Opinion: The Dirty Laundry l Baruch Rivlin

Recent emphasis placed on confronting abuse occurring in our community has produced mixed reactions. Last week, the incredible organization Amudim released an intense video portraying leaders in Jewish communities declining to combat cases of abuse for various reasons, AKA excuses. The video comes at a time when people have gotten a clearer understanding of how serious an issue abuse is, and how an abused child could be affected for the rest of his or her life.

Unfortunately, some people seem to feel that the video crossed the line in making abuse within the Orthodox community a public affair, when abuse should really be dealt with in private and away from public eyes. These people are wrong.

There are hundreds of abuse victims who for literally decades have had to suffer in silence, their world destroyed, with a community unwilling to listen, to feel, to care. We have let dozens of predators continue wrecking the lives of hapless, innocent victims even as credible allegations were leveled against them. This is a terrible stain on us all, and for that we must rectify our ways in an extreme way.

Raising the public awareness of abuse within the Orthodox community is literally step one to fixing what is a bent and broken system in dealing with abuse and those that perpetrate these heinous acts. It is a wonderful thing that a legitimate organization like Amudim has come out so vocally, urging one and all to confront this scourge and remove predators from our midst.

There are those that are concerned that being so public about an issue like abuse puts our community in a bad light. That concern is valid, but not nearly as valid as the right of individuals whose lives have been shattered to be heard. For if we do not remove predators as soon as they become known, we risk letting them abuse yet more victims. That is not something any of us should be willing to live with.

While airing our dirty laundry may be uncomfortable, it is something we must do. Predators are a true danger to our society, far greater a danger than the publicity being given to the issue of abuse. It is time we addressed and dealt with this evil and we are lucky to have a group like Amudim leading the charge.

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  1. It did cross a line because abuse in Lakewood doesn’t really exist except for very few instances and especially since it’s a makom toirah these things really don’t happen

  2. I don’t think these predators should be called “evil”. They are also good people that have a sickness that needs to be taken care of just like any other illness.

  3. Anyone who is against the so-called publicity is probably one who’s guilty of it himself and just hasn’t been caught yet. Hopefully he’ll be caught very soon

  4. Middle school issue in parks… Parents are still clueless. In an area near sauankum I have seen really inapproriate behavior of some 12 year old bullies…child to child. No parents in sight and even those who walk by ate clueless and ignore. I broke up a few instances lag baomer night but our community needs massive education

  5. Shmuli I hope you’re joking because your statement is not even close to the truth.
    I’m not sure where the author of this letter heard these complaints. The problems people brought up that I saw posted on the scoop had nothing to do with not dealing with our issues in public.

  6. I find it hard to believe anyone was against creating awareness in today’s day and age. The mixed reactions were to the marketing tactic of creating a negative, sensationalistic, creepy video that offered little advice or guidance to people who are suffering. Amudim, please create an optimistic video about people being helped and guided if your goal is to create awareness. Thank you, and keep up your great work be”H.

  7. To “A simple Jew”…..Ignoring the abuse or not talking about it doesnt make it not so. Anyone who abuses a child is not a “good person”. I am appalled at that statement. So, in other words, you are defending pedophiles? You’re for keeping the victims hushed and invisible? That is sick. Children who are sexually abused carry that damage with them for a lifetime and the perpetrator gets to walk and life their life like nothing happened? I dont think so. And….To Shmuli…you cant be serious. It doesnt happen “except for a very few instances” in Lakewood so it shouldnt be confronted? How many is too many for you? One time is MORE than too many.

  8. I am a adult an adult survivor of sexual abuse. I am totally disgusted and pained by the lack of understanding and compassion amongst our community and leadership on this issue. Children don’t matter!! We pay lip service and say they do but in reality they don’t. Survivors don’t matter either because if they did why did the agudah for years joined in with The Catholic Church to block legislation to extend the statute of limitations in abuse cases. Shame on the leadership for joining in on this. We join with the church for $$$$ not poverty or other humanitarian issues. Only when it hits the pocket do they care. Woe on to us for such a lack of yashrus and rishus that has been condoned by the leaders and the people that run the $$$. We are in sad state when the most valuable are not defended and worse turning away from the crimes that have been committed on innocent children.

    • I’m a survivor as well and struggle every single day!!!
      I love and agree with every single word you said!!
      Be strong and hold on tight!
      One day, somehow, the world will see the truth.

  9. A Simple Jew and Shmuli, For you and those who think like you… You are so wrong it’s sad. Baruch Hashem awareness is spreading and the people who covered this up for many years are now having a light shine their faces as we all ask WHY did they cover up this issue for many years????

    This one issue I can never understand how supposedly smart people can be so wrong on their judgement. These same people will scream tzinus, and then cover up the most un-tzinus crime out there. They are a bunch of phonies and they know it. It’s time we call these people out on this and get new and real leadership!!

    • I agree that this issue can not be covered up, however I would like to shed light on why people feel it should not be so publicly dealt with. Surprise, surprise there are still some temimusdik yiddin out there that these ideas have never entered their minds. I am referring to children, teenagers and adults. Opening their eyes to these issues can also be spreading the problem itself. This by no means is an excuse to let perpetrators get away with what they are doing, but it may explain some of the concern about dealing with the issue so publicly.

  10. I think there are two issues that bother me:

    1) It is not about revenge – its about acknowledgement. The reason that the perpetrator should be punished is not BECAUSE the person was damaged for life – it is because they did something very wrong and we must make sure they don’t do it again.

    2) We need to find a way to balance awareness with maintaining a sense of what is normal. Sometimes raising awareness gives people the impression that EVERYONE is a perpetrator, that NOBODY EVER listens. Yes, people don’t listen enough, and we need to raise awareness. And some DO listen and take the right steps. I don’t know what the balance is, but we need to become aware, not witch-hunt. Perhaps highlighting those who DID listen and show the good that came from that would help, as well.

  11. To all the comments that are think there is another way.
    First of all. All the other ways have been tried speaking to Rabbonim, community leaders, parents, children, educators and the mental health professionals. But still no one gets it. No one truly gets that this is not a crime that lasts a moment in time but a crime that leaves pain and scars for a life time. Like I once head a Rov giving a good example of what sexual abuses does it’s like a that get hit in the head with a hammer by some crazy person. In that case we call the police but hear we need to kler was it abuse? Did he just touch? Was it really as bad as you are saying? And why didn’t you come forward earlier?
    Well the answer to the last one. “If you tell anyone, I will kill you and your whole family wile you all are sleeping “ So yes that’s why I never came forward until I was an adult and was scared that some how the perp would find out that I told spoke about the unspeakable. The years of never sleeping because I was scared that the perp would come and kill me. So to all those that just think we should continue with the same coverups I say NO!!! I say if you would have addressed this if you would have really practice what the Torah says then there would be no need to go public. But even with all the information and the awareness people would rather forget and ignore. If we are truly compassionate and true Torah Jews we would never cover this all up.

    • Survivor, I am so truly sorry for your pain. You are very courageous. Some people will just never understand and would rather be in willful denial about how prevalent this really is and the damage it leaves in it’s wake. Keeping it hush hush is aiding and abetting an abuser. Peace to you.

  12. To Community Member.
    Thank you so much for your understanding and kindness.

    I would like to share a bit so that thought that have a hard time understanding this issue, because maybe some people need to hear from survivors how sexual abuse impacts the life of a survivor and there families.
    Well let’s start with a list of issues that I and many survivors suffer with do to the abuse.
    1) PTSD- this is very complex issue that can range from having mild flashbacks or anxiety to paralyzing reliving of the trauma. Nightmares, night terrors, inability to think or move, sleep paralysis and many othe symptoms.
    2)Depression- This can range from a constant low grade depleted feeling to severe debilitating blackness, hopelessness and sadness.
    3)Anxiety, panic attacks,
    4)Dissociation- feeling that I am not real or not in my body or that this is not my body. Forget what I’m doing or where I am. Loosing track of time. This can in some cases turn in to a episode of amnesia that can last long periods of time.
    5) Extreme anger. Now this anger can be at myself, abusers, parents or any one that is in the way at the moment.
    6) Social anxiety or I should say avoidance. Wanting to be alone but really want to connect with others.
    7) Communication and relationship issues. Ie; Sholom Bais, For me BH this is not one of my challenges that are predominant.
    The list can also include.
    Bi polar episodes
    Psychotic episodes
    Suicidal behavior and as we are seeing a growing rise in suicide amongst the youth. If your awake then you know about the terrible and sad recent deaths.
    Dissociative Identity Disorder
    The list goes on!!!
    And for those that don’t believe in any of this they may be interested to know that keeping Mitzvos is a very difficult challenge. Yes I said Mizvos, learning Torah, putting on tifilin, going to a Mikva( men and woman).
    So if this didn’t change anything for the ostriches then I think that you are in need of a yeshuah because the zera of Avroham are Rachmonim benei Rachmonim. The question is if we truly are the children of Avorohom if we can be so cruel and cold.
    I hope that this may spark one person to understand what I and many survivors and those that have not went through and go through every day.

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