Jewish Sexual Abuse Awareness Week kicked off today in Chicago. A project of New York based Jewish Board for Advocacy for Children, was sponsored locally by the Assocaited Talmud Torahs of Chicago, and the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Gedalyah Schwartz of the Rabbinic Council spoke about the horrific effects of sexual molestation on the psyche of the victims. He declared since victims may take the step of committing suicide as a result of the perverse actions done to them, it's a matter of 'pikuach nefesh', a Jewish term for guarding the soul.
Survivors of abuse Motty Weiss and Pinny Taub spoke next. They discussed the treatment by the Orthodox rabbinate and community after coming out about their being abused. Attendees were visibly moved by Mr. Taub's account.
Rabbi Mark Dratch, Dr. Vivian Skolnick, and Dr. Asher Lipner spoke about prevention and the importance of involving the police and prosecutors early in the process. The Illinois State Sex Crime Unit Head described law enforcement's involvement in the process and how every effort is made to reduce victim discomfort. Special attention was given to the protection of the family from intimidation or harrassment.
Following a suicide in lakewood, New Jersey - the molestation victim's house was burned down in an arson attack. Recently, a Lakewood, New Jersey rabbi was arrested for harassing the family of a sexual molestation victim who came forward with Rabbinic approval.
The highlight of the afternoon was Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik of Chicago who brought the house down with this line, "If your wife was raped, would you call a rabbi and ask him what to do? No, you would call the police. Why in the case of a child do people think they have to call the rabbi?
Enough of the rabbinic meetings, call the police first" he begged!
Attendance was estimated at 400. Organizers expressed disappointment that many rabbis boycotted this event. There will be a backlash against those rabbis and school principals who were not in attendance....