400 Gather in Miami to Combat Child Abuse

Four hundred members of Miami’s Orthodox-Jewish community filled the main sanctuary of Chabad of Aventura Sunday evening for a night of awareness and education about child abuse (CSA).

The highly charged event served as an opportunity to show support to victims of abuse and to educate the public about the dangers of abuse. Survivors, rabbis, mental health professionals repeated a duel message: the orthodox Jewish community will no longer sweep abuse under the rug and survivors who step forward will be embraced.

The event was emceed by Rosh Lowe and organized by Jewish Community Watch (JCW), an organization committed to raising awareness and preventing CSA in the orthodox Jewish community.

Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, a rabbinical judge from Los Angeles told the crowd that Jewish law not only allows you to inform on abuse to the police, but also insists that someone who knows of abuse and doesn’t report it is in violation of the Halachic (Jewish law) prohibition of Shfichas Damim (murder).

Rabbi Tauber urged the audience to view CSA as they would any other crime. “If you saw someone poisoning the food in a Cheder (religious elementary school), you wouldn’t ask your Rabbi his opinion on whether or not they should be reported. You would go straight to the police. Do the same thing with abuse! If you know of an individual who is harming children, go directly to the police.”

Miami resident and entrepreneur Eli Nash, who has advocated for JCW since it provided him with aid while he confronted his own childhood abuse, told the assembled that keeping the dark secret of abuse quiet is not a healthy option. “Secrets are bad for our health,” Nash said. He also urged the community to combat abuse and support survivors. Nash concluded his talk with a resounding, “We deserve better!”

The attendees also heard from two survivors of abuse, who bravely broke their silence and shared their story publicly. By doing this they sent a message to other survivors that they are not alone, and that even after experiencing the horror of CSA they can take back their power and choose to be survivors rather than victims.

Another survivor of abuse, Bibi Morosow-Saul, explained the psychology of abusers and the hold that they can place over their victims.

Yoni Skurwitz spoke about his experience after he came forward about his abuse: “The re-victimization that I endured by some in the community, led by rabbis of Shuls, schools, and Kollels – none of whom spoke with me, and some of whom knew there were other victims – was a hundred times worse than the abuse itself.”

Dr. Norman Goldwasser, a trauma psychologist, spoke about the impact of a previous JCW sponsored event that took place this past September in Miami. After the event, because of what she had gained at the event, a survivor came to him in order to receive help. Dr. Goldwasser shared the story of her suffering and her road to healing.

Meyer Seewald, founder and CEO of Jewish Community Watch, said that historically Jews have always placed a special emphasis on education. “Since G-d appointed the children as the guarantors of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, generations of parents have risked and sacrificed everything to educate their children according to Jewish traditions, from secret study groups in ancient Rome and communist Russia to the sacrifices parents make today so that they can send their children to Jewish private schools. Despite all of this, there seems to be a lack of understanding or unwillingness to address CSA – an issue that drives so many of our children away from the Torah and towards drug abuse, depression, anxiety, and years of pain!

“This is the mission of Jewish Community Watch, to make sure every child in our community grows up without the pain and suffering that so many of us survivors experienced and continue to experience,” said Seewald. “We have held awareness events in four cities in the last six months and the response has exceeded our expectations every time. With all of us working together, we are getting closer to achieving that goal.”

For more information, visit www.jewishcommunitywatch.org.

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6 Comments

  • 1. Zahava Krevsky wrote:

    The JCW event with a packed house and not-a-pin-drop silent and awestruck community succeeded in presenting CSA …however, as Rabbi Tauber so clearly and succinctly said “WHY did they have to reach out to a Rabbi all the way from California…what about all the Rabbis here in South Florida” and to that I say..”What about”…yes. there was a sprinkling of bona-fides and it was brought to our attention however I don’t think we can be complacent…any Rabbi worth his smicha should without hesitation show his support..by showing up.By signing on..Thank you Meyer,Eli, Dr.Goldwasser,Rabbi Tauber,RoshLowe ,BB , Yoni…and all the chevrah..thank you. chazak v’yametz!!!
    It’s time for all communities to join in helping to heal the survivors and bringing the criminals to justice.

  • 3. let's be careful not harmful wrote:

    Let’s assume that most parents are normal (like most chicken are not Treif) and will avoid schools where real CSA situation happens, till it’s corrected. You worry that parents would not know … they will bcz words spread. BUT “there seems to be a lack of understanding or unwillingness to address” imagined and overblown by JCW beyond statistics and used to promote JCW … CruelSelfAdvertisement

  • 4. I was there wrote:

    There were many Rabbis in the crowd and from my understanding JCW only reached out to a few Rabbis from the south florida community prior to the event. They said “no Rabbis wanted to come….”.they only contacted a few and when asked about their response it was unclear.
    JCW is doing incredible work but they must be careful how they portray things bec they may lose support if they’re not being honest and fair.

  • 5. Citizen Berel wrote:

    There are no more issues. This is it. Absolutely every single Rabbi everywhere needs to make this HIS issue. Where were ALL the Rabbis. No more anything else. Abusers …. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!!!!!!
    YOU NEED THIS FOR THE KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 6. THAT'S BECAUSE... wrote:

    Want to know why no Rabbis were there? I’ll tell you, in the words of one of the big ones;

    “DO YOU WANT TO EMBARRASS US?!! I know these guys are grubbe zachen, but what do you want me to do, close up?…”

    So, there you have it. It’s unfortunate, and yes, truly embarrassing and a turn-off for this to go public. Here we are trying to paint a glittering picture of frum life in order to mekarev and encourage other Yidden to support us. But, when they see this dark side of the frum world – “Hmm. So, they’re no better than the non-religious, when it comes to sickos in our midst.”

    On the other hand, those of you who want to make it public, please keep this in mind. In all fairness, suppose you,Ch”V, would have a lapse of cool and do something you would never do under ordinary circumstances. Would you want your error made known to the whole world? Don’t think this can happen to you? Dov Hikind said it best when asked, “What is the profile of a child molester?” His answer was, “Look in the mirror.”

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