Showing posts from January, 2018

Reading the Body Language of Long-Term Ritual Abuse Victims: Bombard's Body Language

Bombard's Body Language is a video series by a woman who goes by Bombard (no first name that I can locate). Her videos are stunningly engaging; she herself claims to be a victim of abuse.

In this particular video, she analyzes two interviews of self-proclaimed survivors of long-term ritual abuse, whom she clearly believes, although she does not take every claim they make literally.

Bombard categorizes the outcomes for such victims as follows:
Abuse others - to take their power back"Stay away from it""Fight those that are perpetrating it" -- "those are the people that I think are saveable (sic)...their empathy side of the brain was not destroyed. They feel for the other people. They know what it's like and do not want to put others in that position." "There's no rehab for someone" who gets high on abusing others.

I. Survivor #1 (I do not have the name), survivor of long-term ritual abuse, which allegedly began at age 2. This survivor sa…

Seizing The Momentum Of Long-Term Change

For about 60 years, the Pew Research Center has asked Americans the same question: "Do you trust the government in Washington to do what is right 'just about always' or 'most of the time'?"

During President Obama's tenure, the moving average ranged from 17 to 25%. As of December 4, 2017, nearly a year into President Trump's Administration, the figure remained low, at 18%.

There are of course many theories about why public opinion swings the way it does. One can go back to the twentieth century and do a forensic analysis, matching polls to policies, and surely there will be patterns.

But from where I sit, the single most obvious reason for public anger has to do with a process issue: While a democracy is supposed to be accountable to the people, increasingly the people do not know what's going on.

Worse, when they want to find out what's going on, or seek redress, the simplest request turns out to be utterly complicated: One needs a virtual ou…

Misusing The Torah To Enable Child Predators

Incredibly, Jewish Community Watch, a wonderful organization that protects children from child sex predators within the community, is being taken to a religious court (Beis Din) for warning people about the presence of a pedophile. Prior to this, a well known child safety advocate, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, was also sued by a predator for doing the same thing.

Imagine a religious system that not only knowingly shelters and shields pedophiles over an extended period of time, going out of its way to protect adults about whom legitimate concern has been expressed, attacking victim advocates like the heroic Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, and even attacking the victims and their families to the point where they even have to move out of town!

It is well-documented that pedophiles are serial abusers, because they cannot control their impulses, and are therefore never able to work around children (here's a list of characteristics to watch for). Rehabilitating them into the community should never in…

Government "Good News" Stories Should Come Directly From The Citizen

She worked as a babysitter for a doctor who works at the NIH.

All her life had been about money, the money, the money.

Her diagnosis was: brain cancer, three months to live, there was nothing they could do about it. The disease had spread to the brain.

She did not speak English well, and a relative who had been educated in the United States and was familiar with the NIH somehow got the word to them. Maybe it was a note in a campus bulletin; how this happened is unclear.
“A woman has brain cancer and her case is terminal. Does anybody need help with a clinical trial?” Miraculously, one doctor contacted the person who told me this story.
"Where is the patient?" They did all the tests.
“This will not save your life. But it will add time. No less than two years.” The drug cost $20,000. The NIH would not pay for it.

But by the grace of God, the health insurance did, and the patient got the medicine and went into hospice.

Every six months they evaluated her:  “She isn’t even clos…

You Can't Have It Both Ways

Recently a young woman went public about her encounter with the comedian Aziz Ansari (Headline: "I Went On A Date With Aziz Ansari. It Turned Into The Worst Night Of My Life.")

This young woman's rant was especially offensive to me in light of the actual sexual assault that plagues the lives of so many women and young girls, and about which feminists are so often curiously silent.

(There is a silent clique, it seems, which picks which victims are worthy of support and which aren't, and no links are included here so as to avoid having any debate over this post degenerating into a discussion of the merits of any particular case.)

The point is, here is a woman who went on a date and made herself sexually available, and things went downhill, everybody regretted it and Anzari apologized. No crime is claimed here; no charges were filed; he even called her a cab.

"The worst night of my life?"

Just this morning I read the victim impact statement of Rachel Denholla…

In Search of the Radical Middle

So I’m in the coffee shop as usual getting my coffee and it is warm-ish and I’m annoyed.

The coffee shop is nearby the White House and two men in business suits are sitting and talking to each other. Each one has their own table and they’re talking across the tables, so loud.

The first man says to the second man that he has an appointment at the White House.

“Oh, really!” says the second.

At which point they start talking politics.

“I come from California, where you can literally get in trouble just for following the law,” says A.

“I hear you,” says B. “I’m a Democrat, but many in my party don’t agree with the radical Left.”

“Been around for a lot of years and I remember when we used to go into a room and actually negotiate the legislation,” says A.

B sits there nodding, furiously.

They continue talking about bipartisanship, and how it’s missing, and we don’t understand how things have gotten so…polarized.

I chime in. “It’s too bad we don’t have a camera crew here, a Democrat and a R…

We Need A Plan for Federal Communications

As a government communicator I have always had a heightened sensitivity to the gap between what the public wants to hear and what the government wants to say.
I've also understood that the government tends to play catch-up with the communication tools used by the private sector. (It took us *years* to legitimize the use of social media.)

In 2016-2017 one of my major "labors of love" was a research paper called "Advancing Federal Communications." Dozens of us worked on this paper. It called for professional standards for federal communications, similar to the concept used in the UK.

There, the government releases an annual plan for government communication outlining its priorities.

When it comes to communication, the UK also explicitly values measurement, a.k.a. evaluation.

We all know that in the United States, trust in government is at or near what they call "historic lows." We can speculate as to why that is. No doubt performance is a significant part …

On The Wastefulness of Taxpayer-Funded Mansions

People often say that “you get what you pay for,” but in the case of communication that’s not necessarily true. Rather, “you get what you’re committed to.”

In the case of the federal government, it would be wise for leaders to consider renewing their commitment to honest, accurate, relevant reporting as to how agencies are spending taxpayer dollars. In August 2001, the GAO published “Internal Control and Management Tool,” which identified “information and communications” as one of the top 5 ways an agency can ensure accountability to the public. This term is defined from an internal point of view, as “relevant, reliable” content in all directions. However one can easily take it a step further: Great internal communication means great external communication as well.

And it doesn’t have to be costly. In September 2016, the GAO published a study of the $1.5 billion per year the federal government spends on advertising and public relations. Between FY2006–2014, on average, the federal gove…

The Essential Function of a Rabbi

To bring people closer to the observance of the mitzvos, to help them love and fear God in the context of an existence filled with suffering and cruelty.
To provide human and humane answers to the questions people ask, taking into account knowledge of the Torah in its totality. 
To view the totality of Torah as encompassing the commandments that regulate interpersonal relationships (bain Adam LaChavero) and those that regulate the relationship between human beings and God (bain Adam LaMaKom).
To be aware at all times that there are unfortunately so many rabbis who have singlehandedly destroyed the "brand" of Judaism with their misdeeds, in particular through vile exploitation of those who trusted them blindly. 
To support those who do the opposite.
To measure the fitness of other rabbis by their results, not their restrictiveness.
To look for example at the number of people who go to the synagogue and at the increase in their level of observance. 
To be aware that one's…

Those Who Know, Don't Tell

"Those who know, don't tell, and those who tell, don't know."

That was a saying I heard often growing up.

Anyone can go on television, write a book, appear at conferences, give rousing speeches, and tell you they're a messenger of some kind of truth.

But in my experience, the people who really know things, the people who are in a position to opine on what is going on behind the scenes, are not going to tell you, ever.

The following factors produce their silence:
Legal agreements.The trust of those who have confided in them.A certain level of fear as to what might happen if they spoke out. This isn't to argue that you should therefore adopt a certain way of thinking. That I somehow magically have the key, if such a thing could exist.

It does mean that you benefit from keeping an open yet critical mind at all times.

Think about what motivates the person to say the things they say.

Think about who they hang out with.

That, more than the chapters of their book, will tell…

#MeToo: For Any Therapist In Maryland Who Has Reason To Believe Children Are At Risk, What's Next?

Here is my best understanding, and if it's incorrect please let me know. You're a therapist in MD and an adult tells you they were molested by someone who is still working with minors. The official number to call, any time of day or night, in Montgomery County is 240-777-4417. (See links below for other reporting numbers.) The fact that this person still works with children makes it important to tell the appropriate authorities about allegations of prior abuse, even if the reporting party is an adult at the time they disclose this information.

* Informal guide to child reporting - see #7 and #9 (I did not write this)
* State-by-state reporting requirements
* Local reporting offices in Maryland

Most people are not bad, but the ones that are bad have a way of repeating their behavior till they're stopped by law enforcement.
If you're not sure what to do, please consult a competent legal authority.

Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinio…

Vishnitzer Chassidim Doing Outreach?

Last night we had the privilege of attending a musical havdalah service with The Traveling Chassidim at Aish HaTorah of Greater Washington.

Little did I know that these Chassidim, like my family, are Vishnitzer Chassidim, from Romania.

Wow! What a powerful sight to see Vishnitzers singing the traditional beautiful melodies I heard only occasionally, on visits to Brooklyn.

What a powerful sight to see Vishnitzers talking about outreach, when my whole life has been the dichotomy between Chabadniks, who broke with tradition by recruiting Jews in the street to put on a pair of Tefillin, and non-Chabadniks, who have long believed that outreach is a bad idea.

Essentially: "If you want religion, you want it and if you don't, you don't -- we don't push."

What a powerful sight to see Vishnitzers saying that ALL Jews are one family, and one community, and come visit us, and all the divisions are really artificial.

This means so much to me because I am acutely aware that I…

It’s Wise To Ask Before Assuming

When I was about sixteen I went into “the city” (that means New York City, to me, because there’s only one NYC!) and took a long walk across midtown.

Along the way I had my palm read, which is not okay to do according to the way that I was raised. But I did it, because I was too curious to wait and find out what my future would bring.

It turns out that spending $5 on a street psychic was overall a dumb thing to do, for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that you end up believing that what they tell you is true. In other words, life becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

But there was one redeeming part of my mistake, and that was an offhand comment the person made after the reading: “If you can avoid it, don’t gossip. Gossip is bad for the soul.”

My great-grandfather, Reb Dovid Garfinkel, may he rest in peace, is remembered by the family for his frequent admonishments about this. So much so, in fact, that this side of the family avoids prolonged conversation.

(To some who don’t unde…

It's January 1, 2018: Own Your Fear

So the world did not go up in flames last night, which is a good thing. 
But for many people in the world, life is nevertheless suffused with tragedy.
This Sabbath we went to synagogue and learned that someone in the community was stricken on vacation. In one freak accident, he lost his wife, his son, and his mother-in-law. He suffered many broken bones.
I saw the man standing on a cane, but I didn't know who he was, or what had happened to him.
The rabbis' wife walked over to him, and spoke to him in hushed tones.
It was only a few minutes later, during the speech, that I learned the scope and scale of the tragedy.
During his speech, the rabbi spoke to the man before all of us. He said that we are all one family, and that the community grieves with him.
Looking over at him, I saw a human being whose spirit was totally shattered.
I wondered how he got up the strength to come to synagogue at all.
The pain in his being was so strong, so palpable, it was as if the air around him was tint…