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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

According to the National Institute of Health, Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination.




Neil Diamond announces he is canceling tour, retiring after Parkinson's diagnosis


Musician Neil Diamond announced on Monday that he is retiring from touring and canceling his upcoming tour in Australia and New Zealand after learning that he has Parkinson's disease.

Diamond, 76, said he still plans on being an active writer and contributor to music, but added his touring days are over.

“It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years,” said Diamond.

"My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world," he added. "You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been ‘so good, so good, so good’ thanks to you.”

Diamond has produced dozens of albums over his nearly six-decade career. In addition to hits such as "Cherry, Cherry" and "America," Diamond is best known for performing "Sweet Caroline." The song, released in 1969, is still commonly played at stadiums and arenas worldwide.

Diamond has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards throughout his career. His only Grammy win came in 1973 for producing the soundtrack for the film "Jonathan Livingston Seagull."

According to the National Institute of Health, Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination.



https://www.wkbw.com/news/national/neil-diamond-announces-he-is-canceling-tour-retiring-after-parkinson-s-diagnosis

https://www.medicinenet.com/parkinsons_disease/article.htm


Monday, January 22, 2018

Renowned Israeli musician and conductor Menahem Nebenhaus was accused last week of sexually harassing, raping and prostituting numerous minors at several educational institutions at which he worked...

Pedophilia, rape and sexual assault at Israeli music schools

By


Over ten students have already spoken out against conductor Menahem Nebenhaus in incidents ranging from sexual harassment to full-on rape.



Pedophilia, rape and sexual assault at Israeli music schools
The Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts symphony orchestra with Menahem Nebenhaus conducting.


Renowned Israeli musician and conductor Menahem Nebenhaus was accused last week of sexually harassing, raping and prostituting numerous minors at several educational institutions at which he worked. 
 
The scandal was revealed by journalist Assaf Harel, who, like most of the victims, studied under Nebenhaus while a student at the elite Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts in central Israel. 

On January 16, in his popular television segment, The Monologue, Harel described how he used to frequent Nebenhaus's private studio on Rothschild Boulevard every week for conducting lessons as a teen. At the time Harel also worked in construction, and he recalled arriving at the studio one day with his back muscles aching so badly he could barely move. Nebenhaus offered to massage his back. "I thought it was nice of him," Harel said. "He really did help, and I felt better." But it didn't stop there.

"Then he suggested we not have a lesson today, but instead play all sorts of games," Harel continued. "[He] offered a host of obscene suggestions: Let's play doctor and patient, let's masturbate together, and all sorts of other things that didn't sound like so much fun to me." Harel says the rest of his memory of the incident is foggy and unclear. But the fact that it happened lit a red light, and, riding the #Metoo wave, he decided to investigate.

Harel said that he found it uncanny that throughout the entire #Metoo campaign there were barely any stories about men harassing teens and boys. Recalling his own experience with Nebenhaus, he decided to reach out and discover whether there was perhaps more to the story. And, indeed, a couple of phone calls later, Harel had compiled a list of seven men and one woman who'd also been victimized by Nebenhaus.

The stories Harel heard took place in high schools, the IDF orchestra, the Ra'anana youth orchestra, musical summer camps, at Nebenhaus's studio and on orchestral tours abroad. One man testified that while on a tour abroad with his high school, Nebenhaus invited him to his hotel room and suggested they masturbate together.  Another told of a similar story happening at Nebenhaus's studio in Tel Aviv.

Another former student described coming over to Nebenhaus's studio after having broken up with his girlfriend. He was in a fragile emotional state, and was looking forward to confiding in his fatherly, endearing music teacher who'd become a close friend throughout their year of lessons. Nebenhaus apparently recognized the student's fragility and decided to take advantage of it. He explained to the student how important it is to "open up, to connect to your feelings, to expose yourself emotionally and physically." He convinced the student to expose himself physically, and once they were both naked, asked him to touch his penis. When the student refused, Nebenhaus went on to touch the student and perform oral sex on him. After leaving, the student proceeded to "barf his guts out" and never returned to the studio.

The most horrifying testimony tells the tale of a private student of Nebenhaus's who was de facto prostituted by the conductor. After one of the teachers at the Thelma Yellin school committed suicide, Nebenhaus offered himself as a shoulder to lean on for any student who felt they needed one. One such student forged a close relationship with Nebenhaus and came to regard him as a paternal figure. At some point, he began offering the student all sorts of bets involving sex and money: "If you have the courage to do 'this', you'll get 50 shekels...but I bet you're not brave enough," for example. The offers gradually became more and more extreme, until they became outright sex for money. This turned into weekly sex meetings, until eventually the student couldn't take it anymore and cut off the relationship. Nebenhaus made him agree to keep silent about the whole affair.

For decades, Nebenhaus conducted and taught almost exclusively at musical institutions for youth and children.

Five years ago, an anonymous source reported to the then principal of the Thelma Yellin school, Haim Daitchman, that Nebenhaus had raped him as a child. The school took measures to ensure he was removed from his position, but did not turn to the police or make further inquiries into the case.

After Harel broke the story, conductor Yishai Steckler admitted to being the anonymous source mentioned in Harel's story and gave an interview on Channel 2.

After becoming a conductor in his own right, Steckler worked alongside Nebenhaus at Thelma Yellin for years. In the Channel 2 interview he also admitted to being the student on whom Nebenhaus performed oral sex. Steckler said it took him years of psychological care in order to get over the trauma he suffered as a result of the rape. The sentence that scarred him most of all was what Nebenhaus said to him after the rape, right before he left: Steckler sat down on the couch, his knees shaking, incapable of getting up. He asked Nebenhaus to help him stand up. With a repulsed look on his face, Nebenhaus looked at him and said, "You're probably not a real artist if you're not willing to 'go far.'"

The world of classical music, and performing arts in general, is notorious for being rigorous and demanding to such an extent that an emotional toll is taken on the well-being of young artists, who will often pay a high price in order to ensure their success in the field. Educators, especially charismatic and successful ones like Nebenhaus, are regarded as idols and can easily exploit students who hold them in such high esteem. Extra care needs to be taken in demanding artistic institutions in order to ensure that young people are not taken advantage of, and that they have a support network to reach out to if such cases do come to pass.

Thelma Yellin's current principal, Moshe Philosoph, claims that all of the incidents that have been reported occurred over 20 years ago, therefore the statute of limitation on them has passed.

Since the release of the video, four more men have come forth reporting that they, too, had been harassed. Nebenhaus has been suspended from his current teaching post at the Technion University in Haifa. He has declined to make any comment as of yet, but has hired a lawyer.



http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Pedophilia-rape-and-sexual-assault-at-Israeli-music-schools-539328?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=19-1-2018&utm_content=pedophilia-rape-and-sexual-assault-at-israeli-music-schools-539328


 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

“It’s not the abuser (yes, it is) — he’s a weed, a sick person who needs treatment. The real problem is the willingness of the whole community — including its leaders — to shelter him.”

Did Baltimore’s Orthodox Community Turn A Blind Eye To Child Sexual Abuse? UPDATE - HE WAS TERMINATED 2:30 PM EST - THURSDAY JAN. 18.


S***HOLE DOES NOT QUITE DEFINE THIS PARTICULAR JEWISH COMMUNITY!



Amidst a growing conversation about child sexual abuse prevention in the Jewish community, allegations of rape met with community inaction forces reflection. 

 

January 17, 2018
 

Shmuel-Krawatsky

For three young boys from Baltimore, Camp Shoresh, an Orthodox day camp tucked into the gently rolling hills of Frederick County in western Maryland, must have seemed a child’s paradise.

It had a twisty water slide, a spacious game room packed with pool, ping-pong and foosball tables, a zip line, a climbing wall reaching into the sky and a creek winding through the grounds, perfect for nature hikes.
But in the summer of 2015, dark clouds pierced paradise.

Soon after Zev, then 7, Boaz, then 8, and Adam, then 7 (not their real names), started spending their days at the camp in late June and early July, each boy’s parents began to notice disturbing changes in their children’s behavior.

Zev, a sensitive, intellectual child, began waking up in the middle of the night screaming. Later that summer he complained of headaches and stomach aches, and he began wetting his bed.

Boaz, an active, “always laughing” kid, began acting out — shouting and becoming violent with his siblings, displaying “explosive” episodes of anger, his parents said. During a family drive, Boaz took off his seat belt, fell to the floor of the moving car and started screaming and crying.

Adam’s mother sensed something was wrong when the usually energetic and curious child started complaining of horrible stomach aches and developed a tick. He smeared feces on the walls, and he started to believe that “monsters lived in bathrooms.”

The connective tissue tying the boys’ similar stories together is Rabbi Steven (Shmuel) Krawatsky, who in the summer of 2015 served as the head of the lower boys’ division at Camp Shoresh.



Campers at Camp Shoresh, where Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky
 was the head of the lower boys division in the summer of 2015

Rabbi Krawatsky, 40, has worked in Jewish education for more than two decades and is considered to be a highly respected, charismatic leader who creates close personal relationships with his students.

Before moving to Baltimore in 2003, he worked as a Judaic studies teacher at HAFTR, a large Jewish day school in the Five Towns area and as the youth director at the White Shul in Far Rockaway.

Married and the father of four, he lives in Baltimore and teaches middle school Judaic studies at Beth Tfiloh, the local Modern Orthodox day school, and runs youth programming at Suburban Orthodox Toras Chaim, a large Orthodox synagogue in Baltimore. He began working at Camp Shoresh, an outreach, or kiruv, camp, in the early 2000s.

The boys’ parents describe behavior that experts in the field of child sexual abuse label as “grooming.” Rabbi K, as he is known around Baltimore, took a special interest in each child, giving them gifts (a signed basketball in Boaz’s case, davening prizes in Adam’s). Two of the three sets of parents recalled receiving phone calls from Rabbi K early in the camp season offering to give their sons private, one-on-one “social skills” lessons to improve their behavior. In the phone conversation, he praised each boy, calling them “special.”

Adam’s mother recalled Rabbi Krawatsky telling her over the phone that he had taken her son into the camp locker room to reprimand him for “inappropriate” behavior. He had gone with him alone into the locker room in order “not to embarrass him,” she recalls him explaining.

Toward the end of camp that summer, the boys’ stories of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Rabbi Krawatsky began to spill out, first to their parents and then to staff at Child Protective Services (CPS) in Frederick County, Md. Two of the alleged victims underwent forensic interviews.

Rabbi Krawatsky declined to speak directly with The Jewish Week. His attorney said the rabbi continues to proclaim his complete innocence and denies that any misconduct took place.


Rabbi Shmuel Krawatsky is fondly called “Rabbi K” by many in the Baltimore Orthodox community. Via rabbishmuelkrawatsky.blogspot.com

The Jewish Week reviewed the transcript of one of the forensic interviews, which provides abundant and disturbing detail of what took place, according to one of the young boys.

According to the transcript, the rabbi, who was naked and alone in the pool changing room with two alleged victims, touched the young boys “inappropriately” before asking them to touch his “private parts” in exchange for $100. The report also states that the rabbi threatened the young boys not to tell their parents what had happened and hit one boy in the stomach because “he was mad because we didn’t do what he said; touch his private parts.” (The parents of the young boy recalled finding bruises on their son’s stomach in July.) Similar incidents took place three times over the course of the summer, according to the report.

The first alleged victim interviewed by CPS later revealed to a private therapist that Rabbi Krawatsky had anally raped him, according to the boy’s parents. (The therapist, a mandated reporter, reported the rape to the Frederick County Child Advocacy center on Nov. 9, 2017, according to an email exchange between the boy’s parents and the therapist.)

Another disclosed to his parents and to CPS that he had been anally and orally raped by Rabbi Krawatsky. (The alleged victim disclosed details of the abuse to CPS in early 2017. A time lapse between sexual abuse and a victim’s disclosure of the abuse is expected, child trauma experts say.)
Frederick County CPS declined to release a transcript of the forensic interview, according to the victims’ parents. CPS did not respond to requests for comment.

The third child initially did not disclose abuse when he was interviewed by a CPS caseworker and the Frederick County Police on Dec. 22, 2015.
“I simply cannot stay silent when I know that this man is still working with children.”
However, according to his father, he later disclosed to a private therapist that Rabbi Krawatsky had propositioned him to touch his penis in the pool locker room two times over the course of the summer. The child said Rabbi Krawatsky was naked and verbally abusive towards him, threatening to “punish” him if he did not comply with his proposition, according to the young boy’s father. (These details are corroborated in the CPS transcript of the first alleged victim’s forensic interview.)

In the first two cases, CPS case workers, trained extensively to detect child sexual abuse and trauma, concluded that Rabbi Krawatsky was “indicated” for child sexual abuse. (In the third case, CPS ruled that sexual abuse was “unsubstantiated.”) These CPS terms are critical to understanding the case.
According to Sandra Barnes, assistant attorney general at Maryland Attorney General’s Office and the point person on cases that involve CPS, an “indication” from Child Protective Services means there was a “preponderance of evidence” that sexual abuse took place.
“To issue an indication, CPS must be convinced that it is more likely sexual abuse occurred than that it did not occur,” she said. “Where there is all that smoke, there must be fire.”
“I’m fighting for my son’s childhood. You only get one. I want my son to have his.”
Rabbi Krawatsky appealed both determinations, a move that is not unusual, according to Barnes. In both instances, the cases were settled prior to an appellate ruling. In the end, CPS, in what amounts to a plea bargain, downgraded its determination from “indicated” to “unsubstantiated,” which means that there is not a preponderance of evidence that abuse took place.

Much of the Baltimore Orthodox community continues to vocally support and defend the rabbi, citing him as a warm and caring leader.

Rabbi Krawatsky stopped working at the camp after the summer of 2015, according to a letter sent out by the camp director to the “friends and families” of Camp Shoresh in February 2016 addressing the “allegation … about improper conduct.”


Joel Avrunin, father of one of the alleged victims: “I’m fighting for my son’s childhood. You only get one. I want my son to have his.”


The parents of each child are still searching for answers. More than two years after the events of the summer of 2015, the boys are still struggling to deal with the effects of what allegedly took place, according to their parents. The three boys (two of whom are cousins) continue to disclose details about what they went through that summer, under the care of therapists trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.

“I simply cannot stay silent when I know that this man is still working with children,” said the mother of one of the alleged victims, who requested to remain anonymous to protect her son’s privacy. Though her preference would be to “bury my head in the sand and just move forward,” she feels compelled to speak out “to prevent future victims.”

“This nearly broke us,” said Joel Avrunin, Zev’s father, who met with me in mid-November. “I’m fighting for my son’s childhood. You only get one. I want my son to have his.”

An Anomalous Investigation

 

An investigation by The Jewish Week into the allegations against Rabbi Krawatsky paints a disturbing picture of how the Camp Shoresh case played out — from the perspectives of law enforcement, organizational “best practices” to guard against abuse, and the Orthodox community’s reaction.

The story comes as the Jewish community is in the midst of what many say is a long-overdue conversation about how to prevent child sexual abuse. A number of major philanthropists recently signed on to a pledge saying they would no longer fund schools and camps that do not put into place best practices to combat such abuse. Nonprofits have sprung up in an effort to guide Jewish institutions toward setting up policies to protect children. And the case comes as the Conservative movement is dealing with newly published allegations (and in some cases confirmation, as this newspaper reported) of sexual abuse carried out years ago by leaders in its youth arm, United Synagogue Youth.
“The more victims there are, the less likely it is that the accused is innocent.”

“It is extremely rare to have a false allegation of child sexual abuse,” said Victor Vieth, founder and senior director of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center and a nationally recognized expert in child sexual abuse prevention. “The more victims there are, the less likely it is that the accused is innocent.” A false allegation is akin to being “struck by lightning,” he said.
The likelihood that three separate allegations are false is “equivalent to the same person being struck by lightning three times. It is improbable enough to stagger the imagination.”

In the case of the Shoresh allegations, the police opened a criminal investigation in late August 2015, two days after the alleged sexual abuse had been reported to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, and a day after Zev went to the Child Advocacy Center for his forensic interview. The charges: sex offense in the third degree and sexual abuse of a minor.


Camp Shoresh in Frederick County in western Maryland.
 Three boys who attended the camp in the summer of 2015 said they were sexually abused 
 by Rabbi Krawatsky. 

But, experts assert, it may have been a flawed probe from the start.

According to the police report, obtained by The Jewish Week, the investigating detective, Michael P. Davies, brought Zev, his father and the CPS caseworker back to the scene of the alleged abuse — the pool changing room at camp. When they arrived at the camp, Davies met up with the camp’s director, Rabbi David Finkelstein. Together, Davies and Rabbi Finkelstein questioned Zev about the alleged incident.

Rabbi Finkelstein declined to comment for this story.
The likelihood that three separate allegations are false is “equivalent to the same person being struck by lightning three times. It is improbable enough to stagger the imagination.”

Zev’s father, Mr. Avrunin, recalled that the police detective, who was armed at the time, asked him to remain outside the changing room while his son was questioned. The move struck him as strange. Nonetheless, he complied. (A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office said that requesting a parent not to be present while a child victim is questioned is “standard procedure.”)

The investigative detective told The Jewish Week he was unable to provide comment for confidentiality reasons. He directed The Jewish Week to Maj. Tim Clarke, operations commander and spokesman at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office. According to Clarke, taking a child victim back to the scene of the alleged crime is “normally not done.” However, in this case, the investigator felt it necessary because “the child may have been unclear of the location where the incident occurred.”

Sandra Barnes of the state attorney general’s office said bringing a victim back to the scene of an alleged crime just days after it was suspected to have taken place is “very unusual” and a tactic she has “never seen before.”


Camp Shoresh director, Rabbi Dave Finkelstein with campers.

The police investigation also does not include any video footage, photographs, sworn statements or witness testimonies, all methods of corroboration criminal investigators generally try to include, said Clarke. In this case, Davies must not have thought them “necessary,” said Clarke. Investigative tactics are left up to the police detective’s “discretion.”

The police report also indicates that Rabbi Finkelstein, the camp director, was involved in the criminal probe of his employee, Rabbi Krawatsky — an unusual circumstance, according to legal experts, given his apparent conflict of interest. The report states that Rabbi Finkelstein “asked several other counselors about changing habits at the pools changing rooms(s)” and that these counselors said that, unlike other counselors, Rabbi Krawatsky used a private pool utility room to change.
“This case has ‘all the earmarks typical of an investigation constructed to protect the perpetrator.'”
Maj. Clarke, who reviewed the case prior to an interview with The Jewish Week, said he was not aware that Finkelstein had been involved in the investigation; however, under normal circumstances, any information used by police is received via direct interviews or in-person statements.

According to Marci Hamilton, CEO and academic director of CHILD USA, a think tank dedicated to preventing child abuse, this case has “all the earmarks typical of an investigation constructed to protect the perpetrator.” (Hamilton, a distinguished legal scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, did not have access to the police report but was informed of the facts of the case.)

Further, a significant part of the criminal investigation — referenced by community leaders and Rabbi Krawatsky’s lawyer as evidence of his innocence — was a polygraph examination. On Sept. 11, 2015, Rabbi Krawatsky submitted to a polygraph examination at the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, according to the police report. After the exam was completed, the officer who conducted the test advised Davies that “deception was NOT detected.”

Rabbi Krawatsky’s attorney cited the polygraph as evidence of his client’s innocence. “He [Krawatsky] immediately offered to take a polygraph test which he passed without question,” Rolle wrote to The Jewish Week in an email.

(The polygraph report was not included in the police report. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office denied the victim’s father access to the polygraph report, according to a letter from the Frederick County Sheriff’s office. The letter did not cite a reason for the denial.)

Experts say the polygraph exam is unreliable, and polygraphs are not admissible as evidence in court.

The manual of the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, an arm of the National District Attorneys’ Association, writes about the polygraph: “These investigative tools should never be the controlling factor in a decision about whether to proceed with a case.”



Camp Shoresh is an Orthodox kiruv, or outreach, day camp

On Dec. 8, 2015, Lindell Angel, assistant state’s attorney in Frederick County and the chief of the sex crimes and child abuse unit, decided not to pursue criminal charges against Rabbi Krawatsky “at this time.” After reviewing the case with Det. Davies on Dec. 2, the police report states Angel declined to prosecute due to “the lack of evidence and witnesses.”

In an email, Angel told The Jewish Week “it was apparent that the allegations of the complaint could not be corroborated, and furthermore were contradicted by other witnesses reported to be present as well as the physicality of the alleged scene of the reported event.”

The police report includes no witness testimony contradicting the alleged victims’ accounts. When asked for comment on why this seemingly pivotal testimony is absent, Maj. Clarke said, “I have no additional comments to add.”
“There is a common and grave misunderstanding out there that failure to prosecute exonerates the perpetrator. It does not.”
The threshold to prosecute a case — confidence that a crime can be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” — is much higher than CPS’ threshold to “indicate” someone for sexual abuse, experts explain.

“Our threshold is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’” said Barnes. Still, “To indicate, we have to be convinced abuse happened.”

Hamilton points out that the decision not to prosecute a case does not suggest the alleged abuser’s innocence. “There is a common and grave misunderstanding out there that failure to prosecute exonerates the perpetrator. It does not. It just means more evidence is needed,” she said. When the accused is a religious figure and beloved community member, gaining enough evidence to prosecute becomes increasingly difficult, she continued.

Hamilton pointed out, though, that “New victims can come forward at any point.” (In 2017, Maryland extended the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to age 38.)


Communal Silence & Cognitive Dissonance

 

The Orthodox community’s reaction to the allegations against Rabbi Krawatsky, which reaches from local leaders in Baltimore to the national umbrella group the Orthodox Union, is an example of what one abuse prevention expert called “cognitive dissonance.”

According to Shira M. Berkovits, an expert in abuse prevention, the inclination among community members to defend the accused is typical, even expected. (It was a pattern that was common in the sexual abuse case of National Council of Synagogue Youth Rabbi Baruch Lanner, a story first reported by The Jewish Week in 2000.)
“When a respected religious leader is accused of a morally repugnant crime, the impulse not to believe goes to the core.”
“When a respected religious leader is accused of a morally repugnant crime, the impulse not to believe goes to the core,” said Berkovits, who holds a doctorate in psychology as well as a law degree.

[Berkovits writes more about the psychological factors that contribute to sexual abuse here.]
Indeed, the Baltimore community has rallied around the popular Rabbi Krawatsky.

Complicating the picture is the rabbi’s successful appeals of the Child Protective Services rulings that there was a preponderance of evidence to suggest that he had sexually abused two of the Baltimore boys; the term “unsubstantiated” may have left the impression that Rabbi Krawatsky was cleared when in fact it meant that there was not a preponderance of evidence of abuse.

During the appeal of the first case, which took place during early 2016, Rabbi Krawatsky was placed on leave by the Beth Tfiloh day school, his primary employer.

Speaking to The Jewish Week, Zipora Schorr, Beth Tfiloh’s director of education, said she was unaware that the rabbi had been indicated for sexual abuse in September 2015 or in March 2017.


Beth Tfiloh school where Rabbi Krawatsky is still employed.

In a subsequent email exchange, Schorr acknowledged that she “was informed of the indication via email on September 25, 2015 from Frederick County Child Protective Services unit.” She said Rabbi Krawatsky was immediately suspended and accompanied out of the building.

Schorr maintains she did not know about Rabbi Krawatsky’s second indication or his subsequent appeal.

According to experts, a successful appeal does not exonerate the accused. The case was closed on Feb. 10, 2016, after the parties settled the matter prior to any appellate review. The lawyer representing CPS and Rabbi Krawatsky’s attorney, Chris Rolle, reached a settlement to downgrade Rabbi Krawatsky’s “indication” to an “unsubstantiated” status.

Rabbi Krawatsky was immediately reinstated at Beth Tfiloh after the first appeal, with no further investigation by the school.

(Drew Fidler, the Baltimore Child Abuse Center representative Beth Tfiloh hired in June of 2017 to audit the school’s child sexual abuse prevention policies, affirmed that an “unsubstantiated” ruling does not indicate innocence.)

It is not unusual for CPS legal personnel to settle with an alleged abuser’s attorney, legal experts say.

“With limited financial and legal resources, CPS caseworkers will often choose to settle with the alleged abuser’s attorney, a preferable outcome to the indication being ruled out and the record destroyed,” said Barnes.
“A high-priced attorney can browbeat CPS to downgrade that ‘indicated’ to ‘unsubstantiated.’ That’s not rare.”
Converting a ruling from “indicated” to “unsubstantiated” preserves a paper trail on the alleged abuser. (In Maryland, anyone with an “indicated” or “unsubstantiated” finding of child abuse is entered into a central confidential state database, according to the Maryland Department of Human Resources.)

Victor Veith, the child sex abuse expert, agreed: “A high-priced attorney can browbeat CPS to downgrade that ‘indicated’ to ‘unsubstantiated,’” he said. “That’s not rare.”

(In Maryland, the third potential outcome of a CPS investigation is “ruled out,” meaning that based on the available information, child maltreatment did not occur. This determination was not reached in the cases involving Rabbi Krawatsky.)


Schorr, meanwhile, continues to affirm her belief in Krawatsky’s “complete innocence,” though she declined to explain why.


As an example of Rabbi Krawatsky’s popularity, last November, when Chaim Levin, an activist and advocate for child abuse victims, posted a warning about the rabbi on his Facebook wall, indignant responses poured in. Most of them attested to Rabbi Krawatsky’s exceptional character and fastidious care of the children under his watch. (Levin previously worked for The Jewish Week as an editorial intern.)

To date, the Nov. 10 post has received nearly 70 comments, almost exclusively defending the rabbi.
“I can prove to you that Rabbi K is innocent. Stop hurting HIS children by bringing up a case that was thoroughly investigated and thrown out. It is honorable to protect kids. It is awful to slander an innocent person,” one mother wrote.

One commenter posted about his “multiple 1 on 1 lunch and learns with the accused as a middle schooler” and recalls going over to the rabbi’s house “for sleepovers as an elementary school student” as evidence of his trustworthiness.

The thread also contains vicious verbal attacks against Levin (who said he received multiple threats) and the victims’ families.

The OU’s Knowledge — And Apparent Inaction

 

In September of 2016, more than a year after the allegations against Rabbi Krawatsky surfaced, the Orthodox Union’s Yachad, a national organization that works to include individuals with disabilities in Jewish life, struck up a collaboration with Suburban Orthodox synagogue in Baltimore to create a Teen Inclusion Minyan, a prayer service catering to children and teens with disabilities.

Rabbi Krawatsky, the synagogue youth director, was appointed to lead the Yachad program in addition to his job at Beth Tfiloh.

Days after the new Yachad minyan began to advertise, several different individuals approached the Orthodox Union with concerns about Rabbi Krawatsky’s appointment. David Ohsie, a concerned father of eight living in the Baltimore Orthodox community, communicated his concerns to Deborah Rockoff, Yachad’s director of national programs, via email and phone for nearly two months.

(Rockoff, who did not respond to requests for comment, assured Ohsie that the OU was going to remove Rabbi Krawatsky from his position of leadership, according to Ohsie. Rabbi Krawatsky was not removed from the special needs minyan.)

Upon receiving complaints, Jeffrey Lichtman, international director of Yachad, conducted a “preliminary investigation” into the rabbi, according to Lichtman. (The Yachad employee tasked with investigating the matter had no training in cases of child sexual abuse, Lichtman said.)


“Rabbi K” in the classroom. Much of the Baltimore community has rallied behind him. Via rabbishmuelkrawatsky.blogspot.com


The OU reached out to two independent groups for further information: the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center and GRACE, an organization that has in the past helped Christian organizations respond to abuse. Both organizations confirmed to The Jewish Week that Lichtman reached out regarding the matter of Rabbi Krawatsky in November 2016. Both strongly recommended that the OU engage a third party to conduct an independent investigation into what Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE, described as the “very serious allegation in Baltimore County.”
(The OU has a fund set aside to help member synagogues investigate abuse claims.)


The Gundersen and GRACE organizations said the OU expressed interest in retaining their expert personnel to conduct an investigation into the matter. Both organizations said Lichtman requested proposals for conducting an investigative assessment. Both independently took the time to prepare these proposals for the OU, but said they did not hear back from Lichtman
.
Lichtman said he did not follow through with these experts because “he [Rabbi Krawatsky] was not an employee so we did not conduct further investigation.”
Results of the OU’s internal investigation prompted the OU to “immediately disassociate from this person [Rabbi Krawatsky] and not be involved with him in any way, shape or form.”
Meanwhile, the results of the OU’s internal investigation, which unearthed sexual abuse allegations made against the rabbi, prompted Lichtman to “immediately disassociate from this person [Rabbi Krawatsky] and not be involved with him in any way, shape or form,” he told The Jewish Week. Lichtman said he advised his fellow OU staff members not to partner with Rabbi Krawatsky on any OU-sponsored programs.

In December 2016, nearly two months after initial concerns about the rabbi leading the Yachad minyan were brought to the OU’s attention, Yachad dropped its name from the special teen service.


But the special needs minyan, under the leadership of Rabbi Krawatsky, continued, according to the synagogue’s weekly bulletins. (A phone call to the synagogue last month confirmed that Rabbi Krawatsky is still the youth director and still coordinates programming for special needs children.)
Lichtman said that, at the time, he “informed our [Yachad] participants who would potentially be involved in the program” that the OU had decided not to work with Rabbi Krawatsky.

The OU took no further steps to inform the Baltimore Orthodox community of its concerns about Rabbi Krawatsky. Lichtman said: “The OU has no mechanism to communicate with the community aside from telling the rabbi” of the congregation.

Lichtman said he personally informed Rabbi Shmuel Silber, rabbi of the synagogue hosting the Yachad minyan, about his concerns regarding Rabbi Krawatsky. In a phone interview with The Jewish Week, Lichtman said he “informed” Rabbi Silber over the phone that conducting an independent investigation is the recommended best practice.

Rabbi Silber did not respond to several requests for comment. However, Baltimore community members say that Rabbi Silber remains vocally supportive of Rabbi Krawatsky and convinced of his innocence.

[In August 2016, The Rabbinical Council of America released a proclamation acknowledging that sexual abuse “destroys lives” and recognizing how the community has failed in the past to adequately help victims and “hold perpetrators accountable.” Rabbi Silber, a former executive committee member of the RCA, is a signatory on the proclamation.]

Lichtman said he also informed Beth Tfiloh of the OU’s decision to remove Rabbi Krawatsky from all their programming. Beth Tfiloh’s Zipora Schorr emailed The Jewish Week that the school “never received any notification by the OU of its decision to sever all ties with Rabbi Krawatsky.”

Lichtman said he believes the OU followed best practices in responding in this case. He said: “We did everything we needed to do to protect our people.”
“We did everything we needed to do to protect our people.”
During the summer of 2016, NCSY Camp Sports, an all-boys sleepaway camp sponsored by the Orthodox Union, hosted Rabbi Krawatsky as their special Shabbat guest. He slept on-site and conducted learning workshops with campers.

According to NCSY’s Conduct, Policy and Behavioral Standards manual, volunteer hires who interact with teens are hired only after various background checks and an interview.

The Jewish Week reached out to Rabbi Jon Green, NCSY Camp Sports’ director, to inquire who conducted the background check into Rabbi Krawatsky. Rabbi Green assured this reporter that he would “100 percent” respond to the question.
“But,” he said, “you do know Rabbi K was totally cleared, right?” His source: a “passing conversation” with a “mutual friend” who knows Rabbi Krawatsky. (Rabbi Green did not respond to The Jewish Week’s question about who conducted the background check.)
The potential danger to children should be far greater than any other concern.”
Rabbi Yosef Blau, a longtime spiritual adviser at Yeshiva University and advocate for victims of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, said that “not having enough evidence [to convict someone] of child sexual abuse is a ridiculous standard” for the individuals the community chooses to teach its children.

“The potential danger to children should be far greater than any other concern,” Rabbi Blau continued. “The notion that if the police don’t arrest the guy you should keep him teaching is absurd.”

Reflecting on the case in light of the recent national reckoning surrounding sexual abuse and harassment, University of Pennsylvania’s Marci Hamilton said, “What is happening with this man is indefensible. This is willing ignorance, and nothing else. In the #MeToo era, the decision to ignore all of these very loud bells could lead to endangering children.” 

‘Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire’

 

The three families whose boys were allegedly abused now plan to sue Rabbi Krawatsky and any organization that “had knowledge that Rabbi K was being inappropriate with children and failed to intervene,” said Jon Little, the attorney who will be representing the families.

“From these three kids, we’ve gleaned the names of five more kids,” all of whom were allegedly abused by Rabbi Krawatsky at Camp Shoresh and in his other roles, said Little. “We have the record from the Maryland Child Protective Services — that’s a lot in my world. I am pretty confident that where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and here there’s a raging forest fire.”

Chris Rolle, Rabbi Krawatsky’s attorney, stated by email that the rabbi is “heartbroken and dismayed that the parents of the children are continuing to press these false allegations. There isn’t any more that my client can say other than he is innocent.” (Aside from citing the fact that his client passed a polygraph exam, Rolle declined to provide further evidence of his client’s innocence.)

For the parents of the alleged victims, the last two years have been a nightmare. The father of Rabbi Krawatsky’s third alleged victim said the community’s inaction is what pains him most deeply.
“It’s not the abuser — he’s a weed, a sick person who needs treatment. The real problem is the willingness of the whole community — including its leaders — to shelter him.”
“It’s not the abuser — he’s a weed, a sick person who needs treatment. The real problem is the willingness of the whole community — including its leaders — to shelter him,” said the father, an Israeli physicist who lives with his wife and three children in a suburb of Washington, D.C.

As for the Avrunins, who have been the most vocal about their son’s alleged abuse, they say that over the last two years they have been slandered, defamed and accused by members of the Baltimore Orthodox community of spreading “lashon harah,” malicious gossip, about an innocent man. Some have claimed the family is pursuing a “personal vendetta” against Rabbi Krawatsky.

The situation eventually caused the family to leave their Baltimore home of nine years; they now live in another state.

“The constant disbelief was the second wound our family endured, and the one that leaves a deeper scar,” said Rachel Avrunin, speaking to The Jewish Week by phone in November.

“It is one thing to wrap our mind around the fact that our son was sexually abused,” she said. “It’s another to realize that our community — our friends and neighbors, the people who davened next to us in shul and had playdates at our house — chose to turn a blind eye, or worse, betray us.”

Read the detailed accounts from Krawatsky’s three victim’s here, and the Jewish Week editorial on the issue here.


http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/did-baltimores-orthodox-community-turn-a-blind-eye-to-child-sexual-abuse/



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

People need to reconsider their roles as neighbors, relatives, and community members when it comes to protecting children who are not their own offspring—even if the parents appear to be religious.


by Janet Heimlich


We hear it time and time again. People express shock and disgust that parents who appear to be religious have been abusing their children. In the horrific case of the Turpin family, police found the 13 children, ages 2 to 29, shackled to their beds, severely malnourished, living in filth, and injured. 

They were so thin, police drastically miscalculated their ages; they thought a 17-year-old girl was only 10.

The grandparents hadn’t seen the home-schooled children in 4 or 5 years. But in that time, did they bother to learn how the parents were raising their children? Were there no red flags? Or were they satisfied just knowing that the children were being raised with faith?


Neighbors interviewed in the suburban neighborhood of Perris, California, wondered why they rarely saw the children. Some admitted that a few looked malnourished. When one neighbor saw the children putting up a nativity scene, she witnessed bizarre behavior: The children “froze [as] if by doing so they could become invisible.” And yet no one put in a call to police or CPS?

People need to reconsider their roles as neighbors, relatives, and community members when it comes to protecting children who are not their own offspring—even if the parents appear to be religious.

Of course, stepping into someone else’s private space to report them to authorities is not easy. 

(Although keep in mind you don’t have to prove abuse to make such a call.) Coming to the aid of a child who is in distress also is unnerving. I will never forget when I was in line at the post office and I had to beg a woman to pick up her baby who had been screaming for 15 minutes, his face beet red. I was verbally attacked by a stranger who thought what I had done was unconscionable. That was not fun, but at least, for that moment, things were better for the baby because the mother did pick up the baby and the crying ceased.

Yes, I’ve heard all the excuses. “It’s not our place to interfere with another parent’s choice.” “You could cause even more trouble for the child.” “The parent knows what she’s doing.” But let’s be honest. Most people don’t want to assume the role of protector for the simple reason that it’s uncomfortable, embarrassing, and a little scary.

The time has come for us to realize it’s not about us. Maybe if the Turpins’ relatives or neighbors had taken their roles as child protectors more seriously, those children would not have endured what they did.

On January 16, David and Louise Turpin were arrested on nine counts of torture and child endangerment. 

You may wonder how the children were saved. It turns out the 17-year-old girl who police thought was so much younger had escaped through a window and called 911 form a deactivated a cell phone. Her siblings owe their sister their lives. But it shouldn’t have been that way.

We shouldn’t have to rely on children to save themselves. That’s our job.

Janet Heimlich is an award-winning journalist and author of the book, Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child MaltreatmentShe founded and sits on the board of the Child-Friendly Faith Project.

Do you know of a religious organization that isn’t taking child abuse or neglect seriously? Or is your place of worship doing great things for children? Please let us know your questions, concerns, and ideas by emailing us at:info@childfriendlyfaith.org.





Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"The Face of The Generation is Like The Face of a Dog" --- Mishna Sota 9:15 , Sanhedrin 97a Talmud Bavli

The President and the Porn Star




Donald Trump at a campaign rally in October 2016, about the time his lawyer, according to news reports, arranged a $130,000 payout to a porn star.
 

In 1998, the professional moral scold William Bennett published a book titled “The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals.” In it, Bennett described blasé attitudes toward presidential adultery as corrosive. Clinton’s promiscuity, he argued, implicated his fitness for governing: “Chronic indiscipline, compulsion, exploitation, the easy betrayal of vows, all suggest something wrong at a deep level — something habitual and beyond control,” he wrote.

I was reminded of Bennett’s words by David Friend’s fascinating recent book, “The Naughty Nineties: The Triumph of the American Libido,” about the sexual scandals and cultural upheavals of that decade. In retrospect, the dynamics of the Clinton-era culture wars seem blissfully simple, pitting a sexually libertarian left against an aggressively prudish right. It is a cosmic irony that, 20 years later, it is conservatives who’ve finally killed off the last remaining unspoken rules about presidential sexual ethics.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that, a month before the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen arranged a $130,000 payout to the porn star Stephanie Clifford, known by the stage name Stormy Daniels, to stop her from discussing a 2006 dalliance with Trump. The New York Times added new details. The Daily Beast then reported that another porn actress, Jessica Drake, who had accused Trump of offering her $10,000 for sex, signed a nondisclosure agreement barring her from talking about the president.

In any other administration, evidence that the president paid hush money to the star of “Good Will Humping” during the election would be a scandal. In this one it has, so far, elicited a collective shrug.

Liberals, in general, can’t work up much outrage, because the encounter between Trump and Daniels was by all accounts consensual. And few social conservatives are interested in criticizing the president, since they’ve talked themselves into a posture of hardheaded moral realism in order to justify their support for him. In 2016, for example, Bennett himself condemned “Never Trump” conservatives for their “terrible case of moral superiority.”

If there’s a significant scandal, it will lie in the origins of the $130,000, or in other encounters Trump has covered up. There’s a sentence in Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury” that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. It comes toward the end, when Steve Bannon is praising Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz: “Kasowitz on the campaign — what did we have, a hundred women? Kasowitz took care of all of them.”

If it turns out there were payoffs to hide non-consensual behavior, there may be an uproar. But sleeping with a porn star while your wife has a new baby, then paying the porn star to be quiet? That’s what everyone expects of this president.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the right’s tacit embrace of a laissez faire approach to sexuality — at least male, heterosexual sexuality — coincides with attempts on the left to erect new ethical guardrails around sex.

In the 1990s, many feminists defended untrammeled eros because they feared a conservative sexual inquisition. Elements of that inquisition remain; attacks on reproductive rights have grown only more intense. Still, Trump has reconciled reactionary politics with male sexual license. In doing so, he’s made such license easier for feminists to criticize.

This weekend, the sex scandal that captivated people I know involved not Trump but the comedian Aziz Ansari. On Saturday, an online publication called Babe published allegations from a young photographer, pseudonymously called Grace, about a date with Ansari gone wrong.

Speaking to the writer Katie Way, Grace describes halfhearted — at least on her part — oral sex and Ansari’s insistent push for intercourse. Grace seemed to be disappointed that Ansari didn’t live up to his nice-guy feminist persona. “You ignored clear non-verbal cues; you kept going with advances,” she texted him.

Among feminists, reaction to the piece broke down roughly generationally. Grace interpreted her experience as sexual assault, but several older writers saw it as a story about caddishness and bad sex, neither of which justified the invasion of Ansari’s privacy. In The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanagan described it as “3,000 words of revenge porn” inspired by romantic disappointment.

I agree with Flanagan that the bad behavior Grace described doesn’t rise to the level of assault or harassment, and I don’t think Babe should have published the story. Still, I can sympathize with the younger feminists who are pushing the limits of the #MeToo movement. They are, it seems to me, trying to impose new norms of consideration on a brutal sexual culture, without appealing to religious sanction or patriarchal chivalry.

“A lot of men will read that post about Aziz Ansari and see an everyday, reasonable sexual interaction,” tweeted the feminist writer Jessica Valenti. “But part of what women are saying right now is that what the culture considers ‘normal’ sexual encounters are not working for us, and oftentimes harmful.”

Maybe feminists feel free to express their fury about the path sexual liberation has taken because they no longer need to defend sexual liberation itself from conservatives. In the 1990s, porn culture seemed subversive and chic. Now it’s become repulsively presidential.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/15/opinion/president-porn-star-stephanie-clifford.html?emc=edit_tnt_20180115&nlid=32999454&tntemail0=y

Monday, January 15, 2018

In 2001, Rosenfeld was convicted of two counts of child molestation for abusing a 12-year-old bar mitzvah student while serving as cantor of Temple Am David in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was given a suspended sentence but served 18 months in prison after violating probation.



NY Jewish day school launches investigation of alleged sex abuse in 1970s

 

Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy in the Bronx probing accusations that former assistant principal molested at least one student



Illustrative: A school classroom. (Image via Shutterstock)

A liberal Orthodox Jewish day school in New York City has launched an investigation after a former assistant principal was accused of sexually abusing a student in the 1970s.

Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy in the Bronx, known as SAR, informed its community of the investigation in an email Tuesday night. A former student recently emailed the school alleging abuse committed by Stanley Rosenfeld, the school’s former assistant principal for general studies.
“As painful as this is for our school community, the pain for any of the victims of abuse is far greater,” read the email, signed by Rabbi Binyamin Krauss, principal of the elementary and middle school, and Rabbi Tully Harcsztark, the high school principal. “We are committed to being supportive to any victims of abuse, to understanding the abuse they suffered and the harm it has caused them, and to learning from our past experiences and using them to inform our present practices to protect our community.”

Rosenfeld, now 84, worked at the school in the 1970s. At the time, SAR ended at eighth grade. Its high school was founded in 2003.

In 2001, Rosenfeld was convicted of two counts of child molestation for abusing a 12-year-old bar mitzvah student while serving as cantor of Temple Am David in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was given a suspended sentence but served 18 months in prison after violating probation.

SAR has hired an external firm, T&M Protection Resources, to investigate the claims. The school is encouraging people to come forward with any information they have about abuse committed by Rosenfeld. It expects the investigation to take several months.

“We are committed to a thorough and comprehensive independent investigative process about the abuses perpetrated by Mr. Rosenfeld as well as what may have been known at the time or more recently,” Krauss wrote JTA directly in an email. “At this point, it would be premature to speculate on the findings of this effort.”

The community email noted that in recent years, the school implemented policies to prevent sexual abuse and harassment.


https://www.timesofisrael.com/ny-jewish-day-school-launches-investigation-of-alleged-sex-abuse-in-1970s/




Friday, January 12, 2018

Bankrupt The Bastards! --- But even if it did, we should be less concerned with protecting the bank accounts of institutions that might harbor sexual predators, and more concerned with bringing justice to the victims — whether their abusers are clergy members, teachers or, as in a majority of cases, a family member....

Albany, Pass the Child Victims Act

Democratic State Senator Brad Hoylman speaking in favor of The Child Victims Act at the New York State Capitol, in January. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times 
 
If the #MeToo movement of the last few months has taught us anything, it’s that it is extremely painful and risky for victims of sexual harassment or assault — even those with power, money and connections — to speak out against their abusers. Now consider how much harder it must be for a child.

It should surprise no one that a vast majority of people who were sexually abused as children never report it. For those who do, it takes years, and often decades, to recognize what happened to them, realize it wasn’t their fault and tell someone. The trauma leads to higher rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, depression, suicide and other physical and psychological problems that cost millions or billions to treat — money that should be paid not by taxpayers, but by the offenders and the institutions that cover for them.

For these reasons, many states — including eight last year alone — have done the right thing and extended or eliminated statutes of limitations for the reporting of child sexual abuse. This has encouraged more victims to come forward and seek justice for abuse that was never properly addressed, if it was addressed at all.

New York, which has had no shortage of child sex-abuse scandals, should be on that list. In fact, it should be leading the nation on this issue. Instead it, along with Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan, is one of the states with the least victim-friendly reporting laws in the country. New York requires most child sex-abuse victims to sue by the age of 23, 19 years before the average age at which such victims report their abuse.
Lawmakers have had the solution in their hands for more than a decade. The Child Victims Act would extend the statute of limitations to age 50 in civil cases, and to age 28 in criminal cases. It would also establish a one-year window in which anyone would be permitted to bring a lawsuit, even if the statute of limitations had already expired.

The bill enjoys widespread and bipartisan support in Albany — it passed the State Assembly once again in 2017, by a vote of 139 to 7 — and from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And yet it keeps failing to become law.

Why? The Senate majority leader, John Flanagan, a Republican, has refused to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. The bill’s opponents, which include the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jewish groups and the Boy Scouts of America, are concerned primarily with the one-year window, which they believe would cause a wave of claims that could drive churches, schools and hospitals into bankruptcy. That hasn’t happened in other states, even those that opened the window for longer. In Minnesota, which created a three-year window for a population a little more than a quarter of New York’s, just under 1,000 civil claims have been filed.

But even if it did, we should be less concerned with protecting the bank accounts of institutions that might harbor sexual predators, and more concerned with bringing justice to the victims — whether their abusers are clergy members, teachers or, as in a majority of cases, a family member.

The Child Victims Act should have passed on its merits long ago. Since it hasn’t, Mr. Cuomo needs to step up and demonstrate the leadership he has shown on many other divisive issues in recent years, like same-sex marriage. If Mr. Cuomo includes the bill’s provisions in the 2018-19 state budget, which he is scheduled to present on Tuesday, he will make it extremely tough for Mr. Flanagan and other Republican leaders to say no to protecting New York’s most vulnerable victims.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/albany-child-victims-act.html?emc=edit_tnt_20180111&nlid=32999454&tntemail0=y

Thursday, January 11, 2018

I would rather send my children to a school that deals with its children with problems than to a school that pretends it doesn’t have any children with problems....


Response from Rabbi Pruzansky: Changing My Mind on School Expulsions


For some time now, we have heard that many of our youth are in a bad way—drinking, drugs, scandalous behavior—all of which have given rise to problems in schools. There have been conferences and seminars, calls for better education and improved communication. And the schools have generally responded to credible accusations of misconduct with a quick but somewhat selective trigger finger—especially in their use of expulsions. A number of people have reported to me about a party that took place recently in the metropolitan area that attracted a lot of teens and involved mass drinking and revelry, with the parents of the host conveniently out-of-town. (There were probably many other and similar parties of which I am unaware.) And the schools have dutifully responded with the range of disciplines at their disposal, and applied to the great variety of offenders under their dominion in inconsistent ways.

I have always been a law-and-order man; schools should have rules just like life has rules because otherwise there is chaos and anarchy. But I think we have gone too far in these situations to the extent that I have changed my mind. I used to think that it was appropriate for schools to monitor their students’ behavior even off campus and react when there is degenerate behavior, and in an ideal world that would still hold true. But I no longer believe that. Schools should monitor what students do on their premises, and that’s it. And off premises? That is the responsibility of the parents. Remember them?

Parents used to have primary responsibility for parenting, discipline, and instilling values in their children. Sometime in the recent past, parents abdicated that responsibility to the schools, and the results have not been pretty. For example: What parent lets a teenager go to a party of teenagers that has no responsible adult in charge? (I say “responsible” because not all adults are responsible.) You would have to be insane to allow such a thing. My children were trustworthy, but I would never let them as teens go to an unsupervised party. My wife and I would monitor, as best as possible, with whom our children would socialize. That is elementary parenting.

Forget the schools. As far as I am concerned, it’s none of the school’s business what happens off campus. It’s the parents’ business—and parents have to reclaim their role. Indeed, parents have many more disciplinary tools in their arsenal than schools do. They should use them, without fear of losing their children as “buddies.”

That being said, I have reconsidered something else. Schools have to stop these willy-nilly expulsions of students, which have become (1) a marketing tool (“Look at us! We expelled two students for unacceptable behavior. Problem solved. Send your children to us!”), (2) a deterrent that has clearly failed given the widespread misconduct that apparently exists and (3) a tacit admission that schools don’t have the time, interest or energy to deal with every child with a problem. I was slow to come around to this but I have realized that was once unthinkable has become normative, and again, quite selectively applied. A few months ago, I was sent a video a few months ago of Rav Moshe Weinberger (the Rav of Aish Kodesh) pleading with principals to remember their own youth. “What were you like when you were 17?” Why are they pretending that all was so perfect that now we can just dispatch Jewish children into the spiritual wilderness?

My initial reaction was that it is easy for someone not in chinuch to make such a broad statement and encourage such a policy change—banning expulsions—but as I pondered his comments over the course of a few weeks, I realized that he was correct. Teens are teens, and even if the parameters of “acting out” have widened over the decades since I was a teenager, and mostly in very unsalutary ways, I do not doubt that there are today principals and Roshei Yeshiva, teachers and rabbis, who acted as teens in ways that they chalk up to adolescent hijinks. Yet, they—or their boards—do not want to give today’s children the same break or a compassionate hand. I certainly do not lay all the blame at the feet of the principals or administrators who are often confronted with conflicting pressures that cannot all be resolved to the satisfaction of all.

And then I started my research on my “Great Rabbis of the 20th Century” series and to my astonishment, I determined that these giants dealt with the same issues in a much more tolerant, loving and probably effective way. The Alter of Slabodka, for example, never agreed to expel a student. (Keep in mind that Slabodka had its share of students who desecrated Shabbat, who were Socialists trying to overthrow the Czar, who were students in the yeshiva who even rebelled against the Alter and tried to have him dismissed!) Yet, he would tell the Roshei Yeshiva, that we must look and find some good in them. He kept one student around, he told his colleagues, even though he wasn’t much of a student, because he liked to do favors for people. The Jewish people need that also. And when challenged about particular miscreants, he would cite the verse in Kohelet and the Midrash (Vayikra Raba 27:5) thereon: “‘G-d seeks out the pursued;’ even when the righteous pursue the wicked” G-d takes up the cause of the underdog. So find his good quality and help him. Don’t throw him away.

Similarly, Rav Ovadia Yosef said in an interview a year before he died that it is forbidden to expel a child from yeshiva. I quote: “Even if there is a student who behaves inappropriately, it is still forbidden to throw him out of school and instead we must exercise extreme patience… If we are patient with this student, one day he can grow up to be a talmid chochom. And if we send him away from the yeshiva where will he go? To a secular school and then what will become of him?”

And then he added: “What, are you throwing away a rock? These are precious souls! If you throw a child away, do you know what will be? Are you ready to take responsibility for what might happen?”

And in Rav Yissachar Frand’s Dvar Torah last week (the second essay) he made the same point. If all these great rabbis are addressing this issue, it tells me that there is a problem in Baltimore, Israel, the Five Towns, New Jersey – and everywhere else.

And who are we throwing away? The children of the Avot and Imahot of our people. Like Rambam says (Hilchot Sanhedrin 25:2), even the lowliest among us are “the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, the armies of G-d who took us out of Egypt with a great might and a powerful arm.”

I’m not an extremist. If a child is endangering another child, that is different. But short of that, there are other measures. Educate. Discipline. Suspend. Make a child repeat a class or a grade. (The thought alone of paying an extra year’s tuition will get the parents’ attention.) But don’t throw them away. G-d also took these children out of Egypt.

I would rather send my children to a school that deals with its children with problems than to a school that pretends it doesn’t have any children with problems.

And what should parents, now once again responsible for their children’s behavior, impress upon them? During the years of bondage in Egypt, we never lost our identity, our dignity, our sense of self-respect. We always knew, in the statement of the Mishna (Masechet Shabbat 111a), that “all Israel are the children of kings.” We are all princes and princesses. We never let the Egyptians, those debauched pagans, define us. We endured them, survived them and triumphed over them, and then the sense of inner freedom naturally emerged from us. It cannot be suppressed forever – in any of us.

That is the message for us and for our children. They should realize that all the attractions and allures of the world mean nothing compared to the great privilege of being part of a royal people. They need to be taught that when they act like reprobates, they have first and foremost let themselves down.

There is no greater deterrent to mischief than the realization that some conduct is beneath them and unworthy of them, of who they are supposed to be. When that realization sinks in, we will merit only blessings from all of our children.

Rabbi Steven Pruzansky is mara d’atra of Congregation B’nai Yeshurun in Teaneck.