Saturday, September 12, 2009


Diana R. Garland, LCSW, Ph.D., Dean and Professor of Social Work, Baylor University; and Mark Chaves, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Religion, and Divinity, Duke University conducted a national study of clergy sexual misconduct, the first study of its kind, to research this issue and bring the results to the attention of the public. I participated in phase II of this study, sharing with Dr. Garland, my memories of being sexually harassed and abused by my Reform rabbi.

Baylor CSM study press release

There are a number of documents published on Baylor's website for more information regarding clergy sexual misconduct:

CSM information from Baylor University

This is a sample of case studies researched by Baylor:

Case Studies

This is a small sample of the media coverage this study has generated:

CSM study in the media

Baylor University has resources for victim/survivors of CSM available and I encourage you to use them if there is a need:

CSM survivor resources

It is my hope that after this study received the media attention it deserves, the public will be better able to discuss this issue and motivated to prevent its occurance. The media tends to focus on celebrities lives and other trivialities, while there are really important issues, such as CSM that get little attention. Baylor University is working with a public relations firm to try and garner some of that attention for this study, to educate the public. There is a small group of survivors of CSM who are willing to talk to the media and relate their stories to the public. Let us hope that these courageous women get the chance to reach the public with their stories - we have a lot to learn from them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I was flown to Waco, Texas last Wednesday, along with 4 other survivors, to meet with Dr. Diana Garland and the rest of the research team to discuss the national study on Clergy Sexual Misconduct. The results were absolutely amazing and will be made public very soon. As Phase II participants in this study, we had the opportunity to share our stories with Dr. Garland last summer. The stories of CSM survivors are vitally important to put a face on this tragic, devastating problem. Dr. Garland and the rest of her team at Baylor are currently working towards public presentation of both the study results and the stories of survivors to educate the public and bring attention to this issue. I am honored to have been included in this effort to educate the public, explore prevention strategies and move towards legislation to hold the clergy to the same ethical standards that doctors, lawyers, and mental health practitioners must adhere to. The time I spent at Baylor University was deeply rewarding. It was wonderful to meet the other survivors - couragious ladies who have so much to share and hold such passion for this project. I pray that this will bring about a change in the way victims are treated and cause legislation to be enacted that will protect all people of faith in the United States.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I was recently interviewed by Diana Garland, a researcher at Baylor University in Texas. She is conducting a research study, funded by the Ford Foundation, to gather information on clergy sexual abuse. The purpose of this study is to understand how this happens, find ways to prevent this, and to research what changes must be made in the law to effectively deal with offenders. I encourage any victim of clergy sexual abuse, especially those who have been abused within the last 2 years, to please send an email to Diana Garland. Your participation in this study is completely confidential - no one will know that you have discussed your case.

This is the contact email for the clergy sexual abuse research study:


Please step forward and let your voice be heard! This is totally confidential and such an important study - the first of it's kind. Please help Baylor University get a large sampling of victim/survivor stories so their study is effective. Studies like this are necessary so this tragic problem is better understood and it is a way to bring about changes in the law. Clergy sexual abuse should be a felony, punished with prison sentences and registration as a sex offender upon parole. This is the one concrete way to deter would-be abusers. Ask yourself this question - would your abuser have done this if he knew it was a felony that carried prison time and regitration as a sex offender upon parole? My "rabbi" abuser is a profound coward. If he had been facing a felony charge he would never have abused me. Help change the law. The first step is this research study. Let your voice be heard!

I've been a part time college student for the past few years, working on my Paralegal degree. I recently graduated with honors and I am now a Paralegal. I recently wrote a research paper titled, "Clergy Sexual Abuse: The Silent Epidemic". I am using this paper and other resources to lobby the California Legislature to amend the existing law that makes it a felony for mental health practitioners to have sex or engage in sexualized behavior with their patients, to include clergy who perform pastoral counseling as unlicensed mental health practitioners. This would mandate clergy pastoral counselors to follow the same professional ethics and code of behavior as licensed mental health practitioners. If this amendment becomes law, any clergy who provide pastoral counseling and then seduce their counselees would be guilty of a felony - the same as a mental health practitioner who seduces a patient. I will keep you updated as to the outcome of my quest to make clergy sexual abuse against the law in California. It's about time - isn't it?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I met Sharon when I spoke to a group of survivors of clergy sexual misconduct, through "Tamar's Voice". Sharon was there with her family. I was so very moved by her story, which she shared with the group. After the meeting we talked togther and exchanged emails and phone numbers. I encouraged her to start a website and tell her story so that others would benefit from her experience. I am proud to present her website here so that other survivors can read about what happened to Sharon.

Sharon's Rose

Please take the time to read her story and if it helps you, please let Sharon know. She is sharing her trauma so that others may feel a little less alone.

The following Los Angeles Times articles detail the corruption to be found in the Las Vegas justice system. No victim will ever prevail in a place where money and status win lawsuits.

"In Vegas, They're Playing With A Stacked Judicial Deck"

"Series on Las Vegas Judges Renews Calls For Reform"

"Steps Taken To Rein In Nevada Judges"

"New Rules Sought For Nevada Judges"

Unfortunately, any reform will be far too late for the victim I wrote about in the previous post. When I think about the abuse this victim was forced to endure, in the Las Vegas justice system, it makes wonder just where this country is headed. I am completely and thoroughly disgusted, and you should be as well. Shame on the Las Vegas justice system and it's judges - time to clean up your act

Monday, July 03, 2006


One of my advocates told me that one victim described rabbinic sexual misconduct as a wrecking ball that kept crashing in and out of her life. I agree with this sentiment. I have always used my experiences with RSM to either warn other women about my abuser or to help other victim/survivors through their own cases. In sharing my story with others, as I did last week at a Tamar's Voice meeting (Tamar's Voice is for victim/survivors of clergy sexual abuse,)there are blessings that come to me and there are the memories that intrude upon my sleep in the form of nightmares. The nightmares are a drawback of speaking about my abuse but the blessings far outweigh the unpleasantness.

I met a wonderful family who are still trying to heal from clergy sexual abuse and I am very thankful that G-d led me to speak at this meeting. I felt this family and I are kindred spirits - they are just the kind of people that I am drawn to when I choose friends. They have not been able to network with other victim/survivors and I thank G-d that I may be able to be of help to them and I know that talking to them will be helpful to my family as well. My own husband and daughter have not had the opportunity to talk to other victim/survivors about what they went through as a result of my being abused. They really need to talk about it, putting the trauma into words is one way to heal. I am in contact with this family and we are making plans to get together to talk soon. It is an important part of healing - networking with other victim/survivors. Victim/survivors who are silenced by their abusers or religious institutions are re-victimized and further injured by the very act of being hushed up and gagged.

I had the opportunity to hear Katherine Flinn speak at the meeting of Tamar's Voice. She is the author of "Clergy Sexual Abuse of Women" and has such a vast knowledge of the trauma that victim/survivors go through. It was wonderful to hear her speak and I am ordering her book - I can't wait to read it. I read Katherine Flinn's doctorial thesis on Clergy Sexual Abuse and it was tremendously helpful to me when I was in the midst of my crisis. It helped me to understand all the damage I sustained as the result of being abused. I feel that I need to read her book as I am still in the process of healing myself. I think that this is an ongoing process that takes a long, long time. I wonder if I will ever be able to honestly say: "I'm healed"?

I spoke to friends of mine, a married couple who are affiliated with the shul where I was abused. The wife told me that my abuser was recently invited back to the shul to give a lecture. This chilled my blood and made me angry, both at the same time. Why is it that the rabbi who has sexually abused several women is invited back to that shul but his victims are not welcome there? I have been thinking of going back to that shul as my abuser is no longer on the Bimah. Now I wonder if it is wise to go back. I don't know what I would do if I were to come face to face with my abuser again. Would I faint and wake up with his hands around my neck, strangling me or would I remain calm, give him a scathing look and just walk away? I don't know how I would react. I hope I never am forced to find out but since the Jewish community is a very small place, I have no doubt that some day I will have to face him. I just hope I am ready when this happens.

This is another message I received from the same supporter. I certainly wish there were many more Jews who understood what RSM is and supported victim/survivors like this person does. I can only pray that these words come true:


Keep up the good work. The wheels of justice turn very slowly, but they do turn. With-in 10 years it will be politically incorrect for any religious institution to accept keeping a clergy sexual offender, whether the offender acts against children or adults.

I applaud your public efforts and publicity against your sexual predator. The Jewish Community is about 5-10 years behind the Catholic Church on the issue of clergy sexual abuse. The internet however is a weapon that can be used to expose and stop clergy sexual offenders and their supporters.

Just an idea for you blog. Include the name of each Rabbi that is aware of the Rabbi that abused you and their excuse for standing idly by and doing nothing or worst supporting this Rabbi. I noticed that the Awareness Center while listing a post for each Rabbinical Sexual Offender, fails to list the names of all the Rabbi's in that Jewish Community that actively and openly include the Rabbi and synagogue in their Community events. Community leaders and Rabbis need to exclude synagogues that maintain and support a sexual predator from all activities and events. Stand strong like Moses.

I received this email from an anonymous supporter and it made me feel very good. I wish there were more Jews in the community who understand rabbinic sexual misconduct like this person does. I have continued to email this person since this first message and it always does my soul good to read what this person says.

To anonymous - thank you for your kind words - I always look forward to hearing from you and I hope that other survivors read your words and glean comfort from them.

To the victim of the "Rabbi" sexual offender
Dear Victim/Survivor,

My heart goes out to you. Unfortunately you are not alone. You are not the first person he has abused. You are just the first one who had the strength to stand publicly up to him.

I applaud your efforts to continue your Judaism.
Your congregation unfortunately has failed at following Jewish law and practice.

Your congregation can't survive spiritually if they don't get rid of this Rabbi. The congregation is forced to deal with the issue as long as you are present. The longer you stay and continue to go to services the more the congregation will be put in turmoil. For a congregation that doesn't do the right thing, turmoil of this nature is good.

You did nothing wrong. Your blame is 0%. The Rabbi is mostly to blame as is the congregation that supports him. "Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" - clearly pushes the guilt on the congregation.

I know that you are deeply hurt by all of this. Be strong. I am unfortunately inclined to give you the following realistic advice:

1. Don't trust anyone

2. Consider a law suit

3. Do not try to negotiate with synagogue board members. If they had done the right thing in the 1st place and fired their sexual offender Rabbi then you wouldn't need to meet with them or sue them. They deserve what they get. They won't come to reasonable terms. You will help them and yourself the most by giving them what they deserve... in this case a good lawsuit to pay for.

4. Do not deal with any Rabbinical Organization or Rabbi "Union". You will waste your time and energy. These organizations only protect the guilty Rabbi.

5. Do not feel guilty! You owe nothing to the congregation or the Rabbi. They failed. You are a victim. You are owed restitution.

6. Do not stop going to shul. You are the one who has the right to be there. Congregants that shun you or mistreat you actually serve to justify and hasten the means to extracate the Rabbi. A congregation that is in turmoil eventually has to face the issues. If everyone moves on as if nothing ever happened then the Rabbi can stay.

7. You can go public whenever you choose to. Wait until you are ready and prepared. This can be in 2 months or 2 years.

8. Be Strong.

9. G-D is with you.

10. Be aware that your shul represents a small proportion of Jews. The majority of Jews support you and are disgusted by your Rabbi and the ones that support keeping him.

11. In the end there is justice!

Friday, May 12, 2006

I recently packed up and moved my family, away from what had become an unsafe place to live. I now am in a nice, quiet neighborhood with pleasant neighbors. It was difficult to stay offline - I felt so disconnected from those who need support and guidance. Thankfully I am now back online and settling into my new condo. The change was quite stressful - I am thankful that the move is over. I'm sick and tired of living around boxes but there is only so much that can be done each day.

I want to say that I am really sorry I have been "away" and out of touch. I will now continue to post regularly and check my email each day - as is normal for me when connected to the Internet. I hope that everyone has a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat.

Monday, April 10, 2006


I recently heard from another victim/survivor who is having trouble with her faith due to abuse by a "rabbi". She will know who she is when she reads this. There is one thing to remember - when a rabbi sexually abuses a congregant - it has NOTHING to do with Hashem whatsoever. Hashem is NOT responsible for your abuse. This is what comes with free will. Your abuser is not a real rabbi - he is an abomination before G-d. Abusers like that are evil and will have to answer for what they have done after they face their final judgment. Rabbi's who abuse can turn their victims off to Judaism and Hashem. This happens and spiritual issues take the longest to heal.

Please remember that Hashem weeps with you over what has happened. I think you will find, as I did, that when you reach out for help - Hashem will guide you to advocates who can help you. I am still working on my spiritual issues - I have no healed yet. I took a long sabbatical, if you will, from shul and davening with other Jews. I am now ready to go back to shul and re-enter the Jewish community again. I needed the time to take stock and find out what I really wanted and needed. I find that I really miss devening with my fellow Jews so I decided to start going to shul again. I would tell anyone who has been abused by a rabbi this: the prayers and songs at shul will be triggers that will cause you to relive your abuse but don't give up. It takes a long time to heal - keep moving forward with babysteps. Find a shul where you feel safe and continue to attend. Eventually you will start to feel better - but it does take a long time. My abuse happened in 1999 and 2000. I stopped attending shul for about 2 years. I am finally ready to go back. I pray that you too will find a way to salvage your Judaism and move forward. My prayers are with you and all other survivors.
To Raizie:

I wanted to publish your poem on my blog - not just in the comments. You have a talent for writing. It's good to see victim/survivors use creative outlets to process their abuse. Please consider sending me an e-mail. I would like to assist you but it's difficult through a blog. I am currently advocating for several other victim/survivors on a one-on-one basis by e-mail and phone. Your identity is safe with me - I am a victim/survivor too. If you want to contact me directly, send an e-mail to: chavah5760@socal.rr.com and I will try to help you.


Peering beneath the yarmulke; behind the bimah;
Ever prayerful, ever watching
Invoking the name of Adonai
He lifts his strained voice in praise
Droning on with a lifeless chant

One eye on the Lord
And one eye on the Prize
The Master Manipulator
Creates his aura of holiness;
His invisible cloak obscuring the Evil Urge

Making a show of charity,
He counsels the elderly; he comforts the bereaved;
He is a pious man; a man of the Lord
Now he too is praised for his great work
And none will question his sincerity

He woos with guitar and drum,
Prayer and poem,
Shabbos candle, wine, and kosher food
His chanting weaves a spell; a Covenant between Master and Master
A promise of Broken Tablets

There is a victim around every corner;
One who is willing to keep his secrets
One who, for some time, is quite “special”
The list grows until he must move on to greener pastures,
Having used up all the innocence and vulnerability he can find

Believing he has covered his tracks behind him
And that Hashem will continue to forgive and bless
Regardless of the sins not yet committed,
He moves with even greater stealth onto a new canvas,
Seducing the adult and leaving behind the child

Beware the Rabbi.