Abuse of Torah and Judaism

Anyone who has read more than one article on the subject of child sexual abuse in the Jewish community will be aware that for too long there has been a culture of coverups by Rabbis, schools and powerful communal leaders. For those who have not yet seen any evidence of this, you can read detailed case studies here, here and here.

As our communities slowly “tune-in” to the magnitude of the damage caused to those who have been abused and their families, there is usually an additional hidden victim that is rarely mentioned, and that is the Torah.

Torah and Halacha (Jewish law) have been weaponised to enforce the agenda of silence, shunning and further abuse. Some of the loudest cries of perpetrators and their supporters will be “Mesira” (reporting a Jewish person to secular authorities), Lashon Hora (spreading gossip), Motzei Shem Ra (spreading lies) and most ironically, “causing anti-Semitism” (sometimes referred to Chilul Hashem, desecration of Gds name).

Whilst these are all totally valid Halachic principles in their contexts, they are not operating in isolation and a wider analysis is required. The same is true of any secular legal system. Let us consider the following examples

1. An ambulance speeding through a red traffic light to treat a patient in an urgent life-threatening condition.
Would it be reasonable to criticise the driver of the ambulance because they are in violation of traffic offenses?

2. A mugger who tries to take personal posessions from someone who was able to defend themselves and subsequently causes injury to the attacker in self defence.
Do we simply say that any form of violence is wrong and criticise the person who was able to prevent themselves from being mugged?

These two examples show that laws cannot be applied in a blinkered manner. In real-world cases, there are usually far more aspects to consider, all at once. A healthy judiciary will have experienced courts and judges to assess each situation as widely as is relevant, and produce a written conclusion detailing how a ruling was reached, having studied the laws and the circumstances surrounding the events. Similarly, in halacha, over the ages, there have been numerous sefarim (books) written about “teshuvas” (case studies) of various queries that were presented to respected Rabbis and their halachic rulings. Talmudic principles are usually referenced from a large number of sources and a coherent narrative explains how the outcomes were deduced.

Only a fool would judge a case on a single legal principle. There are plenty of ignorant people (both online and offline) who use soundbites and simplistic “Torah” arguments about sensitive and involved situations. They are not only doing themselves a disservice, but also abusing the Torah at the same time.

Here are some halachic principles that tend to be forgotten when discussing abuse cases.

lo saamod al dam reecha – literally “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor”
rodef – preventing a “persuer” from harming someone
lifnei iver – literally “Before the blind, do not put a stumbling block” – the prohibition against misleading people

More discussion on these topics can be found here and here.

As if it is not terrible enough that abuse happens to innocent children, it is routinely followed by an abuse of Torah, Halacha and everything Judaism stands for, usually by the very people who claim to be its closest adherents.

Just to be absolutely clear, if a well-researched, fully transparent discourse was produced by a knowledgable halachic expert, written with no conflict of interest, then it can and should be discussed in a fair manner. The aim of this piece is to identify and disregard lazy comments by amateur halachists whose trolling activities only serve to bring more abuse into the world.

 


 

This piece is written by a third party and does not necessarily reflect the views of Migdal Emunah.

Response to Rabbi Sacks

 

Rabbi Sacks has recently published a blog post entitled “On Not Being a Victim” which can be read here.

Rabbi Sacks is widely regarded as one of today’s great thinkers and philosophers with good reason. In his post he encourages people to face the future rather than focus on the past (over which no one has control), or to use his words “You cannot change your past but you can change your future”. Whilst this idea is extremely empowering, and in many cases is probably the most productive approach, I don’t believe it paints the full picture.

Unfortunately, in life there are situations when a person is severely wronged by another person or group of people. Very often, those victims will receive advice from friends, family, rabbis or communal leaders such as “move on”, “leave the past in the past” or “there’s nothing you can do about it now anyway”. This appears to be in agreement with Rabbi Sacks’s blog post. If this advice is followed, those perpetrators will never face justice for their crimes and will be free to abuse yet more victims as is so often the case. Many of those new victims will no doubt also be told to “move on”. Abusers will retain their positions of respect and authority, whilst deceiving entire communities who will never hear of their criminal actions.

Furthermore, some people are unfortunately still suffering in their situation, as is the case of domestic violence. It is not possible for those victims to separate the past from the present. Each day that passes is a failure on the community in allowing the abuse to continue. The Talmud, B’rachot 5b, describes clearly that “a person is not able to free themselves from prison”, meaning that often it is up to the community to rescue those who are not able to rescue themselves. This is illustrated in the tragic custody case of the Schlesinger twins in Vienna. The response should not be to focus on “moving on” from the past, and allow the innocent children to continue to suffer, but rather, the responsibility falls on our religious leaders, some of whom were active or complicit in the barbaric separation from their mother, to reverse the injustice and stop further suffering.

Contrary to Rabbi Sacks’s advice, victims of abuse should be encouraged to report their perpetrators and the much harder task of achieving justice be sought. Not only does this provide a sense of closure for those who have suffered, but it protects the community from a known abuser. Even the awareness of an institution or group of people who have either abused or covered up abuse is a powerful tool in allowing parents to help protect their children. As a community, we need to express our heartfelt appreciation to those brave individuals who have taken this route, rather than villify them with accusations of loshon harah, mesirah and chilul hashem. Justice is recognised by Judaism as being such an integral part of society that it features as one of the seven noachite laws.

To help make his point, Rabbi Sacks cites holocaust victims and how they reacted to the horrors they faced. He neglects to mention Simon Wiesenthal who dedicated his life to bringing nazi war criminals to justice. Would Rabbi Sacks have advised Simon Wiesenthal to simply move on and make a new life for himself elsewhere?

No one chooses to be a victim, and those who fortunately have not been victims cannot truly understand what this means. Everyone is entitled to justice and it is only under an efficient and accurate judiciary that we can claim to live in a civil society.

Unfortunately, there are times when the past needs to receive focus if we all want to have a safer future.

 

Communal organisations urged not use sex abuser’s Menorah for Chanukah in the Square

Despite Menachem Mendel Levy being convicted five years ago, the Menorah he built and donated is still used

Organisations responsible for hosting the annual Chanukah in the Square celebration have again been urged not to use a giant Menorah at the ceremony which was built and donated by a man subsequently convicted of sexual abuse.

The Jewish Leadership Council and Chabad Lubavitch UK have both been approached regarding the continuing use of the Menorah, which was donated by Menachem Mendel Levy.

In 2013, Levy was sentenced to three years in jail after being convicted of indecent assault of a child under the age of 16. In 2015, the organisations agreed to remove a plaque from the giant Menorah which honoured its contributor, but it has nonetheless still continued to be used at the candle lighting events in December at Trafalgar Square, which thousands of UK Jews, including many children, attend.

Yehudis Goldsobel, director of the Migdal Emunah sexual abuse support service, testified against Levy at his trial five years ago. She told the JC that “continuing to use this menorah donated by a convicted sex offender is giving the wrong message. Why not use the opportunity of adding light into the world to make a profound statement in support of the hundreds of victims of abuse in our community”.

Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the JLC, said:

“We have received correspondence relating to the future use of the Menorah. We are taking the issues raised very seriously. We are currently exploring all the options available. We intend to present our proposed plan of action, as soon as we have agreed it, to the complainant directly, rather than debate them publicly. We recognise the need to resolve this matter and hope to be able to do so in the near future.”

Chabad Lubavitch said it seconded Mr Johnson’s comments.

This is not the only way in which a donation from Mr Levy has been honoured by the community.

Late last year, Mr Levy organised a celebration for the completion of a Sefer Torah which he had commissioned and offered to loan to a Golders Green Lubavitch synagogue. Over a thousand people attended the celebration, including a number of rabbis. Only subsequently was the loan offer rejected, when the donation and its public dedication were criticised.

At the time Ms Goldsobel said: “A Sefer Torah dedication is a lovely thing, but how can a community of people ignore the fact that the person donating it is a convicted sex offender? Does this not somehow tarnish this mitzvah? I would think so.”

Jewish community’s leading sex abuse charity could close after funding cuts, founder warns

Migdal Emunah could close by the end of the year, its founder warns

The leading charity which supports victims of sexual abuse in the Jewish community could close after having its funding cut.

Yehudis Goldsobel, who set up Migdal Emunah, after going public about her own experience of abuse five years ago, said the Mayor of London cut its funding on the grounds the charity was “too specialist”.

The charity, which counsels those who have suffered abuse and supports them through the police and court process, had its funding cut in 2017.

“We were only helping Jewish victims but there was no way I could have opened it up to support others because I was supporting 65 people on my own already,” she said.

“I am giving it to the end of this year and if we don’t get the support we need we will have to close.”

Ms Goldsobel said it has been a “battle” to encourage support from the community.

“We don’t like to talk about sex as a society let alone sex abuse in the community. It is the thing that shall not be spoken about but there is a desperate need. To the victims we are a lifeline. To know that we even exist is extremely symbolic for people.”

She said Jewish victims of sexual abuse would not use “mainstream providers because they are not fit for purpose”.

Ms Goldsobel cited a new support group for victims of abuse in Manchester, which she has just launched, is evidence of the community’s need.

She is also launching a helpline for victims in October due to a small grant, which will pay for training for two volunteers, but beyond the end of the year the charity does not have the funds to survive.

According to the campaigner communal bodies and religious leaders are silencing victims by not “supporting somewhere for them to turn.

“Most of the time, all victims and survivors want is to be listened to. To be heard is a basic human need and we are shutting people down because we feel uncomfortable about the topic.”

After years of suffering abuse at the hands of a long-time family friend, Ms Goldsobel finally reached out for help.

But after reporting the crimes to the police, rabbis refused to acknowledge her suffering, her family were driven from their synagogue, and kosher shops refused to serve them.

She explained: “When I started the phone just didn’t stop ringing. Since then, I have supported over 400 inquiries.

“It is not just victims, it is teachers, parents, and friends who are concerned and want to know how they can help or what to do when they see the signs.

“They have experienced everything and anything from sexual abuse, rapes within the family, outside the family, in school, in shul, and in youth groups. They have nowhere else to go because the community doesn’t want to know about it.”

She said it is not just those in the Orthodox community who seek help. The charity is supporting people from across the religious spectrum.

It was after her own case that Ms Goldsobel “realised no one was even acknowledging that the problem existed, let alone dealing with it”. Community leaders were guilty of “finger pointing . . . people say it happens more on that side of the community or it happens more there.

“But it doesn’t, it happens across the spectrum. It is just the way in which sections of the community responds that might differ.”

She criticised the constant support of perpetrators within the Orthodox community sighting her own case as an example. Her abuser has continued to be honoured by Chabad Lubavitch UK after he was sentenced to three years in jail.

Chabad accepted a Sefer Torah donated him and in 2015, the organisations agreed to remove a plaque from the giant Menorah which honoured the man, who was its contributor.

Despite this, the Menorah continues to be used at the candle lighting events at Trafalgar Square, which thousands of UK Jews, including many children, attend.

“It silences victims and continues to show them that the perpetrator, or the community as a collective, is more important than those who have been sexually assaulted or raped,” Ms Goldsobel said.

And she admits that it has been a “fight” to get major donors and communal bodies to support her work.

“I have sent so many emails in seven years. I’ve literally been begging for support,” she said.

“Naively, I thought this was such an important cause, so of course everyone would want to help, but they don’t. People don’t want to say we have a problem in our community.

Ms Goldsobel, who founded the national Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence week, which takes place in February, said it was harder to get support for victims within the Jewish community than it was outside it.

“Every year, the campaign gets bigger and better, even the Met have supported it, but then I come back to the community and I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall.”

She said the thing that keeps her going is knowing what it is like for victims who have nowhere to turn.

“It is horrible. I will never ever forget that feeling; you feel utterly isolated and as if someone has got their hand over your mouth. It reiterated how much I don’t matter.”

She said her own experience had forced her to “question where I fitted in in Judaism because a lot of the rabbis manipulated the Torah and halachah to justify what happened to me.

“I was told my age is arbitrary in Jewish law and when other victims hear things like that they think that no one will believe them. We need to change the way we talk about sex abuse.”

Ms Goldsobel, who has a 19-month-old son said she does not worry for him growing up because “he is going to grow up in a completely different environment to me. We already use correct names for body parts. But something as simple as that can be the start of not giving your child a voice.

“There is nothing worse than having someone try to tell you about the abuse they have experienced, but not know the words to say.

“Imagine, if you have a child and you’re cooking dinner and they mention that ‘someone has touched my thingy’ are you going to remember in that moment the significance of what they have said?

“Children will only try to tell you about abuse a few times and if they get shut down or ignored they won’t try again.”

Calling on the community to support the charity, she added: “I hope, come January 2019, we can say that we are financially stable and secure and can respond to the need that is out there.

“There are too many people desperately looking for support and information about what they can do and that is not good enough.”

Yehudis uses her experiences to support others through trauma

Yehudis Goldsobel struggles to answer when I ask how she follows Judaism these days. The mother-of-one suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Menachem Mendel Levy, who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2013.

Her story — and willingness to speak out — made national news. But during the conviction, she realised she could no longer trust the ultra-Orthodox community of which she was a part. Stamford Hill-born Yehudis recalled: “The sentencing was quite an eye opener. They produced this book of character references for him, which I had no idea about.

“People who I thought were my friends and colleagues had written glowing character references about him, saying that he shouldn’t go to prison. “I felt like the floor had fallen out from under me. It’s one thing to stand there quietly, but another to do that.” But the worst was still to come for the youngest of seven children, as Rabbi Chaim Rapoport took the witness stand.

Rabbi Rapoport called Levy the “embodiment of repentance”, despite the fact that he had pleaded not guilty and was appealing against both his jail sentence and his conviction. When the rabbi was asked what Levy was repenting, he said it was the breach of trust, and added that in Jewish law, “the ages 15, 16, 16.5 would be seen as somewhat arbitrary”. Yehudis added: “He also said that I didn’t matter according to Jewish law, as I was over batmitzvah age at the time. “The only apology he had to give was to his wife. There was an audible gasp in the court and the judge was surprised.

“I was embarrassed and had to explain to police officers next to me that this wasn’t true. “They just wanted to make sure he didn’t get prison time. Nobody had apologised to me.” She continued: “It was quite a monumental day for me. I felt more alone on that day than I had ever done, but more so than before, as I did not know who to trust.”

And this, nearly four years later, still impacts upon her Judaism. Going back to my question about how she follows her religion today, she admits to finding it more difficult talking about that than what happened in the past. She said: “It’s confusing and I don’t know how to explain it, especially coming up to Rosh Hashana. “I’m so conflicted because I want to go to shul and I want to daven, but then I’m confused about davening to a God whom I davened to for so many years, but never helped me. “Do I want to be a part of a community? What does community even mean? “Does it mean they will be there when someone dies in my family, but not when I’ve been sexually abused or raped? Do I feel the same way towards Rosh Hashana as I used to? No.” She added: “I will probably go to shul and it will go over my head as I don’t want to read the English about how we’re all going to be judged and whether we will die by fire or water, because I find it all a bit ludicrous now.

“But I do believe there is a God to some extent because there is a force greater than us humans.” She did point out, however, that it wasn’t all negative, especially looking back before what happened. Yehudis said: “You mourn for the things that you’re used to and the familiarity of it, but you can’t ever go back. “The atmosphere and blissful unawareness of anything as children and young people is lovely. “Is it ideal? No. Would I do that for my children? No. Looking back, it is full of fond memories because it wasn’t tainted then.” Yehudis has, however, turned an incredibly negative experience into a force for good.

After her story came out, she received phone calls and messages from both males and females who had gone through similar experiences. She received a call from an 85-year-old female, who said that she was a victim of sexual abuse, too, and wanted to share her story before she died.

“I asked the men and women that, if I hired a therapist, would they sit together in a room and form a support group? “The women said yes, the men said no. The members realised that they were not alone and they had other members they could share with. “They could work together on issues they related to. “They’ve created friendships beyond the group because they all get each other without being judged in a safe and professional space. It worked and it was amazing.”

She has had to fight another battle when, after approaching communal organisations to take the support groups on, all declined, as it did not fit their remit. But not to be deterred, she set up a charity called Migdal Emunah which aims to provide practical and emotional support in a variety of ways for victims and those affected by the trauma of sexual abuse. And she is taking it to Manchester. She explained: “We are starting a new ladies support group at a Prestwich location in October.

“I’ve had lots of people contacting me who have been through what I’ve been through and they are ready to start and willing to go for it. “We are also launching a helpline that will answer enquiries from anyone and everyone in the community. “We are training a couple of volunteers who will answer the phone, along with myself.” Yehudis comes across as a very determined individual. And it’s that determination that means she will keep going for as long as she has funding.

But can she ever escape what happened to her, or is her life now tied to her experience, essentially defining her future? “I’ve escaped the abuse,” she replied. “Sadly, our community and our society have a stigma around those who were abused. “People imagine the worst and we need to start believing people more — we are strong and have survived something horrific. “That does not mean we are necessarily capable of living a life. “I think I will forever be involved in the sector of sexual violence because I have a massive insight, that many people don’t have, as a victim and a survivor. “I’ve reported it and it has successfully managed to get to trial twice and got a conviction, which is a massive deal in the sector across the country.”

Returning to the subject of her abuser, I asked Yehudis what she would say to him if she were to meet him again. She recalled how she wrote to him pre-Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur before reporting him to the police, to ask him to apologise to her and her parents, in front of a rabbi, to make good on himself, get therapy and create something for victims and survivors — using what happened to create change and a power for good. She received no reply. “I wouldn’t say anything to him now,” Yehudis continued. “It’s not worth it. “I’ve no idea if he’s even aware of the work I’m doing and I don’t care.”

The Community Reacts to Another Scandal

Few people in British Jewry will be unaware of the recent corruption scandal to feature in the news.

We all recognise that criminal behaviour is something that happens in all walks of life and sadly the Jewish community is no different. What is striking though, is the response from our religious leaders.

According to the Jewish News “…it emerged in David’s court case on Monday that Borehamwood’s own Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz had given character testimony on behalf of David, who swindled 55 victims out of £14.5 million.”

“In addition, on the Shabbat before his appearance at Southwark Crown Court, Freddy David, who was given a six-year jail term, was called up at one of Borehamwood’s “boutique” services, its Limmud minyan.”

(To put this into context, both the Shul and the Rabbi have since issued apology letters which have been included at the bottom of this page in their entirety. We will probably never know what knowledge Rabbi Kanterovitz had about the case at the time when he gave his testimony, or how his apology will be received by his victims, some of whom are pensioners who have lost their life savings.)

It is interesting to note that back in November 2016, Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, of Borehamwood and Elstree synagogue, said that that leading members of partnership minyans – traditional services where women take some prayers – should be excluded from some activities in his synagogue.

The same pattern has been seen countless times in abuse cases throughout our communities, particularly when perpetrators are well respected or donate large sums to Jewish causes. Rabbis and religious leaders appear to be more than willing to issue character references in court, or try to minimise the severity of the crimes or even try to persuade judges not to issue jail terms to convicted child sex abusers. At no point are the feelings of innocent victims ever even a consideration. The unimaginable hurt at watching a community led by its Rabbis in ensuring the status of the perpetrator remains intact appears to be an irrelevance. It is shameful that an apology is rarely issued once the truth is laid bare. In fairness to Rabbi Kanterovitz, he has taken responsibility for his actions, but how many apologies from other Rabbis are still long overdue?

It is only right that everyone is entitled to a defense in court, this is provided by professional lawyers. Everyone is also entitled to pastoral support regardless of their crimes, which is why prisons have chaplains. What is not right, is when support is given to a perpetrator or alleged perpetrator, which is at the expense of the victims or even at the expense of justice itself.

A fair judicial process is so fundamental that it is one of the seven Noachite laws and should be respected by all. It is our view that no acting Rabbi should voluntarily involve themselves in a judicial investigation in order to lend support. The scope for creating more hurt to innocent people is enormous and often brings our Jewish community further into disrepute.

We now await the letters of apology from the numerous Rabbis in the UK and elsewhere who have sided with child abusers in court who have since been found guilty. We call upon the Jewish community to encourage such Rabbis to do what is right, before they are afforded the respect that their title entails.

[Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are written by an external party and not necessarily shared by Migdal Emunah]

 

Letters included below:

To my dear beloved community,

Like many of you I read with shock the accounts of the victims of Freddy David – to hear how their lives have been shattered and the way they were deceived is heart-breaking. In the hours since then I have done much reflecting and soul searching and whilst I passionately believe my role as your Rabbi is supporting members who are facing personal challenges and never passing judgement, in this case, and with the benefit of hindsight, I would have acted differently.

Like so many of us, I too did not know all the facts. I truly and sincerely hope that I have not added additional hurt to any of the victims, and if I did I seek their mechila (forgiveness).

I have only ever sought to demonstrate compassion and support to all who need it of me. As I have said many times from the pulpit, our community at BES and our Torah is one of peace and kindness. I will continue to aspire to this as the principal ethos of our community.

I would like to offer my personal support to anyone who has been affected by this terrible crime – I am always here to talk to confidentially. To all the victims, we want you to know that the community is here to help you and shelter you through these troubled times in love and without judgement.

As we approach Ellul, a time for self-reflection, let us ensure that we are not only true before G-d, but also, just as importantly, with our fellow man.

With a heavy heart and tears in my eyes

All my love

Rabbi Kanterovitz

—-

Dear Member,

By now you will have no doubt have read the news about Freddy David’s sentencing. I felt as Chairman that I wanted to write to the community at this time and also lend my support to the letter from Rabbi Kanterovitz below.

Like you I am appalled and aghast reading the victim statements in the press, some of whom I know are our members. I want to offer them our community’s full support and if anyone would like to be in touch with us in the strictest of confidence to discuss how we can help, please know that I am available.

I will also be reaching out to Mr David’s family who are innocent victims of these crimes and I know that our whole community will join me in offering them whatever support we can at this difficult time.

I want to clarify that neither BES, the HOs or the United Synagogue have issued any letters of support or character for Freddy David and that any issued by our members or employees were done so in a personal capacity without knowledge or consultation with the HOs who would have guided against it.

Over the past couple of days, I have rightly fielded a number of calls and emails from members concerned around the perceived position of the community with regard to calling up Mr David on Shabbat in the Limmud Minyan. Mr David should not have been called up. Although there was guidance in place by the Honorary Officers this perhaps should have been clearer. There was absolutely no malicious intent on the part of those involved and this call up does not reflect BES policy. Indeed, I will be reviewing protocol to ensure we learn from this and take all necessary steps to ensure communications are clear enough to avoid any misunderstanding in the future.

Finally, and most importantly, I know that the victims of this crime will live with the ramifications for many years. Let me reiterate to those victims in our community and of course to Mr David’s family that we are here to offer you comfort and, where possible, support through this terrible time.

I feel as a community we are tarnished somewhat by the actions of our members and so would ask us all to redouble our efforts in what BES is famous for, caring for each other in good times and bad and being rigorous in our pursuit of innovation and communal harmony.

Kind regards

Simon

Simon Mitchell
Chair, BES

 

August 2018

A Zero Tolerance Approach

Anti-semitism is a regular topic of conversation amongst Jewish people. Recently, in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has been heavily criticised for his (in)actions and words on this subject. Often you will hear the sound-bite from Jewish Leaders and activists, that there should be a “zero tolerance approach” towards anti-Semitism and anti-Semites.

(This picture was taken from https://antisemitism.uk/act/labour-hold-corbyn-to-account/ )

Most law-abiding citizens would agree, however, that child sex abuse is an horrific crime and one that certainly should fit into the criteria of having a zero tolerance apporoach. But is this actually the case in our communities?

In order to satisfy a zero tolerance approach towards child sex abuse, all abusers must be brought to justice and all alleged abusers must face a fair and independent investigation by the police (and subsequently face trial if necessary). Despite this sounding seemingly obvious, there are large swathes of our Jewish communities that fall down at this basic first hurdle. Even in the UK there have been numerous cases where abusers have received financial aid from the community, organised communal shunning against victims and their families, and in some cases witness intimidation.

An often neglected part of the elusive zero tolerance approach regards the enablers of abuse. These are the people who cover up or try to minimise the abuse, or help abusers escape to a difference country (as has happened countless times). It is irrelevant what their motivation is, the intended (and often achived) outcome is to prevent the abuser from facing justice and leaving open the very likely possibility that the abuser will be free to abuse other innocent victims.

Enabling of abuse can take many forms and is certainly not restricted to the above. Again, many communities are happy for enablers to operate freely. Often, enablers are even appointed for this very purpose and are usually placed in positions of significant influence and seniority. In many cases enablers operate within the law (or is very difficult to provide enough evidence of illegal behaviour), and whilst there may not be any practical legal recourse, this doesn’t mean that communities do not need to operate responsibly in preventing enablers from averting justice.

To genuinely claim to have zero tolerance requires the calling out of enablers and anyone who supports the enablers. As noted previously, enablers usually rely on their communal influence to achieve their objective. As such, once it is known that a person is an enabler, they should not be given any platform within the community unless they have publicly and sincerely retracted their support for the abuser(s), and apologised to their victims. They should not be afforded any respect above anyone else, and where possible (there may be legal implications preventing this), they should be removed from all positions of communal authority even in unrelated matters. It is not possible to have enablers of abuse maintaining any level of authoritative respect and still claim that the community is zero tolerance when it comes to child sex abuse.

Zero tolerance means abusers must not be tolerated and enablers must not be tolerated. Protecting abusers, and respecting those who have enabled abuse, only allows abusers to create more victims.

If we, as a community, rightly demand a zero tolerance attitude towards anti-Semitism, shouldn’t we demand the same standards towards child sex abuse in order to protect our children?

Whilst Jeremy Corbyn receives condemnation for not adequately addressing the problems within his party, how many of us are guilty of the doing the exact same thing? Maybe his Passover message should encourage us to take a look at ourselves in the same light?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9JpqCmMFNM




Jewish ISVA up for an award

Yehudis Goldsobel has been put forward for the first national award for independent sexual violence advisors writes the Jewish News

A charity support worker for Jewish victims of sexual abuse has been nominated for the first national award for independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs).

Yehudis Goldsobel, who works for the charity Migdal Emunah and who has exposed problems in the Jewish community, has been shortlisted for the LimeLight Award for Outstanding Achievement.

The advisors help victims understand the criminal justice process, explain what happens when reporting an offence to the police, and stress the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval. Cultural sensitivities are crucial, and Yehudis is the only qualified Jewish IVSA in the UK and works across the entire religious spectrum of the Jewish community.

The award recognises excellence, dedication and commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence, and Yehudis said: “I am delighted that the value of my work with Migdal Emunah is being recognised in the wider community. It is very powerful to be now supporting individuals though the trauma associated with sexual abuse and to be guiding people through the challenges and daunting nature of the legal process.”

The awards will be announced at the National Conference for ISVAs ‘Knowledge and Network’ on Wednesday 28 September.

About Abuse

When we entrust the education and care of our children to members of the community, group leaders, teachers, neighbours, private tutors or babysitters, we assume that they are trustworthy because they are qualified or are ‘nice neighbours’.

Children are by nature more trusting and have not yet developed the maturity and worldliness to foster the necessary suspicion to keep them safe. The responsibility is naturally placed upon the parents.

Abuse is a taboo topic. This isn’t generally a subject mentioned at any stage whether it’s in school, dating and later on, marriage and children. This causes the additional pressure on any victim against coming forward for fear of being a ‘moiser/informer’ and the potential of ruining their own shidduch/dating prospects.

Abuse can and does happen within the Jewish community and unfortunately there is not yet a system in place that assists in dealing with it. Abuse, like disease and mental illness, has the ability to occur in any home.

There are no typical victims of child abuse; any child can be victimised, however, many preventative measures are put in place.

It behoves each parent and guardian to educate themselves in preventative measures, as well as a procedure for the after effects in accordance with English law.

Until we educate ourselves the unfortunate cycle of abuse will continue.

What is Migdal Emunah?

Migdal Emunah launched in February 2013, providing a support service for Jewish victims of sexual abuse and their families.

We provide practical and emotional support in a variety of ways for victims and those affected by the trauma of sexual abuse.

Migdal Emunah actively engages in raising awareness of Sexual Abuse and challenging the myths and taboos surrounding abuse.

Migdal Emunah works across all denominations of the Jewish Community. We offer services to meet the needs of our clients including, access to advice, advocacy and support. Clients are regularly reviewed to ensure they are benefiting and working well.

Migdal Emunah is a voluntary agency and a registered charity. We are therefore able to link in with the statutory services as well as other voluntary agencies for the benefit of our clients.

Migdal Emunah provides impartial and professional services, including access to a trained Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA), trained counsellors, sex therapist, family therapists and childrens therapist. We also provide access to rabbinical advice, legal advice and psychologists.

All Migdal Emunah representatives have received extensive professional training and highly experienced, in order that we can offer the highest standard of service and independent client care to individuals and families who contact us for help.