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!