Facing A Jewish Community In Denial: Vicki Polin
Nevertheless, we've had enough anti-Semitism lobbed against us that we're afraid.
So when Vicki Polin appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show (under the pseudonym "Rachel"), on May 1, 1989, her appearance upset the Jewish community greatly.
"Rachel" stated that she had survived Satanic ritual abuse, and worse, was part of a hidden Jewish network of cult members dedicated to this practice.
Polin and Oprah were was promptly lambasted by the Jewish community for facilitating anti-Semitism. On May 6, 1989, The New York Times reported the most controversial aspect of her remarks, which was that they linked ritual abuse to a secret network of Jewish families engaged in this cult:
"The woman told Ms. Winfrey that she had witnessed the ritual sacrifice of Jewish children and had been a victim of ritualistic abuse. The guest also said of such practices: ''There's other Jewish families across the country. It's not just my family.'"The Jewish community was outraged, noted the report:
"The woman's comments provoked hundreds of angry phone calls and letters to Jewish and civil liberties groups, spokesmen for the groups said in interviews yesterday.
Jewish leaders were quick to say that Vicki Polin was not a credible witness due to her mental illness, and to blame Oprah for giving nascent anti-Semitism a platform:
''We have grave concern about both the lack of judgment and the insensitive manipulation of this woman, who is clearly mentally ill, in a manner which can only inflame the basest prejudices of ignorant people,'' said Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington.The "Ripoff Report" contained a number of these criticisms. It also contains a transcript of her appearance. The transcript is somewhat lengthy, but it is important as a text that researchers can use to compare accounts across various allegations by people who say that they are victims of the very same thing.
Polin's portion of the transcript is excerpted below. (Please note that some of the dialogue is left out so that you can focus specifically on her description of the abuse.) If you listen closely, it is very reminiscent of the trafficking victim "Kendall" who appeared recently on the Dr. Phil show:
"My family has an extensive family tree, and they keep track of who's been involved and who hasn't been involved, and it's gone back to like 1700....I was born into a family that believes in this....There's other Jewish families across the country. It's not just my own family."
"I blocked out a lot of the memories I had because of my multiple personality disorder, but, yes. I mean, it's like if you grow up with something, you think it's normal. I always thought something."
"Well, there would be rituals in which babies would be sacrificed, and you would have to, you know..."
"There were people who bred babies in our family. No one would know about it. A lot of people were overweight, so you couldn't tell if they were pregnant or not, or they would supposedly go away for awhile and then come back."
"The other thing I want to point out not all Jewish people sacrifice babies. I mean, it's not a very typical thing."
"When I was very young, I was forced to participate in that-- in which I had to sacrifice an infant....For power."
"I was molested. I was raped several times."
"What is-- I'm not exactly- -what her role is-- I haven't, you know, recovered all of my memories, but her family was extremely involved. You know, she brought me to it. Both of my parents brought me to it."
"She's an upstanding citizen. Nobody would suspect her. Nobody would suspect anybody involved in it. There's police officers involved in it. There's, you know, doctors, lawyers, Indiana chiefs involved in it. I mean, it's not the person, you know, who looks scummy that's involved in it. It's someone who looks normal."
"To the outside world, everything we did was proper and right, and then there were the nights that things changed, that things just got turned around. What was wrong was right, and what was right was wrong."
"Well, I said it was evil, and they said it was good. There's a book that I had just come across called [Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural by Howard Schwartz, New York, Oxford University Press, 1988] which is a book of Jewish mysticism and supernatural, and there's a lot in that book that relates to what I endured when I was a child."
"Most Jewish people do not do what my family did. I mean, I don't know very many other Jewish people who would do what I did."
Polin went on to found The Awareness Center, which remains online today and lists more than 500 alleged and actual sexual offenders in the Jewish community. It has a section on ritual abuse. She continues to promote awareness of child sexual abuse in her blogs for the Times of Israel.
Satanic ritual abuse is no longer Polin's focus, but her efforts did manage to pry open the lid of a verminous scandal among the Jewish community about the scope and scale of child sexual abuse among its religious leadership. Her efforts were supported by others, such as Gary Rosenblatt and Shmarya Rosenberg, worked tirelessly to expose it. The work continues with Jewish Community Watch, which hosts its own Wall of Shame to help people protect their children.
Meanwhile, satanic ritual abuse is recognized by the U.S. federal government as a real phenomenon. The FBI published a 1992 guide to investigating it that you can still download online. And you can read about numerous cases of reported SRA on Wikipedia alone.
The more we learn about the characteristics of Satanic ritual abuse, the better able we will be to assess the credibility of alleged victims' accounts. But certainly clapping our hands over our ears is not a rational reaction.
Is it unpleasant stuff? Yes.
But just imagine the suffering of the victims, many of whose screams will never make it to daylight.
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain. Photo credit: Lachlan Hardy/Flickr.