"Breaking The Silence"

Guest Writer: Dr Gerald Weinberger, MD, 
Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem

Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community

      It is rare that a victim of sexual abuse is given a hero’s welcome when seeking help concerning  an abuser.  All too often , rather than being comforted and  recognized  as courageous, the victim is turned a cold shoulder and treated  as if he/she is  the  troublemaker, while the perpetrator, teacher, Rabbi, care-giver or family member, etc…. is protected by the small or larger community.

The community response is usually  “ how can a man’s livelihood, reputation and family be defamed and undermined because of an aberrant sexual act” without a clue as to the life damage abuse causes.

        Drs. Mandel and Pelcovitz,  and the courageous and  expert group of principled authors, who have contributed to “Breaking the Silence”, shine the light of Jewish Law (Halacha),and   fearless integrity into the dark denial and confusion that cloud this area of life.

         Drs. Mandel and Pelcovitz  remind us what the Halachic priorities area concerning the issue of  dealing with the issue of sexual abuse.

1.      Victims are not the guilty party.
2.      Victims deserve loving support and care and above all else protection from
from the abuser.

3. Predators/ abusers are the guilty parties, First and foremost they must be  removed from their position  of the  power to abuse, should be  stringently monitored, supervised and/or  prosecuted.
            Dr. Mandel and Pelcovitz have rendered an invaluable service to   the Jewish community.  The “halacha” is clear. Letting people know of abuse/abusers does not constitute “Lashon
Hara.”.  Parents, teachers, children, adolescents and adults must be educated  to
identify  abusers, and to avoid the pitfalls of  false mercy and sympathy that too often  serve to  perpetuate the heinous crime of  sex abuse and its results.

 The authors make it abundantly clear that Rabbis, community leaders…. and every one of us  have an obligation to remain faithful to Halacha even if a “shul” member or someone in a position of power  is the culprit.  First and foremost the “Tzelem Elokim”of an individual must be protected. Our commitment to do what is just should not be confounded.

“ Breaking the Silence” is truly a vital publication and  a “halachic” and social community resource. It should be read.; its appearance is a true “Kiddush Hashem”

“Breaking the Silence” is a breakthrough in the area of dealing with abuse in the Jewish community.

                                                      Dr. Gerald Weinberger


  1. Silence Because There is No Problem21 July 2011 at 19:56

    There is sex abuse in the Jewish community? Since when?

    Our rabbonim say that it doesn't happen so it must be that it doesn't happen.

  2. Maybe pass on a few copies to certain rabbonim in the neighborhood.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Silence Because: "...our rabbonim say it doesn't happen"

    Actually, I haven't heard a rabbi in recently times claim it never happens.

    This used to be the approach - "such things don't happen in our communities".

    However, this approach has become as absurd as trying to stop the tide coming in with a teaspoon.

    Therefore, all rabbonim I know of admit it CAN happen.

    It's just that when it DOES happen, some of these rabbonim go into "circle the waggons" defensive mode.

    Defend the reputation of the perp, of the shul, school, commmunity, whatever..and even blame the victim for "being troublesome".

    Control, Minimise, Make It Go Away.

  5. Agudat Israel's lame statement about davar raglayim/telling rebeim of molestations is a bassakwards admission that today's rabbis are not authority figures who can influence bad guys. IN the old days, a bad Jew was run out of town or denied aliyot l'Torah. So instead the rabinic perps prey on compliant suckers who take the godawful "advice" and have yet to realize the nightmare they bring to their children. When children can't depend on parental protection because the rabbi said "NO," the young victim has just cause for leaving the Torah life causing his/her continued suffering. If you think the altar weeps for divorces, consider the bawling HaShem makes for child molestation victims. His own PR team is facilitating sex crimes on innocent children!!!!


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