Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that the great taboos of Jewish communal life, child sex abuse and wife abuse, would be the subject of an exhaustive and authoritative book by Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn, an important rabbi and scholar.
On the other hand, the fact that no Jewish book publisher was willing to even stock this important book, nor was any other rabbi willing to give the book a public haskama, shows that even this erudite and passionate work, is more akin to just the first step of Chairman Mao’s Great March. Regretfully, there is much more work to be done in bringing more sunlight to this methodically hidden aspect of Jewish communal life.
Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn’s powerful two volume book Child & Domestic Abuse reveals the horrors of child abuse and wife beating in the orthodox Jewish community. Rabbi Eidensohn has collected a series of articles by psychologists, lawyers, abuse survivors, communal activists and rabbis. In addition, in the second volume, Rabbi Eidensohn has provided extensive halachik sources, in original Hebrew and now translated into English, showing that Rav Eidensohn’s refreshing and open approach to dealing with these problems is neither new, per se, nor revolutionary.
One of the most striking aspects of the book, is the descriptions of the catastrophic effects of sex abuse upon children.
It is indeed surprising for the lay reader, that acts which are surely disgusting, but would not appear especially damaging – such as ‘inappropriate touching’ – can entirely devastate a child.
The litany of serious conditions which have resulted from child sex abuse include: Suicide; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Borderline Personality Disorders; Dissociative Identity Disorder; changes in Brain Structures and Functions…etc. In addition, for orthodox Jews, sex abuse frequently results in dropping the faith entirely and abandoning the Jewish community; of children off-the-derech, up to 85% have been reported as having origins in sex abuse of the child.
Rabbi Eidensohn also addresses the still-stubborn issue of reporting suspicions of child abuse to the authorities. Regretfully, observance of the law, which requires that suspicions of child abuse be reported to the police/social services, are still not practiced in many quarters of the orthodox community.
This has resulted in untold (literally) misery for hundreds of child abuse victims, and the enablement of the child abusers to operate freely, often for decades, in the heart of orthodox communities, yeshivas/schools, summer camps, synagogues and mikvas.
Rabbi Eidensohn quotes his own rabbi, Rav Moshe Sternbuch:
“When the rabbi consulted says not to go to the police…It is clear that this view has no basis in Jewish law…..any rav who would say such a thing is not a practicing rav.”
Rabbi Eidensohn's excellent book is a Must Read for mental health professionals, abuse survivors, community activists and lay leaders, educators, and all community rabbis.
Order your copy of "Child & Domestic Abuse", by Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn: https://www.createspace.com/3493457
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