Sunday, May 31, 2015

A comment on the New York Times story about Jonathan Rosenblatt

My husband saw the New York Times story on the screen and immediately gasped. "Oh my G-d. Rosenblatt." 

I knew right away.

Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt was the rabbi of the shul we attended, the Riverdale Jewish Center in New York. He was the officiating rabbi at our wedding. And unfortunately, he also took Andy to the mikvah for a quote, "ritual bathing which he said was needed before marriage."

For a few years now, I have watched the stories come out in the media about rabbis and pedophilia. I had hoped that it was just one person here and there, and finally it dawned on me that something much more pervasive was going on. On top of that, it's also become very clear that the Jewish system of rabbinic ordination and supervision, as well as the educational system, have failed our children utterly, with offenders protected by the system while victims were punished and expelled. 

I count myself lucky that the negative experience I had with a perv-y rabbi (Mordechai Sevy) was limited to said rabbi "hugging" me. But unfortunately, the negative impact from the experience affected me terribly for many years, and hurts to this day. For a small child can intuit, but not comprehend, what's happening when someone "creeps out" on them, and unfortunately I self-blamed, shamed, and felt lousy about myself for a very long time after fifth grade.

In any case, we are discussing this story at Failed Messiah and I wanted to share my comment there below as well, in case you're following this story and it could be helpful to you:
"Pedophiles typically 'groom' their targets in five stages:
1. Find someone vulnerable
2. Learn more about them
3. Give them what they need (e.g. a shoulder to lean on...)
4. Lower their normal inhibitions about nudity
5. Attack 
"It is not surprising that a rabbi would be helpful to his victim. In fact that's the only way he'd get away with it. 
"It's also not surprising that we still have so much denial going on. Nobody wants to believe this stuff; it's disgusting. 
"But it flies in the face of reason to defend Rosenblatt for having 'searching conversations' about spirituality WITH 12 YEAR OLD BOYS WHILE THEY ARE NAKED IN THE SHOWER. 
"Anybody who has been to yeshiva knows that you're not supposed to discuss holy subject matter in the bathroom, period. 
"And anybody who's spent even five minutes reading the paper over the past five years has seen the explosion of reports of sexual abuse against children by the point where even the most Orthodox among us say, please go to the police. 
"It is not clear what help can be given to survivors of past abuse, other than love, acceptance and support. It is however clear that going forward, we have an obligation to our children to be very, very, very careful about who they are spending their time with and under what circumstances. 
"And you don't have to be a genius to know, that if a grownup is trying to get a kid alone and naked, ROUTINELY, that person should not be teaching, coaching, counseling, or clergy-ing that child, anytime, ever."
It is heartening that the observant Jewish community is waking up and taking action. It's not necessary to provide a laundry list of names, but the most fundamental level of understanding has finally been reached that sex abuse is a crime to be reported to the police.

There is also a watchdog and social services organization called Jewish Community Watch.

And though I'm still pretty angry and hurt inside, I have come to a realization. Bad Jewish leadership made me run away from religion for such a long time, as if to save myself. But what I really want and need is to go back into the faith, and help rescue it from the bad people who have led it astray.

I'm happy to see that there are many good rabbis, men and women, who will not tolerate the destruction of our people from the inside. 

I intend to serve as a microphone to amplify their efforts.

All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my agency or the federal government as a whole.