THIS IS AN AMAZING PERSON
Genendy writes from a position of love. She has every reason to be OTD ("off the derech" - not religious), but she is here, and she is going to speak as a survivor while still remaining within the community. Genendy uses every tool in her arsenal to help children gain some measure of awareness about bad adults, and she does it in a way that is kind and intelligent. She is an amazing human being, and I will never meet her, but she has my complete respect.
WHY THIS BOOK TRIGGERED ME
I had a hard time reading Genendy's book. It hits too close to home. Not the physical part, but the emotional part. The children of the children of the Holocaust survivors. Our parents took care of their parents, because "nobody can get Zaidy upset," because after the camps it was forbidden to cause them a single extra ounce of pain.
After the camps the only job was to recover. Number one, to establish some form of safe haven. Number two, to have children, many children. Number three, it goes without saying, to rebuild the yeshivas, and to fill them with boys learning day and night. For some it was about Israel. For all of our parents and grandparents, the survivors, it was about saying: No, Hitler, may your name be erased forever and ever, you did not win.
NEUROSES OF THE POST-HOLOCAUST GENERATION
The point is, Genendy is of my generation - maybe she is a couple of years younger than me - and I know exactly the mindset that she writes about. I understand what it feels like to be the child that parents the parents, because this is what I felt as a child. Nobody can cause Zaidy and Bubbie any pain, Daddy and Mommy cannot fix the vacant eyes Hitler left them, and the next generation had to grow up and not make any more trouble than they had to.
TOTAL DENIAL ABOUT CREEPY RABBIS LED TO AN EPIDEMIC OF UNCHECKED ABUSE
We were a generation expected to take care of ourselves. And we became too mature too early. I think it is safe to say that most of us, probably the vast majority of us, had absolutely no idea what the word "sex" even meant as children. My mother tried to explain something about menstruation when I was five. It was like she was talking a completely different language.
Now is not the time to talk about myself, because not every conversation has to have a tie-in to your personal "memoirs." But as I grew older, I started to become familiar with the phenomenon of the "creepy rabbi." The odd remark here and there. You know, "odd." "Weird." That bad feeling you get.
Most of the time you're able to brush it away. Because everything is so hidden.
Heh - heh - heh - heh.
The shock of reading Genendy's book is the shock of knowing that that girl could have been you. It could have been you, God forbid, and if it had been you, there is nothing you could or would have done about it.
A CULTURE OF DENIERS AND ENABLERS
Genendy's mother was brutally beaten by her Zayde and married her father just to get out of the house. Genendy's father raped the child as a two-year-old, to the point where she had to be stitched up, and then in the unique psychotic way that pedophiles act out, he cared for the wounds.
The mother knew and covered it up (we are dealing with the cycle of abuse here) until Genendy was seven; because they distorted what the Torah actually says about pedophilia, the family sickness was somehow rationalized.
Genendy tried to tell her mother, her sister, her supervisor (the ultra-Orthodox preschool director), and her therapist, and none would even allow for the possibility that her father had physically, sexually abused her.
At one point Genendy actually tells a renowned rabbi, who says "I support you," but as soon as she says "it was my father," he says, "forget it. It never happened."
SO MANY VICTIMS
Keep in mind that Genendy's young relatives are also getting raped - she refers specifically to males. And in this crazy land, one of her uncles is accused of abuse, and Genendy is somehow roped into the case against this relative, while everyone denies her own awful situation.
THIS IS INCONTROVERTIBLY CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING
Genendy was a victim of child sex trafficking, because on top of her father raping her and her grandfather, the head of a yeshiva, molesting her, her family actually took money from yeshiva bochurim so that they could gang-rape her in their dorms.
For a decade I have been reading about rampant child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community and I never put it together in my mind, that when a community actively coordinates to protect pedophiles and continue to send children into their orbit (shul, school, camp, seminary....) to be groomed/abused/molested/raped, that is child sex trafficking. Those words. Period.
No matter what other facts may surround the story, or how "nobody meant it," or "it was an accident," or "we didn't know better," etc. etc. etc.
It is the kind of story that you read and you feel the need to scream, or maybe cry, or yell in rage. Because you have read it so many, so many, so many times before. You say to yourself, surely her father has gone to jail! Not so. What is the law that should put her father in jail? I don't know. What is the remedy for Genendy and the infant brother who had his face smashed in? Who knows how many other victims there are?
But, as has been amply documented by Michael Lesher ("Sexual Abuse, Shonda, and Concealment In Orthodox Jewish Communities") and others, the men get passed from shul to shul, and school to school, and country to country, and they are safest in Israel above all.
You watch the human trafficking shows from Hollywood and you read the most outrageous stuff, and you say to yourself, I can't believe these incredibly accomplished and educated people, who often are so charitable actually, could be such horrendous monsters.
And then you think about all the ways the ultra-Orthodox community has ensured a steady supply of victims to shuls, and schools, and day camps, and sleepaway camps, and yeshivas, and Israel seminaries, and the list goes on and on.
Let me be clear - when victims come forward and you tell them it didn't happen, or that they're crazy, or that they better be careful; when you marginalize them, threaten them and their families and their parents; hen you honor the rapists and shun the victims, you are an enabler of child sex trafficking.
ONGOING CONSPIRACY TO KEEP GENENDY ENSLAVED, IN CHAINS, AND LITERALLY IN THE DARK
Her mother took away her radio, her books, and denied her eyeglasses. She has no skills and no way of truly getting free; she lives in a friend's home and cries on the floor. She goes to a mental hospital and she is so honest, when her friend steals Benadryl (which she self-medicates with) she makes him return it to the store.
The father and mother will not allow her to see her baby pictures, because obviously it will trigger memories.
The father tries to get her to get married to "solve" it.
She needs to be healthy. She tries to run away, but her father locks up her passport. She actually does run away, but psychologically she is bound, Stockholm Syndrome-like, to the boundary-less home from which she came, and she goes back when they physically chase her to Israel.
WHAT AN ORDINARY PERSON CAN DO
1. Do not say "this story is crazy, she must be nuts." Or "she dreamed it" (one of the most hurtful things a human being can say).
2. Call things what they are. "Child sex trafficking" - that means recruiting, harboring, and providing children to predators. Look up the words.
3. Stop the denial. Jews are no different than anybody else. "But Jewish people don't act like that" - yes they do. Stop worrying what people will think; for sure stop worrying about shidduch resumes. Get over it and focus on what matters, the children.
4. Stop automatically protecting the adults. What matters more, an embarrassing disclosure or a child being protected from rape?
5. For once and for all, put all the ideas out of your mind like "this will make people hate Jews" and "it's gossip" and "we weren't there." Just stop.
6. Understand that we don't live in the simplistic formulations of the Talmud - "did it happen in the city or the country?" "did she scream?" The predator will use every trick in the book to get the victim to not realize that they are a victim.
7. Protect the boys. I don't know why people think only girls can be victims. PROTECT THE BOYS.
8. Protect the children when others don't see a danger. In shul, don't leave the kids alone to run around and play in isolated places. Criminals seek opportunity.
9. Older children are not "safe." They commit sexual assaults against younger ones.
10. If, God forbid, a child discloses abuse, call the fucking police. 9-1-1. And then get help from qualified professionals. The rabbi is qualified to do rabbi things - stop lionizing this person as the all-knowing oracle.
Do you want to know how child sex trafficking ends? It ends by treating it the same among the Jewish community as it is treated among the non-Jewish community.
No more cover ups. No more homemade solutions. Whatever the best practice is in the secular world, and whatever the laws are in the secular world, those laws apply to Jews too.
No more lame excuses.
What happened may have happened a long time ago. But it is not enough to say "poor Genendy, we feel so bad for her."
The schools should be financially liable for enabling child rapists on campus. The perpetrators should be liable under federal sex trafficking statutes.
It is time to take seriously the claims of all the Genendys, and to make their attackers face real justice in the criminal system. At the very least, they belong behind bars for life.
The Torah provides for capital punishment for someone who kidnaps an individual for the purpose of slavery - e.g. a human trafficker. I personally believe that this applies today as well, both to the trafficker and to the beneficiary of the trafficking, kal vechomer (how much more so) to someone who trafficks a child.
In my view, legally capital punishment should be instituted for people like Genendy's father and the yeshiva bochurim who raped her and the others.
You can buy the book here:
This post by Dr. Dossy Blumenthal may be shared and reprinted. It is public domain. All opinions are the author's own.