Sep 17, 2017
8 Rabbis Obligate Reporting Abuse

8 Chabad Rabbis signed onto a letter stating, "there is no need to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting" all forms of abuse.

By COLlive reporter

A group of Chabad rabbis signed a proclamation addressing abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, alluding to its effects that have resulted in multiple deaths due to drug overdoses and suicides over the past year alone in Jewish communities.

"The existence of child sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse which occurs in some of our communities, resulting in a number of tragic suicides as well as other physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences," they wrote.

The rabbis admitted that not enough was done in the past to tackle the issue. "We recognize that in light of past experiences our communities could have responded in more responsible and sensitive ways to help victims and hold perpetrators accountable."

The signatories are Rabbis Yehoram Ulman and Moshe Gutnick, Senior Dayanim, Sydney Beth Din, Australia; Rabbi Yosef Feigelstock, Senior Dayan, Beth Din, Argentina; Rabbi Baruch Hertz, Rabbi of Congregation Bnei Ruven in Chicago, Illinois; Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld, Dean, Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, PA; Rabbi Yosef Shusterman, Senior Dayan and Director, Chabad of Beverly Hills, CA, Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, Av Beth Din, Melbourne Beth Din, Australia, and Rabbi Sholom Shuchat, Dayan, Bais Din Agudas HaRabanim.

The Rabbis are clear in the requirement for allegations of abuse and neglect to be immediately and directly submitted to secular authorities without necessitating prior Rabbinic or professional consultation.

"The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child and adult abuse and neglect directly and immediately to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law. There is no need to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting," they stated.

Dovid Nyer, a licensed clinical social worker in New City, NY, who coordinated the letter, points out that exclusive to this petition is the inclusion of abuse of adults, which includes but is not limited to domestic abuse, elder abuse, and abuse of the disabled.

Michael Salamon, PhD, a clinical psychologist and noted expert in this field, asserts, "The longer it takes to report the more time the abuser has to keep abusing and creating alibis."

Salamon says that "Only trained investigators with proper professional team support (e.g. police, medical, etc.) can investigate. Asking anyone else about reporting just delays or confounds or completely derails a proper investigation. That is why so many abusers have been able to move to different communities and continue to abuse."

In a recent email, Crown Heights Rabbis Yaacov Schwei and Yosef Braun indicated that they concur with the entirety of a similar kol koreh released in August of 2015 signed by over 100 charedi Rabbis. It calls on reporting all reasonable suspicions of child abuse and neglect promptly to the civil authorities with no requirement to obtain prior approval from rabbis.

This proclamation is another step the frum Jewish community is taking to tackle abuse and helping the victims. In some communities, there is still harassment and ostracizing of victims and their families who report abuse, serving as an additional trauma to the abuse itself.

This proclamation stresses, "Regardless of the standing of the abuser, accusers and their family members must be treated in an accepting, nonjudgmental manner so that they feel safe and can therefore speak frankly and fully. This is necessary for them to receive suitable therapeutic support and in order to facilitate proper investigation and pursuit of justice. Shunning or encouraging social ostracism of victims, their families, or reporters is strictly forbidden."

The proclamation outlines policies that Lubavitch institutions, including schools and shuls, should adopt, including educating staff in identifying, responding, and reporting sexual abuse, and teaching body safety to students.

Proclamation Addressing Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community

Given the existence of child sexual abuse and other forms of child abuse which occurs in some of our communities, resulting in a number of tragic suicides as well as other physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences; and

Given the occurrence of various forms of adult abuse, including but not limited to domestic abuse, elder abuse, and abuse of the disabled; and

In fulfillment of the Torah's precept, ( ", ") ("Do not stand by while your fellow's blood is spilled"); and, ( ', ') ("and he is a witness- either he saw or he knew- if he does not testify, he shall bear his iniquity"); and

As religious leaders responsible for our communities' institutions and their policies, as well as for the physical and spiritual welfare of the members of our communities

We proclaim the following:

We acknowledge that our communities are not immune to the problems of child sexual abuse, child abuse and abuse of adults. These forms of abuse may be committed by family members, acquaintances, rabbis, teachers, counselors, youth leaders, or other professionals. These forms of abuse have caused and continue to cause immeasurable harm to the victims, their families, and our entire community; it can destroy lives.

We recognize in light of past experiences that our communities could have responded in more responsible and sensitive ways to help victims and to hold perpetrators accountable.

We condemn attempts to ignore allegations of child sexual abuse, child abuse and abuse of adults. These efforts are harmful, contrary to Jewish law, and immoral. The reporting of reasonable suspicions of all forms of child and adult abuse and neglect directly and immediately to the civil authorities is a requirement of Jewish law. There is no need to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting.

We decry the use of Jewish law or the invocation of communal interests as a tool to silence victims or witnesses from reporting abuse. Regardless of the standing of the abuser, accusers and their family members must be treated in an accepting, nonjudgmental manner so that they feel safe and can therefore speak frankly and fully. This is necessary for them to receive suitable therapeutic support, and in order to facilitate proper investigation and pursuit of justice. Shunning or encouraging social ostracism of victims, their families, or reporters is strictly forbidden.

In regards to the issue of child sexual abuse, we call upon all synagogues and schools to adopt policies geared towards prevention, including but not limited to:

o Setting up a committee within each institution to oversee policy development and implementation. Members should include school or synagogue professionals, lay leaders, and experts in dealing with abuse.

o Maximizing visibility and physical access to every space in the building in order to prevent any one adult from being secluded with one or more children without the reasonable and immediate possibility of being seen.

o Having a secure policy for dropping off and picking up children at the school or synagogue.

o Establishing rules defining acceptable and unacceptable touching of children by teachers, youth leaders, and counselors.

o Educating current and incoming staff about how to identify, respond to, and report child sexual abuse. Similar sessions should be held for the community at large. Retraining should be conducted periodically.

o Raising awareness in the community of the existence, significance, and preventative policies regarding child sexual abuse.

o Members of the community must be made aware when a sex offender moves in to a community. Community members and leaders should monitor the person's compliance with specially instituted safeguards that may be imposed.

o Remaining alert regarding adults who seem overly interested in interacting with children.

o Teaching children in age-appropriate ways about sexual development and sexual safety, about what constitutes of improper adult behavior, about being assertive in the face of such behavior, and about the need to tell a trusted adult if another adult tells them to keep a secret. In this way, children can become aware of, and alert to, dangers they many encounter even though no child is responsible for preventing sexual abuse; that is a responsibility of every adult and the entire community.

Ultimately, it is the halachic and moral obligation of the entire Jewish community, individually and collectively, to do all in our power to safeguard both children and adults by preventing abuse and responding appropriately once instances of abuse have occurred.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Yasher koach!
Yasher Koach!
May this only reduce the occurrences of such atrocities amongst us!
(9/17/2017 11:18:02 AM)
Good start
Included should be workplace violence and abuse from your boss.

This is very very applicable in today's frum workforce.
(9/17/2017 11:21:41 AM)
A Survivor
Why are there only 7 signatures on this???
(9/17/2017 11:27:17 AM)
not so simple
there are many many many people who have reported "abuse" with little proof and majorly embarrassed and messed peoples lives
(9/17/2017 11:56:57 AM)
Wonderful news!
(9/17/2017 12:31:53 PM)
BH yes
This is great! Finally
(9/17/2017 12:51:44 PM)
wonderful- keep in mind that if someone is an abuser his/her relatives most likely didn"t know about it and it"s not their fault. they suffer - make sure they can still be a part of the community.
(9/17/2017 12:57:51 PM)
why no NY Rabbonium ???????????????????????
(9/17/2017 1:02:19 PM)
To #4
There are many who report abuse , some have evidence and many many do not by the time they report it. It doesn't mean it never happened. It's true that some do lie about it even abusers will blame their victims. Most do not lie about being abused and many of them aren't beleived bec they can't prove it. I am a victim of child and adult abuse and there's no evidence of any of it since my state of mind wasn't focused on collecting evidence.
(9/17/2017 1:10:58 PM)
To #7
You are right, but I would think certain conditions would have to be met, like the abuser doesn't stay in the home or go to his children's schools etc. But yes, if the relatives are as horrified as the rest of us, we have a moral obligation to protect them and help them as much as we can.

I personally know of cases where despite conviction, wives welcome their husbands back into the home. One actually ran a day care out of her home and still he moved back in. Those women should leave their communities if they believe their husbands are good people & didn't do it, or the children made them do it. They are just as guilty in my eyes.
(9/17/2017 1:16:44 PM)
Crown Heights
Interesting to note that NOT ONE CH Rabbinic Authority signs on this vital document. There must be a reason abuse is so rampant in our neighborhood. Who r they protecting? Or should we not ask? We are at least a large community as any one of those represented by the Rabbonim who signed this doc. Kol HaKavod to them for standing up to the perpetrators in order to protect the victims.
(9/17/2017 1:18:15 PM)
Emes and tshuvah
My concern is interest of truth some rabbis who signed this themselves were involved in possible cover ups or shunning victims etc
At the same time there is place for positive change and tshuva on these rabbis part
I like that they express remorse and direct reporting directly to authorities and saying there's no need to ask rabbis prior to reporting
(9/17/2017 1:24:22 PM)
Workplace and / or Boss
I don't c where above statement excludes the work place or one's boss. Abuse of any type or form across the board is just that and includes any type or form of space and individual perpetrating the abuse, imho.
(9/17/2017 1:24:44 PM)
Why no rabbincal authority from Crown Heights signed?
(9/17/2017 1:32:03 PM)
Thank You
Very glad to see that something productive is happening.. Although only 7 Rabbonim - I think it is a wonderful new beginning. Now Shluchim from all over should sign and promise that they will support the victim regardless of political status. That would be a tremendous deal! Moshiach Now!
(9/17/2017 1:32:13 PM)
To #4
Someone could be telling the truth and still not prove it.
(9/17/2017 1:38:49 PM)
How many rabbis were asked to sign?
If you know the information plz post who declined to sign
(9/17/2017 1:39:18 PM)
yasher koach!
where is the out cry from raboni chabad in Israel from the sexual abuse cases happing there
(9/17/2017 1:44:04 PM)
COL left out major info
This document is more progressive than the article portrays. Take a look at the proclamation. It says molesters should be publicly exposed. Is this a nod of approval to the infamous Wall of Shame? (JCW)
(9/17/2017 1:44:07 PM)
Mandate court reporters
Any teacher working in a Head Start or day care facility in our community, as well as liscensed therapists , they are required by law to report any sort of neglect or abuse to Agency for Child Services. They are to look at children daily on their hands faces , for any sort of abuse. Unfortunately, frum communities sweep things under the rug. We can not ignore, we must step up yo the plate and advocate for these children. Before reporting anyone to authorities, the school gets involved and that is where it ends. Before schools open yearly, as part of their orientation that should have a Mental Health professional speak to staff exactly what is their role in such a situation, and how to proceed. We need to protect our children.
I hope more Rabbis will sign their names to this petition as well. We can not sit quietly and ignore, abuse unfortunately exists in our forum community as well.
(9/17/2017 1:44:33 PM)
So basically ......
Rabbis have admitted they are not capable of any power and or influence whatsoever within their communities and therefore because of all the pressure that has come out of recent they are forced to finally admit to this sorry confession.
(9/17/2017 1:46:18 PM)
Yossi A
To #12

VERY true& sad.
Let's hope that the Rabbi you are refering to truly did an about face when dealing with sexual abuse.......
(9/17/2017 1:49:06 PM)
Our Rabbonim
Already said this before
(9/17/2017 2:00:17 PM)
people have maliciously reported abuse that was false
there is nothing wrong with first discussing this with a rov who is very well versed in these things
(9/17/2017 2:00:39 PM)
there should be help for "abusers" too
most abusers wish that they did not have the urge to do these things
there should be help and a place for them to reach out to help them PREVENT hurting people in the first place
(9/17/2017 2:02:07 PM)
Wall of Shame
Cannot be a Jewish concept.
It is vindictive and serves no purpose. It doesn't stop new molesters. They can't help themselves. It ruins families for generations. Shaming people especially publicly is a harsh sin on the Torah. Even if exposes molesters.
Sure, we must take every precaution to keep molesters away from children. But shaming them, their wives, children and grandchildren - is not helping that mission.
It is just vicious. It creates a new set of victims the innocent wife, children and grandchildren. Who made their blood spillable?
(9/17/2017 2:03:20 PM)
Abuse is not dealt with in crown heights
What's going on in crown heights ,rabbis and men and woman authorities discourage all kinds of victims from speaking out or leaving their abusers and undermine their abuse. It's time to turn the victim into survivor instead of trying to change an abuser.
(9/17/2017 2:20:18 PM)
To #25
It's time to start changing the victims by turning them into survivors.
(9/17/2017 2:35:07 PM)
Its a no brainer!!

Err, why would anybody in their right mind, even think to seek rabbinic approval prior to reporting a crime, especially from some of those signitures!!
(9/17/2017 2:38:19 PM)
Two Sides To The Coin
Abuse is unacceptable ... BUT there are enough evil
spirited lowlifes who have used the option of reporting
false accusations of abuse as a weapon against those
whom they seek to harm for personal reasons.
The above Rabbis should come up with better solutions!!!

(9/17/2017 2:47:41 PM)
It was actually the parents on shlichus who hid this abuse, they did NOT report the abuse to police.
They were perhaps scared about shidduchim problems if their daughter's abuse became public.
I'm don't follow blindly any organization or individual.
(9/17/2017 3:37:52 PM)
Its a Sad very sad day
The Rabbis have basically raised the white flag in surrender they are not capable of handling their internal affairs of the Jewish community. What a crying shame. Instead of finding ways to improve the standards of our Rabbis we have given in to the goyishe authorities.
Signed by a Rabbi.
(9/17/2017 4:34:45 PM)
Not ok!!
Reporting someone as a child molester is a sure-fire way to exact revenge on an innocent person. I know PERSONALLY several instances of innocent people (whom the POLICE and AUTHORITIES CLEARED THEIR NAME) whose lives were destroyed because of false claims of abuse. And I agree 100% with #25. The abusers are only acting that way because they were abused themselves in some way!! They need just as much pity / help as their victims!!!
(9/17/2017 5:14:51 PM)
#25 #32
our rabbonim have no authority in the secular orld. they are correct in saying go to the police.
also why are you trying to defend the molester? yes he can help himself or the torah would give way out. he is just an animal and acting like one. and if his family suffers, he should have thought of this before he ruined the lives of innocent children. if a father was to die his family would suffer so ask g-d why he is making the family suffer when all he wants is the man dead? megalgelim zechus al yedi zaki and the opposite as well. i know of one child whose life and the life of the parents and siblings and grandparents is ruined because some monster animal acted on his animal instincts. no rachmunas on him. he chose to do this . the child did not choose to do this. the torah does not prohibit something that is beyond a person's control . the guy and family should be run out of the community and not be allowed to interact with normal decent people
(9/17/2017 5:31:42 PM)
#32 No name Rabbi
Wow!! What do you have to hide with a comment like that. Are you afraid of the authorities here and in Israel. Those Rabbi leaders don't have the know how or the tools to deal with this except to hide them into different communities in different countries to continue the cycle elsewhere because you believe it's better not to bring them to the authorities whether Jew or non Jew. "A crying Shame" for those that hide behind our beautiful religion and turning it into pedophile heaven. Hi
(9/17/2017 5:43:01 PM)
Good Press for them
Interesting , after decades of silence , I assune it suits these Rabbis to be seen as good fellows

(9/17/2017 5:58:33 PM)
Easy Way Out
Obviously they have been burdened with too many
problems. Judging case by case to see what is true and
what is false and come to a halachic conclusion
is too much work. So they found a "solution" . Go to the
secular and help the evil minded to destroy innocent
(9/17/2017 6:53:34 PM)
#37 I Agree 100%
Shame on those Rabbis who shirk off their responsibilities.
(9/17/2017 6:57:51 PM)
Why are you so angry. How about you set an example and sign with your own real name before asking others to do so.
(9/17/2017 7:33:54 PM)
Purpose of the wall of shame is...
To protect families, children, and potential victims when nobody else will!
(9/17/2017 7:34:56 PM)
The authorities don't just convict people.
All those righteous people complaining that the rabbis should be the ones to determine whether a claim is true, are missing the point. It was never a Rov's job to decide when someone should be reported to the police. In addition, the police won't convict someone of CSA until they have good proof. So for all those complaining that lives will be ruined because of false claims have nothing to worry about since the police won't convict unless their certain
(9/17/2017 8:13:38 PM)
Do you trust the police to decide your fate? Put yourself
in that place!!!
(9/17/2017 8:28:53 PM)
To #10
You may have a point however yes there are some ppl who are accused of things out of hatred! And there is no proof but they already have a bad name! Can a wife welcome him home?
What if the person dos do something and needed to go to therapy and the doctors/police gave a clear that he is not a danger ?
You seem to have a lot of hate in you!
Get your facts straight before accusing ppl.
(9/17/2017 9:30:16 PM)
You're all forgetting something
THE VICTIMS! They need and deserve justice and the knowledge that their attackers won't harm anyone else. HOW are Rabbis supposed to do that? They don't have any power! They can't even control their own Kehillot. I'll bet most of you who say just go to a Rav are either blind groupies or at risk for disclosure.

This might not be as good as it can be, but it's a great start. And FTR - as a mandated reporter, but very naive in those days, I DID go to the Av Beis Din (in another community) He did nothing, so I went to the CPS. No regrets.
(9/18/2017 12:23:35 AM)
Trust the Rabbis?
To #42
Do you trust the rabbis to decide your fate? Put yourself
in that place!!! How many reports have we read about corrupt rabbis over the last couple of years?
(9/18/2017 5:15:10 AM)
to #24
Please tell me where you can find a rov "well versed on these things"
This is precisley why you need to avoid rabonim. For years people assumed a rov would help them and instead, the hushed it.
Stop having blind faith.
(9/18/2017 9:01:16 AM)
This is a no-brainer. The Rabbis signing are doing the responsible thing. The state has authority in these matters. Yes, there is a risk that people will rat on other people about which there is no evidence (or could be making up outright lies) and ruin lives but that is always a risk whether the Rabbis give their support to going to the authorities or not. Someone can always spread a lie about another person. Overall this should help as a deterrent to someone who might have the urge to commit abuse. If they know that it is harder and harder to be protected by the community they will think twice about their actions. Simple.
There is no controversy here. It was about time.
(9/18/2017 9:08:26 AM)
#41 You are missing the point
Please carefully read the post by #33 with one important line being; "(whom the POLICE and AUTHORITIES CLEARED THEIR NAME)"
So obviously the issue is not just about whether the police will convict an innocent person, but that even when they do not convict, that does not mean that the lives of innocent people can't be ruined and destroyed.
This kind of abuse of children (and bullying and other abuses of adults, like in communities and in the work place for example, which I know of first hand, how horrible and life destroying it can be) is totally evil and must be addressed and to the extent humanly possible, stopped.
But that does not mean we throw the laws regarding Loshon Hara, out the window, to do so would be to exchange one form of abuse, for another, that could be equally destructive.
(9/18/2017 10:49:22 AM)
I refer to those worthy of the title Rabbi. Those who work
according to the laws of our HOLY TORAH.
When your fate is at stake let us know if the police are
your best friends.

(9/18/2017 12:42:41 PM)
to 49
only police and the court system gave me and my children the protection we needed. the rabbonim and mashpiim? sent me back to him repeatedly despite knowing what had happened.
and once i found the courage to go to police and court? we were left at best to hang dry, at worst further abused, by the same rabonim, mashpiim and shluchim who knew what we had been through and were still facing. without the goyim involved we would be homeless and penniless and in danger right now.

(9/18/2017 9:15:55 PM)
Nobody is judging you especially being clueless to what you
have been through. Generally speaking , every case is
different and therefore should be assessed as how to best
deal with it. Secular courts is a last resort. Its not a one size
fits all.

With but every case is different
(9/19/2017 12:11:29 AM)
will the evil JCW finally stop
Rabonim have been saying to goto police for years.
JCW prefers to be instigator, witness and hurt and executioner.
After posting the selected supposed abusers who they want to shame they anounce "goto police".
I know of a case prominently featured where all proffesional and police cleared the guy but JCW still shame him
Another 2 cases are not publicly shamed thank gd even though they are known to jcw and police.

Because JCW has other priorities.
Shut down the evil site and GOTO POLICE
(9/19/2017 3:26:15 AM)
not every lubavitcher who is a rav/daya, is a "lubavitcher rov". a few of these signed are daynim in a very modern BD which does not require mechitzos in shuls. they are fine individuals, but are not "rabonei chabad"
(9/19/2017 11:53:16 AM)
Thank You #53
Thanks for clarifying that its a Lubavitch decision.
(9/19/2017 4:35:58 PM)
Correction - Thank You #53
Thanks for clarifying that its NOT a Lubavitch decision.
(9/19/2017 10:30:45 PM)
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