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Aug 1, 2008

but he looked frum....

For some reason, many in the frum community refuse to get the professional help that is required. Sometimes it is because of a stigma - "what will people think if they find out I am going to a therapist?", "my son will never get a decent shidduch if anyone finds out", etc., and sometimes it is because of a lack of trust. We just don't trust trained professionals. They studied in the secular system, they don't understand the frum lifestyle so how can they advise on our life choices, etc. There is a certain wariness of exposing ourselves to the outside world.

Because of this, we in the frum world, often, do not get the help that is really necessary for some of us to be productive, to grow, and to overcome our failings.

A parent who was having difficulty with a son once told me that his son had been seeing a therapist, but he had to stop. Why? Because how can a non-Jewish therapist understand Shabbos, or that certain things cannot be done? In other words, when the person is laying out his problems, the non-Jewish, or non-frum, therapist, will frequently lay the blame on the pressure of religion at worst, and at best only do so subconsciously. They just do not understand.

While there are some frum professionals who have studied and can provide such help, there are not enough. Especially in Israel. Perhaps it is because of the way the frum society has developed - fear of secular studies, looking down on higher education, etc.

A "recent" solution to this problem has been the advent of frum organizations that have been created, both to provide such assistance to us in the frum world, and to train frum people to be able to provide such assistance.

While such organizations exist, and more therapists are being trained, often these people are sort of mavericks. There is little, if any, oversight, because these are organizations that are not certified for training therapists and do not provide any official certification. So we have uncertified therapists training more uncertified therapists to help people.

Now, I do not know if the fact that these organizations are unofficial and not certified has any ramification on what I am about to say, but I suspect there is some connection. Part of being certified, part of being part of an official body, part of being trained and licensed to practice, is the necessity to report to higher authorities, to be kept track of, to be supervised to a certain extent. All that, and more, is lacking when dealing with uncertified therapists. So perhaps this is, in part, the result of our relying on uncertified therapists but not certified therapists.

I just found out about a Haredi therapist, living and working in a Haredi neighborhood/town that is in the process of being arrested for sexual molestation of his female clients. This fellow is one of these therapists trained by an uncertified frum organization whose goal is to provide assistance to the frum community. Granted this organization provides a method for their students to also obtain official certification, through applying for credits using their courses via correspondence courses and the like, but they themselves "certify" their students to practise, even without the student having gone for the official certification.

Many clients who were seduced and molested by this man have stepped forward and filed complaints. This is still "hush hush" because we in the frum community like to keep these things quiet. Nobody wants their skeletons pulled out of the closet. As soon as he is arrested, the chillul Hashem will be great. I know about it because of someone I know connected to the case, though I told the person I did not want to know the therapists name. I am not looking to expose him. He has already been exposed - to the police, if not yet to the community at large, so there is no need to publicize his name, or city of residence, at this point other for sensationalism and to harm his family - both goals for which I have no desire.

I asked a shailoh if I could write this much, and after some debate the rav answered that I could and it is not in the geder of lashon ha'ra.

Being that this fellow is Haredi and lived in a Haredi community and raised his own Haredi family and provided "professional" help in the frum community, this just goes to show us how careful we must be when looking for help. If you need help, go get it. But do not assume that because a person is Haredi, or looks Haredi, he is honest and works and lives with integrity. Be on the lookout, and be prepared to report anything that is suspicious. Especially when he is not really certified to be helping in the first place and works for a heimishe organization, but I do not know that the certification is what makes the difference.

Also, many of us, myself included, tend to not take the halachos of yichud seriously. We might say we are adults, responsible adults, nothing is going to happen, it is just for a short period of time, he is a professional and is allowed in these circumstances to close the door, etc. The halachos of yichud are there for a reason. Even if in most cases nothing will happen, they are there to prevent the minority of situations where something actually will happen.

So, again, get the help you need. There should be no stigma preventing someone from doing what is necessary to grow and overcome his challenges. But be careful. And don't think just because someone looks frum you can and/or should ignore blatant acts that rub you the wrong way (no pun intended).


  1. I'm surprised a haredi org. let a male therapist treat women. Sitting next to a woman on the bus is worse?

  2. interesting question. Sometimes these therapists see patients privately, not as part of the organization. Perhaps these were private patients.

  3. The fact that a frum male therapist would take on female clients should ring alarm bells. Hopefully this incident will stop others from being harmed.

  4. Maybe there are not enough female therapists? I know other situations where frum therapists see women... I don't see why it is such a big surprise. Maybe they start coming as a couple and then she even comes on her own, as they develop a professional relationship...

  5. slightly off the subject...a friend ofmy husband is a therapist (in NY) and was approached by the organization Ohel. There was a big problem in Boro Park that the police were arresting chassidish child molesters and part of their therapy was to watch some kind of video. and the chassidim would refuse, saying they do not watch videos. the police did not knowwhat to do...they didn't undestand...you could molest a 5 year old child, but you cant watch a rehabilitative video? so They contacted Ohel who contacted this guy I know. Let me add that this guy is not only fully booked, but has a huge waiting list.

  6. It is a difficult line to tread, treating patients across the genders. How acute is the need? Is there a potential for danger or disaster if the therapist declines? Can this wait until someone else is available? Mental health care sometimes requires similar considerations in both directions as physical health care.

    20+ years ago in Yerushalayim, Rav Gershon Binet gave me an earful when he heard that I had left my studies in Psychology at Bar-Ilan to stay in yeshiva full time. Back then he already recognized the acute need of the dati community for good therapists. I think the need has only grown.

    He insisted on giving me a heter horaah, so I guess he didn't object to my learning per se. But he understood which needs in the community were going unfulfilled.

  7. I know that the concern is that secular therapists will put the blame on the constraints of religion. However, in the case of frum women, is it beyond the pale to expect that a lot of the depression comes from the religious community and life?

  8. YOU do not take yichud seriously????

  9. perhaps not as serious as I should...

  10. Here in RBS there have recently been several apparent cases of abuse, including child molestation. The response by the community leaders has been confused, at best. A fear of "moser" - handing over Jews to the goyim (ie the Israeli authorities) is still the dominant attitude.
    As a result of this, those accused of these crimes, still walk our streets and are even in positions of prestige & authority over our children - but live their lives with a shaddow of suspicion still hanging over them.
    I'm not sure if the national authorities would have dealt with such cases any more effectively, but it is clear that:
    a. our new young community has perhaps also attracted more-than-our-fair-share of people who have a past they'd prefer us all not to know about;
    b. our community is clueless about how to respond in such a way which will adequately protect our kids (on the one hand), while avoiding 'lynching' alleged perpetrators who may be entirely innocent (on the other).

  11. ??? I have not heard of any cases like this locally. This must be new and real hush hush... Anything we should know? anything that can be said at this point? someone to keep our kids away from?

  12. to worried parent:
    I assume you only know of these cases through hearsay without knowing details of exactly how it was dealt with.
    in general, it is not so simple even if the case is handed over to the police, if they would do anything. they're rules of what is considered molestation that can be dealt with, leaves plenty for you to be worried about. in addition, without the victims being willing to stand up in court and describe what was done, (something which wouldn't be very beneficial to the victim), nothing can be done legally.
    besides all this, you don't seem to know about every molestation case in RBS, because there have been several incidents in which the acused parties were quickly disposed of and are no longer walking the streets of RBS. The Rabbinic leadership are actually doing a fine job here dealing with these issues.
    (Keep in mind, if a molester was given a good beating as a very good incentive to keep to himself, it would probably create a communal uproar, labeling him the victim.)

  13. All other thoughts I have on this aside, I take offense to your use of the word "frum" to describe Haredim. There is a large segment of the frum population (for the most part, this segment does not include Haredim) who do not fear secular studies or look down on higher education. And it's not an anomaly; some people actually call it Torah U'madda. Just because most Haredim reject it does not make it an illegitimate "frum" option.

    This segment also appreciates that a trained therapist (or any professional) doesn't automatically discount the importance, to the patient at least, of mitzvot, just because he himself doesn't keep them.

  14. What does "disposed of" mean?
    Unfortunately in the past, people like that have been "moved" out of one community only to do the same thing in another. It is not doing an adequate job by moving him to another community and having him promise not to do it again.
    Rabbinic leadership needs to realize that they are not equipped nor do the have the enforcement capabilities to deal with these case alone.
    As for recent cases, I recently heard that a first grade boys' teacher was molesting one of his students and as soon as they told the principal he was suspended . The parents reported it to the police despite pressure from certain elements not to. That is all I know.
    Talk to your children, Listen to your children, and ask the administration at their school what they do to protect your child.
    Remember this can and does happen anywhere in any type of community.
    We are sometimes too trusting of people who look trustworthy.

  15. yoni - the Haredi community is a large one within the umbrella of frum communities. And aside from the Haredi community, many of the "stereotypes" described apply to many within other communities within the frum community, not just to the Haredi one. So I feel comfortable with the generalization, even if it is not 100% accurate.

  16. Anon-

    You said:
    "As for recent cases, I recently heard that a first grade boys' teacher was molesting one of his students and as soon as they told the principal he was suspended . The parents reported it to the police despite pressure from certain elements not to. That is all I know."

    I am a parent in that school. Although my child is not in that class I do know of the situation.
    here are some facts:

    1) yes, the teacher was suspended BUT all of the parents were called and asked if they would allow him to come back.

    2) From what I know the police were NOT called. The matter is being handled totally by the Rabbonim for better or for worse.
    I just hope that these Rabbonim hold the welfare of our children on the same level of the welfare of the "name" of the community.
    If a person is a criminal he is a criminal no matter whether Charedi or chiloni or Dati leumi or not Jewish.

    We should not put our children and ourselves on the "mizbeach" to protect guilty parties.

  17. Rafi asked-
    "someone to keep our kids away from?"

    Rafi the ones to keep your kids away from are the Rabbonim and Askanim who allow the predators to get away with their ghastly crimes.

  18. Anon-

    Amen! Let's not forget that we are in the 3 weeks. In the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza wasn't it the rabbonim
    who stood by and watched the disgrace of another Jew?

    Perhaps it is the same ones who caused us to go into this galus that are keeping us from leaving it!

  19. the same ones? wouldn't they have to be something like 2000 or so years old for them to be the same ones?

  20. same = rabbonim (not the specific ones)

  21. ok all you experts on dealing with molesters that are criticizing the rabbanim in RBS(who have aparently dealt with things well enough until now if no one complained about the previous cases) what would you suggest doing?
    calling the police and having him prosecuted is a "beautiful idea" but obviously you guys have never been involved in making these decisions.
    here are several problems:
    the most that the police could do is put him in jail for some time (after plea bargaining and good behavior it won't be so long) afterwards he comes back home to join his wife and kids and what is going to stop him after that (ecspecially if he moves to a new neighborhood where no one knows his past?)
    I personally know of a repeat offender who already sat in jail. and the experts all say that more than 90 % can't be healed and will molest again.
    an additional problem is having a young child get up in court and relive the experience. it may save the next victim but will just mess up the first victim more. who says that a young child (or his parents) is obligated to make that sacrifice for the next person?
    other ways of dealing with it could be to publicize all over town who the molester is. also not so simple. do you want to explain to your twelve year old kids (or eight year olds) what it all means?
    also what did his wife and kids do to deserve that? to destroy vaday his kids to prevent a possibility of him striking again?
    and who is going to support his gerusha and kids after she wants out and can't work and take care of her kids at the same time.
    another possibility is to just kick him out of town (that simple "just say please leave" and he'll leave) where will he go next?
    so all you geniuses please give the rabbi's some good ideas if you don't like how they deal with it

  22. Going over the ideas of anon at 10:19

    1. Call the police. At least he sits in jail, and is away from kids for that time. He has a police record. People know he was convicted, and he is less likely to get another job with children. (not impossible, I know)
    2. Whether a young child should testify is up to the parents in consultation with professionals. I don't believe that it automatically "messes up" the kid.
    3. Not publicizing it in order to protect his wife and kids, or to prevent the community from supporting his family if his wife leaves him? Are you kidding? Who's going to support the families of the kids he molested? And the next generation? What about worrying that his kids will get the help they need, having a father like that?
    4. I'd rather have to explain a poster to my kid than have him get molested by his teacher.
    5. Kicking him out of town. Agreed that that does not solve the problem.
    You are right, there is no easy solution but you haven't convinced me that calling the police is a bad one.

  23. Anon at 10:19,

    1) Today the child victim doesn't have to testify. They are worked with by trained professionals to discern what happened.

    2)The fear instilled by Rabbonim and community leaders on the victims prevents them and their families from reporting. Molested children and their families become pariahs and "evil doers". The perpetrators become the victims. The good name of innocents is pulled through the mud. Hence with a silent nod of rabbonim these children and their familes are molested a second time...by their own communities!

    Children, teens and adults who have been molested don't make up these stories for their health! Do you think they enjoy the pain and humiliation that comes with being a victim of abuse?

    Kol HaKovod to those brave enough to stand up and point out their attacker. They prevent many other people from becoming victims.

    Shame on those who berate and criticize these courageous souls.

    No amount of teshuva, fasting and kabalos chumros will erase the damage done by these self professed tzadikim in their defense of the molester and attacking of the victims.

    It can affect parnassa, shiduchim and yeshiva/bais yaakov acceptance.

    It is time that we as a kehilla wake up and address this issue. Perhaps these pitiful molesters will then get the help they need and the community can heal.

  24. There are no winners in child molesting cases. The situation is intrinsically a mess; the victims are messed up; the perpetrator and family are messed up; the host institution (eg. school) is messed up; once the press get hold of it, the whole comunity is messed up. And anyone involved along the chain (rabbonim, social workers, parents, police, courts...), invariably gets mud thown at them.
    SO any approach is going to have to be judged by whether it makes the situation LESS or MORE messy.
    In my opinion, The Number One priority is to protect the kids. Because they are unable to protect themselves. All other priorities (good name of the school, teacher, community) have to take second place.
    That's the way the law in Israel (and most civilised coutries) views it.
    Protect the children first.
    Some rabbonim here in RBS, apparently, do not see it this way.
    They see On The One Hand This, On The Other Hand That. "She/He's only a kid, how can we believe her/him against a fine man who is learned and respected." "We can't trust the 'goyish' Israeli police and non-frum courts". "We can't trust psychologists who learned in universities, and we all know what Freud said about the S** word." And so, often, the rabbonim prefer to hush up these cases, to preserve the good names, etc- and preserve the status quo in the community.
    Such rabbonim, unfortunately, damage generations of kids by this negligent leadershp.
    Rabbonim should instead refer such cases immediately to the authorities; in parallel they should give their public backing to clear educational programs (spotting symptoms of abuse, groundrules what to do if abuse is suspected) and codes of conduct (eg. no touching rules in our schools).
    No coyness, cover-ups and denials!!
    These are unfortunately messy issues, and they require clarity at a community level. Such clarity is currently absent from RBS.
    Our children continue to pay the price.

  25. We need more qualified rabbis for abuse cases. This is one of those problems that most communities and rabbis just don't know how to deal with. Lately they have formed some organizations which do psuedo investigation and are granted pseudo authority as a buffer. But they usually just make things worse or prolong them.

    Among the few educated people in the frum community the answer continues to be:

    The Beis Din is not an appropriate place to handle this, the professionals are and they are the police and trained psychologists.

    There is no downside to this approach. It is the correct and proper thing to do to go to the police. When somebody commits a crime, he should do the time. If a kosher butcher skimps on his kashrus he's run out of town for good. Where is the standard??

    Keep it in the community? Why? To protect its image? Its image is terrible about this. To keep it from 'getting out'. It gets out and it should get out. People need to be held accountable. To prevent chillul Hashem? The biggest chillul Hashem is ignoring the children and sweeping it under the rug so that they learn not to trust us and go off the derech instead of getting help.

  26. I agree Ezra. I see greater importance on removing the threat via the police than covering it up to protect someone else's name or reputation.

  27. There is actually a new law that allows the court to impose restrictions upon a sex offender upon release. A hearing is held, facts are presented, along with the offenders participation or non-participation in rehab during his sentence. The judge can forbid the offender from living near schools, working with kids, etc.

    Recently, this sanction was used on a charedi person from Yerushalayim (his is, incidentally, the grandson of one of the major Neturei Karta leaders).

  28. RafiG

    I'm not saying one is more important than the other, I'm saying the accused's reputation is going to be affected before a decision is made, either way. Afterwards, the real authorities will make a more accurate determination and certainly take better action. The frum community can't do anything to the person. Usually the MOSt that happens is he just goes to another town. The police can keep him away from children.

  29. I understood that...
    the police are not perfect either, but much better than the other options...


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