there has been a lot of articles in the newspaper," said Sex Crimes Bureau Chief Rhonnie Jaus.

"It has helped people in the community come forward, and we are starting to see more cases."

Since October, the Daily News has reported on five cases of men in Hasidic neighborhoods charged with sexually abusing children, ranging in age from 7 to 15.

The DA's office now has 19 cases involving accused molesters from Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Flatbush, officials said.

"This is the highest amount that I have ever seen," Jaus said.

Under Project Kol Tzedek, prosecutors will visit yeshivas and synagogues, and the DA will open a hotline and host meetings with victims interested in coming forward.

Organizers have lined up major partners, including the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, and Tikvah at Ohel.

Despite the progress, some participants asked not to be identified, afraid of being shunned for working with authorities.

"The community as a whole doesn't deal well with the severity of this problem," said one agency executive who is quietly working with the DA's office. "In order for victims to feel comfortable, we feel we should remain under the radar."


AP said...

NYC team to fight sex abuse among Orthodox Jewish


NEW YORK (AP) — A team of prosecutors, counselors and religious leaders announced a program on Wednesday to combat sexual abuse among members of the insular world of Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The centerpiece of the outreach program, which was announced Wednesday by District Attorney Charles Hynes and leaders from community-based organizations that serve Jewish communities, is a hot line abuse victims can call and speak to a "culturally sensitive" social worker.

The establishment of the team, which will focus on child sex abuse, comes partly in response to a discussion on State Assemblyman Dov Hikind's radio show in the summer of 2008.

The show prompted dozens of listeners to come forward with stories of children being molested. Hikind has said that as many as four people a day over a three-month period last year approached him with accounts of secrets often kept for decades.

The program, called Kol Tzedek, which means voice of justice in Hebrew, will allow callers to remain anonymous until they feel they're ready to identify themselves and meet with a social worker and prosecutors who specialize in sex crimes.

"Some people will go to jail," Hynes said of suspected abusers. "Some people will get therapy. Some people will get a combination of jail and therapy."

"I think we're going to see real changes," the prosecutor added.

Speaking in general terms, Hynes said such victims are often abused by people they know from their communities including "people with authority" such as coaches and teachers.

Currently, the DA's office is prosecuting 19 suspected felony cases of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, said Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the district attorney's sex crimes bureau. It's also prosecuting six misdemeanor cases, she said.

All the cases' alleged victims are children or were children when the alleged abuse occurred, Jaus said.

"Over the years we've had a few indictments" of sex abuse suspects from the Orthodox Jewish community, Jaus said. The current 19 cases are an "indication of how there's been a change in the community," she said.

Prosecutors have blamed stigma, shame and cultural isolation for victims' reluctance to come forward with their claims.

The team will visit yeshivas and synagogues, where rabbis and other leaders will be asked to encourage victims to report abuse.

Studies have found Orthodox Jews account for as much as 10 percent of Jews nationwide, and a far greater share in parts of the New York metro area. Some 37 percent of the more than 516,000 Jews in Brooklyn are Orthodox, according to the UJA-Federation of New York, a Jewish social-service group.

Critics have said sex abuse claims are sometimes handled quietly in Orthodox rabbinical courts, rather than being reported to authorities.

However, some sexual abuse cases involving Orthodox Jewish schools have spilled into the secular legal system in Brooklyn.

In one case, a rabbi was charged with sexually abusing boys at an Orthodox school. He admitted no sexual wrongdoing but pleaded guilty in April 2008 to a misdemeanor child endangerment charge, sentenced to three years of probation and dismissed from the school.

Last month, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted an ultra-Orthodox rabbi of molesting his now-adult daughter through much of her childhood. He claimed he was being falsely accused by a daughter who rebelled against a strict upbringing.

Project Kol Tzedek hotline said...

BROOKLYN (WABC) -- Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes on Wednesday announced the creation of a new outreach program aimed at helping sex-crime victims in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish Communities report abuse.

"Sex crimes exist in every community and are always very difficult for victims to discuss," Hynes said. "Because of the insular nature of Orthodox Jewish communities, many victims are reluctant to report crimes to secular authorities. This program will go a long way to address those impediments."

Victims who call the Project Kol Tzedek hotline, (718) 250-3000, will speak with a culturally sensitive social worker and a prosecutor from the Sex Crimes Bureau. Victims will be encouraged to come forward with allegations of abuse. Prosecutors and social workers will be available to meet with victims in a comfortable environment to discuss their cases.

The program will be organized by a licensed social worker, Chana Widawski, LMSW, who has experience working with Brooklyn's Orthodox Communities.

Project Kol Tzedek's strength will be based on its partnerships with community organizations, such as the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Ohel Children's Home and Family Services and Tikvah at Ohel, and Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services.

Charles Hynes and David Mandel video on NY1 said...

Initiative Encourages Orthodox Sex Crime Victims To Come Forward

By: NY1 News

chaim said...

"Officials say that the district attorney's office is handling 19 cases in Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Flatbush.

Sex Crimes Bureau Chief Rhonnie Jaus says it's the most cases she's ever seen involving the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community."

The issue is being brought more to light; that is true. At the same time, though, there is great opposition to it.

There are Orthodox leaders who are vehemently fighting the Markay bill. They oppose any legislation that would open a one year 'window' in which to file a claim. This denies past victims the opportunity to bring forth a claim. That's why the Lopez bill
is being endorsed by the Jews and the Christians. It practically doesn't really change anything.

Naturally we can understand that some leaders in the Jewish sect are very afraid of what will become of them should the Markay Bill be signed by the Governor.

This is why the Catholic Church is up in arms about it too. They don't want Markay's bill. They, like currupt jewish leadership, Support Mr. Vito Lopez's bill named 'Protect the predator act'.

Anonymous said...

Hynes's lip service is disgusting. He's full of shit.

Rabbi Meir Fund said...

"The secular authority deals with a different value system than ours," said Rabbi Meir Fund of Flatbush, one of the target neighborhoods set to receive heightened attention from the district attorney's office.

"I don't trust the DA to do the right thing. These people are corrupt. If he was sincere he would have done something 20 years ago," Fund said

BREAKING: Brooklyn DA Announces New Plan To Urge Reporting Of Abuse said...

by Hella Winston
Special To The Jewish Week

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, who has been accused by some of not doing enough to prosecute alleged pedophiles in the Orthodox community, announced Wednesday a new initiative aimed "at helping sex-crime victims in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish communities report abuse."

The effort, dubbed Project Kol Tzedek (Voice of Justice) and unveiled at a news conference at his Hynes' office, is being billed by the DA as a joint project between their office and a number of Jewish organizations, including Ohel Children's Home and Family Services, Tikvah at Ohel, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and the Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, all of which had representatives at the conference.

Conceived as an outreach program, Kol Tzedek will offer a confidential hotline and access to
"culturally sensitive" social workers and prosecutors from the office's Sex Crimes Bureau. It will be coordinated by Chana Widawski, a social worker who previously worked at the DA's office on a project that addressed domestic violence in the Orthodox community. Rhonnie Jaus, the chief of the office's Sex Crimes Bureau, Sarah Ellis, director of Victim Services and Henna White, the DA's community liaison to the Orthodox community, will also be involved.

Acknowledging the community's insularity and the cultural taboo against reporting abuse to the secular authorities, Hynes stressed the importance of partnering with Orthodox institutions and leadership in this effort.

"It is my belief that with the cooperation of these stakeholders who stand with me today, who have broad credibility within the Orthodox community, we will encourage victims of sexual abuse to come forward, utilizing communication channels to make them feel comfortable," said Hynes. He added that "by working together with the help of the leadership present today, and ... with community organizations, yeshivas, schools and other points of contact in the Orthodox community, we can best educate victims and potential victims and their families about the resources available through Kol Tzedek."

This is not the first time the DA has created a program specifically targeted at the Orthodox community, or at the issue of sexual abuse in that community. In addition to the domestic violence program, known as Project Eden, and a project to address drug abuse in the Orthodox community, Hynes' office launched, in 1997, the Offender Treatment Program to treat Orthodox child molesters.

That program, now defunct, was a partnership between the DA's office and Ohel. According to a 2000 article in The Jewish Week, the program had, at the time, 16 participants, half of whom had been through the court system and were receiving treatment in place of incarceration. The remaining half was comprised of offenders whom the community pressured to seek help without notifying authorities.

Indeed, these communities have a long history of dealing with abuse cases internally, in some instances convening religious courts to hear allegations, something that both victims and legal experts see as highly problematic. Such bodies not only lack the skills and training to evaluate abuse claims, but they are also highly susceptible to corruption. In addition, according to Marci Hamilton, a professor at Cardozo Law School and the author of "Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children," "Religious courts have no capacity to protect the public. They cannot put convicted criminals in jail or send those that are guilty but mentally ill to mental health facilities. The secular criminal system is created to be accountable to the people and to the needs of the people, no matter their religious faith. Accountability of religious courts does not share this feature."

Hynes suggested his new program would address this problem, emphasizing that "the key component of this project is to encourage the rabbis to encourage victims to come forward. And that is what has begun to happen. ... Will there be some who will be resistant? Sure. But I have been debating the [religious court system] for 19 years and I have said over and over again to rabbis who have become very good friends of mine, 'That is not your jurisdiction or authority. The authority to handle criminal cases lies within Kings County and I'm the elected district attorney.'"

Michael Lesher, an attorney and author who has long worked on this issue, is cautiously optimistic about Hynes' new effort, though he contends that this was not always the DA's position. In a chapter in a new book entitled "Tempest in the Temple: Jewish Communities and Child Sex Scandals," edited by Amy Neustein, Lesher and Neustein discuss the 2000 case of Shlomo Haffner. In this case, Lesher says, "all the facts suggested that the DA let a panel of rabbis make the decision about whether to prosecute a 96-count criminal complaint against a chasidic Jew. They pulled the case while the grand jury was still sitting."

However, Lesher "[likes] what the DA is now saying about the rabbinical courts," and told The Jewish Week that "This program sounds like the right sort of idea. But," he added, "[the DA's office] has many years of poor history to compensate for. [They] had [the Offender Treatment Program], whose record was troubling. There was a lack of transparency there, you didn't know how many offenders were involved, or what happened to them after they left treatment. I would hope that this [new] program shows that they have learned from the errors of the previous one."

Islamic Jihad said...

Israeli child killed in West Bank

A Palestinian attacker wielding an axe has killed an Israeli boy and wounded another in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, police say.

The incident took place in the Bat Ayin settlement south of Bethlehem. The attacker is reported to have escaped.

Doctors said the fatality was a 13-year-old, while a seven-year-old boy was being treated for serious wounds.

The military wing of Islamic Jihad and Imad Mughniyeh Group said they carried out the attack, Israel Radio reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the attack as a "senseless act of brutality against innocents".

Reports say it appears to be the latest of sporadic attacks by Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territory.
“ I saw a Palestinian with an axe running toward me. I managed to block his arm, we fell to the ground and struggled but he managed to run away ”
Avinoam eyewitness

It is also the first such incident since the right-leaning government of Prime Minister Netanyahu took office.

There are fears that the killing could heighten tensions between the Israeli cabinet and the Palestinians.

Mr Netanyahu's foreign minister has declared his government will abandon the Annapolis agreement and go back to the so-called roadmap for peace.

According to the roadmap, the Palestinians first have to take a number of steps on security before going on to solve the final issues involved in creating their own state, the BBC's Paul Wood in Jerusalem says.

Eyewitness account

Israeli TV reported that the attacker was a local Palestinian.

A massive search by police and the army is now under way around Bat Ayin, which is inhabited by about 1,000 religious settlers.

Settler leader Shaul Goldstein said security guards managed to shoot the attacker, but he escaped.

One witness, who said his name was Avinoam, described trying to wrestle the man.

"I was near the settlement offices when I saw a Palestinian with an axe running toward me," he told Israeli television.

"I managed to block his arm, we fell to the ground and struggled but he managed to run away.

"I called for help, another resident fired at him, but missed.

"When I got up, I saw a child wounded in the head. I cried to warn his mother, who ran toward him," he said.

More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas which were captured by Israeli in the 1967 war.

All Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory are regarded as illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Story from BBC NEWS:

exposemolesters said...

Chalrles Hynes cannot be trusted period!!

The newly formed task force was announced for his own agenda. It behooves him to win favor in our eyes.

With all of the cases Hynes has mishandled gong back for two decades regarding child sex-abuse in the Jewish community, it would be wise to look at this as nothing but lip service.

David Mandel, CEO of Ohel, who at a Baltimore meeting intended for answering questions about sexual abuse and how to confront it, did little to reassure anybody. Instead, he called out those who have allegations to always go to a Rabbi before reporting it authorities. Now is that a person who is sensible and empathetic to this cause? Is that a man you would trust your child to confide in for advice on this matter?

So let's see what we have: The Project Kol Tzedek hotline is supported by

1) Hynes - who blundered the Mondrowitz and Kolko cases big time.

2) Mandel - Who encourages the in-house approach.

3) Hikind - Who can't and won't name names nor rub shoulders with those who enable abuse to flourish.

4) Rabbis - Who for years have been sweeping under the rug and uttering denials and excuses.


To clean up this mess we need the Markay bill signed into law so that justice takes its course and pedophiles are punished for their crimes.

Recourse for the survivors, yes! Gibberish and meaningless words of pacification - NO!

Mondrowitz and kolko said...

28 boys is not bad. What tips can Acker give us as on how he entices them into lewd acts that just the thought of excites us.
Police: Wisconsin man molested 28 boys
Published: April 1, 2009 at 6:19 PM

WEST ALLIS, Wis., April 1 (UPI) -- An accused Wisconsin child molester left a trail of victims that included at least one suicide and a death from drug abuse, police say.

Police say Daniel Acker, 61, formerly of West Allis, Wis., sexually abused up to 28 boys over a 33-year period, leaving a "trail of tears" around Milwaukee that included at least one and possibly two suicides, an alleged victim of who died of complications from drug use and other alleged victims who suffer from broken marriages or can't hold jobs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors have so far charged Acker with the 2005 sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy, and could file charges in connection with two other suspected victims.

Deputy Inspector Bradley Wentlandt of the Greenfield, Wis., police department alleged that Acker, who worked for 37 years as a part-time swimming coach for the West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation Department, would target boys between 7 and 15 years old from troubled homes, befriending them and giving them alcohol and marijuana before allegedly cajoling them into sexual activity.

Acker has admitted to assaults involving five boys in the 1970s, Wendtlandt told the Journal Sentinel.

Avi Shafran has diarrhea of the brain said...

I knew Shafran was a putz face fraud and full of gyveh - but even with that knowledge, the absoluteness of this guy's stupidity and absurdity is astonishing to say the least.

Op-Ed: Bernie, Sully and me

By Avi Shafran · April 3, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Something tells me I won’t make any new friends (and might even lose some old ones) if I confess to harboring some admiration for Bernard Madoff.

And to make things worse, I can’t muster much for Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed a full commercial airliner in the Hudson River back in January.

Let me try to explain. Please.

Mr. Madoff committed a serious economic crime on an unprecedented scale for such wrongdoing, and in the process ruined the financial futures of numerous people and institutions, including charitable ones, worldwide. There can be no denying that.

Yet I can’t quite bring myself to join the large, loud chorus of those who have condemned him to – to take Ralph Blumenthal’s judgment in The New York Times Magazine – the Pit, the deepest circle of Dante’s Inferno. Others have devised and publicly proclaimed creative and exquisite tortures of their own for the disgraced businessman – Woody Allen fantasized Madoff being attacked by clients reincarnated as lobsters, and Elie Wiesel wished the investor confined to a solitary cell and forced to watch his victims on a screen bewail their changed fortunes. The fury of the bilked has yielded opprobrium and loathing that isn’t visited on mass murderers.

I think the revulsion may say more about the revolted – and our money-obsessed and vengeance-obsessed society – than it does about Madoff. His crime, after all, was really remarkable only for its longevity and its scope. Judaism teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn’t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime. And as to the sheer number of people defrauded by the thief of the moment, well, anyone who cheats on his federal income tax is defrauding 300 million of his fellow citizens. Few though, in such cases, invoke Dante.

What is more, Madoff likely began his crime spree in the hope of rewarding, not swindling, investors, and by the time it became clear he wouldn’t be able to do that, he was already deeply entangled – and daily becoming more entangled – in the web he wove.

None of that, though, is to belittle the great pain Mr. Madoff caused, and is certainly no cause for affording the iniquitous investment broker respect. No, what I admire about him has to do with his owning up to his crime.

Think about it. The man knew for years that his scheme would eventually come apart and that prosecution loomed, yet he took no steps to flee, huge bribe in hand, to some country lacking extradition treaties. Idi Amin, we might recall, died of old age in luxury. Madoff’s millions, moreover, could have easily bought him a new face and identity papers; he could spent his senior years tanned and well-fed among the sunbirds of Miami Beach.

Instead, though, he chose to essentially turn himself in and admit guilt. He apologized to his victims, acknowledging that he had “deeply hurt many, many people,” and adding, “I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done.”

No one can know if those words reflect the feelings in his heart, but I don’t claim any right to doubt that they do. And facing one’s sins and regretting them is the essence of the Jewish concept of teshuvah, repentance – something we are all enjoined to do for our personal transgressions, however small or large.

No such sublimity of spirit, though, was in evidence in any of the public acts or words of Mr. Sullenberger. He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the gratitude of those he saved, and of their families and friends. And he executed tremendous skill.

But no moral choice was involved in his act. He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others. He did what anyone in terrible circumstances would do: try to stay alive. He was fortunate (as were his passengers) that he possessed the talents requisite to the task, but that’s a tribute to his training, and to the One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations (and Whose help the captain was not quoted as acknowledging). Basketball players are highly skilled, too – and heroes, in fact, to some. But I have never managed to understand that latter fact.

Sully has reportedly inked a $3 million book deal with HarperCollins, and is also planning a second book of inspirational poems; Bernie, likely for the rest of his life, will languish in jail.

That may make societal sense, but personally, I’m still unmoved by the pilot, and, at least somewhat, inspired by the penitent.

(Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs of Agudath Israel of America.)

Read article at;

Our Own Private Passover by Rabbi Avi Shafran said...

Thinking about my father's Passover in Siberia.

Newsweek said...

50 Influential Rabbis

Compiled by Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman & CEO Michael Lynton, News Corporation Executive Vice President Gary Ginsberg and JTN Productions CEO Jay Sanderson
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Apr 4, 2009 | Updated: 11:45 a.m. ET Apr 4, 2009

This list is intended to provoke a global conversation about the role of our religious leaders in today's world. Although this is a well-thought-out list, it is by no means scientific and is not connected to any religious movement or agenda. Our criteria:

* Are they known nationally/internationally?
* Do they have political/social influence?
* Do they have a media presence?
* Are they leaders within their communities?
* Are they considered leaders in Judaism or their movements?
* Size of their constituency
* Have they made an impact on Judaism in their career?
* Have they made a "greater" impact?

The Rabbis

1. David Saperstein (2008 Ranking #5) Saperstein jumps to the top spot because of his role as Washington insider and political powerbroker and Friend of Obama. He is the Director of the Religious Action Center and the Co-Chair of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Liberty.

2. Marvin Hier (2008 Ranking #1) Hier is a major player in national and world politics and has built one of the world's leading human rights organizations, the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

3. Mark Charendoff (2008 Ranking #10) Charendoff is President of the Jewish Funders Network, an international organization of family foundations, public philanthropies and individual funders.

4. Yehuda Krinsky (2008 Ranking #4) Krinsky's impact continues to grow as the global leader of the Chabad movement.

5. David Ellenson, Ph.D. (2008 Ranking #8) Ellenson is charged with training tomorrow's leaders as the President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the nation's oldest institution of higher Jewish education.

6. Robert Wexler, Ph.D. (2008 Ranking #3) Wexler is the President of American Jewish University.

7. Shmuley Boteach(2008 Ranking #9) Boteach calls himself "America's Rabbi." He continues to promote himself and his perspective on his daily radio show, on television and in his long list of books, including the recently published "The Broken Male and How to Fix Him."

8. Eric Yoffie (2008 Ranking #2) Yoffie is the leader of the Reform movement, representing 1.5 million Jews in over 900 synagogues. He has pioneered dialogue programs with Christians and Muslims nationwide.

9. Uri D. Herscher, Ph.D. (2008 Ranking #6) Herscher is the Founder and President of the Skirball Cultural Center.

10. Irwin Kula (2008 Ranking #7) The Co-President of CLAL and bestselling author continues to raise his profile nationally as an innovator committed to reshaping America's spiritual landscape.

11. David Wolpe (2008 Ranking #12) Wolpe is considered one of the most dynamic pulpit rabbis in America

12. Peter J. Rubinstein (2008 Ranking #15) Rubinstein is the spiritual leader of New York's Central Synagogue.

13. Yehuda Berg (2008 Ranking #11) Berg is the world's most popular authority on the Kabbalah.

14. Norman Lamm (2008 Ranking #43) Lamm is Chancellor of Yeshiva University.

15. Joseph Telushkin (2008 Ranking #21) Telushkin is a best-selling author and speaker.

16. J. Rolando Matalon (2008 Ranking #13) Matalon is the spiritual leader of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun.

17. Menchem Genack (NEW) Genack is the CEO of the Orthodox Union's Kosher Division.

18. Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus (NEW) Dreyfus is the new head of the CCAR.

19. Jeffrey Wohlberg (2008 Ranking #18) Wohlberg is Rabbi at Washington, D.C.'s Adas Israel Congregation.

20. Steve Gutow (NEW) Gutow is the CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

21. Harold M. Schulweis (2008 Ranking #19) Schulweis is considered the leading Conservative Rabbi of his generation and the Founder of Jewish World Watch.

22. Haskel Lookstein (2008 Ranking #22) Lookstein is head of New York's Ramaz School and Rabbi at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun.

23. Dan Ehrenkrantz (2008 Ranking #20) Ehrenkrantz is the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

24. Michael Greenbaum (2008 Ranking #37) Greenbaum is Vice Chancellor and COO of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

25. Sharon Kleinbaum (2008 Ranking #17) Kleinbaum is the Senior Rabbi of New York's synagogue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews.

26. M. Bruce Lustig (2008 Ranking #24) Lustig is the leader of Washington Hebrew Congregation, the largest congregation in Washington, D.C.

27. Art Green (2008 Ranking #23) Green is Dean of Hebrew College's Rabbinical School.

28. Daniel Brenner (NEW) Brenner is the new Executive Director of Birthright Next.

29. Abraham Cooper (2008 Ranking #25) Cooper is the Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

30. David Stern (2008 Ranking #26) Stern is leader of the largest congregation in the Southwest, Temple Emanu-El in Dallas

31. Sharon Brous (2008 Ranking #30) Brous is the founder of IKAR, one of America's most dynamic new congregations.

32. Stephen Pearce (2008 Ranking #47) Pearce is the leader of San Francisco's largest congregation, with 2,700 families.

33. Marc Schneier (Returning from 2007 List) Schneier is President and Founder of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

34. Kerry M. Olitzky (2008 Ranking #32) Olitzky is one of the leading rabbinical advocates for outreach to interfaith and unaffiliated families in America.

35. Ephraim Buchwald (2008 Ranking #44) Buchwald is the Founder of the National Jewish Outreach Program.

36. Arthur Schneier (2008 Ranking #28) Schneier is the spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue and Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. He is the first rabbi to host the Pope at his synagogue.

37. Mark Golub (NEW) Golub is the CEO of Shalom Television.

38. Avi Weiss (2008 Ranking #36) Weiss is the driving force behind the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.

39. Naomi Levy (2008 Ranking #41) Levy is a popular author and a leading woman in the Conservative movement.

40. Bradley Shavit Artson (2008 Ranking #31) Artson is the Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the American Jewish University.

41. Elliot Dorff (2008 Ranking #35) Dorff is the leader of the top lawmaking body in Conservative Judaism.

42. Bradley Hirschfield (2008 Ranking #39) Hirschfeld is the Co-President of CLAL and an outspoken proponent of interfaith dialogue.

43. Hayim Herring (2008 Ranking #40) Herring is Executive Director of STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal).

44. Ed Feinstein (NEW) Feinstein has taken Valley Beth Shalom to a whole new level.

45. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (2008 Ranking #27) Schacter-Shalomi is Founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement in America.

46. Elie Kaunfer (NEW) Kaunfer is the Founder of Mechon Hadar and Kehilat Hadar.

47. Harold Loss (2008 Ranking #42) Loss has more than 12,000 members in his congregation at Temple Israel in Detroit, MI.

48. Jill Jacobs (NEW) Jacobs runs the Jewish Funds for Justice.

49. Joy Levitt (NEW) Levitt is the Executive Director of the JCC of Manhattan.

50. Michael Paley (2008 Ranking #48) Paley is the scholar-in-residence and director of the Jewish Resource Center of the UJA-Federation of New York.

Avi Shafran said...

This Staten Islander is a hero in my eyes (Carlos Rosario) because he will do tshuva one day i think.

Staten Island man faces life in prison on sex abuse charges
by Staten Island Advance
Friday April 03, 2009, 1:54 PM
Advance photo/Michael OatesCarlos Rosario is escorted out of the 120 Police Precinct stationhouse in St. George.

A 56-year-old Staten Island man was arraigned today on disturbing charges that he videotaped and photographed his sexual abuse of three young girls.

Carlos Rosario, of Kimberly Lane in Clifton, was the first Staten Islander to be charged under the crimes of Predatory Sexual Assault and Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, which carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

"This defendant is alleged to have exhibited the ultimate in predatory behavior," said District Attorney Daniel Donovan in a press release. "Not only did he sexually abuse these young girls, he maintained his own library of child pornography by photographing and recording his abuse."
Staten Island sex abuse suspect taken to court

Donovan vowed to work closely with the Special Victims Unit to identify any other children who may appear in the defendant's "collection."

The abuse in the indictment spans six years.

Rosario allegedly engaged in oral and anal sexual contact with a girl in his neighborhood between May and August of 2002. The victim is now 15 years old. Between July 2003 and September 2008, Rosario abused a second victim, who is now 11, authorities allege. The defendant is accused of abusing a third victim, now 10, during the summers of 2005 to 2007, up until June 2008.

In each instance, he photographed or videotaped the abuse, prosecutors say.

The new charges come in addition to a 161-count indictment filed against Rosario in November. In that case, an acquaintance of the defendant allegedly uncovered explicit photos of her daughter on Rosario's cell phone. A search warrant of Rosario's cell phone and computer uncovered hundreds of explicit photos and videos. Rosario allegedly engaged in oral and anal sexual contact with his victim.

Anonymous said...

Mother testifies in abusive 'rabbi' case

Mother compares torturous abuse inflicted on her children to Holocaust, citing Elior Chen's 'sadism'
Aviad Glickman

The testimony of a Jerusalemite mother who claims she subjected her children to abuse bordering on torture due to orders she received from a self-ordained rabbi was cleared for publication Sunday.

Severe Abuse
Abusive mother turns state witness against 'rabbi' / Aviad Glickman
Mother of young boys subjected children to severe abuse on 'rabbi' Elior Chen's command agrees to testify against him, several other defendants in exchange for reduced jail sentence
Full Story

The testimony describes the behavior of some of "Rabbi" Elior Chen's followers and the mother's feelings regarding the abuse, which often included sadistic acts of violence.

"Many times I thought it was like in the Holocaust," she said. "That this was probably what went on there, but I just thought that this torture fixes people, that through the torture and pain and grief – the children will be righteous."

She recounted an episode in which Chen's followers had given her 3-year old toddler liquor. "I remember he threw up a lot and I changed his clothes. I have never seen such a small child so drunk, and I just remember telling myself, 'Be strong, he's just trying to help him to be a good boy'," she said.

The followers, three men who have also been indicted, were said to have deprived the children of sleep, forcing them to stand all night, and of food, in addition to the liquor they made the children drink.

'This is how Nazis behaved'

Allusions to the Holocaust are prevalent in the testimony, as in the mother's account of one of Chen's followers beating her child.

"He punched him and slapped him and pushed him," she said. "My child was just standing next to me and I started to think that this was how the Nazis behaved. I had never been in such a situation and didn't know how to react."

The mother said one of the indicted men, Avraham Kugman, would force feed her son. "It was like an educational lesson – you'll eat as much as I tell you to," she said.

Additional forms of torture inflicted upon the children included the searing of skin and confinement in a suitcase. "They tied (my child's) hands and feet together like a chicken, and stuffed a yarmulke in his mouth so he couldn't scream," she said.

Asked about her reaction to the abuse, the mother said, "I suffered daily, but I thought this was reparation, that through this torture they would be fixed. I would have preferred to take their place, to be tortured instead, but that wasn't a possibility."

When asked why she did not complain to authorities she said, "I think this strong influence, that Elior is like God, led me to be silent. I said to myself, 'How can I complain about them after all they've done for us?'"

The mother described Chen: "He is a sadist, sick, and evil. I even compared him once to Hitler. I think he is just a very sick man."

jack said...

This lady deserves to rot in prison too. She can't just blame everyone else. She stood by while they were horrifically abused and that's a shanda.


"I remember that afterwards he threw up a lot," she said about her three-year-old son after he was given large quantities of Arak. "I changed his clothes. I never saw a small child so drunk, and I was terribly worried…I was sorry, but I told myself 'be strong, be strong, [the perpetrator] is only trying to help him and make him a good boy.'"

She provided investigators with a more complete picture of the physical abuse sustained by the kids.

"He punched, slapped, and pushed [my son]," she said. "My child simply stood there next to me and I began to think that this must be how the Nazis acted. I had never been in that kind of situation and I didn't know how to react. It wasn't a normal situation, it's simply not normal to watch a person throw murderous punches."

In another incident, one of the followers forced her son to eat massive quantities of food.

Shannon Yockey said...

April 5, 2009

Child Advocacy Center: Engaging in frank, open talks can stop rise in child abuse

By Shannon Yockey
Child Advocacy Center

April is Child Abuse Prevention month and an opportunity for us to practice the third step in Stewards of Children.

Talk about it. This means having open and frank discussions with other adults and our children. The sad reality is that child sexual abuse continues at epidemic numbers. But we can stop those numbers by actively engaging in conversations with each other.

Molesters use children’s innocence and lack of knowledge about their bodies, personal boundaries and sex. They select children who are not knowledgeable in these areas. Molesters also rely on the discomfort of adults with talking to their children about their bodies. They prey upon children’s curiosity and lack of parental and/or adult guidance in these areas.

Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking about it openly. Good communication may decrease a child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse. It may also increase the chances the child will tell you if abuse has occurred.
Children are often afraid to tell because of shame, fear or threats from the abuser. They are often afraid of disappointing their parents or that they will be angry with them for “letting it happen.” And sometimes children are too young to understand. Many abusers tell the children abuse is a game or is “OK”.

We can give our children a foundation that lasts a lifetime when we teach them how to value their bodies and to know they have choices about how adults treat them. Children are more confident and better able to resist manipulation when they learn these skills early on. Should abuse occur, they are more likely to tell you and retain their confidence and power.

There is far less damage that can be done to children who have a foundation of self-protection, self-love and self-awareness. It is our responsibility to ensure our children are empowered to be in charge of what types of affection they give and receive and that they are supported and not chastised if they resist unwanted or uncomfortable touch or physical contact.

This month, ask your children and/or teens if there is anyone in their life that makes them feel uncomfortable. Include adults and peers when you ask them. Ask them if there are any types of touch or physical contact they do not like and help them to learn to communicate how to say no when it occurs. Help and support them, if necessary.

Some family members and friends insist on certain types of affection even when a child does not want it. Ask them in a calm and straight forward manner if anyone has touched them in a sexual way anywhere on their bodies.

If your child responds with any type of yes or you are suspicious something has occurred, contact the Larimer Child Advocacy Center at 407-9739 for more information and a list of reporting agencies that can assist your child and family.

Next month, we will continue with Step Three and learn more helpful ways to talk openly with our children in the areas of respecting their bodies, setting boundaries and learning ways to prevent abuse from happening.

Call Ana Sluss at the Child Advocacy Center at 407-9739 to get information or register for our Stewards of Children and Internet Safety trainings.

Rabbi David Niederman is a shmuck said...

“The concern I have about the Markey Bill is the open window,” said UJO leader Rabbi David Niederman. “Basically innocent people will become victims.”

Anonymous said...

I am writing in reference to the March 26 article titled "Man gets one year in child molestation case."

A Spotsylvania County man, Jonathan Anderson, molested a 4-year-old girl and will spend just one year in jail?

I have written in the past about getting stiffer penalties for child molesters. As the law stands now, if a child is molested brutally, the penalty is harsher.

I was molested when I was a 6-year-old child. It was not considered "brutal," but it has affected me my whole life.

An innocent child has endured something horrible and will live with the painful memory the rest of her life; whereas this monster will be set free to roam the world in one year.

I wish the law protected our children better than it does now. These children did not ask to be touched by these predators.

I say the law should be there for the children no matter if a molester "just touched them" or if a child is brutally molested.

Christine Abelende

"Rabbi" Yaakov Hopfer said...

I will personally visit inmates and deliver them pesach food. No child molester should be left behind.**

Kosher meals come to Md. prisons

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Daily kosher meals will be available to Jewish inmates in Maryland prisons after Passover, reported the Baltimore Jewish Times.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services announced this week that any of the 130 inmates registered with their institution's chaplains as Jewish, House of Yahweh or Assembly of Yahweh who put in a request will receive three meals a day meeting kosher requirements starting April 17. Kosher for Passover meals had previously been available.

Some inmates who request a kosher diet could be transfered to a different facility, said the department, because only certain prisons will be equipped to handle kosher preparations.

“Correctional facilities mirror society: many people of many different faiths,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in a statement. "In America, people of every faith are entitled to practice that faith to the fullest extent possible, even in a correctional setting.”

Rabbi Herzel Kranz of Silver Spring, Md., a longtime activist on the issue, told the Washington Jewish Week that the announcement was a "step in the right direction," but that the state had still not provided a concrete layout for how meals will be delivered and what the menu would include.

around the blogs said...

New York - Rabbi: Rabbi Shafran’s Article On Madoff-Sully Grossly Irresponsible and Should be Retracted
Published on: April 4th, 2009 at 11:05 PM
News Source: VIN News By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

New York - I would like to respectfully take issue with Rabbi Avi Shafran’s recent article [posted by VIN News] where he harbors admiration for Bernard Madoff, yet cannot muster admiration for Captain Chelsey “Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who saved so many lives by landing his plane in the Hudson River back in January.

Rabbi Shafran’s point was that Madoff admitted guilt and apologized and he suggested that the Torah, while teaching that stealing is a sin, “doesn’t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime.” Rabbi Shafran pointed out that Madoff could have left and run away but chose to stay. He further stated that Captain Sullenberger’s actions involved no moral choice and that he also saved his own life in his actions.

I strongly believe that each of Rabbi Shafran’s points are completely antithetical to the true Torah perspective and that the consequences of printing such an article can have far-reaching and harmful ramifications. Indeed, I am embarrassed that such an article was printed.

Let’s start with Captain Sullenberger. There is a Torah concept found throughout the Talmud (Shabbos 32a) called, “Megalgelim zechus al yedai zakai- The way G-d runs the world is that He allows great acts to be performed by people who deserved it or are worthy of it.” Captain Sullenberger saved lives true- but his heroism lies in the fact that he had made hundreds of moral choices to save human lives for years. Captain Sullenberger had made the moral choice to work with federal aviation officials in investigating dozens and dozens of crashes so that lives could be saved in the future. It is a heroism and moral choice that is out of the limelight. He spent his time improving training and methods for evacuating aircraft in emergencies. I can think of no greater example of how this important Torah principle can be demonstrated. Captain Sullenberger is a true hero who has rightly earned the admiration of the great masses of people. Hashem has brought about his rise to fame precisely because he had spent his life trying to save human life. The Talmud (Jerusalem Talmud Sanhedrin 4:9) tells us that whomsoever saves one life it is as if he has saved the entire world. Captain “Sully” deserves our complete admiration – both for his action and for a lifetime of care and concern for human life. Let us not forget that he also went back twice, at the risk of his own life to check every aisle and row for anyone that could have been left behind. He checked twice.

Captain Sullenberger should not be alone in being an object of admiration; we should likewise admire the thousands of other unsung heroes in this country and beyond who are concerned with human safety and the well-being of others.

As far as Bernie Madoff is concerned, Rabbi Shafran’s point is incorrect. There is a huge Torah difference between stealing a dime and stealing a much larger amount. The Talmud tells us that the great prophet Yirmiyahu prayed to G-d that when evil people do perform acts of charity – it should be worked out that the recipients are undeserving people. We see therefore that the repercussions of an act whether they be positive or negative have enormous weight. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter in Ohr Yisroel letter 31 (“BeMah Yevashe”) makes the same argument that the nature of the sin is indeed a consequence of the extent of the repercussions. Madoff’s crimes caused enormous damage to thousands of victims. Entire savings were wiped out. People lost their homes. Retired people who lost everything had to re-enter the work force – often at menial jobs offering menial wages. Eli Weisel’s life work was destroyed.

Rabbi Shafran’s terminology is also grossly incorrect. Madoff did not commit one crime. They were a series of thousands and thousands of crimes. The entire Talmudic tractate of Krisus tells us that each and every criminal act is counted separately and individually. True, Madoff admitted guilt as Rabbi Shafran points out, but he never did right by his victims. Investigators had to look for the money themselves, and Madoff never offered to make restitution with what he claimed were properly earned funds. He even sent pieces of jewelry to others. Regarding Madoff’s statement of guilt, Rabbi Shafran writes, “No one can know if those words reflect the feelings in his heart, but I don’t claim any right to doubt that they do. And facing one’s sins and regretting them is the essence of teshuvah - which we are all enjoined to do for our personal aveiros, however small or large.”

One thing that has always differentiated Judaism from other religions is the recognition that real actions are required to make moral changes within people. One of the reasons for the recitation of blessings is to instill within us a sense of hakaras hatov – recognition of good that was done for us. We are enjoined to recite blessings every day so that we turn into appreciative people and not ingrates. We cannot change our essence and become grateful people by merely saying so. It takes years of practice. This is one of the essential philosophies behind the physical performance of Mitzvos.

Mr. Madoff’s declaration of guilt and penance with no accompanying actions of restitution or attempts thereof do not comprise the “essence of Teshuva.” The fact that he is not taking actions to rectify his numerous crimes indicates that his statement of guilt is meaningless.

Rabbi Shafran points out that Mr. Madoff could have bought new identity papers. If so he would have been subjected to the greatest manhunt ever known. He would have lost all communication with his family forever. This was clearly not an option. There is no admiration in order here.

Generally speaking, Rabbi Shafran’s articles are right on the mark. This article, however, in my view was grossly irresponsible. It should be retracted.

Rabbi Yair Hoffman is a mechanaich in a Bais Yaakov and is an author of a sefer on Hilchos Mezuzah and on the halachos of Lifnei Iver. He was formerly the Rabbi of a Young Israel in Long Island.

Meir said...

Take your medicine Niederman. Your viewpoints are offensive and way off base. You demonstrate compassion for the abusers and not the abused..

“Basically innocent people will become victims.”

Richard E. Barnes said...

April 5, 2009
Child Abuse Reform

To the Editor:

Your March 23 editorial “A Window for Justice,” about the bill in the New York Legislature that would create a one-year window in the civil statute of limitations for old claims of sexual abuse of a minor, states that “the bill does not explicitly target any institution.” Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the editorial itself, which focuses entirely on the Catholic Church.

As a March 12 news article makes clear, the bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Margaret M. Markey would not allow for new lawsuits to be brought for old claims of child sexual abuse against a public entity, like a public school district, state home for the disabled or juvenile detention facility.

Like most states, New York law puts up additional barriers for those wishing to sue a public institution. In this case, a victim would have to file a notice of claim with the court indicating his or her intention to sue within 90 days of the incident. The Markey bill does nothing to remove that burden and therefore creates two classes of victims, based entirely on where the abuse occurred.

A competing bill in the Assembly sponsored by Vito Lopez that extends the civil statutes going forward eliminates the notice-of-claim requirement in such cases. Assemblywoman Markey’s refusal to do the same in her bill should make it clear to all that while her bill may not explicitly target any institution, she is at the very least explicitly giving a free pass to the public sector, where most of the nonfamilial abuse occurs.

Richard E. Barnes
Executive Director
New York State Catholic Conference
Albany, March 23, 2009

VIDEO: Peeping perv busted said...

A judge has set bail at $50,000 for a Long Island man accused of installing a video camera in the women’s room of the restaurant he owns.

Another camera in the restaurant recorded Omar Romero installing the device at the Poloros restaurant in Mineola.

Police said Scotch tape held the matchbook-sized camera in place in a ceiling tile in the restroom.

“Nowadays you have to be careful even going to the bathroom, apparently,“ one patron said.

Romero would go to his office at the restaurant and watch on a television monitor as women, both customers and employees, used the restroom, police said.

A female customer spotted the camera on Sunday, just a day after Romero allegedly installed it.

Romero, a married father of three who admits he has a “behavioral problem” pleaded not guilty to a charge of unlawful surveillance.

Birkat Hachamah said...

April 5, 2009
Rare Jewish Blessing of the Sun set for Wednesday in Florida
The brightest object in the sky will get some religious attention on Wednesday -- for the first time since 1981 -- when Jews recite Birkat Hachamah, the Blessing of the Sun.
By McClatchy Newspapers

The brightest object in the sky will get some religious attention on Wednesday -- for the first time since 1981 -- when Jews recite Birkat Hachamah, the Blessing of the Sun.

The rare ceremony will mark the time the Talmud says the sun returns to the spot in the sky where it was created -- which happens once every 28 years. In response, groups of Jews will thank "the king of the universe, who re-enacts the work of creation.''

"So much of our energy and sustenance come from the sun,'' said Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus of Chabad, who also observed the last Birkat Hachamah in 1981. "We have to take time out to acknowledge God for it.''

The Chabad Lubavitch movement of Orthodox Judaism, to which Tennenhaus belongs, will be the biggest promoter of Birkat Hachamah in South Florida. On Wednesday, Chabad rabbis will conduct at least a dozen ceremonies in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"With all the alignments of planets and stars, there's a whole orchestra going on up there,'' said Rabbi Ruvi New of Chabad. "This is a chance to acknowledge the maestro.''

In Delray Beach, Fla., the prayer partners will be B'nai Israel, a Reform temple, and the Conservative B'nai Torah Congregation.

"People these days want to experience religious traditions,'' said Rabbi David Englander of B'nai Torah. "With Birkat Hachamah, they're intrigued by its authenticity and its infrequency.''

Rabbis stress the ritual is not sun worship -- a big issue in the ancient world, with its many pagan religions.

"We don't bless objects,'' said Rabbi Jeffrey Kurtz-Lendner of Temple Solel. "We praise God in appreciation of them.''

The event will get a nod even from less-traditional synagogues such as Ramat Shalom, a Reconstructionist synagogue in Plantation, from a movement that stresses Judaism as a civilization rather than just a religion.

"Some in the liberal Jewish world think [Birkat Hachamah] is archaic, but it's a wonderful part of our tradition,'' Rabbi Andrew Jacobs said. "The Blessing of the Sun has been done for thousands of years. There's something holy in that.''

It's also fleeting: The next Birkat Hachamah won't be until 2037. said...

SB 575: Civil Actions - Child Sexual Abuse - Statute of Limitations

By Vicki Polin
Executive Director of the Awareness Center
Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee
Annapolis, MD
March 1, 2007

Pedophilia has no religion. Those who perpetrate sexual offenses come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, sexes and religions -- as do the survivors of sex crimes.

We are here today because the current systems in our schools, institutions, organizations, churches, synagogues, mosques and temples do not work to protect our children. Instead our systems appear to be set up to protect the assets of the organizations and institutions, as well as the rights of those who offend; while ignoring the rights of those have been sexually victimized.

My goal today is to provide testimony on behalf the survivors who have contacted The Awareness Center, Inc., many of whom were too afraid to provide their own testimony in fear of retaliation. The Awareness Center is the International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault. Our world headquarters is located in Baltimore, MD.

The history of the Jewish People is one filled with a series of traumatic experiences; including one topic that up until now that has been taboo to discuss: Sexual Victimization (childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, clergy sexual abuse, professional sexual misconduct and sexual harassment). When referring to the Jewish Community I am discussing all movements including: the unaffiliated, Jewish Renewal, Reform, and Conservative, to the Orthodox, 'Charedi' and 'Chasidic' communities.

Contrary to what we might want to assume, sexual violence is not limited to the gentile population: it is also a Jewish issue and one that needs to be addressed. In the United States one out of every three to five women, and one out of every five to seven men have been sexually abused by the time they reach their eighteenth birthday. This includes Jewish communities in the state of Maryland.

One of the major problems in discussing the issue of sexual violence in the Jewish community is that doing so threatens the cultural perception of the wholesomeness of the Jewish family. Many survivors have been warned that speaking out would lead to an increase in anti-Semitism and possibly another holocaust.

The tradition in handling cases of sex crimes in Jewish communities has been to handle allegations quietly and internally. In most cases no police or hotline reports are made. Instead our rabbis attempt to handle situations on their own. An example of this is the case of Samuel (Shmuel) Juravel, who is now sitting in a federal prison, sentenced for 22 years.

Sam is the son of a Baltimore rabbi. His father is highly connected and a teacher at a yeshiva (private boys school). The first allegations of Samuel molesting boys occurred 15 years ago. The rabbis did their job in keeping things quiet, law enforcement was never notified, and Samuel was swiftly sent away to another community.

Earlier this year Sam was arrested by the FBI in an Internet sting. He confessed and subsequently sentenced to 22 years in prison. Almost a full year after Samuel Juravel’s arrest, the Baltimore Jewish Times finally had the courage to publish his name in the paper. On Friday, February 23, 2007 one of Sam’s survivor’s was finally able to have his voice be heard.

What is interesting about Sam’s case is that for many years allegations have been made against the current principal of the boys' school where Sam’s father teaches. Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau has been accused of sexually abusing students as well as one of his own children. It is a case most adults in the orthodox community of Baltimore are aware of.

Those who made allegations against Rabbi Eisgrau were virtually chased out of town. The parents of the children making the allegations were told that their children were no longer welcome in the Jewish school. They were also told that they were no longer welcome to pray in their synagogues and were warned that the child victims and their siblings would not find good marriage partners if they remained in the community. The teenage child of the alleged offender basically ended up on the streets. The alleged offender had the protection of the powerful rabbis of the Baltimore community and those rabbis were willing to go to whatever lengths to protect their friend.

Another case of interest is that of Rabbi Matis Weinberg. Allegations of his offending behavior began when he was about sixteen years old and resided with his parents on the campus of Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Yeshiva (a boys' school). Matis is the son of two very powerful individuals in the Baltimore Jewish community: His father, Yaakov Weinberg, was the Rosh Yeshiva (administrative headmaster and spiritual leader) of Ner Israel Rabbinical College. His mother, Rebbetzin (rabbi's wife) Chana Weinberg has always been highly regarded and over the years became (paradoxically enough) involved in addressing domestic violence in Jewish communities.

Over the last forty years new allegations against Matis Weinberg have come up. Each time the administration at Ner Israel and the family members of Rabbi Matis Weinberg's seem to do what ever they an to down play Weinberg’s alleged criminal behavior; at the expense of those he victimized. To this day the administration at Ner Israel are actively involved in protecting alleged offenders and their assets, at the risk of forgoing the much needed protection of their students from potential harm.

Another example is the case of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, past Mashgiach Ruchani (Spiritual Advisor) at Ner Israel Rabbinical College and Yeshiva. Allegations against Rabbi Eisemann also spans over forty year time period. These allegations have been confirmed by various reliable rabbinic sources.

It is important to keep in mind that in most Jewish Orthodox circles, sex crimes are not reported to law enforcement or child abuse hotlines. Instead, members of these communities tend to bring such matters to their rabbis; Especially if the allegations involve a community member and even more when someone in a position of power such as a teacher, another rabbi, and/or relative is involved.

Several months ago, several individuals disclosed their sexual abuse histories to the administration of Ner Israel. These individuals clearly stated their concerns that their offender, Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, was still teaching at Ner Israel’s high school and living on campus. It was a well known fact that Rabbi Eisemann often tutors students privately in his home, putting teenage boys at risk of harm. The disclosing individuals are currently highly respected individuals.

The Ner Israel administration referred the case to Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, President, Va'ad HaRabbonim (The Jewish Religious Court of Baltimore). After interviewing the alleged survivors, Rabbi Hopfer made a decree that Rabbi Moshe Eisemann needed to "be retired” from teaching at Ner Israel. Rabbi Moshe Eisemann suddenly resigned, yet continues to lives on the Ner Israel campus. To this day Rabbi Eisemann tutors students. Each day that goes by puts the boys on campus and those he tutors at risk of harm.

Rabbi Moshe Eisemann continues to work in the field of Russian Jewry. He is providing outreach to Russian immigrants who have children. There is also a realistic fear that Rabbi Eisemann will return to the former Soviet Union. Russian children also need to be protected from harms way.

Dealing with sexual violence in Jewish communities is still very much in its infancy. Survivors and their families are still being bullied and intimidated into silence, as are those who advocate for them. It takes years for most survivors of a sex crime to be in an emotional space to even think of bringing civil litigation's against their perpetrators. That is especially true in communities where speaking up about sexual victimization still carries a stigma and real risk of shunning.

Please give Maryland survivors of childhood sexual abuse a chance to have their voices heard and the opportunity to be compensated for their pain and suffering.

Please consider all the information provided and vote YES to SB 575.

For more information on the problems in Jewish communities read the Jewish Telegraph Agency Series.

Eric Yoffie said...

Op-Ed: Shafran is wong about Madoff

By Eric Yoffie · April 6, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- I shared Rabbi Avi Shafran’s Op-Ed expressing sympathy for Bernard Madoff with a number of young Jews -- some traditional, some progressive, some secular. They shook their heads in dismay. How, they wondered, could anyone in a position of leadership in the Jewish world present such a skewed vision of Jewish values? Several pointed out that if I wanted to know why young Jewish adults were keeping their distance from the Jewish community, this article could serve as Exhibit A.

Shafran’s views demonstrate stunning ignorance of Jewish tradition. His ideas do not represent religious Judaism of any variety, Orthodoxy included. Indeed, they are a fundamental distortion of Judaism’s most sacred teachings.

While expressing a perfunctory condemnation of Madoff’s acts, Shafran shares with us his sympathy for Madoff and offers understanding of his crimes. The heart of Shafran’s argument is that Madoff deserves to be admired for admitting guilt and apologizing, and thus doing teshuvah. Shafran further argues, without evidence, that Madoff intended to help his investors, and that in any case, Jewish tradition makes no distinction between one who steals billions and one who steals a dime.

Shafran completely misinterprets Jewish teachings on repentance. A few pious words in a courtroom are not enough. Our tradition sets out clear standards by which the validity of teshuvah is to be judged. Words of confession and regret are sufficient for ritual infractions, which are considered sins against God; for ethical sins, such as stealing, words must be accompanied by sincere efforts to repair the harm done to the victims, including providing compensation and a direct, personal apology. (See Yoma 85b, and Maimonides, Hilkhot Teshuva, 2:9.)

Madoff, of course, has met none of these standards. His true intentions are best measured by the fact that he continued his thievery until the day before his arrest. He has not cooperated with prosecutors in locating stolen assets so that compensation can be provided to the victims. He has not assisted authorities in identifying others who worked with him. He has avoided direct apologies to the victims; indeed, his pathetic display in court was notable primarily for his refusal to address the victims who were present. In short, based on the evidence to date, Madoff’s teshuvah is not teshuvah at all.

In general, what is distressing about Shafran’s position is that he describes a Judaism that has shockingly low ethical standards and no sense of ethical proportion. Surely it is absurd to suggest that Madoff deserves our sympathy because he compares positively to Idi Amin, a mass murderer. Surely it is perverse to claim that stealing a few coins is comparable to looting billions of dollars from thousands of people. Nothing in Jewish tradition supports such views; the Jew who commits the same sin day after day for decades is far more culpable than the Jew who sins only once. The Judaism that Shafran presents is a caricature of the demanding, enduring, and awe-inspiring Jewish faith that has earned the admiration of the world.

Perhaps most troubling of all is Shafran’s callousness toward Madoff’s victims. The super rich who have lost a fraction of their wealth will get by, but Shafran seems oblivious to the anguish and hardship of others who have suffered, including Holocaust survivors, other elderly Jews and the poor and the young who would be the beneficiaries of the foundations that have closed their doors. I have searched the article in vain for some true compassion for their plight. One wonders if Shafran would have written the same thing if his family had lost its savings.

The Shafran article concludes with an utterly gratuitous attack against Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River last January. In comments certain to offend every American, Shafran states that Madoff’s behavior is in some ways morally superior to that of Sullenberger.

Bernard Madoff deserves no sympathy and is unworthy of admiration. The views expressed by Rabbi Shafran are an affront to our country, to the Jewish community, and to the Jewish religious tradition.

(Rabbi Eric Yoffie is president of the Union for Reform Judaism.)

Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said...

Op-Ed: Praising Madoff isn’t kosher

By Tzvi Hersh Weinreb · April 6, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- I was simply astonished when I first read Rabbi Avi Shafran's Op-Ed, "Bernie, Sully and Me." I reacted with open-mouthed incredulity to his contention that we are misjudging Bernie Madoff as a villainous knave, and miscasting pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger as a heroic figure. A better example of a tendency called Talmudically "ipcha mistavra," or "ornery contrariness," would be hard to find.

My initial inclination was to give my respected friend and Baltimore landsman the benefit of the doubt. Could he have been writing "tongue in cheek"? And after all, even the best of us is entitled to a bad day. Might we not chalk this one up to the stresses and strains of pre-Pesach preparations?

But soon, in the midst of my own Passover preparations, I found myself "bubbling and boiling," and increasingly aware that what was before me was not only against my own moral judgment, but was an also inconsistent with the Jewish moral tradition. By defining Madoff as a "penitent," and belittling Sully's life-saving heroism as devoid of "moral choice," Shafran is more than just "off the mark." He does not adequately convey the Torah’s moral sensibilities, and thus his essay compels me to issue a public refutation. Mr. Madoff, whatever other names he deserves to be called, cannot be called a "penitent." His expressions of remorse and apology, even if sincere, fall far short of penitence and bring his crimes no absolution.

Teshuvah, repentance, from interpersonal offenses requires redress of the damage done. Whereas, for sins between Man and God heartfelt confession may suffice, the Talmud and rabbinic legal codes require much more when it comes to sins between Man and his Fellow. Return of the stolen object, compensation for the loss, reparation for the anguish and embarrassment caused, appeasing the victim and petitioning him or her for forgiveness are but some of the absolutely necessary steps that the repentant criminal must take to achieve absolution before the earthly and Heavenly courts. Madoff has done none of the above, and is not likely to ever do so. He has certainly not obtained forgiveness from those whose dreams he shattered and lives he ruined. And who can blame them for not granting that forgiveness?

Shafran comes up short theologically as well. In some religions, expressions of faith and heartfelt contrition are the crux of piety and sufficient to obtain Divine Grace. Judaism, on the other hand, concedes that "the Compassionate One requires the heart," but insists that deed and effective action are central and necessary.

Shafran argues that Madoff's initial intentions were good, but that he became "inextricably trapped" in his own machinations. From the Jewish perspective there is no such thing as "inextricably trapped” -- there are always choices -- and he had numerous occasions, indeed daily opportunities, to end the scandal and thereby at least mitigate the losses of his victims.

There is another dimension to Madoff's treachery. As a Jew, and as one who identified himself strongly with Jewish causes, he created a chillul HaShem, a profanation of the name of the Almighty, of historic proportions, reflecting disastrously on the reputation of all Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish God. Shakespeare's Shylock and Dickens' Fagin fade as symbols of supposed Jewish avarice and greed in comparison with Madoff and his misdeeds. Furthermore, reaction to his crimes not only sullies the name of Jews the world over, it endangers them everywhere. It provides confirmation for the most venomous anti-Semitic propaganda. For this, forgiveness is impossible.

Sully, on the other hand, acted efficiently and skillfully, saving the lives of well over a hundred human beings. Whether or not he displayed "sublimity of spirit" or adequately credited the Lord above is immaterial and irrelevant. As our sages stress: "Your actions shall draw you near."

And as for his "moral choice"? Choosing to land his plane the way he did may not have been guided by motives of morality, but they were surely guided by motives of survival, praiseworthy in their own right. Sully's "moral choices" came much earlier in his life than that fateful day on the Hudson River. They came when he chose to become a pilot, when he fervently advocated improved safety procedures, when he decided to pursue specialized training opportunities, when he determined to become the "best damn pilot" that he could, and surely when he refused to leave his plane until he personally made sure that all passengers had disembarked.

Every choice that he made, dozens of times each day, to keep his body fit, his senses keen, and his mind alert, was a "moral choice".

In an age when mediocrity is the norm, the choice to pursue excellence is a "moral choice."

And in an age when tens of thousands choose to use their technical intelligence to devise schemes of death and destruction, Sully's choice to utilize his intelligence to develop life-preserving skills is a "moral choice" indeed.

Better to contrast Sully not with Bernie Madoff, but with those other pilots who not so long ago, and just a few hundred yards from Sully's landing, exercised their piloting skills to murder thousands of innocents. Sully chose to master those same piloting skills to protect life. For that he deserves our gratitude and moral admiration.

Would that we could learn from him that moral choices must often be accompanied by long processes and painstaking efforts, and that only with great commitment can we fulfill the biblical injunction: "Therefore choose life."

(Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is the executive vice president, emeritus, of the Orthodox Union.)

Ben Harris said...

Madoff essay blasted, Shafran apologizes

By Ben Harris · April 6, 2009

Rabbi Avi Shafran's essay last week, where he argues that Bernie Madoff is worthy of moral admiration while Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger is not, was almost certain to generate some intense criticism. Shafran apologized today for "errors in both the content and tone of the essay," though without specifying what those errors were. Here's the text in full.

My recent Am Echad Resources essay “Bernie, Sully and Me” has generated substantial criticism from many readers, including people whose opinions I deeply respect. I have come to the conclusion that that there were errors in both the content and tone of the essay, for which I apologize.

My main goal in publishing these essays is to help people understand eternal Jewish truths. Unfortunately, here I chose unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart, failing to accomplish that goal and offending many people in the process.

I am grateful, as always, for the constructive comments and feedback I received from my readership, whose confidence I hope to retain going forward.

The Shafran piece generated two blistering op-eds in response from writers at opposite ends of the religious spectrum. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, went first, saying Shafran's views demonstrate "stunningly ignorance of Jewish tradition." Ouch.

Here's Yoffie:

Shafran completely misinterprets Jewish teachings on repentance. A few pious words in a courtroom are not enough. Our tradition sets out clear standards by which the validity of teshuvah is to be judged. Words of confession and regret are sufficient for ritual infractions, which are considered sins against God; for ethical sins, such as stealing, words must be accompanied by sincere efforts to repair the harm done to the victims, including providing compensation and a direct, personal apology. (See Yoma 85b, and Maimonides, Hilkhot Teshuva, 2:9.)

Madoff, of course, has met none of these standards. His true intentions are best measured by the fact that he continued his thievery until the day before his arrest. He has not cooperated with prosecutors in locating stolen assets so that compensation can be provided to the victims. He has not assisted authorities in identifying others who worked with him. He has avoided direct apologies to the victims; indeed, his pathetic display in court was notable primarily for his refusal to address the victims who were present. In short, based on the evidence to date, Madoff’s teshuvah is not teshuvah at all.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb concurs with Yoffie about the inadequacy of Madoff's penitence, then goes further:

Shafran argues that Madoff's initial intentions were good, but that he became "inextricably trapped" in his own machinations. From the Jewish perspective there is no such thing as "inextricably trapped” -- there are always choices -- and he had numerous occasions, indeed daily opportunities, to end the scandal and thereby at least mitigate the losses of his victims.

There is another dimension to Madoff's treachery. As a Jew, and as one who identified himself strongly with Jewish causes, he created a chillul HaShem, a profanation of the name of the Almighty, of historic proportions, reflecting disastrously on the reputation of all Jews, Judaism, and the Jewish God. Shakespeare's Shylock and Dickens' Fagin fade as symbols of supposed Jewish avarice and greed in comparison with Madoff and his misdeeds. Furthermore, reaction to his crimes not only sullies the name of Jews the world over, it endangers them everywhere. It provides confirmation for the most venomous anti-Semitic propaganda. For this, forgiveness is impossible.

PZ Myers said...

The amorality of the faithful

Category: Godlessness • Religion
Posted on: April 6, 2009 12:05 PM, by PZ Myers

Rabbi Avi Shafran is a columnist who, to my mind, represents the very worst of religious dogma. He often writes about "morality", bemoaning the horrid state of godlessness, but his morality is little more than the rote obedience of the dogmatically orthodox. His usual complaint is that atheism removes the moral compass provided by a god — that one can believe that any arbitrary thing is good if you're an atheist.

Now he has written another bogus argument that shows the exact opposite: if you use religion, you can justify anything. It's a very strange piece, a study in contrasts.

On the one hand, Bernie Madoff: a scoundrel and swindler who used a Ponzi scheme to enrich himself and bilk investors of an estimated 65 billion dollars. He was also a dedicated philanthropist who skimmed off a little of his ill-gotten riches and donated to primarily Jewish charities.

On the other hand, Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot whose competence made for a safe emergency water landing a few months ago. He has been fairly quiet, and has not made a big issue of the event; he also hasn't given any credit to a deity for the landing.

Guess which one Shafran thinks is the good guy? Since he's using religious logic, it's a safe bet to guess the one that makes the least sense.

That's right, Shafran thinks Bernie Madoff is admirable. Why? Because he owned up to his crime, and didn't flee the country, and also because Shafran imagines that he begin his investment firm with good intent. Never mind that, at some point long ago, Madoff knew he was ripping people off, that he was building an unsupportably rickety pyramid of promises that he couldn't keep, and he didn't own up then — he just kept robbing people. And then, of course, even after he was caught out, he was frantically trying to hide his assets. He's a crook. Shafran is impressed because he said he was sorry after he was caught.

And what about Sullenberger?

No such sublimity of spirit [the "sublimity of spirit" refers to Bernie Madoff], though, was in evidence in any of the public acts or words of Mr. Sullenberger. He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the hakoras hatov of those he saved, and of their families and friends. And he executed tremendous skill.

But no moral choice was involved in his act. He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others. He did what anyone in terrible circumstances would do: try to stay alive. He was fortunate (as were his passengers) that he possessed the talents requisite to the task, but that's a tribute to his training, and to the One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations (and Whose help the captain was not quoted as acknowledging).

I suspect that lack of acknowledgment is what really chafes Shafran.

Here is the difference between religious and secular morality written in boldfaced crayon. The religious claim to have an absolute, a god, who has dictated an unquestionable standard for what is good, and the role of the mere human individual is to be obedient to that standard, to follow the hierarchy of leaders who exist to translate and explain their deity's rules. I can see where this certainly has some advantages to a society — it's a tool to promote and enforce service to the state or church — but it's not morality. It's rationalized slavery.

We godless lack that certainty, and we know the world is a complex place that requires compromise and is not ruled by a moral force — virtue is subject to negotiation, and is found in working together with others to find mutually satisfactory solutions. Good is not absolute, it is an emergent property that arises from successful networks of individuals. It is also something that is measured by evidence: we look at the good that people do, not the promises that they make and never keep, or the lies that dovetail nicely into dogma. Competence is a virtue. Intent is meaningless without action.

We also know that goodness is not a state of being, but a process that requires constant effort and continuous assessment against its effects in the real world. Blind adherence to a presupposition without adjustment to fit the facts of execution is a formula for doing great harm.

My short summary of the difference between religious and secular morality is this: will you obey, or will you strive? Rabbi Shafran's answer is that you must obey.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle said...

By Samuel Newhouse
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

JAY STREET — When Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes opened a hotline for victims of sex-crimes within the orthodox Jewish community, he might have also opened a massive can of worms, politically speaking.

Although some members of Brooklyn’s strictly religious communities want protection for victims and prosecution for abusers, Hynes’ program could also create new enemies in those who want to keep sex-crime reports out of the public eye — and take care of their own dirty laundry.

Sex-abuse crimes within religious communities are notoriously difficult to prosecute as victims and their family members often face pressure to keep silent, sometimes from their rabbis or priests.

But reports of sex crimes in Brooklyn’s orthodox Jewish communities have multiplied in recent months. The District Attorney’s Office says that 13 felony and six misdemeanor sex-crimes originating in orthodox Jewish communities are currently under investigation.

Sex crimes within the Orthodox and Hasidic communities of Brooklyn is a controversial issue that community leaders and some rabbis have tried to keep out of headlines by pressuring victims not to speak to authorities... Continued...

reuven said...

About this Shafran article comparing madoff to sully, I am still puzzled by the analogy. What was shafran thinking? Furthermore, what he wrote serves only to incite more anti-semitism and hatred of jews. Very embarrassing, this coming from the spokesperson of agudath israel.

Perhaps it should not surprise us much that shafran conducts himself with a know it all attitude. This is the same man who would not comment on kolko, and someone who is the junk mouthpiece who attacks abuse victims at every opportunity and defends those advocating for them. Yuck!

Margo denies causing earthquake in Italy said...

Rescue workers in central Italy were working last night to free hundreds of people feared trapped under rubble, after the deadliest earthquake to strike the country in three decades caused widespread destruction across the mountainous region of Abruzzo.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, declared a state of emergency and cancelled a trip to Russia to travel to the epicentre of Monday morning's quake, close to the medieval city of L'Aquila, 60 miles north-east of Rome. He said that in some cases rescuers were digging with their bare hands.

Having climbed steadily all day yesterday, the official total last night stood at more than 130 dead and more than 1,500 injured, but Berlusconi said he feared that total would rise. Unconfirmed reports quoting hospital sources last night put the total at up to 150 dead.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 buildings had collapsed in the quake, an official at the local civil protection agency said, and at least 50,000 people are homeless.

Gianfranco Fini, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said some small towns had been "virtually destroyed in their entirety". Early rescue efforts were hampered by rubble strewn across roads and the collapse of several bridges.

"We will work for the next 48 hours without any stop, because we have to save lives," Francesco Rocca, the head of Italy's Red Cross, told BBC television. "We estimate that hundreds of people could still be alive under the buildings."

The quake, measured at 6.3 on the Richter scale by the US Geological Survey, struck at 3.32am local time and lasted for "20 interminable seconds", said the mayor of L'Aquila, Massimo Cialente, who described its effects as "terrible, really terrible".

Streets in the city were carpeted with thick dust yesterday, as helicopters hovered overhead and sirens screamed. Part of a university residence and a hotel were destroyed, and the quake brought down the bell tower of a church in the centre of the city. One local man, standing next to a head-high pile of rubble, said: "This building was four storeys high."

Scores of people lined up with suitcases on the roads leading out of the city, waiting to be evacuated from the area. Others, dazed, huddled in blankets close to the ruins of their homes, or assisted the well-organised rescue effort in a desperate hunt for missing relatives. Frequent aftershocks struck the town throughout the day, provoking cries of alarm.

"I woke up hearing what sounded like a bomb," said L'Aquila resident Angela Palumbo, 87. "We managed to escape with things falling all around us. Everything was shaking, furniture falling. I don't remember ever seeing anything like this in my life."

"Our house was destroyed but we got out," said Marion Cadman, a teacher at the English school of L'Aquila. "Now we're in limbo and just glad to have a tent.

"There was a first tremor around a quarter to 11 and we considered going out, but we didn't as we had become so used to them. Then the top floor fell down on the lower one and the corridor was smashed. Our 18-year-old daughter got under the bed as she had been trained to do and we got out before the next big one. We will spend the night in someone's garden. I don't think I will be sleeping between four walls for some time."

Graziella Fantasia, also a teacher in the city, said her family had lost two houses, one in the suburbs of L'Aquila and one in a nearby village. "We have no homes. Now we are waiting because the earth is still moving. We will spend the night in the village where it is better, but it's not safe to stay in houses. A lot of people are in tents. Wherever there is open space there are people and lots of tents."

Dozens of remote villages in the area were also affected, with at least 10 reported killed in the village of Onna. "Almost all the old village is destroyed, 99% of it," a man in Tempera, a few miles to the east of L'Aquila, told the Guardian. "We have already found 10 bodies."

Berlusconi said that 4,000 hotel rooms had been requisitioned along the Adriatic coast and that 20,000 beds in tents were being provided, while stadiums were also being prepared. No one would be allowed to stay in damaged buildings because of the risk of further quakes, he said. Field hospitals were set up after part of L'Aquila's hospital was deemed unsafe and had to be evacuated. More than 5,000 emergency workers were involved in the rescue effort, the prime minister said, adding: "I want to say something important: no one will be abandoned to their fate."

The EU offered immediate assistance, as did Russia and Israel, but an Italian government spokesman said the situation was under control at present. The foreign secretary, David Miliband, said Britain stood "ready to do what we can".

Berlusconi said he would finalise his funding plans last night, but indicated that he planned to seek assistance from an EU fund for disaster relief.

A number of British aid agencies said they had received no requests for aid, but were monitoring the situation and were ready to respond. Pete Garratt, relief operations manager with the British Red Cross, said its Italian counterpart had "significant resources in emergency response".

The earthquake is the worst to hit Italy since 1980, when 2,735 died in a quake measuring 6.5 that struck close to Salerno in southern Italy, and caused widespread damage in nearby Naples. That disaster prompted the introduction of new regulations designed to strengthen constructions in the event of an earthquake. Many of the buildings destroyed in yesterday's tremor appeared to have been earlier, dating from the 1960s and 1970s or, in remote villages, to be medieval structures.

There were questions yesterday about how so many buildings could have been destroyed. Gian Michele Calvi, an earthquake expert at the University of Pavia, said that Italy was in the habit of forgetting lessons. "This country is reminded of the risk of earthquakes only when it finds itself under the rubble," he told Corriere della Sera. "The fact that two of three operating rooms at L'Aquila hospital are no longer usable is something not worthy of a civilised country."

reb avi shafran said...

In my opinion Gay Rabbis can never ever do teshuva.

Gay rabbi ‘passes it forward’ for Passover

Apr. 03, 2009
THE PASSOVER FEAST CELEBRATES THE Jewish people’s passage out of slavery and into freedom, and Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim hopes this year’s ceremony will mark the passage out of fear and into economic recovery.

Lesser is hosting “Pass it Forward Passover,” a large Passover feast to collect donations for the Atlanta Food Bank and Kosher Food Pantry at Jewish Family & Career Services.

“There is a line from the Passover ritual that says, ‘Let all who are hungry come and eat,’” Lesser said. “So I decided — with some additional anonymous donors — that I would pay for all the people who would come, and instead of paying for the meal, bring a gift card to one of the supermarkets that we will then donate.”

Congregation Bet Haverim is a progressive synagogue founded by gays and lesbians. Lesser said he plans to feed 120 people at his Passover Seder.

“I wanted to do something different this year and recognize how many people in my community, and the community at large, are having financial problems this year,” he said. “Because the Seder requires specialized food it can be fairly expensive.”

During the Seder feast participants read from the story of the Jewish exodus out of Egypt. The ritual calls for a series of courses with specific ingredients, and four glasses of wine per guest.

At one point in the meal the youngest person in the room opens the door symbolically for the Prophet Elijah.

“I also think opening the door for Elijah this year represents the hope for a better year economically and for all of us to be feeling liberation from our economic fears, and perhaps examining our own greed,” Lesser said.

THE UTJ's letter supporting window legislation in New York ends this way: said...

"Through passage of this bill, we are upholding the spirit of the Torah - for if we are expected to protect the stranger, orphan and widow, how much more must we protect the heretofore silenced child!"

That is not just the Jewish tradition; it is the Judeo-Christian tradition. And we say: Amen.

Hamilton holds the Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law of Yeshiva University and is the author of "Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children."

around the blogs said...

Comments on The UOJ Blog:

Anonymous said...

Mah Nishtana: The Four Kashyas of Our Kinderlach, Some of Whom Are No Longer at the Seder

Why is the sexual abuse of children treated differently than all other communal issues?

1) In all other areas of halacha, we enforce the highest level of tznius and morality, but in this area of halacha - we ignore the rape of children.

2) In all other areas of kashrus, we demand the highest level of reliability, certification and supervision, but in the sanctity of children's own bodies - we demand none.

3) On all other matters, we follow the psak of Rav Eliyashiv, but when Rav Eliyashiv gives a psak urging victims of sexual abuse to report their abusers to the police - we ignore him.

4) In all other areas of a child's life, we fight and demand for their rights, (we lobby for bussing, for textbooks, for school lunch programs...) but when it comes to the sexual abuse of children - we lobby to protect our children’s abusers.
4:34 PM, April 06, 2009

A Tatte Answers said...

You see my child...

The answer to all the four questions is:

Call 911

We can't sit and expect Agudah to solve all the problems.

You see my child....

Our gedolim are too busy for you. They are busy banning concerts, banning books, having photo-ops all over the country, ripping microphones out of singers hands, and defending Bernie Madoff.

You see my child...

Agudah made a convention a few years ago, and declared all non Moetzes rabbis not a gadol. Therefore Rabi Yosef Karo who wrote the Shulchan Aruch is irrelevant by these great scholars. Rav Elyashiv is a moderner in their eyes.

You see my child...

There are so many children who don't have a Seder anymore because of abuse. So many teens are dead from overdoses caused by drowning out the pain. Yet the Agudah could care less about them. Only their supporters and those who toe the line are important.

My dear child...

Follow the law.
Use the police to uphold the law.
Convince others to to the same.


Shfoch Chamoscha El Agudah Asher Lo Yeda'Ucha. People who distort Torah like them.

5:59 PM, April 06, 2009

Amy Neustein said...

Yet Neustein, editor of Tempest in the Temple, called Kol Tzedek “a complete fraud.”

She claimed that calls to the hotline were being referred to Dr. Hindy Klein of Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, an organization that according to Neustein, has protected sex offenders in the past. She suggested that calls routed to Ohel through the hotline would alert Hasidic authorities to possible problems and allow them to handle the matters privately, while Ohel was able to make profits on counseling fees.

"Rabbi" Efrayim Byrks said...

I feel very fortunate. While I have evaded the wrath of the law all the way from Canada to America - This detective was not so lucky.

*A former Murray police detective pleaded guilty to two counts of forcible sex abuse Monday in a case where he admitted sexually abusing a teenage girl over the course of five years.

Michael D. Spilman, 35, changed his plea to guilty on the two counts of forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony. Court records show that one of the two counts was originally a first-degree felony, but it was reduced and one count of sexual battery was dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

West Valley police arrested Spilman on Jan. 9. He resigned from the police force days after his arrest. Spilman had worked for the Murray Police Department since 1999.

Prosecutors said that he abused a teenage girl "on several different occasions," throughout the five-year period.

Judge Sheila McCleve will sentence Spilman on June 1.

Although he lived in West Valley City where the alleged abuse occurred, Spilman was booked into the Davis County Jail according to police protocol aimed to protect officers from inmates they investigated or arrested.

— Ethan Thomas

molester yehuda nussbaum from yob said...

Gevalt geshrigen. Can't you people give molesters a break. It's not the worst thing in the world if we touch and feel the private parts of boys. They are still alive, are they not? That's why I am still am employed by Yeshiva of Brooklyn. This even after YOB lied that I would be terminated. I Thank my childhood buddy shlomo mandel, he realizes that this is narishkeit and he continues to stand by me.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Employment continued for accused molester

Associated Press - April 7, 2009 8:45 AM ET

WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) - The West Allis School Board has voted to continue to employ the swimming instructor accused of sexually assaulting boys.

Dan Acker was placed on unpaid administrative leave when the allegations first surfaced three weeks ago.

At a closed-door meeting Monday night, the school board was briefed on the information the school district gave to police. West Allis-West Milwaukee Superintendent Kurt Wachholz says the board may move forward on firing Acker sometime in the near future.

The 61-year-old Waukesha man is charged with numerous counts of sexual assault of a child.

Police say Acker's assaults may have gone on for decades.

Information from: WISN-TV,

rabbi yakov horowitz said...

They do not represent us
Mar. 17, 2009
yakov horowitz , THE JERUSALEM POST

On Sunday, Elhanan Buzaglo was sentenced to four years imprisonment for the vicious beating of a woman nine months ago in Jerusalem's Ma'alot Dafna neighborhood. Buzaglo, a member of a haredi mishmar hazniyut, a self-appointed modesty squad, pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain struck with the State Attorney's Office.

Buzaglo, who broke into the 31-year-old divorcé's apartment along with four other men, was convicted of receiving $2,000 from the mishmar hazniyut for his role in the attack, which was intended to intimidate her into leaving the predominantly haredi neighborhood. Judge Noam Solberg wrote in his decision that "the punishment must reflect the abhorrence of his acts... and deter him and others like him."

Even though the Jerusalem District Court described the assailants as an "armed militia," Buzaglo, 29, was the only defendant to be convicted in this barbaric attack. According to newspaper reports last October, a series of flaws in the investigation, including a problem with the recording device, enabled Buzaglo's dispatchers - the modesty patrol members - to evade indictments.

From my vantage point, it is unfortunate that all those who participated in the vicious beating of a defenseless woman are not facing long prison sentences. But it is a great step forward and hopefully will mark a turning point in the attitude of law enforcement officials to these thugs.

AS AN EDUCATOR and a proud member of the haredi community, I appeal to all haredi Knesset members to display moxie and genuine leadership by calling a joint press conference where they repudiate all forms of violence and vow to bring to justice all those who perpetrate these types of attacks from this day forward. They should bring all law enforcement resources to bear to bring law and order to the streets of Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, Bnei Brak and other areas where these people operate. If elected officials cannot commit themselves to protecting innocent women from vicious beatings, they should all resign and be replaced by people who will.

There is no question in my mind that the vast, overwhelming majority of haredi Jews worldwide feel as I do: disgraced and shamed when these events occur, and frustrated that there seems to be little that we can do to remove this stain from our shirts. Many members of our community are reluctant to speak out publicly, fearing that doing so will cause a hillul Hashem, a desecration of God's name. However, I propose that remaining silent in the face of violent and lawless acts perpetrated by individuals purporting to represent Torah values is the greatest hillul Hashem of all.

The time has come for us to speak out, telling our children and students in unequivocal terms, "These people are criminals and sinners - and do not represent us!" Our publications should begin reporting these incidents in the news sections of our papers, condemn them in our editorials and call upon the police to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.

We should stop using politically correct terms like "misguided youths" to describe cowards who beat women for sitting in the "wrong" sections of buses and physically assault peaceful citizens who do not dress according to their standards - observant or otherwise. "Misguided youth" implies that they engaged in a prank like a water fight or that they went overboard in pursuit on a noble goal. There is nothing noble about these acts - or the terrorist mentality that glorifies them.

THE VIOLENT MEMBERS of these self-appointed modesty patrols are, in fact, a modern-day version of the Sadducee sect - having long ago veered off the path of our Torah and formed their own cult. They kneel to the idol of intolerance and bring the blood and bruised bodies of their victims on the altar of hatred. They only lack the intellectual honestly to declare themselves a new, nonreligious movement divorced of any rabbinic teaching and tradition.

But violence corrupts not only the souls of the perpetrators, but also those of the silent majority of decent people who sit by and allow it to take place. And in this 24-hour news cycle and worldwide digital communication, like it or not, admit it or not, these thugs have replaced our venerable sages as ambassadors of our haredi community to the world at large (a Google search of the words haredi and violence generates 26,200 hits). To our great shame, we have allowed these evil people to represent us before the world media instead of our noble sages from whom we receive inspiration and guidance. The Hafetz Haim and Rabbi Aryeh Levine of blessed memory have been replaced by Yasser Arafat and Hassan Nasrallah. Burning garbage cans and hurled stones have supplanted Torah learning and acts of kindness.

We must clearly and unequivocally condemn the violence each time it happens in the strongest language. Halachic rulings ought to be issued that those who commit violence against innocent people are rodfim (individuals who present a real and present danger to others), and one is obligated by our Torah to defend the victim and report the criminals to the police.

I am posting this column on my Web site ( and I respectfully call upon haredim worldwide to post a comment at the bottom with your name and the city where you live supporting the sentiments expressed here.

If enough Torah-observant individuals stand up, distance ourselves from these criminals and demand action from our elected officials, we might affect changes which will restore honor to God's name and end these acts of terror that plague us.

The writer is the dean of a yeshiva in the New York area and has authored books on parenting and Torah thoughts. He recently received the 2008 Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education.
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LOS ANGELES, CA (MMD Newswire) April 8, 2009 -- Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association is proud to announce the first annual Blue Faery Award (BFA) for Excellence in Liver Cancer Research. Primary liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Blue Faery created the award to recognize medical professionals who develop innovative research in the fight against HCC, which currently has no cure.

The first recipient of the Blue Faery Award is Dr. Snorri S. Thorgiersson of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland. He has been with NCI since 1976 and became Chief of the Laboratory of Experimental Carcinogenesis in 1981. Dr. Thorgiersson published 13 articles on HCC-related topics from 2007 - 2008. Dr. Thorgiersson's findings could help doctors tailor their treatments to specific types of HCC to more effectively fight the disease, which currently has a high mortality rate.

Andrea Wilson started Blue Faery in honor of her sister, Adrienne, who died of HCC only 145 days after her diagnosis at the age of 15. Blue Faery chose to announce the recipient of the award on April 8, 2009--Adrienne's birthday. She would have been 23 years old this year. Dr. Thorgiersson will receive $3,000 toward his research to commemorate his achievement. The non-profit organization's goal is to increase the award amount in subsequent years.

Founded in 2002, Blue Faery is the only nonprofit organization in the United States solely devoted to fighting HCC. The mission of Blue Faery is to prevent, treat and cure primary liver cancer, specifically hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), through research, education and advocacy. Blue Faery has also developed an HCC patient education brochure for liver cancer patients, their families and their healthcare providers. The FREE brochure, which is also available in Chinese and in Spanish, is currently distributed in 25 treatment centers across the nation.

For more information, go to Blue Faery's Web site and sign up for the Blue Faery quarterly e-newsletter. You can also call Andrea Wilson at 818-636-5624 or email her at

Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association

Dr. Snorri S. Thorgiersson

Andrea Wilson

HCC patient education brochure

Blue Faery quarterly e-newsletter

Rabbi Jacob Aaron Max said...

Baltimore rabbi convicted of sexual offense

April 16, 2009

(JTA) -- A longtime Baltimore-area rabbi was convicted of sexual offense.

Rabbi Jacob Aaron Max was found guilty Monday of sex offense in the fourth degree and second degree assault for molesting a female employee of a funeral home in December of last year, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported.

Max, 85, is the rabbi emeritus of the Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah Hebrew Congregation, which is better known as Pikesville’s Liberty Jewish Center. He has been active in the Baltimore Jewish community for more than six decades.

Max will appeal the Baltimore County District Court judge's verdict, his attorney told the Baltimore Jewish times. The sentence for Max's verdict is a suspended one-year prison sentence and one year of court-ordered unsupervised probation. A new trial in County Circuit Court could involve a jury.

around the blogs said...

This coming Tuesday - April 21st, 2009 - we can make a difference!

NY State has the most lenient laws against sexual predators for kids. This coming Tuesday April 21st, 2009 - we can make a difference!

Right now, the laws actually protect the predators of our children. The predators walk free to do it again and again, and can't be prosecuted in many cases because the statute of limitations has run out.

This coming Tuesday April 21st, 2009, child advocacy groups from all over New York are coming together to lobby for Assemblywoman's "Markey Child Victims Act" in Albany. The political system will take us seriously if we come out and show our support of the bill. That's how it works. Our strength is in numbers. You can make a real difference in helping the Markey Bill to pass, every person counts.

Am Echad urges you to stand up for our children and come with us to Albany! If you don't care enough to fight for the well-being of your children, who will? The Agudath Israel's cavorting with the Catholic Church to block this bill must be prevented at all costs! If this bill does not pass, the vicious sexual predator(s) that may be in your child's school, will forever be swept under the Agudah's rug! has graciously arranged for free bus transportation from Manhattan and Brooklyn and will provide you with a glatt kosher lunch, no charge. (What true Jew can say NO to free?) We will be leaving early Tuesday morning and coming back approx 4 pm. We look forward to spending the day with you, meeting assemblymen and high ranking politicians together, and providing an educational experience for you on many important issues.

Please email Mark Appel at MARKMAPPEL@AOL.COM or call him at 212-873-3938 for bus departure locations and information.

We can't sit by as our children are wronged. We must act.

This cause is endorsed by Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Alan Schwartz, RCA Rabbinical Council of America and other leading rabbis.

yeshiva of brooklyn said...

Harav Shlomo Mandel and the yeshiva take the position that sex-ed should only be taught in the limudei kodesh program. The human anatomy must be explained with a very thorough hands on approach by the kid abuser specialist, our very own - Reb Yudel Nusbaum.

Anonymous said...

Nebach.. These kids in Bnei Brak are vandals and "dangerous" due to a byproduct of their upbringing.

“Some of the local kids who were probably kicked out of their homes gathered here and decided to spend the night in the synagogue," one person said. "They tore down the Torah ark covering to sleep under it, and they took all the prayer shawls in the synagogue to use as sheets. A fire broke out when they burnt prayer books, and the whole wall was set aflame. This is pure vandalism.”

duvid said...

As a victim and advocate for survivors of sex abuse I am thankful to Ms. Markey's bill and hope it gets signed by Gov. Paterson.,0,774740.story

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Abuse survivors: Markey bill our chance at justice

April 21, 2009

Some survivors of childhood sexual abuse call it their first and perhaps only chance at justice.

A bill sponsored by Assemb. Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) would suspend the seven-year statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases for a year. That means those who allege abuse -- including three who told their stories to Newsday -- could file civil lawsuits no matter how long ago the abuse took place.

The bill would open the door to lawsuits against all kinds of clergy, coaches, teachers, doctors, Scout leaders, baby-sitters, therapists, camp counselors and members of victims' own families. Incest accounts for by far the largest category of child sex abuse cases -- 40 percent to 50 percent, experts say.

Markey and supporters of the bill plan a press conference and rally today in Albany.

Rev. Anthony Evans said...

"Abuse against children is violence," said the Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the 34,000-member National Black Church Initiative. "I don't represent a god who condones violence. It is a shame we have to fight against the [Catholic] church in this. It breaks my heart ... but we will stand with you," he added, referring to sex abuse victims.

Markey said she was "cautiously optimistic" that her bill would be approved by both houses of the legislature and signed into law by Gov. David A. Paterson, though he has said he supports rival legislation. The Markey bill has passed the Assembly three times previously only to die in the then-Republican-controlled Senate.

"Rabbi" Avrohom Reichman said...

From what I understand, UTA has stood behind me by rehiring me after the SOL expired. This is similar to what YOB did with Nussbaum (SOL was not applicable here), they supposedly fired him, only to rehire him. Nussbaum still teaches there.

* * * Joel Engelman, 23, says he was an 8-year-old boy at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Brooklyn when the then-principal began to invite him into his office. Engelman alleges in a lawsuit that Rabbi Avrohom Reichman, then of the United Talmudical Academy on Throop Street, sexually assaulted and abused him. Engelman said the rabbi would sit him on his lap and fondle him.

Engelman said that after suppressing memories of the abuse for years, he went to school officials last year and demanded Reichman be removed from his current teaching post at another nearby UTA. School officials agreed to do so, and removed the rabbi for about two months, Engelman said in his complaint. But they put him back days after Engelman turned 23 and potential child sex abuse allegations passed the statute of limitations, he said.

Soon after, Engelman filed a lawsuit against the school and Reichman, claiming that the school violated its commitment to keep Reichman out of the school. The case is pending.

Reichman's attorney, Jacob Laufer, said the rabbi "vehemently denies" the allegations of abuse. The rabbi "is a highly regarded educator within his community," Laufer said. He predicted the rabbi would be "completely vindicated in the courts."

In his lawsuit, Engelman, and his attorney, Eliot Pasik of Cedarhurst, state that other "credible" allegations of abuse by Reichman have surfaced. No lawsuits have been filed, however, partly because of the statute of limitations, Pasik said.

Engelman called the Markey bill his best hope to see some justice in the case. He said he no longer is a practicing Hasidic Jew.

"In the community, going to the police has been taboo," Engelman said. Markey's bill, he added, would help break the wall of silence.

Will Edwards said...

open mouth insert foot? Mr Netanyahu, may I suggest and honest approach? You do realize there can be no Palestinian state within the boundaries of Israel don’t you? You do realize the world is again becoming unjustly polarized against Israel and Jewish life everywhere, right? You do know we have to defend our way of life and our right to life or there will be no life for us, right? Stand strong. I know you can find the courage somewhere. Dig deep if you have to. Stand up for the people who elected you to stand up for them.

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It is unfortunate that it has come to this. It is a big darn shame it has come to this. It is very hurtful that it has come to this. But yet, IT HAS COME TO THIS. It has come at the price of a GREAT CHILUL HASHEM. It has come to Hashem having to allow his holy name to be DESECRATED so that his CHILDREN remain SAFE. Shame on all those responsible for enabling and permitting Hashem's name to be desecrated! When you save children you save the future. You save the future you save generations. You save generations you save lives. You save lives you have saved the world!!!!!!!