The Awareness Center, Inc. is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault (JCASA). We are dedicated to ending sexual violence in Jewish communities globally. We do our best to operate as "the make a wish foundation" for Jewish survivors of sex crimes, by offering a clearinghouse of information, resources, support and advocacy.
We are a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Jewish Community Still behind on Confronting Abuse By Asher Lipner
Jewish Week - June 22, 2010
As someone who has worked with numerous survivors of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community over the past 10 years, I have been privileged to bear witness to the stories of people who, after having their voices taken away from them, become able to speak for the first time, in the course of their healing, about the horrors they have endured.
Many describe the pain of being forced to suffer in silence as even more traumatic than the experience of being sexually violated. They are warned to keep quiet, lest they bring shame to the community and to themselves and "alienate people from their cause." This puts survivors in an impossible Catch-22. After struggling, often for years, with their personal demons of pain, loneliness, anger, shame and sense of betrayal, when their healing requires them to give testimony to their victimization and to express their feelings about it, they are told in a million different ways, "Shah Shtill!"
But the problem is not going away, although tragically thousands of survivors are "going away" from us, by abandoning Judaism or even worse, being lost to drugs and alcohol, to mental illness and even suicide. Solving the problem necessitates exposing it to the light of day, and for that we need to reach out to survivors and to listen with empathy to their painful stories. If we do not learn from the mistakes of our past, we are doomed to repeat them.
It is with this in mind that I offer the following plea.
Ten years ago, Jewish Week editor Gary Rosenblatt bravely blew the whistle on a decades-long cover-up of rabbinic sexual abuse in the case of Baruch Lanner, a top official of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY). This, together with the roughly 40 articles about abuse and its cover-up published by The Jewish Week since that time, has undoubtedly paved the way for others to follow suit.
However, our community still shamefully lags behind even the Catholic Church in addressing our catastrophe, due to the unwillingness of our leaders to apologize and to reach out effectively to survivors of abuse. We are regularly bombarded in the media with rabbinic sex scandals, convictions of Orthodox child predators and lawsuits against yeshivas harboring molesters. A leading Orthodox mental health agency fails to warn the community about abusers it "treats." Victims of abuse and their families who report to the authorities are ostracized and bullied, much the same way that the victims of Baruch Lanner were, and district attorneys, seeking support from Orthodox communities, seem to ignore this criminal intimidation of witnesses. Mainstream Orthodox media do not report on cases of abuse, educate people about prevention or inform victims where to go for help.
Even as I write, the Queens Vaad Harabbanim continues to cover up for one of its own, who was forced off the Rabbinical Council of America years ago for allegedly molesting children, the Baltimore Vaad Harrabanim covers up for a rabbi in their community's prestigious yeshiva who is said to have sexually abused students for decades, and the Lakewood (New Jersey) yeshiva's rabbinic leaders are pressuring the parents of a victim of abuse who reported it to the police to drop the charges.
In 2001, the then-new executive of the Orthodox Union, the parent organization of NCSY, said about sexual abuse in the Orthodox community: "I would like to see the OU take a leadership role in raising awareness about this problem." But while the RCA, the OU's rabbinic arm, has made several public pronouncements warning the community of the epidemic and offering practical ways to combat it, the OU has yet to make a public statement, nor has it supported any of the legislative initiatives of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children (www.jewishadvocates.org).
The OU does take the lead in many important areas, but it continues to refuse to publish the full report of the NCSY Special Commission. This, despite the fact that both the victims and the community have a right to know exactly what caused this tragedy, and that hundreds of thousands of community dollars were spent on the investigation.
So, the thankless fight to bring awareness to the community is left to the grassroots efforts of survivors of abuse like Joel Engelman, Mark Weiss, Joseph Diangelo and David Framowitz, and their supporters like Vicki Polin and The Awareness Center, Survivors for Justice, Mark Appel, Rabbi Nochem Rosenberg, Rabbi Yosef Blau and Rabbi Yitzchak Eisenman, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, The Jewish Survivors Network, JSafe, and JBAC, supported by the RCA. Also spreading awareness have been bloggers like Unorthodoxjew (UOJ), FrumFollies, FailedMessiah and LittleSheep, and courageous editors like Phil Jacobs (Baltimore Jewish Times) and Mayer Fertig (Jewish Star), in addition to Gary Rosenblatt.
Let us pray that all Jewish leaders will unite with us now to stop sexual abuse and act as a "light unto the nations," so that nobody else will ever have to endure this terrible trauma.
Dr. Asher Lipner is a clinical psychologist, an ordained rabbi and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse.
One of the saddest parts of this story is the fact that Lebovits claims to have been a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Meir Dascalowitz, claims to be a victim of Lebovits, and Dascolawitz was arrested on charges of molesting a child. Here is a case we have 4 generations of sex offenders and victims. What will it take to end this insanity?
Rabbi Baruch Lebovits abused me too, claims orthodox Jewish man charged with molesting boy
Rabbi Baruch Lebovits was recently convicted of abusing a 16-year-old boy and has been charged in two other sex cases.
Meir Dascalowitz made the allegation in a confession while he was questioned about his 2009 encounters with a 12-year-old in a ritual bath in Williamsburg, a source told the Daily News.An orthodox Jewish man charged with molesting a boy at a Brooklyn synagogue dropped a bombshell on cops: He claimed he was abused years ago by a rabbi just sent to prison for preying on youngsters.
Dascalowitz alleged that he had been molested by Rabbi Baruch Lebovits - who was recently convicted of abusing a 16-year-old boy and has been charged in two other sex cases. "He said he was molested by Lebovits and made an outcry, but nothing ever happened," a source said.
Dascalowitz, 28, an unemployed married clerk with a wife and child, was arrested Tuesday after he left his therapist's home.
Prosecutors allege he molested the 12-year-old once a month between January and June 2009, according to court papers. Almost a year later, the boy told his father, who went to authorities, prosecutor Wilfredo Cotto told a judge.
Dascalowitz declined to comment as he left the courthouse after being freed on $150,000 bail.
"He denies the allegations," said his lawyer Israel Fried.
By Steven Miller Moishe Rosen, who died Wednesday at age 78 was founder of Jews for Jesus, an organization bent on converting Jews to Christianity.
Christian convert from Judaism who became a Baptist minister, Mr. Rosen
insisted that Jews could keep their cultural identity while accepting a
new religion. But Jews for Jesus became a lightning rod for criticism.
Many Jews resented the attention and declared the idea of a "Jewish
Christian" to be an oxymoron. Many in the public thought the group's
swarms of young evangelists clad in identical T-shirts, encountered in
airports or on street corners, were cult members.
by critics, Mr. Rosen kept up a cheerful front while building an
organization that today claims to have a presence in 22 cities in 11
has a great sense of humor letting an over-aged, overweight and
overbearing person like me lead a youth movement," Mr. Rosen once said.
Rosen encouraged his converts to keep their traditions by converting
Passover into a Christian holiday and the Bar Mitzvah into a Christian
coming-of-age ceremony. He wrote tracts with titles such as "Jesus Made
Me Kosher;" a band called "Liberated Wailing Wall" used to play at the
in an orthodox household in Denver, Colo., Mr. Rosen was the son of a
scrap-metal dealer. He converted at age 21 to evangelical Christianity
and his parents disowned him.He attended a seminary in New Jersey and
was ordained a Baptist minister in 1957.
same year, he joined the American Board of Missions to the Jews, an
evangelical organization, which eventually put him in charge of its
mission in San Francisco. Although he professed a conservative faith
that included biblical inerrancy and premillenialism—the idea that Jesus
will be returning soon—Mr. Rosen came to favor a form of outreach more
suited to the 1960s San Francisco youth scene.
the mission board became uncomfortable with him, Mr. Rosen in 1973
founded his own organization, Jews for Jesus, with its headquarters in
San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.
I came out here, the people doing the best communicating were the
anti-war activists," Mr. Rosen told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1996.
them, he began distributing homemade tracts illustrated with his own
scratchy drawings. His first pamphlet was titled "A Message from
Squares," using the slang for someone uncool.
Rosen was an effective preacher, and given to pithy sayings such as "An
atheist who is looking for God is like a hooky player looking for a
truant officer" or "My boss is a Jewish carpenter." He could also be
blunt. "Jewishness never saved anybody," he wrote in a statement on the
Jews for Jesus website.
the same time, he sought to assure Jews that they were not betraying
their culture by embracing Jesus—something many Jewish leaders rejected.
" 'Jews for Jesus' are dishonest. They are hypocrites," write Elie
Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Jewish commentator, in a 1988 essay.
"They do not even have the courage to declare frankly that they have
decided to repudiate their people and its memories."
group grew quickly, but so did the controversies it generated. Mr.
Rosen sometimes welcomed the publicity garnered by its various legal
scrapes. He was a fan of Saul Alinsky's book "Rules for Radicals," and
he boasted to the Washington Post of having been arrested in seven
different airports and "clubbed, manacled, and thrown down a staircase"
for his efforts.
Moishe Rosen came into a city there was either a revival or a riot,"
said Vernon Grounds, president emeritus of the Denver Conservative
Baptist Seminary, in a statement.
Jews for Jesus began evangelizing Jews in Israel, in the former Soviet Union, and also Russian immigrants to the U.S.
group won't say how many people it has converted, but a spokesman
estimated that it has had "hundreds of thousands" of conversations with
potential converts. Converts are normally referred to evangelical
churches within their own communities, much like those garnered in Billy
Rosen retired as executive director of Jews for Jesus in 1996. In a
final farewell posted after his death his organization's website he
cited a New Testament verse about how no man knows what Heaven is like.
"I have a big curiosity, and now I know," Mr. Rosen wrote.
I'm sharing the following with you, because I know I am not the only person who has ever experienced what I'm about to share with you. It's a topic which I doubt has really ever been discussed in detail in any public venue.
Several years ago I saw an elderly couple walking in a parking lot of a mall in my home town. The couple looked very familiar to me, yet I was having a difficult time placing them. As I got closer I realized who they were. . . I said, "hi mom, hi dad". They looked at me, said hello and then wished me a good day as they went on with their day. These were two people who I spent the first eighteen years of my life with. Though they are biologically my parents, they are virtually strangers to me.
Today is my father's 78th birthday. It's such an odd thing to say that I haven't known my father since he was 47. He's been out of my life for over 30 years.
I know that I am not the only adult survivors of child abuse (emotional, physical and sexual abuse) that is confronted with not knowing what to do, nor how to feel when birthdays, mother's day, father's day and or other holidays or anniversaries come around. For me, these types of days often leaves a void of emotions and feelings.
I know that several other adult survivors of child abuse may also need to separate from their families to heal, yet often keep it a secret for fear of being shamed or looked at as being different. I felt that it was important to share my experience in hopes of helping others realize that they are not alone, and to know that they do not need to keep their silence any longer.
I also felt the need to acknowledge my father's special day some how. I guess this note is my way of saying "Happy Birthday Dad".
Father's day is approaching, if you are a survivors of incest, remember you are not alone. Not all father's should or need to be honored. Just like any holiday, be kind to yourself. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to heal. Remember you are good and always have been. What happened to you was a crime. It's NOT your fault.
As many of you are aware, "Rabbi" Marc Gafni (Mordechai Gafni) confessed to sexually assaulting teenage girls in the United States and of clergy sexual abuse of adult women in Israel. His criminal behavior has always escaped prosecution by him bouncing around from one state to the next and by going to and from Israel. Over the years The Awareness Center has done what we could to expose his violations in hopes of preventing one more person from becoming his victim. He currently resides in California and is about to become a father once again. We have heard rumors of him being wed to his forth or fifth wife.
Today, The Awareness Center learned of an article that was published in the Huffington Post in which Marc Gafni is being promoted by Mariana Caplan, PhD, who is an author and a psychotherapist specializing in spiritual issues. You can read her article here
Please contact the Huffington Post and let them know that their article is promoting a confessed sex offender at: firstname.lastname@example.org