Monday, April 24, 2017

To obtain a diverse group of observant Jewish women, subjects were sought across a large range of religious Jewish communities by advertising through synagogue bulletins, Jewish organizations, newspapers, Jewish- oriented web sites and Listservs, and a network of medical professionals (e.g., obstetricians/gynecologists, nurses, and pediatricians) whose practices consisted of sizable numbers of Orthodox Jewish women.

History of Past Sexual Abuse in Married Observant Jewish Women. American Journal of Psychiatry, November 2007, 164:1700-1706 .

Friedman, M., Labinsky, E., Rosenbaum, T., Schmeidler, J. & Yehuda, R. 
The authors examined instances of past sexual abuse and related demographic characteristics in the self-reports of a select group of married observant Jewish women.

Orthodox Jewish married women (N=380) ages 19 to 58 responded to advertisements asking them to complete an anonymous questionnaire about sexual experiences, including sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse was reported by 26% of the respondents surveyed, with 16% reporting abuse occurring by the age of 13. More ultra-Orthodox Jews reported abuse than modern-Orthodox Jews. Women who were raised observant reported significantly less childhood sexual abuse than those who became observant later in life. Sexual abuse was associated with increased treatment-seeking for depression, marital counseling, or other emotional or psychological problems.

While observant Jewish women live in a culture defined by a high degree of adherence to specific laws of conduct, including rules designed to regulate sexual contact, sexual abuse of various types still exists among them.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New York State Must Stop Failing Victims of Child Sex Abuse

Houses of worship and a person’s experience of their faith should be free of sexual abuse.  

Shockingly, when victims of child sex abuse by religious leaders and other perpetrators come forward to seek justice and stop abusers from causing more harm, they are blocked by current New York State law. New York ranks among the very worst in the nation -- alongside Alabama, Michigan and Mississippi -- for how the courts and criminal justice system treat survivors of child sex abuse.

Mental health experts know it can take decades for a victim of this abuse to overcome the fear, shame, and trauma to be able to come forward to confront their abuser, but our current law allows survivors of abuse to pursue criminal or civil justice only until the age of 23 -- a statute of limitations of, in some cases, only five years.

A bill called the Child Victims Act can change that at the upcoming session. It will extend or eliminate the statute of limitations so victims come forward and perpetrators can be prosecuted, helping victims get justice and taking unknown abusers off the streets. April and May are critical months for clergy to demand that officials introduce and vote for the bill.

Add your name to demand action here
Right now, many Republican members of the New York legislature are opposing the bill. Some religious institutions are pressuring legislators to reject the bill because it could mean holding them accountable. Religious groups and others are threatening to thwart the re-election of members if they pass the bill.

Clergy for Child Victims is mobilizing faith leaders to sign this petition to the governor letting the governor, state assembly, and state senate know that we stand behind the governor's support of the bill. On May 9, a group of clergy will make a lobbying trip to Albany to try and get new legislation passed before budget negotiations start.

Sign and share with your colleagues here

To: New York State Senate, Assembly, and Governor

New York State Must Stop Failing Victims of Child Sex Abuse

New York State Must Stop Failing Victims of Child Sex Abuse

New York State's laws protecting survivors of child sex abuse are broken. The New York State Legislature must eliminate the Statute of Limitations for child victims of sex abuse, enable those who were denied justice the chance to pursue it, and thereby help get abusers off the streets.

Why is this important?


Jennie's life changed when her coach began molesting her at age 15, trauma that has impacted every area of her life. But like so many victims of child sex abuse, it wasn’t until many years later, when she was 25, that she understood what had happened to her. Under New York State law, the window for pursuing legal action for child sex abuse is only 5 years after one turns 18. Not only can Jennie not pursue justice; her abuser remains on the streets.

New York State ranks alongside Alabama, Michigan and Mississippi, as among the worst states in the U.S. in how its courts and criminal justice system treat survivors of child sex abuse.

Shockingly, victims brave enough to come forward to seek justice and stop abusers from causing more harm, are blocked by New York State law because current state law allows survivors to pursue criminal or civil justice for a maximum of just five years after they turn age 18. But mental health experts know it can take decades for a victim of child sexual abuse to overcome the fear, shame, and trauma before they are able to come forward to confront their abuser. Perpetrators can continue to abuse if not stopped.

Many of us faith leaders have seen the wounds caused by sexual predators; wounds whose pain cannot be overstated, wounds that may never be fully healed. We also painfully acknowledge that rather than being a source of healing for victims of child sexual abuse, religious institutions have too often been a part of the problem. It's now time to be a part of the solution.

Please join us in urging New York to join states like California, Delaware, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois and Florida that have recently passed legislation extending or eliminating the statute of limitations and creating windows for survivors to come forward. This legislation will no doubt bring justice and importantly, prevent further abuse. When similar legislation was passed in California, over 300 previously unknown abusers were identified.

Reforming NY State’s Statute of Limitations makes all our children safer and we urge you to join us today as we prepare to take this issue to Albany.

How it will be delivered


Right now legislators in Albany are debating the 2017 Child Victim's Act which will repeal the Statute of Limitations for civil and criminal cases and create an opportunity for victims who were denied justice to pursue it. We urge you to sign our petition today. We will deliver the signatures to the Governor, State Assembly and State Senate to encourage them to pass the Child Victim's Act.

Thank you for supporting this crucial effort.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In some cases, hundreds and thousands of calls, emails and faxes would be received every day, with the goal being to coerce the companies to advertise....

Dozens Arrested in Ultra-Orthodox Newspaper Extortion Scheme - NO YESHIVA - NO ARMY - NO JOBS - NO ETHICS - NO DECENCY - NO EDUCATION -  NO SKILLS   -  JUST A BUNCH OF DIRTY CRIMINAL BUMS!

extreme Haredi , ultra-Orthodox, Jerusalemagitators protesting arrests

Israel Police arrested Tuesday 28 suspects on suspicion of being involved in a harassment and extortion with threats scheme against executives of large private and government companies, in an attempt to force them to advertise in the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hapeles.

The police this morning carried out a search at the newspaper’s offices and arrested senior editorial staff.

The newspaper is affiliated with Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, whose Jerusalem faction leads demonstrations against Haredi conscription into the IDF.

Companies targeted by the scheme include Coca Cola, Shufersal, Materna, Tara, Strauss, Tnuva and Optica Halperin.

In the last six months, police conducted an undercover investigation against the extensive operation that concluded last night with a wave of arrests throughout the country. Police also visited the headquarters of Hapeles in Jerusalem and confiscated computers and other multimedia devices.

Some 250 police officers participated in the arrest operation that took place in the early morning hours of Tuesday. Suspects were detained in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Modi’in Illit, Ashdod, Rekhasim and Hadera.

Several of the suspects are expected to be arraigned later Tuesday in the Rishon LeZion Magistrate’s Court.

During the arrests, police were attacked in several locations by crowds of residents who threw objects and shouted abuse at officers. In the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem, protestors blocked roads with dumpsters.

The investigation began after police received dozens of complaints from company executives who alleged that they were receiving constant harassment by phone, email and fax.

extreme Haredi , ultra-Orthodox, Jerusalem Haredim Mea Shearim Jerusalem

According to police, suspects presented themselves as those representing a large section of the public that “felt deprived” that the companies were not advertising in a newspaper that represents them, such as Hapeles.

At this point, suspects would begin a ceaseless campaign of calls, faxes and email to the same company executives and their families leading to severe disruption, not only in the company’s normal activities, but also those of executives’ families.

In some cases, hundreds and thousands of calls, emails and faxes would be received every day, with the goal being to coerce the companies to advertise.

According to police, the operation was so extensive that suspects operated a special call line in which dozens of workers would clandestinely receive instructions and details related to the people they were supposed to harass.

Shufersal CEO Itzhak Aberkohen said, “It was the same group of people who would harass every day for weeks from the early hours of the morning until the late hours of the night. It got to the point where we had to turn off the phones or put them on silent. It interfered greatly with our personal and family relationships.”

According to another executive, “When I was answering and trying to have a conversation, some of the people were polite and some really threatened me. From the other side of the line were children and adults who cursed, screamed and screamed.”

Another executive said that apart from threatening the workers, they would also call their parents at unusual hours.

“My mother told me that one morning they called her and said to her, ‘Your son is taking a side and you will pay the price for it, the company will also pay a personal price,'” said the executive.

By Ynet New

(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Four families aren't cooperating with the Health Department's investigation, according to a spokesman...

Orthodox Families Won't Out The Mohels Who Gave Babies Herpes, City Says

Four families aren't cooperating with the Health Department's investigation, according to a spokesman.

WILLIAMSBURG — A Health Department investigation into who infected four infant boys with herpes during Orthodox Jewish circumcision ceremonies has been thwarted because the community — including the children's parents — refuses to cooperate, the city said.

Only two of six families whose babies contracted herpes since 2015 from metzitzah b'peha religious rite that calls for a trained devotee, or mohel, to clean circumcision wounds by oral suction, have provided the names of the practitioner, according to Health Department spokesman Christopher Miller.

"Unfortunately, some in the community are resistant to sharing the name of the mohels," Miller said. "This is a very insular community. This is a very religious ritual." The city ordered the two mohels who were identified to stop performing metzitzah b'peh in mid-March and they could face civil and criminal fines and punishment if they don't comply, under a revised city policy. They have to test negative for herpes simplex antibodies before the city will rescind the order, Miller said.

The men were asked informally by the Health Department not to perform ritual when the city found out about the infections of two babies in December of 2015 and July of 2016, Miller said.

Health Department officials said they were able to track the herpes infection to the mohels because of the timeline of when and where herpes blisters appear on the newborn. Because they appear in the genital region five to seven days after the baby's eighth day of life, when the bris takes place, health officials pinpoint the mohel as source of the virus.

A herpes infection in an infant can cause brain damage and even death.

Orthodox leaders have said they were cooperating with authorities, but questioned how pervasive the problem is.

Rabbi David Niederman, the head of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, an umbrella organization for the area's Orthodox community, said in an earlier interview that they were fully cooperating with the city, though he highlighted, "the sheer numbers of metzitzah b’peh which are done annually here in the city and in the Jewish community all over the world,” where no baby boys contract herpes.

“This is a religious practice that has been going on for thousands of years," he said.

“We have been working with different authorities and we are ready…to determine who the cause is. If anybody is the cause, not only will the community actually ban him, that person himself would refrain..to ensure that anybody who infects a child is taken off the practice,” Niederman said in an earlier interview.

He could not be reached for comment Tuesday because of the Passover holiday.

A source privy to discussions about the infection issue, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak about it, said that the community was skeptical that the mohels had caused the infections and believed that Health Department officials just wanted to end metzitzah b'peh.

"That’s why we’re not willing to give out the mohels. We know the city is going to ban them without giving them due process,” the source said. "There is not proof that they actually infected the baby."

“It has to be proven, not blind accusation," the source said. "We believe there is a group of overzealous officials in the Department of Health whose goal is banning the practice entirely. It's just a step for them."

"The health of infants is our primary concern, which is why [we] recommend against direct oral suction all together," Miller said.

Health experts said they are confident that the mohels are infecting the infants, though they admit definitive proof is elusive.

The agency could, theoretically, outsource the genetic sequencing of viral samples to research laboratories, according to Dr. Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center.

But, he added, "I think, based on location of the lesions and time, the simplest hypothesis" — in this case, transmission via metzitzah b'peh — "seems to be the most likely."

Whether or not mohels are the definitive source of the infection, if they test positive for herpes simplex, they shouldn't perform the ritual either way, Miller said.

"Anyone infected with [herpes] simply should not be placing his mouth on an infant’s open wound because of the risk of infection,” Miller said.

Since 2000, the controversial practice of metzitzah b’peh has been linked to two deaths and two cases of brain damage and there have been 24 laboratory-confirmed cases of herpes infection, according to Health Department alert sent out to doctors on March 8 following the most recent infection.

There are dozens of well-known mohels within Brooklyn's Orthodox community, often doctors or rabbis, who are trained in the sacred ritual of metzitzah b’peh.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, the Williamsburg rabbi who faced retaliation and physical attacks for his advocacy on behalf of children who'd been sexually abused by rabbis, worried parents of sick babies were being silenced by community leaders, much the same as they had been in cases of sex abuse.
"The only [reason] why they're not coming forward is because they're being threatened, ostracized," he said. "You don't know what kind of intimation goes on in this community."


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Great evening. Songs about goats #strange...

If Trump live tweets the Seder …

Donald Trump's sure to get an invitation to Kushner's Seder night.

Trump at the seder: #eatcementlosers
 Invited to Ivanka and Jared’s for Seder dinner. I’m all set to go. #happypassover

The failed New York Times says Passover starts today. FAKE NEWS #sad

 Just called Jared. It seems it actually is Passover today. #let'smakepassovergreat

Very excited and honored to be leading the Seder service tonight. It’s going to be a TERRIFIC evening, the BEST SEDER ever!

 Jared says I’m not quite Jewish enough to lead the service. He'll do a FANTASTIC job!

 Jews celebrate freedom from slavery. We all celebrate freedom from Obama!

 So the Egyptians made the Israelites build massive pyramids. AND the Jews had to pay for them. Smart work, pharoah!

Seems pharoah is bad guy. Horrible. Never liked him.

Service underway. It seems quite complicated and long. Someone pour me a large Scotch.

 You can’t even have ONE GLASS OF SINGLE MALT?!? #sad

 Jared serving Bread of Affliction. It's gonna be delicious.

We're eating some kind of big cracker with no flavor! #fakebread #passthejelly

 Big immigrant population don’t wanna work hard to make Egypt great again #sad

OK BIG NEWS. Serious pressure on Egypt to let the people go.

 Pharoah dithering. Cut a deal! Losing patience with Egypt here

 Moses using alternative facts to play with the heads of the Egyptians. THERE ARE TEN PLAGUES

 Lucky Egyptians weren’t on Obamacare — they’d be sick and poor (if first born, dead and poor) #fail

I’m warming to this idea bigly. WATCH OUT KIM JONG UN #tenplaguesforKorea #boils #frogs #riversofblood

 Israelites migrating. Fortunately for them they are not headed for #USA. They still have to get over the Red Sea #badidea

 OK so the Red Sea has parted. LET’S BUILD THAT WALL FOLKS

Egyptian military total fail #drowned. Big lesson for NATO here

 We’re singing a song called Dayenu. It means we’ve had enough. Just like the American people have had enough of FAKE NEWS

Correction, it means ‘it would have been enough’. So had POTUS just got rid of evil Hillary, it would have been enough #dayenu

Had POTUS saved America from Muslims carrying bombs, it would have been enough #dayenu

 Had POTUS simply built the wall, it would have been enough #dayenu

Gonna have a word with Sean Spicer. #dayenu is going to be our next press conference

 Everyone is saying “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Let’s get that embassy built there.

 Next year in Scotland! Terrific country. The Scottish people love me so much #Let’sPlayGolf. #singlemalt

 Prayer books have been put away. Four glasses of wine drunk. Now the feast. Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends — even the Democrats

 Is Hillary Jewish? #alternativefacts

 They just brought an egg. And they poured salty water all over it. Someone get me a Chinese takeout — and let’s make the Chinese pay for it

 OK there’s a crisis developing. Afi Koman has gone missing. Let’s get together and start searching for him.

 I seem to remember that Afi was Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister. Terrific guy. I hope his family are doing well and staying strong

 FAKE NEWS! Turns out Afi wasn’t the foreign minister, but a piece of matzah they hid. I led the search . Made sure Ivanka found it

 Everyone says we need to let in a guy called Elijah in. Has Elijah got a #greencard? Is he #muslim???

  They are putting wine in a glass for this guy. AND THEY ARE LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN #verysad

 We owe a debt to all of our immigrants but this is not the way we do business here anymore. No one gets a free pass. LET’S PUT AMERICA 1st!

 OK, Elijah is a dead prophet who comes back for a glass of wine. Who can blame him?

  Winding up. Great evening. Songs about goats #strange

  Looking forward to corned beef on rye at Trump Tower #signaturedish — hold the elevator!


Friday, April 07, 2017

Chag Sameach
















These past few years, the chareidi community and its leadership have been providing innumerable lessons to the world about the way a Torah-True Jew lives his life. Let us be grateful to them for all the many things they have taught us all!
  • If they had only been wise enough to ban music that has electric guitars, but had not boycotted a store that had a sheitel advertisement in the window, it would have been enough to show us their greatness!
  • If they had only protested against a store that had a sheitel advertisement in the window, but had not felt it was inappropriate for a magazine to carry an ad for an eyebrow-shaping service, it would have been enough to prove their wisdom!
  • If they had only felt it was inappropriate to advertise eyebrow-shaping, but had not publicly revealed that they were ignorant of basic facts about reality, it would have been enough to demonstrate their brilliance!
  • If they had only publicly revealed that that were ignorant of basic facts, but had not referred to drug smuggling yeshiva bochurim as holy, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only referred to drug smuggling yeshiva bochurim as kedoshim, but did not feel it necessary to restrict men and women to different sides of the streets, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only felt it necessary to restrict men and women to different sides of the streets, but not demand that women sit at the back of buses, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only demanded that women sit at the back of buses, but not beat them when they didn't, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only beat the women when they didn't sit at the back of the bus, but they didn't stone or throw acid at them when they didn't meet the extremist standards of modesty, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only thrown acid at women who weren't dressed to their satisfaction, but didn't break into peoples homes and violently attack innocent women, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only attacked innocent women, but didn't nod and wink at all the financial indiscretion they knew was going on in their community, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only nodded and winked at all the financial indiscretionss they knew about, but had not confessed to finding Bernie Madoff a more inspiring individual than Captain Sully, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only praised Madoff, but not publicly admitted that it was halachically ok to cheat on one's taxes as long as you don't get caught, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only admitted that it was ok to cheat on one's taxes, but refrained from holding an event dedicated to business ethics where the tax cheating Spinka Rav was given a place of honor, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only given kavod to the Spinka Rav, but had not also at that event honored a man who unjustly caused a charity to lose half a million dollars, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only honored a man who unjustly caused a charity to lose half a million dollars, but were not involved in granting special treatment to chassidic prisoners, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only been granting special favors to Jewish prisoners, but had not tried to destroy an innocent persons reputation and livelihood, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only destroyed an innocent persons reputation, but had not banned a book that tells the truthful history of their gedolim it would have been enough!
  • If they only had banned a book that tells the truthful history of their gedolim, but had not covered up decades of child molestation in their community, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only covered up decades of child molestation, but not fought against a bill that would help bring justice to victims of molestation, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only fought against a bill helping abuse victims, but had not issued a psak beis din admitting to witness tampering in an effort to help an accused molester, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only been guilty of witness tampering and obstruction of justice, but had not demonstrated utter disregard for a victim of molestation while showing overwhelming support for his molester, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only shown overwhelming support for a convicted molester, but not chosen to vociferously advocate on behalf of a cold-blooded killer, it would have been enough.
  • If they had only chosen to vociferously advocate on behalf of a cold-blooded killer, but not been virtually silent when a most prominent rabbinic figure was caught in a scandalous adulterous relationship, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only stood by silently when one of their most prominent rabbinic figures was caught in an scandalous adulterous relationship, but had not been frozen with inaction as a rabbi who made efforts to combat the rampant child abuse was bullied into silence, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only done nothing as a rabbi who made efforts to combat the child abuse was threatened into silence, but had not been silent about their chief rabbi's involvement in having a teenager kidnapped and beaten, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only been silent about the chief rabbi's involvement in kidnapping a teenager, but did not support rabbis who fraudulently manipulate hundreds of thousands of dollars from emotionally vulnerable devotees, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only extorted money from emotionally vulnerable devotees but had not laundered money through their yeshivas, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only laundered money through their yeshivas, but didn't operate a kosher meatpacking company that was found guily of fraud and child labor abuses, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only supported the convicted head of a scammy shechita company, but did not also operate an underground organ trafficking operation, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only operated an underground organ trafficking operation, but had not had a prominent rabbi caught extorting millions of dollars from a hedge fund, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only extorted millions of dollars, but had not allowed their constituents to violently riot because of a parking lot open on shabbos, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only allowed their constituents to violently riot on behalf of a parking lot, but not to riot on behalf of a woman who starved her own child, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only rioted on behalf of a woman who starved her own child, but not staunchly proclaimed the innocence of a man who murdered his own baby, it would have been enough!
  • If they had only proclaimed the innocence of a man who murdered his own child, but did not defend one of the worst child abusers in recent history, it would have been enough!
Dai-dai-yeniu… dai-dai-yeniu… dai-dai-yeniu… daiyeinu, DAYEINU!!!


Thursday, April 06, 2017

The conversation we're not having about digital child abuse - Yes - Jewish Kids Included!

We need to talk to kids about the risks they face online, says information security expert Sebastián Bortnik. In this talk, Bortnik discusses the issue of "grooming" — the sexual predation of children by adults on the internet — and outlines the conversations we need to start having about technology to keep our kids safe. (In Spanish with English subtitles

[This talk contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.]
0:15 This is Nina Rodríguez's Facebook profile. This person had three different profiles and 890 kids between 8 and 13 years old among her friends list. These are excerpts of a chat with one of those kids. This is an exact copy of the chat. It's part of the case file. This kid started sending private photos until his family realized what was going on. The police report and subsequent investigation lead them to a house. This was the girl's bedroom. Nina Rodríguez was actually a 24-year-old man that used to do this with lots of kids.
1:12 Micaela Ortega was 12 years old when she went to meet her new Facebook friend, also 12. "Rochi de River," was her name. She actually met Jonathan Luna, who was 26 years old. When they finally caught him, he confessed that he killed the girl because she refused to have sex with him. He had four Facebook profiles and 1,700 women on his contact list; 90 percent of them were under 13 years old.
1:51 These are two different cases of "grooming": an adult contacts a kid through the internet, and through manipulation or lying, leads that kid into sexual territory — from talking about sex to sharing private photos, recording the kid using a webcam or arranging an in-person meeting. This is grooming. This is happening, and it's on the rise. The question is: What are we going to do? Because, in the meantime, kids are alone. They finish dinner, go to their rooms, close the door, get on their computer, their cell phones, and get into a bar, into a club.
2:41 Think for one second about what I've just said: they're in a place full of strangers in an uninhibited environment. The internet broke physical boundaries. When we're alone in our bedroom and we go online, we're not really alone.
3:04 There are at least two reasons why we're not taking care of this, or at least not in the right way. First, we're sure that everything that happens online is "virtual." In fact, we call it "the virtual world." If you look it up in the dictionary, something virtual is something that seems to exist but is not real. And we use that word to talk about the internet: something not real. And that's the problem with grooming. It is real. Degenerate, perverted adults use the internet to abuse boys and girls and take advantage of, among other things, the fact that the kids and their parents think that what happens online doesn't actually happen.
3:58 Several years ago, some colleagues and I founded an NGO called "Argentina Cibersegura," dedicated to raising awareness about online safety. In 2013, we attended meetings at the House of Legislature to discuss a law about grooming. I remember that a lot of people thought that grooming was strictly a precursor to arranging an in-person meeting with a kid to have sex with them. But they didn't think about what happened to the kids who were exposed by talking about sex with an adult without knowing it, or who shared intimate photos thinking only another kid would see them, or even worse, who had exposed themselves using their web cam. Nobody considered that rape. I'm sure lots of you find it odd to think one person can abuse another without physical contact. We're programmed to think that way. I know, because I used to think that way. I was just an IT security guy until this happened to me.
5:10 At the end of 2011, in a little town in Buenos Aires Province, I heard about a case for the first time. After giving a talk, I met the parents of an 11-year-old girl who had been a victim of grooming. A man had manipulated her into masturbating in front of her web cam, and recorded it. And the video was on several websites. That day, her parents asked us, in tears, to tell them the magic formula for how to delete those videos from the internet. It broke my heart and changed me forever to be their last disappointment, telling them it was too late: once content is online, we've already lost control.
6:03 Since that day, I think about that girl waking up in the morning, having breakfast with her family, who had seen the video, and then walking to school, meeting people that had seen her naked, arriving to school, playing with her friends, who had also seen her. That was her life. Exposed. Of course, nobody raped her body. But hadn't her sexuality been abused?
6:41 We clearly use different standards to measure physical and digital things. And we get angry at social networks because being angry with ourselves is more painful and more true. And this brings us to the second reason why we aren't paying proper attention to this issue. We're convinced that kids don't need our help, that they "know everything" about technology.
7:11 When I was a kid, at one point, my parents started letting me walk to school alone. After years of taking me by the hand and walking me to school, one day they sat me down, gave me the house keys and said, "Be very careful with these; don't give them to anyone, take the route we showed you, be at home at the time we said, cross at the corner, and look both ways before you cross, and no matter what, don't talk to strangers." I knew everything about walking, and yet, there was a responsible adult there taking care of me. Knowing how to do something is one thing, knowing how to take care of yourself is another. Imagine this situation: I'm 10 or 11 years old, I wake up in the morning, my parents toss me the keys and say, "Seba, now you can walk to school alone." And when I come back late, they say, "No, you need to be home at the time we said." And two weeks later, when it comes up, they say, "You know what? You have to cross at the corner, and look both ways before crossing." And two years later, they say, "And also, don't talk to strangers." It sounds absurd, right?
8:37 We have the same absurd behavior in relation to technology. We give kids total access and we see if one day, sooner or later, they learn how to take care of themselves. Knowing how to do something is one thing, knowing how to take care of yourself is another.
8:55 Along those same lines, when we talk to parents, they often say they don't care about technology and social networks. I always rejoin that by asking if they care about their kids. As adults, being interested or not in technology is the same as being interested or not in our kids. The internet is part of their lives. Technology forces us to rethink the relationship between adults and kids. Education was always based on two main concepts: experience and knowledge. How do we teach our kids to be safe online when we don't have either?
9:39 Nowadays, we adults have to guide our children through what is often for us unfamiliar territory — territory much more inviting for them. It's impossible to find an answer without doing new things — things that make us uncomfortable, things we're not used to.
9:58 A lot of you may think it's easy for me, because I'm relatively young. And it used to be that way. Used to. Until last year, when I felt the weight of my age on my shoulders the first time I opened Snapchat.
10:21 (Laughter)
10:25 (Applause)
10:30 I didn't understand a thing! I found it unnecessary, useless, hard to understand; it looked like a camera! It didn't have menu options! It was the first time I felt the gap that sometimes exists between kids and adults. But it was also an opportunity to do the right thing, to leave my comfort zone, to force myself. I never thought I'd ever use Snapchat, but then I asked my teenage cousin to show me how to use it. I also asked why she used it. What was fun about it? We had a really nice talk. She showed me her Snapchat, she told me things, we got closer, we laughed. Today, I use it.
11:25 (Laughter)
11:27 I don't know if I do it right, but the most important thing is that I know it and I understand it. The key was to overcome the initial shock and do something new. Something new. Today, we have the chance to create new conversations. What's the last app you downloaded? Which social network do you use to contact your friends? What kind of information do you share? Have you ever been approached by strangers? Could we have these conversations between kids and adults? We have to force ourselves to do it. All of us. Today, lots of kids are listening to us. Sometimes when we go to schools to give our talks, or through social networks, kids ask or tell us things they haven't told their parents or their teachers. They tell us — they don't even know us. Those kids need to know what the risks of being online are, how to take care of themselves, but also that, fundamentally, as with almost everything else, kids can learn this from any adult.
12:50 Online safety needs to be a conversation topic in every house and every classroom in the country. We did a survey this year that showed that 15 percent of schools said they knew of cases of grooming in their school. And this number is growing. Technology changed every aspect of our life, including the risks we face and how we take care of ourselves.
13:19 Grooming shows us this in the most painful way: by involving our kids. Are we going to do something to avoid this? The solution starts with something as easy as: talking about it.
13:36 Thank you.
13:37 (Applause)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

87% of the participants in the Israeli organization's program break the cycle of poverty. "All that a child needs is one adult who will believe in him,"

The 'Touching the Horizon' educational project from Pitchon-Lev

"Touching the Horizon" participants from Sderot on a day of consolidation

"Touching the Horizon" participants from Sderot on a day of consolidation. (photo credit:Courtesy)
Pitchon Lev, a nationwide humanitarian organization in Israel, is providing at-risk youth with a guiding light, a future of hope, and the essential tools for a chance at success. Established in 1998, they have impacted the lives of thousands of diverse youth and families from disadvantaged neighborhoods across Israel. As an inclusive organization, Pitchon Lev’s goal is to breakdown the barriers of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality, and provide support for all people in Israel.

One entity of Pitchon Lev is Touching the Horizon, an educational program engaging at-risk youth as part of their overall objective of eradicating poverty in Israel. This seven-year program takes in at-risk youth from diverse communities and guides them through everything from schooling, social support, army preparation, and guidance upon enlisting. Participants are led by the same adult who accompanies them for seven consecutive years. As Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach says, "All that a child needs is one adult who will believe in him," which is precisely the role of the adults in the program - to provide each child with someone to be their teacher, mentor, and friend, and to guide them through the critical life transitions of school, army, and citizenship.

Touching the Horizon, which is the end result of the seven-year program, is broken down into three life stages. The first phase of the program begins in 10th grade through high school graduation, followed by three years of empowerment and cultivating leadership skills through volunteering, community connections, and ongoing assessments of each individual’s achievements. The second phase is army service, in which participants are accompanied through the process of enlisting into the IDF or Sherut Leumi (National Service), and have three years of continued mentorship and leadership training during their service, along with financial support in the form of a monthly stipend. The third and final phase of the program is helping the young adults transition into civilian life after completion of their service. The same mentor who has been with the participant for the previous six years continues with them for one more year to guide and support them through the processes of integrating into an academic institution or workplace.

The organization is accredited by the Ministry of Education and accompanies its students with guidance and support to achieve an official high school diploma upon completion of the program, along with a variety of skills to continue on to higher education or a successful career path. Chen Ben Lish, a 20-year-old soldier in the program explains, “There is a mentor who accompanies you for seven years, from the 10th grade, through military service to citizenship, and he works with us to realize potential, strengthen our self-confidence, believe in ourselves, and make our society better."

The opening of a new class at the Gutman High School in Netanya 
The opening of a new class at the Gutman High School in Netanya

Youth who take the opportunity to join this remarkable educational program learn and grow through formal schooling, social interaction, forming community connections, and taking on volunteer roles. With an emphasis on building empowerment among the participants, one goal is for each child to take responsibility for him or herself, and their own achievements. Shai Ohayon, a  17-year-old in her second year of the program reflects on her experience, "I feel like I'm a different child," she says, "My mom says I've changed completely from my studies, and that she no longer has to beg me to wake up every morning.”

The program also helps students gain a connection to Israel, to the land, the culture, and the people of their own country. Ella Shlomkovitz, one of the teachers, was amazed at the change of view within her students. “When I first went in, they were in the place of 'let us go', 'what is this nonsense?' There were questions like,` Why should we give [to Israel]?, and today they are talking about combat service” Shlomkovitz says of her students.

Tel Aviv University has partnered with Pitchon Lev to conduct in-depth research analysis on the educational program. Professor Yizhar Uplatka, who conducted the project research, said that the program made the youth take responsibility for their lives, and concluded that:

- 93% are eligible for matriculation
- 93.7% of graduates of the program enlist in military or national service
- 87% are graduates of the program and were in enrolled in higher education or suitable work

There is no doubt that this unique organization is saving lives from the cycle of poverty, and establishing the next generation of successful Israeli citizens.

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This article was written in cooperation with Pitchon Lev