Jun 16, 2009

Haaretz on RBS

And if you have not yet had enough, now Haaretz is running an article on the RBS sexual molestation/abuse issue... They seem more interested in the phenomenon itself, and the communal response, and less interested in the issue discussed in the two Jpost articles about the involvement of the rabbonim:

Ever since the affair was revealed, the parents have been vulnerable and exposed to a community that is condemning them for having laundered their dirty linen in public, and especially for complaining to the authorities. Later on their names were made public, and rumors were circulated to the effect that it was one of their sons who molested his brother. The father of the family has had to leave his synagogue because of the alienating way he was treated by the congregation.

But the most resounding slap, according to the father, was felt by the family when the principal of the school to which their son, the victim of the abuse, had been accepted during the summer, informed them that he had decided to revoke his acceptance on the excuse that he would need treatment that the school did not have the capacity to offer. "I think they simply want to distance us because we are a family that makes problems," says the father. "My son asked me, 'Daddy, is it because of what happened?' What answer could I give him?"

[...]

According to Rabbi Tzvi Rabinsky, the director of the Toras Habayis educational institutions, of which Bais Shalom is one of three schools, the management is not obligated to report as long as the cases have not been proven to it. Also, because the investigation of the institution was carried out during vacation time and found that they are clean, there was no need to suspend the teachers.

According to Rabinsky and educational supervisor Rabbi Yosef Juliard, the complaints refer to the two best teachers at the school, and throughout the entire year during which the parents are claiming the teachers abused their children the directors heard only praise of the teachers from parents. Moreover, according to them, one of the families that filed complaints continued to send the complainant's younger brother to study with the teacher who is suspected of abuse.

To support their claim regarding the teachers' innocence, the directors showed a graphological test of one of the teachers in which he came out clear of any suspicion. They say they were prepared to see to all the necessary tests carried out by expert psychologists, but the parents of the children were not prepared to cooperate.

"We initially thought of going to the police, but we can't spill innocent blood. And apart from that the parents of the other children pressed us not to fire the teachers," said Yuliard and Rabinsky. According to them the parents' accusations against the teachers derive from the fact that the teachers sent their children for diagnosis, and there are parents who feel pressured by this.

[...]

In Ramat Beit Shemesh, the population consists mostly of ultra-Orthodox Jews from abroad, who are considered more open than the Israeli-born ultra-Orthodox. Most of them work and therefore are more connected to the world around them. However, as new immigrants they are prisoners in the hands of the rabbinical establishment that is the captive of the most extreme Israeli ultra-Orthodoxy. The parents' reporting to the police in the three cases has been interpreted by the rabbis and school directors as traitorous to the community.

In all the cases, the children's departure from the schools stirred up a storm. The parents have been cold-shouldered by neighbors and friends, and have had to stop worshiping at their synagogues. As a result of the demands to retract their complaints they are feeling threatened. One family has even left Israel but is continuing to cooperate with police investigators.

[...]

"In ultra-Orthodox society the child's voice is not heard. They prefer to be considerate of the adult," said one mother.

The women confessed to Pollack their bad feeling about the beatings in heder (traditional school for young boys) as a matter of routine - a rabbi who crudely pushes a child's face into the Pentateuch on the table, another rabbi who cruelly twists ears - and said that this reality has to stop.

"Write about us compassionately," one of the women requested after the meeting. "I love this community. "

At another meeting held this month on the issue of sexual abuse, attended by nearly 100 people, the lecturer, a volunteer from the hotline on sexual abuse issues for religious women and girls, apologized for talking about immodest things. "I didn't understand why she was apologizing the whole time," complained one woman. "I got up and said, 'We're talking about child abuse. What does that have to do with modesty?'"

The speaker, D., is the mother of children who studied at an institution where sexual abuse took place. Ever since the abuse affairs became known, she has been acting unremitingly to fight the community's terrible silence. "They are saying that to blame the teachers is murder," she says, "and talking about how rabbinical law prohibits harming their livelihood. But against that, what about the danger of the harm to children? I am asking how it is possible to keep someone who is suspected of abuse at a school with little children."

During the past year 10 families applied to the welfare office in Ramat Beit Shemesh and the National Council for the Child concerning such issues. According to the NCC's director, Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, this represents an increase in the rate of applicants from that neighborhood. However, according to Kadman and Pollack, in Ramat Beit Shemesh a kind of social chaos prevails. "Beit Shemesh has grown at dramatic rates but the welfare office has not been given extra manpower slots. There aren't enough social workers and welfare officers," says Kadman. "Among other things a population has arrived here that is closed and extremist, and requires complex treatment."

The prosecution did not bother to inform the complainants in the Yishrei Lev case that it had been closed, because of a malfunction. This fact added to the parents' overall feeling that they are being punished for reporting the abuse. "If in this particular community, someone who gathers up the courage and complains doesn't get the fastest and best treatment, he will retreat and the whole community will get the message that it is not a good idea to report," says Kadman. "We mustn't miss this window of opportunity."
Being that this article is more revolved around the societal and communal aspect of the issue, I think it would be interesting to discuss why we as a community (I am not talking about any specific individual that does or does not act the same way, but the community as a whole), reject parents who do make such claims.
If we create an atmosphere that discourages them from stepping forward, as if they do they will then be ostracized to an extent, are we no better?

37 comments:

  1. Despite the fact that there are supposedly millions of abuse cases, I personally don't know a SINGLE person who said their child was abused, so I have not changed my behavior or made anyone who brought these accusations feel bad, I am not guilty of ostracizing anyone. Most people in this community can probably say the same. How can we change if we haven't done anything wrong?

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  2. This article was full of inaccuracies.
    As is well known by now, Magen Avot called a meeting to tell all the parents about the alleged abuse (is that called denial? is that called a meeting organized by parents?)
    The "ultra orthodox" I meet in RBS don't meet the definition as it is commonly understood by most Israelis. These "ultras" for the most part not only went to college, but also many went to movies and public schools as they are BTs. It is idiocy to call them "ultra-Orthodox" as if they and the people in Rama Bet who never even had a high school education and have never been outside Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and RBS are the same population.

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  3. Did the article say there were 10 cases?
    How many thousands of kids live in RBS/BS? Any way of getting a number?

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  4. Rafi, why was the entire article not posted? Are we afraid to face up to the horrors of what really happened?

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  5. No abuse victims?June 16, 2009 1:20 PM

    RBS Mum
    "I personally don't know a SINGLE person who said their child was abused"

    I am willing to bet you that you DO know several people who have been abused, or their kids have been.

    There's two victims on my block; a convicted perpetrator in my shul; and there's a statistic which says one in four girls have suffered sexual abuse by the age of 18; and one in four boys.

    RBS Mum - you either DO know abuse victims, or you don't get out enough.

    They simply don't talk about it - similarly to beaten wives. (See Rav Twersky's book The Shame Borne in Silence).

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  6. anon - with the other two articles I also did not post the whole thing. a link was provided and you can read the whole article there.
    I posted the parts that stand out to me.

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  7. Susie, FYI, that meeting for the Magen Avot parents was to tell them to keep quiet. Yes, it is denial.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Did the article say there were 10 cases?"

    10 reported cases.

    Would you report if you knew you'd be ridiculed and "cold shouldered"?

    ReplyDelete
  9. blame the victims?June 16, 2009 2:07 PM

    Is it true that one of the families who complained of child abuse at their school, had two goons turn up at their door at 2am Motsei shabbos, who banged and screamed curses and threats? (The family was terified and refused to open the door).

    How long will it be till such a family gets beaten up, or worse?

    Is this how we want to continue dealing with cases of child abuse in our community??

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  10. "Is this how we want to continue dealing with cases of child abuse in our community??"

    Don't worry..the Rabbonim are dealing with this. It's ok to beat up the accuser if you use a shinui. The victim MUST then call Hatzalah opposed to MADA.

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  11. THE SUN RISES EACH MORNINGJune 16, 2009 3:19 PM

    Sexual abuse in RBS is as real as the sun rising each morning. Can you say after the sun has risen that it has set? So too it has finally come out in Har Nof, Yerushalayim, Kiryat Malaachi, Bnei Brak and yes Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. Shalom, Cherry HillJune 16, 2009 3:41 PM

    It seems to me that many people tend to feel threatened when they hear of these types of problems--in any community. Perhaps because it hurts their self image, because they are so emotionally invested in having a certain image of themselves.

    A few weeks ago Ha'aretz ran an article about the liberals in No Tel Aviv who were so outraged by Haredim moving in--I'm sure that many realized how hypocritical they are to scream about tolerance of Arabs or gays, then to feel such distaste for frum Jews. How many people want to really confront and overcome those feelings? Similarly, who wants to think that after all the discipline involved in dressing a certain way, being so machmir on Shabbat and Kashrut, living in a frum environment-- you're still threatened. Worse, your CHILDREN are threatened. Who wants to really deal with that? It's a lot easier for many people to try to ignore the issue, and hope that it's really not true, after all.

    Shalom

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  14. Another family that they wanted to quietJune 16, 2009 3:48 PM

    One of the Schools told a family that was being harassed:

    "You opened a Tik at the police, what did you expect?!"

    According to Israeli law a family needs to go to the police in order for the Psycologist to begin treating their child.

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  15. The Rabbis really careJune 16, 2009 3:51 PM

    One Rav in the community was informed of the incident with the goons. His response was:

    Why are you telling me?

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  16. I would guess that denial has to be strong here, but you're right, it is so primitive.

    We really do see denial as a primitive defense that should be characteristic of children, mainly, adults face reality.

    So why the denial? Shame, primarily. I think that most Jewish communities are finally beginning to grapple with the fact that we DO have sexual abuse in our kehilot, that as much as we wish we didn't, we do.

    And that means we need secular education (for there is no holy book that tells us what to do with this, except perhaps stone someone) and we need therapy and all kinds of other stuff that gets in the way of learning gemorrah.

    Oy vay.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nothing new.

    Remember: Always go to the police. This is what the halacha requires.

    Rabbis are for ritual matters.

    See: Choshen Mishpat 388:12.

    Rabbi Ari Enkin

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  18. I dont know which case or which rav you are talking about, but not every rav can help in every case.
    Sometimes a specific rav has no influence on a specific community/school/area/etc.


    For example - if you went to Rav Goldstein, Rav Malinowitz, Rav Kornfeld, Rav Perlstein, the Piazetsner, or any other to deal with a case in a school that has nothing to do with him, he has no influence there so all he can say is what do you want from me.

    you have to approach a rav with the influence necessary to deal with the case.
    In one case that will be Rabbi Perlstein, in another Rabbi Malinowitz, in another Rabbi Soloveitchik, in another Rabbi Kornfeld, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  19. If the profile fits...June 16, 2009 4:12 PM

    I was talking about the Yishrei Lev case with a rabbi who had involved himself with the case. This was as the story was breaking, about a year ago. I was shocked at how viciously he turned on the complainant family, and started telling me all kinds of loshon hora about them. This was coming from a man I used to have the greatest respect for, and the whole exchange left me stunned. I could not believe that a sane rational man with such an unbelievable grasp of Torah could be saying such things. I would guess he was one of the people who was instigating against the complainant family. So Shaul if youre wondering what the profile of an "ostracizer" is, it could be a guy whose convinced that the rebbe is innocent, the complainants are the bad guys and he's doing a mitzva by running them down.

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  20. ....geeez and if you must turn to a rabbi to help you in such a situation, lo aleinu, at least turn to Rabbi Enkin -- he seems to have Rav Yosef Karo on his side.

    ReplyDelete
  21. For The Safety Of Our ChildrenJune 16, 2009 4:40 PM

    The reason the families have come forward is to try and make RBS a safer place for everyone. The fact that any given family has not had to deal with molestation is no guarantee that over the next few years one of their children will not be molested. Please realize that by confronting the perpetrators and speaking out it is for the safety of this community. On the outside things might look safe but come a few years down the line I would not be shocked if every family is dealing with a child who was molested.
    The statistics are one in four children that this happens too. So all of you that Hashem has not sent this Nisayon your way, try and think if Chas Vshalom this happened to your family,would you want the accusee to come harass you for coming forward, would you like the community to sit back and watch the show or would you like to help prevent this from happening and maybe realize that everyone's children are in danger in this town.

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  22. Rafi,

    I have been following your blog on the abuse cases carefully.

    Somebody recently posted 2 long letters about one of the cases referred to in the original article and in Jonathan Rosenblum's response. They are about the school's response. I think they add to the discussion.


    In my opinion, The most important aspect of these blogs is that the
    facts are coming out. Thank you, Rafi.



    To the mother in gan who wrote how the school handled it well.


    1.The school was aware of the allegations for several months before
    the meeting was held. The school ‘dealt’ with the situation by going
    to rabbonim in the Kiryah. The school claims that they were following
    these rabbonim. The parents were not originally informed of anything.
    The meeting was held only after tremendous pressure was put on by
    parents.



    2.At the meeting, the school said she was suspended with pay. Then a
    few days later she was later back at gan. Not all of the parents were
    informed before she was allowed back at gan. Only when confronted,
    then the school claimed that this was being ‘forced’ upon them by the
    misrad hachinuch. She has to be allowed to teach with a shadow. The
    school never gave the name of who at the misrad hachinuch was involved
    and exactly how the decision was reached. So there is no way to verify
    this claim. What exactly was the misrad hachinuch told? Has it seen
    the report? Is the misrad aware of point 6?


    3.The report is (unfortunately r”l) very explicit. It does not talk
    about ‘(inappropriate) kissing and hugging’. The school saw the
    report. I don’t know what has happened since then about the report
    itself. Parents in the gan should demand to hear from the school what
    it knows from the report.

    4.
    ‘Sam’ is wrong when he claims that the main ganenet was new and
    inexperienced. But that is irrelevant. The fact is that the assistant
    was left behind with children alone on at least several, if not many,
    occasions. The school does not deny this (as far as I know).

    ReplyDelete
  23. 5.A few days later, THIS TEACHER WAS BACK TEACHING WITHOUT A SHADOW. SEVERAL PARENTS NOTICED THIS WHEN THEY CAME TO PICK UP THEIR KIDS OR STOPPED BY DURING THE DAY. THE PARENTS WERE NOT PREVIOUSLY INFORMED. When confronted, the school claimed that the ‘bdatz beis din in Yerushalayim poskened that she had to be allowed back without a shadow.’ (The assistant (sayat) and her husand have responded to the claims against her (which obviously they have every right to do) by taking the school to beis din.) So the school claims it ‘was forced’ by the interim directive of the beis din to let her back for a while without a shadow. AGAIN, THE PARENTS WERE NOT INFORMED OF THIS. (I am not sure of the present status of the beis din case or of the ganenet needing a shadow. Parents should ask about this question.) But it is a fact that there were several days she was allowed to do her normal job without a shadow. Does anyone think it is responsible of the school to allow this without informing the parents??

    To all parents in the gan, please when (if) you drop your kids off, ASK directly whether she will be working that day without a shadow.



    6.It has come to light that this assistant (sayat) has in the past invited children (3 and 4 year olds) over for shabbos. Some children went. This is very uncommon. (My guess is that less (way less) than 3% of teachers of 3 year olds invite them to sleep over.) When parents heard this, they were surprised and concerned. The school has known about this at least for several months (maybe longer) but never informed the parents.



    7.Some parents know the points being raised here and some don’t. I would encourage all of the parents to try to get as much info as possible from the other parents.



    8.The school (as far as I know) has not asked for or followed the directives of the local RBS rabbonim who have congregants with children in the school. (Rabbis- Kornfeld, Malinowitz, Meyers, Soloveitchik, Zechariyash,or any others). Rather the school claims to have spoken to rabbonim from the Kiryah in Bet Shemesh ansd Rav Goldstein. Parents, based on the points above (which can all be confirmed without too much difficulty), I encourage you to ASK YOUR LOCAL RAV FOR ADVICE AND/OR A PSAK WHAT TO DO.


    9. Faigie R is correct that based on the statistics, then the likelihood in this case is low. But she is making one fundamental mistake. If someone said 'they think there might be a concern and they want to know what to do', and they describe a case like this, and no one has yet made a formal complaint and no report has been written, etc.... Rather, a parent has a concern, then the percentages are low. However, in this particular case, given that the child and parents have gone through the professional process, and given that the report is there, and given that the school admits to the possibility of a second situation as well, and given that the parents certainly had no agenda to start with (everyone knows it's damaging to put kids through this even if it's true), and given that many people (including professionals) who are aware of the particulars (and are not hysterical people) in the case are VERY concerned, then in THIS CASE the percentages are not 'very unlikely' as Faigie R has been repeatedly saying. Obviously it is not definite, but it is certainly not very unlikely.

    10. Again, demand answers from the school, talk to your rabbonim, get and share info, ask professionals (like Faigie R and others have done). Please share this info

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  24. Given that most abuse occurs in the home, what are the procedures for home schooled kids to be protected? Perhaps some children are kept at home in order so that no one will discover and report the abuse.

    Also, everyone assumes that they would know if their children were abused. Whether by family or friends or strangers. In most cases that is simply not true. The vast majoriaty of abuse is only known by the child and the abuser. You are kidding yourselves if you think you don't know an abuse victim. For all you know the victim might be your own child.

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  25. Can't help wondering....June 16, 2009 7:29 PM

    Jonathan- I don't know the parents who are accusing the ganenet, and I don't want to be part of the "bash the accusers" club, but I think you are ignoring one important fact. While it seems clear that this girl was abused, the fact is that the likeihood of this taking place in the gan (stripping a girl naked, tying her up and abusing her) seems to defy the imaination, particularly given that at any moment the other ganenet could come back. If this child told this story in such detail, clearly it happened, but the question is who did it to her?? In my mind, the fact that the parents want us all to believe that it was the ganenet (as identified by the child two years later based on her memory as a three year old) is not compelling.

    Your statement "given that the parents certainly had no agenda to start with (everyone knows it's damaging to put kids through this even if it's true)" raises a question in my mind.

    Call me a conspiracy theorist but, I can't help thinking that there is a possibility that there is an agenda.

    Statistically the odds that it is a male non-stranger are many, many times greater than a female stranger. If G-d forbid someone in the family knew who the real abuser was, and wanted to shield that person, it would have been easy (and expedient) for the real molester or someone else in the family to implant the ganenet in the little girl's mind to protect the real abuser.

    I think you and other people are confusing those two aspects, #1) the fact that abuse took place and #2)who did it.

    Or maybe I've just read too many mysteries.

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  26. Wonder No MoreJune 16, 2009 8:08 PM

    Why do the children need to be protected again? Oh because of some conspiracy theory. Wishful Thinking.

    About three weeks ago parents whose children are enrolled at the educational institution where the assistant is working convened to discuss what steps to take following a rumor that there has been another complaint against her. A week later, about 15 women met in a private home to hear Pollack and get her advice. According to her, "Pedophilia is an addiction. Pedophiles must not be around children."

    Pollack told the women that if the school does not fire the teacher, they must withdraw their children from the school in order to protect them.

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  27. Faigie RosensteinJune 16, 2009 9:51 PM

    It's me, Faigie again.
    Jonathan, thank you for sharing the information you have in a non-hysterical way.
    I think the school has been trying to find a balance between being fair to the teacher and being concerned about the allegations of abuse.
    There is no question that had there been more evidence or stronger reports, there would have been a different reaction from the school. The bottom line is, a report from a 5 or 6 year old that this stuff happened two or three years before is not something we can check out.
    A female abuser, married, with young children of her own, abusing unrelated female children in a school setting - it is against the odds (can anyone here cite any case like this in Israel or America?)
    And that she had the opportunity in a gan with many children, to strip and tie up a child on multiple occasions, when the main teacher could return...also sounds highly unlikely. Why would the main teacher agree to not have her assistant come along to the park with so many small children, and a street to cross?
    That said, this child obviously needs help, and perhaps she was abused by someone else.
    Or perhaps she was abused by this teacher.
    But how will we ever know?

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  28. Thank you SHaul B and Shalom CHerry Hill for the most balanced and on target comments here.

    Rafi G true a Rov might not have influence on a particular incident BUT he can at least MINIMALLY as a human being a tzelem elokim let alone a Jew show some empathy and rachmanus.

    Now if he had the ability to relate to his flock as something more than subjects he would even be able to direct and guide the person in the right direction.

    Not say Get Lost you moron I am busy learning. and cannot help you.

    It sounds like the person reporting this felt like they were not being listened to and dissed.

    I know that once I went to a Rov to report some serious sexual abuse that I was made a ware of and my response was in the vein I described above since this is not my kehilla get lost you creep, not I am sorry I cannot help you but this sounds like a really serious issue and I am also troubled by it. I advise you speak to so and so who can make a difference etc.

    ReplyDelete
  29. faigie rosensteinJune 16, 2009 9:57 PM

    Jonathan, I forgot, I have one question for you.
    Do you personally know a parent who sent their child to sleep at the ganenet's house? And if so, how does this parent explain sending the child over there - did he/she think this was normal, did he/she pay her to babysit their kid - why would a normal parent send a small child to sleep at a teacher's house? What was the parent thinking?
    This sounds very odd to me. In my view, it is weirder for a mother to send a 3 year old to sleep at a teacher's house for no reason than for a teacher to invite a child over.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Reality is hard to deal withJune 16, 2009 10:05 PM

    Faigie,

    Let's remember who has the key to unlock the door each morning to Gan. Who comes at 7:45 and leaves after all the children. Guess who also locked the door while the rest of the class was at the Park. And yes this assistant did not go to the Park all the time to help the main Gannenet. She stayed behind to "Clean Up". How long does a Gannenet usually take the class to the park? It was long enough for something to have happened?

    Faigie, why not do some research of how and what perpetrators do to their victims. Maybe research "Female Kindergarten teachers who abuse young children", you might actually be surprised at what you find.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yes, I do.

    I am not an expert in any of these areas. I don't have a strong opinion why this would be done.

    I spoke to a friend who works with many new olim. He said that sometimes people assume 'this is the way things are done here' and therefore don't ask and/or 'stop thinking'. That is obviously a mistake.

    I think the fact that this teacher invites kids over raises another flag. You wrote that you have asked advice about this situation from 2 clinical psychologists. Have you mentioned this point to them as well?

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  32. Anybody know how I can get a copy of the shiur by Rav David Bar-Hayim who spoke last night in RBS about issues relating to the child abuse scandal?

    ReplyDelete
  33. prove before you commentJune 16, 2009 11:15 PM

    Reality is hard to deal with said to do research on abuse.
    I searched the interenet for an hour.
    Can't find any stuff.
    Please post link to website describing cases of female preschool teachers sexually abusing children. Does it indicte in the article if the perps were moms of young children them selves? Surely there should be at least a few cases like this...so, where are they? We know over 90% of abusers are MEN. And most of the women who do it do it to family or underage boys. Where is case where unrelated girls were victims?

    ReplyDelete
  34. Sometimes I wonder if the "old way" of dealing with this was better. Basically, some of the baalei batim got together and beat the crap out of the perpetrator and told him to leave town. Unfortunately, the dirtbag would often leave town and move far away enough such that the people in the new town hadn't heard about his misdeeds. Today it's even worse with the increased mobility everyone has! I suppose it wouldn't work anymore.

    Mark

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  35. Prove before you comment...

    That took all of 1 Google search - http://www.secasa.com.au/index.php/workers/25/37

    My daughter has a classmate who's been raped (13), and my chavruta's son (8) was sexually abused by a Shabbos guest.

    Yes, G-d help us, it does happen. And the Yetzer Hara does an incredible trick with 'kavod' versus dealing with problems. Kavod for the school, for the community, that work shouldn't get out to the seculars.

    Actually, the schools do tend to deal with these things...slowly. It's the slowly that leaves kids in dangerous situations now. (Slowly meaning maybe the teacher won't be renewed for next year. oh wa)

    ReplyDelete
  36. prove before you commentJune 17, 2009 10:06 AM

    Anonymous-
    Huh? I read through that whole article. The request was: "Please post a link to a website describing cases of female preschool teachers sexually abusing children". Your link did not have a single example of that. Yes it talked about female abusers but there was not one example of a female preschool teacher abusing a female child in a school setting. The article was actually written by a feminist who wanted to prove that women can be as abusive as men. One example in there was that women get a "certain feeling" towards their infants while nursing their babies.

    In fact, the article actually proved the opposite of what you thought it would. Out of a whole study of female abusers the author writes: "Only one of the women who abused was a non-custodial abuser." In addition you seem to be trying to prove that it's naive to think women don't abuse, by mentioning two cases of male inflicted abuse. That is totally illogical.

    This story could have happened, but all of you who keep insisting that the parents in the gan are naive to think this would be a highly unusual scenario, are just making yourselves seem foolish.

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