Thursday, 30 December 2010

Katsav: Victims' Victory

Today Israel is reeling in shock from the Moshe Katsav guilty verdict.

Like everyone else, my initial reaction to this first-impact shock is transient, and is unlikely to resemble my thoughts and feelings in a week, a month or a year.

That said, here we go…

The victims were heard.

Even above the voice of Moshe Katsav, the President of Israel himself, his expensive lawyers, Establishment support and hitherto popularity.

A mere secretary, and an 18 year old national service volunteer, had the tremendous guts to accuse the most prestigious man in the country of disgusting crimes - but for which there were no other witnesses.

Her word, against His.

On this absolutely uneven playing field, these women stuck to their guns, and remarkably the legal system found their word to be true, and Him to be a liar and sex offender.

This represents a tremendous Victory for Sex Abuse Victims Everywhere.

It also is a remarkable victory for Israel’s system of Justice.

The President is the highest position of honour in the State of Israel. He is the symbol of the Establishment. The values which are the very foundations of the State. The fact he was the first sephardi president of Israel, was an additional source of pride for the Presidential institution

Nevertheless, the Justice system treated Moshe Katsav like any other alleged criminal.

I hope this will encourage the thousands of other sex-abuse victims, who have not yet had the courage to stand up and now bring formal complaints against their abusers, all of who seem 'presidential' (stronger, higher authority, more credible, etc) in the eyes of their abused victims.

In Israel, sex crime victims WILL be heard, and justice CAN be done. However powerful the offender.

Overwhelming Arrogance

One must also acknowledge the overwhelming arrogance of this sex offender.

In June 2007, Moshe Katsav was offered a plea bargain which, in retrospect, was outrageously generous to the ex-President. According to the deal, Katsav would plead guilty to several counts of sexual harassment and indecent acts and receive a suspended jail sentence, and pay compensation to two of his victims.

However, Katsav rejected the deal, and his lawyers resigned.

Katzav knew the truth, and he knew he was guilty. Nevertheless, he exhibited mind boggling arrogance in rejecting that plea bargain, insisting that he was totally innocent of the charges, and would prove that in court.

Such arrogance is not unusual amongst abusers – I have myself seen such men, guilty as sin, with overwhelming evidence against them, yet they claim self-righteousness to such a degree, they apparently believe their own lies.

So, this day, today,  is a day of both shame and pride for we Israelis.

Shame that a President of Israel is a vile sex offender – and will presumably sit in prison for many years for his despicable crimes.

And pride, that the small voice of the abused women was heard and heeded, above the awe of the President’s position - by the Israeli Justice system.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

After the Murder - Documentary about Illegal Arab Workers in Bet Shemesh

Following the murder on 18th December of Kaye Susan Wilson, an American tourist, in the hills near Beit Shemesh, Israel's Channel Two News aired this short documentary piece about the illegal Arab workers in Beit Shemesh.

Rabbi Dov Lipman is rallying concerned citizens to protest the presence in the town of potentially dangerous illegals.
To sign the peition (preferably in Hebrew): 

Here is the TV clip, about the illegal workers in Beit Shemesh...

Friday, 24 December 2010

"Jihad Bells!" - Season's Greetings from Bethlehem

Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant!!

"We Didn't Start The Fire!"

Bet Shemesh Weekly News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman

Last Saturday night, residents of RBS Bet saw two suspicious Arabs enter one of the buildings of the construction site in Kiryat Belz, right in the beginning of RBS Bet.  They alerted police who immediately suspected that they could have been involved in the horrible murder of the US citizen in the woods near Bet Shemesh.  On Sunday afternoon, plain clothed police raided the site and ended up arresting two suspects in the murder.  The police have not released any further information.  (DL - Once the police release all the information, I will be organizing a mass public outcry regarding the illegal workers throughout the city, and especially those who linger at the entrance to RBS Bet and in other locations throughout the day.  I will send out all the information once our mode of action is finalized.) 


The city has hired Shlomi Revivo to direct a local program focused on preventative measures to keep city youth away from alcohol and drug use.  Shlomi will be running numerous programs and will be speaking at all local schools.  The kickoff event for this new program was held this week with a presentation from Tamir Lion, recognized nationally for his work on preventing these abuses.  He highlighted a few things which parents must do to insure that their children never lapse into a mode where they feel a need to turn to these destructive behaviors:
1)Children cannot have any "screens" in their bedrooms - no computer, television, x box type game unit, or video ipod.

2)When parents are spending time with children, they should show the children that they are turning off the cell phone.  Answering the phone and telling the caller that you are busy spending time with your child already makes the child feel unimportant.
3)Families should sit together and just talk without food or games for 30 minutes each week.  At first the children feel awkward about it but, after a while, they start asking for it.
4)Don't make frequent calls or write constant sms messages to your children who have cell phones to make sure they are ok.  They have to learn that they are ok and can be trusted and independent.
5)Children need to learn to read quietly in their down time and they will likely only do so if they see their parents reading.
6)Until the age of 18, children need from 8-12 hours of sleep and should be eating a healthy diet with a really good meal to start their days and not too much sugar anytime.

The national fire chief, Shimon Romach, joined mayor Abutbol and the council heads of Mateh Yehuda and Mevaseret Tzion this past week in a ceremony thanking volunteers of the Bet Shemesh Fire department for their work in the North during the Carmel fire.  Deputy Mayor, Meir Balayish (Dor Acher) presented the chief with a plaque thanking him for the help he has provided to the local station. 

Local residents continue to be fined very high amounts for illegal construction and additions.  One family was fined 120,000 NIS for constructing on top of the roof of the building.  The man claims that people told him that the permits would be taken care of, but, as it turns out, no one ever issued the permits.  The courts fined two other families 50,000 NIS for construction on their roofs.  Amazingly, with all the violations being uncovered, illegal activities on a municipal level may be continuing.  City councilman Natan Sheetrit (Likud) has charged that councilman Moshe Montag (Degel Hatorah) who holds the construction portfolio is trying to find ways to enable people to add floors to their buildings as well as granting permits when they should not be granted.  Sheetrit sent copies of these charges to the State Comptroller and the Interior Ministry. 

The transportation ministry and the Bet Shemesh municipality are embarking on a major project to improve traffic in the city.  As a first step, a city wide poll will begin this week.  Residents will be called and asked questions regarding how often you use public transportation, where you generally travel to, what modes of transportation you use, etc.  The municipality asks that residents please give pollsters the time to do their jobs properly so they can have the information needed to improve the quality of our transportation. 

The city will be producing "resident cards" as part of its celebration of 60 years of Bet Shemesh.  These cards will enable residents to benefit from reduced prices in 60 local stores during the month of January.  Local businesses who want to apply to be one of the 60 stores chosen for this program should call 077-350-6161.  Residents should be on the lookout for information regarding how to receive these cards and where they can be used. 


A new local program will come into fruition this Sunday night when 120 local college students will receive grants from 5,000-8,000 NIS.  The students have committed to volunteer in the city's schools in various capacities throughout the year in return for the grants.  City councilman Richard Peres (Labor) arranged for this program in the 2010 budget and has announced that the program will be included in the 2011 budget, hopefully with increases in the amounts of money and students involved. 

This week's city council meeting began with the possibility of not erupting into the usual pandemonium but it quickly deteriorated.  The Mayor opened the meeting by quoting from a report in Haaretz and "themarker" that Bet Shemesh is one of three cities in Israel "on the rise."  This led to great cynism from the opposition members leading councilman Moshe Montag (Degel HaTorah) to scream out to a secular council member, "See, even in the Demarker they see that we (the chareidim) are eating you up."  After things calmed down, the Mayor proudly announced that the Culture Hall will be built on its planned location and, while opposition members pointed out that there was no need for any drama or committees which the Mayor created, everyone praised the project in unison.  Councilman Richard Peres (Labor) announced that the project should reach its completion within 20 months from the start of construction which should be in the coming months.  It was also announced that the new City Hall complex will be built in Old Bet Shemesh next to the Sheiber gym where there are currently numerous city offices.   This will be voted on formally in the next council meeting.   The rest of the meeting included nothing of major significance but still managed to erupt into shouting matches between coalition and opposition members and even some jabs between coalition members.  At one point, a person who was watching the meeting outside of city hall (meetings are broadcast on a screen outside the building) actually came into the room and asked, "Do you know that you look like a bunch of clowns out there and people are watching?"  If anyone wants to know when a council meeting is taking place, please e-mail me and I will inform you when the next one is scheduled.   


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Child & Domestic Abuse

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:   
or from Amazon: 

Abuse Victim/Survivor Speaks Out

Pini Taub Speaks Out:

This is well worth taking a few minutes to watch BOTH parts.

Part One

Part Two

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Bet Shemesh Weekly News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman

Deputy Mayor Shmulik Greenberg (Degel Hatorah) sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu this past week, in which he outlined the inadequacies of the Bet Shemesh fire department, in light of the attention being given to the issue nationally.  According to the Jewish National Fund, the forests in the region under the responsibility of the Bet Shemesh Fire Department (the city, Mateh Yehuda, Mevaseret Tzion, Abu Gosh, and Kiryat Yearim) holds 30% of the country's forest land.  And yet, the station has less than 50% of the fire trucks mandated for that much land and an area with a population of around 200,000 residents and most of the trucks are 20-25 years old with no new acquisitions in the last 12 years.  Greenberg asked the Prime Minister to please take the Bet Shemesh region into account in any restructuring, upgrades, and general changes made in the wake of the Carmel tragedy.
Bet Shemesh made a significant contribution to the effort in the North during the terrible Carmel fires.  Twenty eight firemen from the local station travelled to the Carmel where they fought the fires alongside firemen from Bulgaria, communicating mostly in sign language since only one of the Bulgarian firemen knew English.  Aside from firemen and equipment, Rabbi Yehuda Medizadeh, head of the local religious council, led a small delegation which travelled to lift the spirits of those who were evacuated from their homes, leading them in song and dance for Chanukah and giving out sweets to the children.
Israel trains has announced that there will be no train service from the Bet Shemesh train station starting today and continuing through and including next Thursday, December 16th, due to construction to upgrade the service south of Tel Aviv.  Shuttles will be provided to the Modiin station and the trains leaving from Modiin will include extra cars to accommodate the passengers from Bet Shemesh.
More than 300 Ethiopian olim gathered this week to unify the different sects and begin working together to demand their rights.  The gathering was organized by a group of well educated and talented Ethiopian young adults who started a group called "Masala" which means "role model."  Ethiopian attorney and local resident, Emmanuel Hadna, has emerged as a leader and unifier in the community and the firm that he works for, under the direction of Bentzi Hacohen, even offered its services and offices as a free service for the community's efforts.   Within a day of the gathering, city workers contacted Emmanuel to find out how they can be of help - clearly indicating that the gathering was a tremendous success.
Mayor Abutbol will be available to take phone calls from city residents this coming Sunday morning between 10:00a.m. and 11:00a.m.  People who want to speak to the Mayor should begin calling 990-9841 at 9:00a.m.  He will also have the city manager and department heads with him on the phone lines.
The tensions over the proposed culture hall in Migdal Hamayim have been settled and the center will be built in the originally planned location between Nachala Umenucha and the Matnas.  The committee established by the Mayor to discuss the center's location, led by city councilman Richard Peres (Labor), met with representatives of the Nachala Umenucha community who had problems with the plans and worked out a compromise in which the building will be moved 20 meters further north, to distance it a bit further from Nachala Umenucha.  This change in plans will cost tens of thousands of shekalim but will not alter the timeline for the center's construction.  The tender process to award the project to a contractor will begin shortly.
The 27th of Kislev marked the 60th anniversary of the arrival of families from Poland and Armenia to the Har Tuv area which began the formal settlement of this region, eventually developing into the city of Bet Shemesh.  A worker from the Jewish Agency brought these families bread and milk and they lived under very difficult conditions.  Over time immigrants from all over the world began moving to the region and "the rest is history."

In the third such case in as many months, another Anglo man has been arrested in Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph under suspicion of child sex abuse.  A 29 year old American tourist was recently arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl, and two teenage boys.  According to Walla news-service, the man's custody was extended to enable the police to further investigate.
Beyond the published information, the man is apparently from Brooklyn, NY, and he was lodging with an anglo family on Nahal SoreK. The alleged incidents apparently took place in the Ayalon Park and in the host family's apartment.

This follows the arrest two months ago of another English speaking RBS resident, on Nachal Dolev, in connection with multiple allegations of sex crimes against local children. That resident was released to house-arest.  

In an earlier case, around Sukkot, an English speaking resident of  Ramat Bet Shemesh was arrested under allegations of sexually abusing several minors. The man was placed under house arrest during the police investigation.

All three cases are now under active police investigation.

If you have any information which can assist the police with these or any other suspicions of child abuse, please call the Bet Shemesh police (9902222); you can also contact Magen, the new Child Protection Organization in Bet Shemesh/RBS, for information and practical advice about Child Abuse:

Sunday, 5 December 2010

On The Run... in Our Direction

If you see these people, please call the police immediately, as they have reportedly fled from New York to Israel to evade arrest in connection with child sex abuse allegations. 
(From the Wall Street Journal. Full article HERE
The former rabbi of a Brooklyn school for boys is believed to have fled to Israel after police identified him and three of his sons as suspects in the sexual abuse of the rabbi's four daughters, authorities said Friday.
Gershon Kranczer, 58 years old, allegedly boarded a flight from Kennedy Airport destined for Israel on Monday along with his 21-year-old son Asher, after an informant told police that Mr. Kranczer had allegedly engaged in a prolonged sexual relationship with at least one of his daughters, police said. Asher, who a law-enforcement official said is legally blind, is being investigated in the sexual abuse of three of his sisters, police said.
"We are seeking the exact whereabouts and return from Israel of the two men," top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
Two other sons, Yechezkel, 24, and a 15-year-old whose name was being withheld by authorities because of his age, have been arrested and charged with sexually abusing their sisters, police said.
Yechezkel, who recently got married and moved out of the family's two-story house, has been charged with multiple counts of sexual abuse. The 15-year-old son has been charged with the sexual abuse of his 8-year-old sister. It wasn't known immediately whether the two had attorneys; they were awaiting arraignment late Friday.

Rav Moshe Soloveichik: Report Child Abuse to the Police!

Rav Moshe Soloveichik of Chicago recently spoke at an conference organized by the Jewish Board for Advocacy for Children, dealing with sex abuse in the Orthodox world.

Rav Soloveichik's impassioned speech attacks the policy, still current in many orthodox Jewish communities, that child abuse should be dealt with as an internal community matter, and that victims and their families should be actively dissuaded (he mentions threats to the shidduchim of their children, etc) from reporting to the authorities.   

I have witnessed such policies, very close to home, and the damage they have caused our children.

Kudos to Rav Moshe Soloveichik for standing up and declaring, without nuance or ambiguity, "go immediately to the police!!".

Friday, 3 December 2010

Bet Shemesh Weekly News

By Rabbi Dov Lipman


Christian Wulff, Germany's newly elected president, visited Bet Shemesh this past week as part of his official state visit to Israel. Wulff visited the Solel company which was purchased recently by the international company Seamens. The president responded to Mayor Abutbol's warm welcome by saying that he hopes the visit to Bet Shemesh will help strengthen the relationship between Israel and Germany in the hi-tech realm like solar energy.


Gila Gamliel (Likud), Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for youth and young adults, visited Bet Shemesh this week. The visit began in the Mayor's office where the Mayor summarized the youth activities in the city after which she met with some of the leaders of these groups. Gamliel announced that her office has allocated funds for Bet Shemesh to run more activities for youth groups and young adults in its 2011 budget. 


The string of school robberies continued this week with robberies in Bet Sefer Harel and Shalev in RBS Aleph. The security alarm sounded in Bet Sefer Harel after the burglars cut through the shutters and security personnel rushed to the scene to find that the intruders had fled. The alarm system did not work at Bet Sefer Shalev and the robbers walked off with a lot of school property, aside from the significant damage they caused inside the building. 

I must mention the petition regarding this issue which we want to send to the Knesset by the end of next week. Everyone is encouraged to sign the petition at (please try to sign your names in Hebrew letters) and to ask 2 or 3 others to sign.


Israel Trains has reported a significant reduction in train use from Bet Shemesh.  Most are attributing this to the lack of parking facilities near the train station.  While countrywide, there has been a 10% increase in train travel from last year to this year, in Bet Shemesh the month of July showed a decrease of 14,000 this year compared to last, August a 28,000 decrease in passengers, and 2,000 less passengers for September.  City residents have circulated a petition calling on the Mayor to do something to allow for parking near the station, especially in the empty lot where the new BIG will eventually be built.

Bet Shemesh has been chosen by the Health Ministry as one of the cities in a pilot program to provide dental care to children of gan age.  The ministry will be providing tens of thousands of shekalim to provide for this service which will save parents the costs of these dental visits.  The hope is that this will actually save the parents far more than the price of these checkups since early intervention will prevent problems from developing during the elementary and high school years.


Two new fire stations will be opening in the near future to address the need for more than the one area fire station which currently exists in Old Bet Shemesh.  In a few months, a new station will be opening in Ramat Bet Shemesh.  This station will include nine firefighters who will rotate in three shifts and they will be equipped with one fire truck.  The fire station at the Ayala junction will be reopening (it has been closed for 8 years) with 6 firefighters and one fire truck.  The number of workers and trucks in the Bet Shemesh station will also be increased.

Over 250 gabaim from shuls throughout Bet Shemesh and RBS gathered together this past week for a special event which unified all the shuls in the city.  Representatives from both chareidi and dati shuls were present together with the city leadership.  Some practical issues which arose were finding ways to give shuls and mikvaot reductions in water payments as well as finding ways to provide shuls with funding for operational budgets.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Another Arrest in Ramat Bet Shemesh on Child Sex Abuse Allegations

In the third such case in as many months, another anglo-saxon (English speaking) man has been arrested in Ramat Bet Shemesh Aleph under suspicion of child sex abuse.

This past Friday night, a 29 year old American tourist was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl, and two teenage boys. According to Walla news-service, the man’s custody was extended in court yesterday (Tuesday), to enable the police to further investigate.

Beyond the published information, the man apparently is from Brooklyn, NY, and he was lodging with an anglo family on Nahal Soreq, Ramat Bet Shemesh. The alleged incidents apparently took place in the Ayalon Park and in the host family’s apartment. The man is apparently from a prestigious rabbinical family in NY.

This arrest follows the arrest several weeks ago of a 60 yo English speaking man at his home on Nahal Dolev, who allegedly operated also in the area of Nahal Revivim. This man is alleged to have committed sex crimes against minors. The man was remanded in custody for about a week, before being transferred to house arrest.

In an earlier case, around Sukkot, an English speaking resident of  Ramat Bet Shemesh was arrested under allegations of sexually abusing several minors. The man was placed under house arrest during the police investigation.

All three cases are now under active police investigation.

Other police investigations have been opened in the past few months against several other Bet Shemesh and Ramat Bet Shemesh residents, including residents of Givat Sharett, Nahal Lachish, Nahal Uria, Shvil Hagichon, Nahal Kishon and other locations, all on allegations of child abuse. 

A convicted sex offender has also recently completed 2 years in prison for child sex abuse crimes, and has now returned to his home in Ramat Bet Shemesh.

Yet another Ramat Bet Shemesh resident, was convicted of sex abuse against children (incest), and is serving out a prison sentence.

Furthermore, a resident of Nahal Soreq, Ramat Bet Shemesh, has recently been found guilty in court on child abuse charges, and is now serving an 18 year sentence; this man is not expected to return to Ramat Bet Shemesh any time soon.

My Comment: There is a traditional attitude in all communities that "it can't happen here". This approach has been discredited time and again.

However, there is now the approach that, "Yes, of course it happens, even in the best of communities, but... "it can't happen in MY shul", "it can't happen on MY street", and "it can't happen in MY (extended) family".

In fact, the situation in the field is that, regretfully,  a more realistic approach is "I must assume there is one in my shul", "I must assume there is one on my street" and "I must assume there is one in my (extended) family".

Because this is the reality. And every parent, and every child should be aware of the risks, and take appropriate and informed steps to better protect themselves and their families. The most effective defence, is awareness.

If you have any information which can assist the police with these or any other suspicions of child abuse, please call the Bet Shemesh police (9902222); you can also contact Magen, the new Child Protection Organization in Bet Shemesh/RBS, for information and practical advice about Child Abuse: