Speaking Out For Abuse Victims

By Judith S.B. Guedalia (The Jewish Week)
July 20, 2010

Regarding "Accused Pedophile To Resign From Queens Rabbinical Board" (July 2) and "A Decade Later, More Willingness To Confront Rabbinic Abuse" (June 18), I cannot write as a New York resident, nor am I writing as a formal representative of either Nefesh Israel, an organization I co-chair, or Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, where I have headed the neuropsychology unit for close to 20 years.

I am writing as an individual who personally and professionally has met, treated and cried with children (and their families) who were victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by those (in this case) "religious" figures whose job it was to protect them and their souls. Instead of doing this holy endeavor they used their positions of trust to wantonly destroy lives to their core.

I speak for those who came to me, who refused to go to the police, or to organizations that swear allegiance to serve and protect. I speak for the weak and weakened who came to me to ask me to help in the diagnosis of scores of disorders, from night terrors to depression, all responses to the "rape-of-trust" that occurred as a result of the abuse they suffered at the hands of "holy" teachers, rabbis and sometimes parents.

These abusers were not alone; those who knew or suspected something was not right acted as co-conspirators, in a sense.

I feel I have heard it all from the so-called protectors, and here are just a few comments:

"He has nine children, what about his 'parnasa' [income]?"

"That was a long time ago."

"This will kill his parents, and you know they are Holocaust survivors."

"Let's wait a little while longer."

And of course: "He promised he would stop."

I have gone to the police and to criminal lawyers, but unless there is a formal complaint, their hands are tied.

So thank you, Jewish Week, in proving again that you are representatives of The Jewish Weak — indeed they are The Jewish Strong.

Chief Psychologist

Shaare Zedek Medical Center

Jerusalem