Abuse Survivor Breaks Her Silence
After suffering in silence for almost 10 years, a young Los Angeles mother recounted to a large crowd about the three long years of abuse that she endured from the age of 14 – at the hands of a well-loved rabbi and trusted family friend.
350 orthodox Jews filled the main sanctuary of Congregation Shaarei Tefila on Beverly Boulevard this Sunday evening for a night of awareness and education on the difficult subject of child sexual abuse (CSA), sponsored by Jewish Community Watch. The highly charged event served as an opportunity to publicly support victims and educate the public about the reality of CSA and the damage it leaves behind. Survivors, Rabbis and Professionals spoke about the dangers of CSA and the steps needed to be taken to combat it.
Sima Yarmush, an LA resident in her late 20s and daughter of a prominent Rabbi, told the audience about being abused for three years by an Assistant Rabbi who worked for her parents. The abuse, which started when Sima was only 14 and continued until 17, was deeply traumatizing and left her with anxiety, panic, and depression, which she suffered silently with for two more years.
When Sima revealed the abuse at age 19, a Rabbinic panel of four Rabbis instructed her not to talk about the abuse and quietly removed that Rabbi from his position at her parent’s synagogue. Their solution was to move him to a nearby city where he continued to serve as a Jewish community leader.
Fearful that this Rabbi would abuse others, Sima’s parents took a brave stance and made it known that he had been removed because of allegations of abuse. Sima told the crowd that her parents faced severe backlash from the relatives and supporters of the Rabbi and that “The negative reactions from the rabbis that I approached and from the people in my community was, if you can believe this, more painful than the abuse itself.”
JCW recently exposed this Rabbi on its Wall of Shame.
Eli Nash, a successful Miami businessman who has been a staunch advocate for JCW since the organization stepped in to help him confront his own abuser, summed up the attitude and mission of JCW by saying “Our communities have focused on sending the abuser to therapy; JCW focuses on sending the victims to therapy.”
The event was emceed by Fox News Reporter Rosh Lowe, who warned that “as long as silence continuous, there will be more tragedies”. Professor and Deputy District Attorney Benny Forer refuted the allegation that anybody can accuse another of abuse, have them arrested, and ruin their lives. He explained the number of steps it takes to actually arrest and prosecute and individual and the extreme unlikelihood of someone being arrested on false charges.
Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, a respected Rabbinical judge from Los Angeles told the crowd that Jewish law not only allows you to report 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).
Meyer Seewald, Founder and CEO of Jewish Community Watch, began by speaking about the organization’s purpose, “As our mission statement reads, we Educate, Protect and Heal. Our goal is to end abuse, we are in business to be out of business.” He expanded upon the commitment that JCW has to those it serves. “Day in and day out, victims of CSA and their families come to JCW for help, and we do everything and anything we can.” Seewald continued with a message to victims of abuse, “You are not alone, I promise you, reach out for help. We will believe you and we will trust you. Don’t be afraid!”
Warning: The video below contains explicit material and may not be suitable for children. View at your own discretion.
Wow! What a strong young lady !!!
SHAME on the Rabbanim who swept this under the rug..may they NEVER have to face their own children in this situation.
Wall of Shame?
Simple question to the mothers out there of teenage or older sons. After all the arguments,if YOUR son,YOUR little tattala ,would be the perp ,would you still feel so strongly about not taking the perp into consideration and only worry about the victim ?Would you want YOUR neshomala ,who Nebach is struggling with a problem to be on the Wall of Shame?
wall of shame / watchdog.com
Are you calling an abusive man (or woman) who violates another innocent human being and sexually abuses them, someone who is merely ‘struggling with a problem’?
Heaven forbid, If my son did this to another human being I would be disgusted with him! (Or her) I would probably write his name on watchdog.com myself.
These people need to be on something like watchdog.com like every other sex offender. Calling it a wall of shame seems stupid to me but the point is to protect people because our rabbis aren’t doing it. They’re covering it up. They’re sending a man from one little girl to the next. DOUBLE EWE TEE EFF
The problem here is in the Jewish community we like to pretend nobody does anything seriously wrong. There are serious cases of child abuse within the haredi neighborhoods of Mea Shearim and they keep it hush hush and don’t do anything to help. It’s disgusting
You don’t seem to understand that molestors destroy innocent people’s lives to the extent that many commit suicide. Everyone has the choice to protect the molestor OR his many, many victims. It’s one or the other, you can’t protect them both. The same story with a serial killer. You can cover-up his crimes OR have him arrested and send him to jail so he doesn’t continue killing. Your choice.
Not all circumstances are the same
In cases where the abuser is married and has a family, extra care needs to be taken, as his or her spouse and children are to be assumed 100% innocent, no reason to destroy their lives!!!
If the abuser is not married or has no children, then one can maybe justify publicizing their name in shame (though we should be very careful to do things with Halachic guidance האם ננעלו שערי תשובה?).
However in ALL cases where the abuser has children, who gives anyone a legal or moral right to destroy (or even assist the abuser in destroying) their lives?????
Before any knee-jerk reaction to the above, kindly re-read the previous paragraph and think about it carefully.
Let's get it straight
i wish the author who is so concerned for a perpetrator’s wife and children could share some of her rachmanus with the VICTIMS! This frame of thinking is what continues to allow these soul murders to persist! Specifically related to this particular abuser in the video: his wife is most certainly not unaware–she may even be a victim to his manipulative and coercive tendencies. And considering he has his own child/children, would leniency on the abuser feel right if we knew that they were the abuser’s imminent victim? These situations are awful on EVERYONE–but if we try to stomach this long enough to effect REAL change, we are saving countless lives, marriages, and neshamahs. A revolution must prevail, or we are doomed to more of the same.
Do you hear yourself? If your son was a ‘perp’ it would be heartbreaking and devastating for you and your family, but sorry to say he is no longer a bubbale and a neshamala. Once he violates he is no longer just struggling w a problem. He is a CHILD MOLESTOR AND ABUSER. The Jewish word for that is FEECHS.
how she has the guts to go up and say the real story i don’t understand she is a very breave and from now on live a very productive life with much nachas from her husbend and kids
G-d Bless you!
You are so, so brave. This action of your will directly inspire others to come forward, begin to heal and prevent other children from being abused.
Sima kol Hakavod!!! You are brave and all of us jewish women should take example from you. You have saved lives.
-fellow bais Chana alumni
Those Rabbis have a lot to answer for. I hope we’ll see a response from Aguch
What an amazing young woman. So intelligent, refined, poised and articulate. Her story brought me to tears.
May Hashem give her strength!!!
Wow, just wow. I dont know you Sima but I am impressed by your coming forward and publicly telling your story.
Too often problems get swept away and banished only for someone else to worry about it, only sometimes that can be too late and scores of other precious souls could have already been damaged.
This should serve as a wake up call to anyone in a position to help… to actually help and do no harm.
לפני עיוור לא תתן מכשול
You are amazing SIma. To go through what you did and emerge as strong as you are is something you and your family should be proud of.
Ok. Rabbis are bad.
But where were her parents??
Why didn’t they go to law enforcement?
Something is missing…
Agreed. Something is missing. Where were her parents? Why didn’t they take her to the police??Combatting this starts at home.
Your comment displays astounding ignorance about what a victim and a victim’s family had to deal with in those times.
If you listened to her story & those of most victims, she didnt tell her parents! She was scared and embarrssed!
Do NOT blame or judge someone in an a situation like this. These are good frum jews who thought they were doing the right thing by going to rabbanim! Clearly that did not work. But NOTHING is missing from this story
She casts blame on a lot of others who were also good frum jews who thought they were doing the right thing. Her parents are as responsible as anyone else. They should have gone to the police.
if you watched the videoyou will see she clearly explained that she as a 17 year old was not going to fight s legeal battle to with her abuser who she never wanted to see his face agan and besides back then she didnt want her name going viral that she was abused as thats where the problems crept in as her parent were not giving proof for their claim
I was in attendance to hear her live. Watching the video a second time brought tears once again. Sima is an amazingly courageous woman! Thank you for covering this very important story.
How amazing of you. Every story must be told and every cover up exposed. I hope you give strength to others to do the same.
I just finished watching the video and I’m in tears.
I can’t believe what you went through. I hope that all the Rabonim will watch this video too.
יתבררו ויתלבנו הדברים
Thank you so much for sharing your story and making all of our children more safe.
Rabonim! The past is gone, but it’s not too late to do Teshuva, at least for the future.
Brave Lubavitcher Lady
we all wish you to have kids that will be the First Generation of Real Rabbi’s
you deserve that
Response from Aguch. LOL!!!
wow wow wow
Who was the “rabbi” abuser?
I went to the link, thinking that i would see who was the abuser and………….
I am atonished!!! 100 people in the wall of shame!
There is a way to narrow down the search. Select “Exposed by JCW” and for the state select california. There are three or four people there and only one who could’ve been a young rabbi 9 and a half years ago.
Sima, Hashem should shower you with Brachas! Your abuser should have kept to his words and turned his g*n on himself.
Amazing- You are incredible-
Attn frum communities
All lubavitch and frum communities should please take this to heart! Protect your children. By ignoring issues and pretending they don’t exist, you are putting your own children in danger!
What is the biblical judgment upon rape? This man and those that protected him did so to cover up a terrible crime and all are guilty of what he did. There was nothing done through conviction and repentance as their crimes were hidden until she came forward. Sound quite a bit like what the catholic churches have been accused and found guilty of doing for hundreds of years. I guess all religions have their pedophiles and those that cover up the wrongs.
Thank you Sima for having the courage for sharing your story. Thank you for the awareness of the damage that pedophiles do to our young children. Thank you Eli Nash for bringing to our attention that abuse is robbing and emotionally killing our children.
Please keep educating everyone about this important topic, I can say for myself that before I went to the JCW event in LA, I did not totally understand the gravity of the situation.
I would highly recommend that if you have a chance to attend an event with a victim speaking of their experience, please do, its important that the victim has our support. For now I encourage you to watch the complete video of Sima:
The Rabbis are required to protect our children in our schools, shuls, and take responsibility for the families that do approach them, to go directly to the authorities and to stop worrying what will be with the perpetrators family.
beyond so proud of her. This pains me so so much. The corrupt Rabbi situation kills me… it is really disgusting
Shame on these LA Rabbonim. Yosef Shusterman, its your turn to resign.
Say it loud, sistah (or bruddah)!
Rabbi Yosef Shusterman, Director of Chabad Beverly Hills, was mentioned in the woman’s video at 10:00. Why is he still listed on Chabad.org? http://www.chabad.org/centers/default_cdo/aid/117544/jewish/Chabad-of-Beverly-Hills.htm
If Chabad are serious about cleaning up their abuse problem, the first step would surely have been to de-list enablers like him?
halachically,a girl older than 12 1/2 years is an adult
I think that is unfair to talk like this about the Rabbis ,they only look at this matter al pi halacha
5th volume of Shulchan Aruch is common sense, and Of course, this a case of someone that goes after teenage girls, and he is a danger to the community,obviously he is not qualified as being in a Rabbis position ,is a chillul Hashem ,
I don't understand
The fact is that we need to rely on our Rabbonim for what is right. We rely that Rabbonim have Siyaato Dishmaya in giving answers. If these Rabbonim all decided to respond to allegations of or actual molestations in a certain way, why do we think that their response is incorrect. Rabbonim have a dedication to the Klal. There are many many ramifications to the exposure of a molester that have halachic rulings. Why do we the public assume that our responses are correct and the responses of our Rabbonim is wrong.
I am not in any way condoning any such abuse, but why do we think that in this case Rabonims opinions which is based on Halacha is incorrect?
Our opinions in this matter are derived primarily from the Goieshe politically correct atmosphere and response, that as much as we may feel it is correct and logical, may in fact run contrary to halochoh. It is this same politically correct mentality that is foisting upon our nation a new life style in “marriage partners” Hashem Yishmor,. Is that mentality supposed to be our guide or is the opinion of our Rabbonim supposed to be our guide.
I don’t have the answer, but I wonder why I should assume the PC or street response should be more legitimate then Rabonim’s response.
Besides, having a young women talk about personal molestation to a mixed audience is so against Tznius, and a Torah Hashkofeh and most likely against Halocho. A man could have told her story without this desecration albeit without the titillation and Machshovo zorois.
Yiddin, consider carefully the source of your “world outlook”.
You are sick!
I agree, you are sick and then you go and publicly announce it. Side stepping, deflecting, excuses, and then you say “I don’t have the answer”. Everyone else does. Report all abuse immediately to the police.
There is no law against speaking to a mixed crowd, and she didn’t even describe the acts. This was a very tzniuz and dignified speech. How could anybody other than herself, a man no less, possibly deliver this message? Completely ridiculous suggestion.
This comment is all that is wrong with our communities response to childhood sexual abuse.
Dont judge unless you know
Youobviously have no clue what people who have been abused do or thevramifications of allowing an abuser to continue to live theur life freely. We’re not critisizing the Rabbis for doing what they know best, we’re critisizing them for allowing it to continue.
The BIGGEST problem today of it being swept under the rug isnt a matter of revenge. Its the fact that the perpetrator can continue to hurt others.
it makes total sense that it is shvichas domim to NOT say anything about an abuser. OF COURSE this must be told to the public to protect our precious children.
I just donated and pray for more money to come my way so I can donate again.
these abusers are control freaks, they are charming….learn the signs. This is the time to learn about it, it should never ever happen again. It is the time for this to be able to come out into the open. I pray that this happens quickly and saves all innocents.
Wow!!!!!!! Ur an inspiration!!
#27 Wake up, it is this attitude that continues to foster the problem; you did not understand the reality of the problem
to 25 and 24
A little knowledge would help.
you have all heard one side of the story. No sane person judges from hearing one side.
1) he is one of the biggest advocates from the “senior” rabonim that have been pushing other rabonim to report These issues to authorities.
The parents did not want to.
2) his poition on the subject was unfortunatly greatly misrepresented Either intentionally or not.
SHAME ON RABBI SCHUSTERMAN SHAME!!!
You are a perfect example of the pitchfork mob mentality. You only heard one part of one side of the story. Yet you are willing to be judge jury and executioner to declare that one of the most respected Rabonim in the entire world must resign immediately. After all this young lady clearly mentioned him by name at minute 10.As if this is all there is to it.
Is this man still an abuser or are we ruining his life because of what he did in the past even though he went to therapy and may have changed??
You worry about ruining his life??? What about his victims? How can you justify what he has done. No amount of therapy can change the facts. Sima’s abuser is a sick, sordid and depraved individual who deserves no sympathy.
wall of shame / watchdog.com
The point is, rabbis sent him from one community to the next. From one little girl to the next. He should have been banned. You don’t bounce back from this. She is scarred for life, he should have been sent to jail, but instead our leaders told her to shut up. You have no idea how hard it is just to open your mouth and tell the first person what happened, and then to have your rabbi tell you to shut it!? You are so quick to forgive the offender, you clearly have no regard for the suffering he caused the victim
Yes this man is still an abuser. Even if he never abuses another child. He will ALWAYS have the urge and desire and will ALWAYS need to be guarded from children. That is why this must be publicised. This is common knowledge known to absolutely ANY professional working with abusers and paedophiles.
And of course, by writing that all you have done is tried to shift the focus off the suffering of this victim and her family.
You speak mostly of punishment not prevention. Punishment is not our job.
She could have went to the police.
She went along with the Rabbonim’s plan to have him working with the Elderly and go through therapy.
I don’t but the idea that people cant control their desires and change, it’s contrary to Judaism.
What a strong and courageous woman Sima is to share what happened to her. Why isn’t her abuser being named and shamed on here. Everyone should be informed of who he is.
You say the epitome of sheker.
Why do you not understand that the main idea is to protect children?
Your response is shocking. And if more people were like you, well all I can say is it’s time to leave this community entirely.
ill tell you if this happened to my kid, it would be a 22, batt or 911…it pains me a rav wasnt sensitive and turned the tables against the parents, just lost confidence in rabbonim…its me hashem and my shulchan aruch dont need such rabbonim….sorry to hear about rabbi shusterman…thought he may be of value.
Rabbi Shusterman has some explaining to do!. Why would he cover up this?! This is against Torah and ALL THAT WE STAND FOR.
I wounder who is left to trust these days.
With tears in my eyes
I fully sympathize with the victim but she and her parents decided at that time to conceal the abuse for her to benefit as she said herself so that she finds a good shiduch
It unfair now to come nine years later and blame the Rabonim who in truth joined her and her parents decision to conceal the situation in order to help her continue in life.
The decision at the time was the wrong decision. Groups such as this promote for victims of abuse to come forward. Her example is a strong one that hopefully will help others to come forward, even if they have been too scared to because they feel that the whole community is ignorant, like you are.
You care about “fair” in the face of someone who committed sexual abuse, and the rabbis who in their “wisdom” decided to cover it up? A rabbi who chooses such a thing does not get a magical pass on that decision just because time went by.
Dry your eyes and watch the video.
I think you misunderstood.
Yes, the rabbis said a bracha for her to find her shiduch. and yes, she probably wanted to maintain her anonymity for the that as well as other reasons.
However, the rabbis also requested that she not reveal the name of her abuser. What is to be gained from maintaining his anonymity? Who benefits from that? He eventually went to therapy and God Willing he will receive a full healing but had she not blurted out the name against the rabbi’s instruction, they wouldn’t even know who to send for therapy or pray for.
We r not hearing or seeing the full picture. Do we know for sure that no one kept close watch when he moved.do we know if he went through intense therapy? How does she talk to a rav like that in public???
WeDefinitely have to do all we can to prevent another victim but how does shaming a rov in public help achieve that?
With all due respect as horrible as this story is she is also performing for the jcw so there can be facts that are not included here which can be of vital imp of why it was dealt like this esp when all of them dealt with it the same way. It does sound very very wrong but again she is promoting jcw…
She is not “promoting” JCW, she is speaking at their event because they stand behind supporting people who have had similar things happen to them as happened to her. Do you think a woman would get up there and say those things as a promotion? Get educated.
Unless someone was sent to be his shadow, day and night and watch him 100% of the time, there was no watch close enough.
He briefly moved to Palm Springs but now lives in north Hollywood. He should takeh do what he threatened her with. What a rotten neshomo. Corrupting pure Jewish children. Sima- thank you for displaying such bravery and courage and telling your story. There are so many of us rooting for you! Oh, and his website does have “adult” written all over it. If it weren’t tragic, it would almost be comical. Adult Shabbat services. Adult meals. Right. Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
whats the name?
of the abuser?
What a letdown about shusterman. But this is nothing new. Look at how manis Friedman treated CSA. Just say al hamichya. That’s how they look at it, those condescending rabonnim. They should takeh experience this themselves, then maybe they might be more sympathetic.
What are you talking about?
What’s this about “al hamichya”????
shame on u
Rabbi shusterman…step down from your lofty position..shame on u. Shame on those in crown heights who pretend to counsel people and prey on young womEn meeting them alone in their suvs late at night and taking advantage of them…ruining marriages rather than fixing anything
If it was this easy to get away with murder, there would be piles of dead bodies on every corner. Instead we are telling the victims that they should hide?
respect my freinds
You can all call rabbi shusterman Before you do what you do best. = a public lynching of any person.
I personally called him… This was taken way out of true context and he was completely misrepresented.
That said, my heart goes out to sima, who regardless is a true hero and survivor. May we never know of such pain…
Please explain! In what way could this entire situation be taken out of context????
What did Rabbi Shusterman say? What is his side of the story?
if it is true ” This was taken way out of true context and he was completely misrepresented.” then why does he not come out with a statement.
Why did the family not want to go to the authorities?!
It’s very easy to blame Rabbonim – if the rabbonim wanted for her to go to the authorities and they didn’t – then don’t blame Rabbonim.
What would you do in such a case?!
As a therapist for her best healing she must confront her dear parents for not dealing with this properly…
Letting them shop at 14???
How could the parents deal with this if they were not aware of the abuse in the first place?
let's be careful not harmful
One side of the story is what we hear. Is it Communist Russia? jcw Hu-Ra !
great idea 52
yes, lets have a forum and the abuser can come and tell us as a community exactly how and why he abused all these girls. Those in power can tell us how and why they let each and every one of these abuses happen. Because each time the abuser was given a second chance, they took it!
She’s an incredible woman. I’m wondering, however, why she shared the names of the rabbis before whom she appeared to tell her story but never mentioned the name of her abuser. They should be shouting this guy’s name from the rooftops.
probably because he has been arrested and it might bias any jury. i think it was most likely a legal recommendation.
#43) From what was said, this speaker was not the only victim; the alleged perp had established himself in a position where he could repeat the alleged crime(perhaps that is why he modified his website); finally the religious establishment has failed to deal adequately with this issue–not too long ago there was a whole series of articles on crownheights.info about similar issues in Brooklyn.
If you are worried about her support of JCW, my question to you, whom else came to her rescue aside from her immediate family and friends.
It is a huge problem that as the moment Jewish Rabbinicial leadership is trying to find a path to a solution which as of yet is lacking And to hide it would only magnify the whole issue as more people will come forward.
Yes, you have to tread carefully because of the possible consequences to all parties involved DA Foeur stated that there is no rush to judgement or immediate arrest–everything is carefully investegagted before any action is initiated.
Remember history of not too long ago of what occurred to our neighbors down the street–the whole internal structure of that organization was shell shocked and the ramifications continue still–including massive law suits
Whats the abusers name????
We want to keep our kids safe so why isnt the abuser’s named mentioned?????
Wow thanks for sharing, super brave!
I think people should stop and think.
you have no idea the facts on the ground. You’re only hearing one persons side of what happened. Why did a panel of 4 rabbanim decide what they did?
Who said the rabbis didn’t encourage her to press charges? She and her parents decided not to.
Thera obviously more to the story but everyone is just jumping to comclusions.
Rabbi Shusterman should step down? From what, his community paid position? He answers hundreds of calls every day, doesn’t get a salary from the community and barely anyone has the decency to find out the facts before publicly bashing him?
let's be careful not harmful
agree! jcw adopted someone’s “Yes We Can” strategy. Can you build communities? “No, but we can ruin”!
Its is a JCW policy to not say the abuser’s name.
Were is the respect??
However much an abuser abuses you that doesnt give you the right to disrespect rabbonim.
YOU COULDNT SAY THE NAME OF THE ABUSER BUT YOU CAN OF THE RABBI OF IN YOUR SPEECH??
Time for Rabbi Shusterman to RESIGN. Then after he has resigned he can go on bended knees and apologise to Sima. Such a Chillul Hashem. And to those that didn’t believe the family and wanted them de-registered as Shluchim – SHAME ON YOU. What’s more important, to not rock the boat (that’s already sinking) or the live of our children.
Sima, I cryed so much listening to your story…
You are such a brave woman and it makes me sick that you did not get the support you needed from the people we believe should be righteous and gd fearing above all…
I hope you have a life full of happiness from now on
A little enlightenment for your day
If you have ever dealt with abuse victims you know that:
-Coming forth with their story is so shameful they literally feel like they are going to die
-Parents are in such a state of shock, guilt and pain they literally don’t know what to do or where to turn. The best parents in the world have no training to prepare them for something this shattering.
-Going to the authorities usually means making the story very public and families are reluctant to do this as it marginalizes them, as you see happened to Sima’s family. It’s enough to live with the pain and guilt of knowing your child is an abuse victim–to subject your entire family to ridicule, shame and being ostracized is adding insult to injury.
-Abusers usually threaten or blackmail the victim and/or their family. So going to the authorities is simply too risky and scary.
-Rabbonim 10 years ago were as poorly informed as the rest of us were on this topic. There was no JCW or other organization to create awareness of how horrific or how rampant this is.
Try to understand, not judge. May you never know what it feels like.
rabbi Shusterman is not just some respected rabbi, he is known to be the most down to earth American rov in Chabad who is aware of way more going on than you’ll ever dream!
He is the man that needs to decide on abortions of pregnant teens or married women expecting a possible mamzer. He lives in a city that had an abuser in their school and that guy was dealt with properly and the children were provided with professional help.
This board of rabbis is made up of members of different communities.
It is hard to believe they all completely mishandled the case.
Why is it important to mention that rabbi Shusterman asked her not to say the name ‘yet’ in middle of the hearing. She’s insinuating that he didn’t want to ever hear it. In that case there should never have been a hearing. Obviously they had reason to hear her entire story before they heard a name. Maybe to ensure impartiality? Maybe once they knew it was their own brother, son or friend they would feel tempted to misjudge the case so they preferred not knowing who the perp was?
All in all, Mrs Yarmush (no, I won’t call her sima; she’s not my sister) is a brave woman and i commend her for taking a stand.
Then he should’ve been clear what the reason why he did not want to know the name you have to be clear
She is a very brave woman. I understand that she went through a lot and it takes plenty of courage to go up there and share such personal experiences.
I don’t understand why she needed to name the Rabbis. The fact that she mentioned their names caused a lot of people to come out from her speech thinking that they can just shame and shun them, and completely disregard the point- the abuser. That is so wrong.
Piece of advice: Before you start shaming the Rabbis (or anyone else for that matter), listen to the other side first. (al tadin es chaveircha ad shetagia limkomo)_
Why has nobody answered this question- why doesn’t she name the abuser, after all this talk about not being silenced? Yet she names the rabbis of the council? I was deeply moved by her speech, but there are questions left unanswered.
This woman Sima will get a big share in the next world. Her telling her story will cause tens of people that are hiding their abuse to go public. I would like this site to contact the Rabbonim named and hear their side . It looks to me that they chose to protect the institution over the individual. That was the way people did things then.
I feel Sima’s pain, I was sexually abused too. We meed the awareness definatly! Sexual abuse is like killing someone-the pain is very strong-it can paralize us and bring us to our bottom. But there is hope for us-survivers, we can learn to trust Hashem and realize that no matter what happens to us we still can pick ourselves up and keep doing the next right steps in life. I just feel like we all can learn more about the laws of loshon horah. Its not about Rabbi Shusterman, its about the frum world. We have skelotons in our closets. Our problem is we dont deal with the problems we just hide them. This is changing now but we need to be careful not to step on people. This awareness didnt exist forever- it is begining in the past cupple years- I dont know if they taught the Rabbis of last generation how to deal with this. He is not the only Rabbi that didnt learn this stuff–it was the mentality of the world till recently to shov things under the carpet. Rabbi Shushterman was-being cautious-he was being carefull about loshon horah. I doubt we would do better if we were in his sichuation. I think there are deatails missing here. Hashem goes all out-for the-respect of Rabbonim, careful yidden!! Maybe we should post a daily halacha of loshon hara on this website. Lubavichers never learnt about loshon Hora because their Ahavas Yisroel was soo strong- but now I feel that is not the case. THERE IS NO REASON TO PUBLICLY PUT DOWN A ROV! We want Hashem on our side not the Klipa we create when we speak Loshon Hara!! I Bless you all that Hashem should help you stand up for whats right and true accourding to Halacha!
Beautifully written! Thank you
Rabbis need to stand up
The Rabbis need to begin to stand up for the victims of child abuse by starting to speaking publicly on the gravity of child abuse. The Rosh Yeshivos that had past child abuse in their Moseos, should come out publicly to apologize to the victims…… That would be a start to get the public to get the confidence that the Rabbonim are taking the child abuse seriously.
Let the named rabbi’s come out and address the allegations of cover up. Shtika k’hoida! Otherwise they should be exposed as aiding and abetting. Rabbi Tauber attended the event, this is true leadership and should be more than enough to establish halachik legitimicy. Lastly, you would think that one area where people could mobilize and agree would be to protect children from rape and molestation. It is not PC to demand justice for the victim, punishment for the perp, and accountability from the leaders who were entrusted to handle this situation. May Hashem bless the courageous survivor who’s spoke up, the rabbi and others who are lending support and putting out this message of no tolerance for this crime or its cover up in our community.
A courageous young lady. Hashem blessed her with a great deal of bravery. She was able to articulate such a painful story with such control of emotions. This moment put everything in place for Sima regaining her innocence. May Hashem bless her and her wonderful family with only goodness and happiness and May Hashem bless Sima to continue to grow strength to strength.
kol hakavod! she is so courageous and brave to come out and speak!
applies to EVERY ONE even a holy looking guy.
Let’s remember “rabbonim” may have knowledge though there just regular people who we should never rely on for many things
I think these attacks against the Rabbis aren’t fully honest and fair.
There is no question that they made terrible mistakes.
There’s no question people suffered terribly.
There’s no question that so many of us (hopefully all of us) felt a anger at them.
All that said and done I want to point out a few things
1) There was tremendous ignorance back then
2) Rabbi Shusterman has helped so many people. My wife is telling me how nice he his on the phone to her, answering all her questions and being very nice.
3) Do we say “shame on her parents”, they were adults and her parents, did they go to the police? Did they protect their daughter? Hopefully we understand that there has to be context of their difficult situation
4) Did they share with her husband her story? If they did, great. If not, was that fair?
Context people, context.
I’m not saying what should or shouldn’t be done with any Rabbi. I’m just saying that it isn’t simple. I understand that ultimately a Rabbi has a position and needs to answer to it. I’m also saying that there’s context.
Can at any point apologize and resolve a better way to handle things.
Why haven’t they???
No, it’s not acceptable as is!
At least our Crown Heights Beis Din came out and said GO TO THE POLICE.
Sima we support you!!
Sima is an inspiration to countless women out there. Her strength will provide strength to those suffering in silence, so that some day they will find the courage to come forward. No Rabbi has the right to hide beneath the guise of halacha to protect a hideous sinner. Why is this man not locked up yet? He should be sentenced and serving his time getting what he deserves behind the prison walls.
I wrote about context. I want to clarify that I’m not saying anything. I personally believe very strongly in JCW, Thank you, thank you, thank you for protecting children and my children. Thank you so so so much. I believe in your cause.
I was only pointing out that there’s context to things. I’m not saying what should or shouldn’t happen to Rabbis, if they deserve this or not, etc. Just that there’s also context.
You do the crime, you pay the time. That’s how it goes in life. Just like the molester even if he or she were horribly abused and may even be totally powerless must live in reality and whatever goes along with it.
And still there’s place for context. Many of us would have been against her and her family back then, and now it’s that same person (with that same energy?) that are losing it.
I believe the feelings are ok, natural, and healthy. We can also allow ourselves to realize that there is some context. If something needs to be done with these people in authority, it should, and if not, then it should not.
kovod of a rav
For all those that are concerned with the rabbi bashing and his embarrassment,- notice that as of yesterday the chabad rabbis was front and center on chabad.org given a video.- there’s their show of support.
We need to remember one thing.
Rabbis are people and they make mistakes
and G-d like attributes shouldn’t be given to them.
He and the other rabbis should have reported him to the authorities. No matter who’s son he was.
His actions cannot be healed by therapy. Once an abuser he will always have the desire to repeat his actions. They are aware of this. The decision to relocate him was to get him away from their community, unless you relocated him to the moon he was going to find a way to continue. Rabbis need to realize that they are part of the problem. If abusers know that they can find a deal or a way out they will take it and will continue. There has to be zero tolerance for abuse and those who protect them. I feel sorry for his family but, I wonder how safe his children are with him. It should make his wife at the least uneasy.
If we cant count on our rabbis to do the right thing – then they don’t deserve our respect.
Rabbi Shusterman is right.
Rabbi Shusterman did the right thing. It was a very smart move to hear her story together with no less than 3 additional Rabbis. This way he is avoiding the situation of my word against her word.
He was also very smart asking her not to mention the name of the perpetrator until they hear all of the story. In this way he avoided being biased when he considered the options. Unfortunately , Mrs Yarmush was wrong by giving the name at that time of the hearing.
All of the comments asking for Rabbi Shusterman to resign were written by the same one or two people. They have an agenda. They are hiding behind fictitious names such as Chava and Steven.
Beware! Their agenda is not kosher. They are trying to destroy Chabad as much as they can. They did a very good job hurting the name of Chabad in Melbourne and Sydney. They caused a public outcry in Australia and certain people were forced by trial by the public to resign from their positions of management. And they are attempting to do the same here.
Why didn’t anyone of the comments call for the other 3 Rabbonim to resign from their Rabbinical positions?
In the end this nonsensical call for resigning is extremely damaging to us, the public at large. Now it makes it very difficult for a Rav to help a person who has been abused. Because if he does something which the “more righteous than thou” can use against him, THEY WILL USE IT AGAINST HIM. So why should a Rav put himself out on a limb?
Is Mrs Yarmush a member of Rabbi Shusterman’s shul or community. Did she pay him for his time invested in listening to her story? I would imagine that the therapist who came with her got paid for her time. Did they ever pay the Rabbonim for their time.
On a practical note. I think that a Rav should now have anyone who comes to him for help because he or she was abused, should have the abused sign a document which would protect the Rav from future allegations and complaints.
As far as I understand it wasn’t his idea to get the three other rabbis
Rabbi Shusterman knew exactly who she was talking about. He is good friends with the abusers family and would have been a ble to figure it out . It is completely misguided to say he was being impartial. As friends of the abusers family he should have refused himself.
rabbi Shusterman is correct
Rabbi Shusterman was 100% correct according to the circumstances and the decision of the family not go to police
My personal erguesh is that a person who goes after teanagers girls cannot be in a Rabbis position
This should be something to take in consideration to tell the seduicer to go to business or get a different kind of job
to "Rabbi Shusterman is right"
Shusterman did not request the three other rabbi’s. The Federation set up the board and wanted a Chabad rabbi involved since the issue was related to Chabad individuals. The Federation provides social and family services, nothing to do with Chabad. In fact, Schusterman didn’t want any rabbi’s involved, or the Federation for that matter.
He did not want her to mention the name of the perpetrator because he already knew who the perpetrator was.
There are comments for the other three to account for their inaction. However, this is a Chabad site so the Chabad rabbi, who is familiar to many, is being addressed here.
Shusterman actively protects perpetrators, to this day. He does not want anything to go public and feels that he can control the situation. He has to understand that the does not have the requisite understanding or knowledge to deal with such issues, and he definitely doesn’t have the ability to monitor. His agenda is to protect Chabad, to protect his friends, above all else.
why she didn't go to the police
She tells you why in her speech. Watch it (again)
Goal 1: Let the world know of danger.
Goal 2: Goal 1 while keeping victims identity private.
Back then, there was no reason to believe that the Rabbi’s would not do what’s right by letting the public know about the danger while protect the victims anonymity. Her parents believed that the rabbi’s would let the communities know to be aware and careful in order to protect the public.
If they went to the police, the public would know and be safe, but her anonymity would not be guaranteed.
At the time, going to rabbis seemed to be the best way to accomplish both goals. We now know otherwise.
Don't call the cops
There were reasons other than the ones she mentioned for not going to the police.
It’s probably fair to speculate that she wanted to protect her community and Judaism at large from the mass media hoopla and negativity that going to the police could have wrought.
Honestly, I would have done the same thing, God forbid.
I would like to think we can handle our own problems in a healthy and halachic way, without bringing public shame on us as a people.
the rabbis urged her to go to police! They even arranged for a meeting with the LAPD!
And her parents refused to press charges!
You heard none of it in her speech. Are you not curious why??
To numbers 12 & 13,
Although it may seem absurd a huge reason for not going to the police was and possibly still is the “Lack of Shidduchim”.
While I think that this is an absurd stigma it is something which we must acknowledge does exist and we must help eradicate.
Even more so for someone from a very Chassidish family that has a “Name”, the “cause” of this publicity is possible to hurt her chances in marriage.
While my position is that the right person is someone who can look past all of that, despite knowing about it from the get go I can understand the hesitation and there reality that fewer shidduchim will be suggested.
with the old breed
this is all so sad….so very sad…children going off and no one is asking why…is it time to close it down and re-boot?
Wow this is great. A famously competent, acting Rov handles a sensitive issue according to his understanding and Sima speaks at the protect-the-children convention in LA and the internet wants blood.
NO JUSTICE NO PEACE!!!
words are dangerous
I’m pained too hear this story, and feel very bad for this young woman, and I am happy that she was (seemingly) able to get her life together. however I would like to point out that I think she was a little to harsh on the rabbis who are respectable people but even more fellow human beings with lifes and family’s. and therefore I would like to put this in perspective she was abused the abuser was wrong and perhaps the rabbis did not deal with this %100 percent correctly however this was 10 years ago and then this subject was less know and even now not everyone is famelier with it so why are the rabbis being put down so much why is it that a man can dedicate his life to the community worldwide and be shunned just because he did not know how to deal with a very complex matter ?!! He deserves to be respected and thanked for all he did and does and will do. so I would like to turn to sima with a simple/ tough request, you did a very courageous act by speaking out on a personal matter, and don’t get me wrong, in no way do I have any hard feelings to you, and I hope you forgive me if I am coming across as uncaring or heartless, but I would like to ask you to rethink your words against the rabbis, maybe you were nervous when you spoke, and not so careful with what you said, and that is understandable, but now you can calmly watch the video of your speech and rethink if you were to harsh with your veiws on the rabbis, and if you come to the realization that you overdid it, maybe you can put out a video with an apology, make clear your level of respect for these rabbis. again I am sorry you had to go thru what you went thru and I hope you will help fix this problem without making any new problems in the frum community.
who more than you can realize how one can ruin a persons life, and I’m sure you don’t want to be responsible for ruining anyone’s life. maybe the rabbis were uneducated, maybe thay made a mistake, but not necessarily do they deserve to be put down.
i wanted to write my own comment making the same points that you made.
I totally agree with you – she was way overboard with her public criticism of the Rabbonim.
In my opinion the speech would have resonated with a larger population if it didnt seem like all she wanted was for the Rabbonim to pay the price.
Her speech reflects the general style of JCW which focuses on revenge rather than awareness – I strongly disagree with their approach.
Come on people! She was not that harsh with the Rabbis. Try to understand what she went through and how betrayed she must’ve felt by those Rabbis. No matter how holy and respectable they are, they failed her. That doesn’t mean they should be tarred and feathered, they are human they can make mistakes. Even if they had halachic reasons for what they did, telling her parents they have “No moral, legal, ethical, halachic reason to say anything about the abuse to anyone”
is wrong on all counts. She has the right to be furious with these Rabbis, it’s not fair to ask her to forgive them without an apology. As for the rest of us who were not there, it would be wise to use respect even when criticizing these rabbanim.
If you look up the shluchim’s families in S. Monica where she is from and search JCW for those who live in California, you will be able to draw a reasonable inference as to who the perp was.
I’ve dealt with the same rabbi’s in LA. They are in close contact with the rabbi’s of merkos and have been threatening with impunity behind a veil of chasidishkeit in other cases I am personally involved in. It was interesting hearing from her talk the similarities of their threats and logic to my case. A kapote does not make a rabbi a chasidisher yungerman no matter how many people think so.
you gotta love it
I am not sure whether to laugh or cry- there is so much of the “oh I feel so sad for the victim…BUT….”.Then everyone is out to protect the enablers and the bashing etc.First of all I suppose many of the commenters do not know what the 12-step program is about.People who attend session do NOT lose the desire and urge to use.The desire to act out with minors is their drug of choice.Therapy does NOT cure the “illness”.This rav will always have these urges regardless of how much therapy he gets.Get it yet???The Rabbis should never be in a position to deal with these matters because obviously they are not trained and should say so and should stop with the politics to help their own.All those who call this a lynch mob are sooooo ignorant.it’s pathetic.and even if you know,all of you basically enable the perp and others to continue “killing”innocent children.They go to shul or school and the predators continue to stab them because their “desires”take over.So shame on your communities who wish to come up with all these excuses and explanations but never to rally for the victims except to say “oy”.Oh stop already.We know exactly who you want to shield and protect so you and the Rabbis belong together.
Rabbi Shusterman is right. to number 111.
“Her speech reflects the general style of JCW which focuses on revenge rather than awareness – I strongly disagree with their approach”.
I like the way you hit the nail on the head. This is the thing that irks me most about the JCW site.
They are out for revenge.
They are not out for awareness.
They are out to destroy.
They are not out to build.
BTW I was also abused as a child and I would love to take revenge against my abuser. I know its wrong to take revenge but I would feel so much better if I took revenge. On the other hand anger and revenge just causes the hurt to last longer and become infested in your psyche, so whats the point. Better to let go and get on with my life.
Parents of an Abused Son
We are the parents of an abused son who unfortunately mishandled the situation.
When we found out about the abuse our son had undergone we thought if we dealt with our sons issues and ignored the abuser and did not confront him the situation would be resolved and go away.
We took our son to counseling and figured, ok problem solved
Little did we know by not confronting the abuser and having him own up to what he did to our young and innocent child it was like telling him ” its ok what you did, you did no wrong u need take no responsibility”
BIG MISTAKE BIG MISTAKE
In our situation as well , people did not believe our son , even til today. They claimed he was “making it up”
“couldn’t be” even though the abuser himself apologized at his own lchayim for what he had done to our son.
Today our son lives with the tragedy of what happened to him, years of molestation, and the abuser has gone on to lead a normal and fulfilling life, marriage, children a family and everything else.
Next month our son turns 26 years old, he is a bright young man, smart ,beautiful inside and out and we hope that no child should ever have to go through such suffering. Thank G-D that today parents are more aware and are paying attention to this terrible epidemic that has infiltrated our society and is destroying innocent little children who do not understand how to deal with these monsters.
Sima seems to be a very eidel sweet young lady. I am sure that JCW were the ones who put many words in her mouth which she herself would not fathom to express.
Oh so no one should have any consequences for their behavior so you can stick your head in the sand?Really?Yes great advice and truthfully why should ss officers be brought to justice too because after all the victims just need to go on with their lives.What good are consequences for perps because after all it’s only about revenge…ARE YOU ALL THERE????Obviously someone needs therapy here.CONSEQUENCES are for the sake of helping POTENTIAL victims from these perps so it is not just about YOU.There are many victims who were not out for revenge but came out so that others wouldn’t be hurt and to stop the perps!!!Why do you think this brave woman came out to talk -for revenge or her own good?YOU are the one who could care less about others as long as you are doing ok and moving on.How selfish can one be?and you should know better of all people.
In the defense of Victims/JCW
Some commenters presume that “Victims” and for that sake JCW are out for revenge. This may be understandable from a layman’s perspective who wishes to put opposing ideas and philosophies into a box that makes sense for them. I do not know the JCW nor do I presume to speak toward their motivation. As someone involved with unzerer rabbonim on similar issues I can understand where the JCW is coming from. After awhile of seeing the way things are repeatedly mishandled, the bullying, ostracism, and self protection conducted and condoned, one develops a healthy skepticism and speaks to others as if everyone is privy to a similar set of experiences and involvement. What is quite clear to them from actual experience can only be gained from ones own exposure to a similar set of circumstances. The sad truth remains that the majority of these (CSA) experiences continue to be dealt with in the same manner by our Ra Bonnim. History does repeat itself, perpetrators and the Rabonnims response each time.
Firstly thank you to JCW. Maybe they need adjustment in their tactics but they made everyone of us more aware. They brought awareness and will save 1000s I believe of precious neshamas.
Sima you are an amazing women! You had the courage to tell us your story.
Rabbonim let’s hear their side before we jump to our conclusions. It is possible that they mishandled the situation for lack of knowledge. Maybe they have advice that was not followed. (I’d like to believe that so we can still confide and ask our Rabbonim).
We need moshiach!!
OK I understand that sima lost some respect for some of her rabbis but I would like to know who is a chabad rabbi she holds of (besides her family ) and what does he have to say about this and these rabbis reaftion. I just want to be sure I’m not listening to someone who hold of no rabinic authority. Sima only god can realy heal you so I say god be with you but also know there are many good people out there who feel bad for you
Because only if she “holds by” a Rav she is correct???
She is speaking the truth! Her abuser was ENABLED by the Rabbanim! No, not intentionally! But they should apologize for putting children in danger, and resolve a better course of action for the future! WHY has that not happened???
It's an illness
CSA is an illness, and current thinking is that it is incurable. Therapy helps the abuser understand it’s an illness.
I am not sure prison and criminal punishment is the treatment for an illness, but perhaps hospital or treatment center for extended time could be a solution.
This would alleviate some of the stigma to the abuser’s family if he is labeled as “ill” rather than sicko, pervert, monster, evil,. etc.
In my city, a family was heavily pressured by Rabbonim NOT to go to the police. This was from Chabad and other community Rabbonim. This was 5-10 years ago. Subsequently they did report, albeit several years later. Meanwhile the abuser continues to live in the community, goes out in public, sits on the Wall of Shame- but if you didn’t know personally about him, you would never know what a danger he presents. Families with children live on his street and they don’t know about him!
Another man lives here who left another country because of allegations of this kind. My son heard these rumors, I hadn’t. Scary.
Another “Wall of Shame” person was out and about in shul- and NO ONE knew about him until he was exposed on JCW!
I can not at all speak about the Rabbonim in LA, but I can question the Rabbonim in my city about what they are doing to let their community members know about these safety issues.
Shame on all of you
Shame on all of you for shaming rabbi Shusterman when is a rabbis who always tells people to go to directly to the police. Shame on you all for not hearing his side of the story or the other rabbi of the story . Shame on all of you…
For being so quick to dismiss time rabbi a rabbi who u all call when you have a shaila. Shame on all of you
Before shaming someone like this please make sure you have every details from the story….
Sima…I have been where you are and in so proud of you for speaking your truth. It takes immense courage that people cannot possibly understand. I too had my abuser deny things and my community turned against me. But time passes and I’m ok. To the people here who are perpetuating the pain and abuse by being deniers and asking ignorant questions such as “why did her parents do nothing ?” consider this: a child trusts blindly and the damage runs deep. If that trust is shattered but the child can’t tell the truth, how are others supposed to help? Also, if people such as yourself are denying a GROWN WOMAN’S experience if her childhood, how is a child supposed to tell her story?????
May G-D protect you Sima. Thank you for your courage and honesty. You have done G-D work here and you are going to save many children from this inexplicable experience. Xxxx
DONT BE AFRAID OF ANY RAV SPEAK UP!
And don’t be afraid of being tossed out of any shul when it comes to protecting the kinder! Put your Emunah in the Almighty. Torah says: The fear of man is a snare and a trap. So don’t be afraid of the wicked. Let Ruach Ha Kodesh speak for You! Therefore don’t be afraid of them since there is nothing uncovered that wont be uncovered and nothing hidden that wont be made known.
In support of Sima
I agree with all those that are in support of Sima.
But personally, I am not comfortable with the leadership of the campaign against abusers in Australia and likewise with the leadership of JCW in the United States. Both leaderships have a dislike for Yiddishkeit and for Torah and Mitzvas.
Both leaderships have an agenda to hurt Lubavitch as much as they can.
For this reason as much as the work of JCW is a necessary thing, I cannot back them fully without knowing that I am stabbing Torah and Mitzvas in the back.
And for those who are continuously calling for the blood of the Rabbonim. You are wrong. A Rav has his qualifications in knowing halacha. He is not known to be a therapist. Nor does he claim to be a therapist. Any person going to a Rav for advice and assistance is aware that a Rav is not a qualified therapist. It is the obligation of the parents taking their son or daughter to a Rav to advise them such. It is also the obligation of the Rav to advise the person coming for advise and assistance to that he is not a qualified therapist.
A smart Rav will either not accept such cases at all and if he does accept such a case he must have the persons involved sign a declaration that they are aware that the Rav is not a professional of CSA and they are turning to him as a layman without experience in this area. and that he will not be held responsible for any consequences of their meeting and his advice.
The call for the Rabbonim to resign is foolish, inappropriate and evil.
Please be aware...
A victim of abuse sharing her story to protect and prevent future victims is one of the most courageous acts a person can do.
I cannot for one moment fathom the pain and anguish she is feeling and am deeply in awe of her strength.
I don’t know her intentions but the implication of the speech was far more harsh against the Rabbonim that the molester himself. And while I certainly do not blame the family for refusing to publicly share what happened to Sima, that was their decision.
The Rabbonim urged the family to go to the police and have him charged, since the family refused the Rabbonim did what they could while respecting the family’s decision to not go public with their story.
A Rav who silences a victim SHOULD be made to explain that decision but that is NOT the case here. There was no attempt to protect the molester or hide his crimes, they ENCOURAGED the family to seek legal action against him.The fact that people are calling for a Rav to resign without knowing any of the details or verifying any of the facts makes me shudder because a lie can be spread so quickly and lives can be ruined. It is ironic that an attempt to protect the reputation of a girl is now being used to destroy the reputations of those who sought to help her.
How do you know that the Rabbis urged her family to go to the police?
Assuming that you have factual information and they did urge them to go to the police, that does not mean they didn’t do anything wrong. Of course it’s preferable for us to have an abuse victim go to the police, but that’s not always possible for a victim and pushing them into it is wrong.
Additionally these Rabbanim knew that this man was being accused and allowed him to keep working in positions where he had access to other children and did not inform anyone about it. That is inexcusable! Also telling her parents they had “No moral, legal, ethical, halachic reason to say anything about the abuse to anyone” is so wrong!
Granted this was a long time ago and in general the frum world was ignorant on CSA back then, so maybe you can excuse the Rabbi’s failings as simply being human, but don’t act like they did the right thing.
Thank you for inspiring so many people with your powerful,brave words!
This world is changing thanks to people like you and JCW.
Thank you again,
A grateful mother
The least this sick man can do is to beg her for forgiveness.
he needs to go down to his knees and beg her, maybe that gun he has he should offer her to pull the trigger.
and for the rest of his life he should compensate her financially and any other way she wants.
he must be removed from working with children.
Diane Newman Polonsky
If only Sima Yarmush had an advocate, then perhaps her YouTube story would have been different. This is the comment that I hear over, and over again from my colleagues. “If only she had an advocate….”
The YouTube clip of her impassioned story is indeed heartbreaking. But once the initial shock of the story wears down, we are left with some unanswered questions:
1. Sima complained about the indignity of her having to speak to the rabbis of the RCC behind a Mechitzah. She made it sound like this was an Al Queda proceeding, that she was trapped in a Burka and how humiliating this was for her being further degraded. However, what was not clear from her story, was, what was the context of her meeting with the RCC rabbis? I know of instances where women appeared before the RCC Bais Din and were not asked to sit behind curtains. On the contrary, the women who I spoke to told me of the respect that they received when appearing in an RCC Bais Din, and that the Rabbonim looked the women directly, and listened to their testimony. so why was Sima behind a Mechitzah in the 1st place? Who was advising her, who was sitting with her behind a Mechitzah? Did she have a womens’ advocate with her to guide her?
2. What kind of meeting with the RCC rabbis was this? If it was a Bais Din proceeding then there never would’ve been a Mechitzah as the Halacha requires that a Dayan look into the face of the person during their testimony to assess their credibility. If the meeting was to bring attention to Sima’s abuser, again, why the Mechitzah? But had Sima had a womens’ advocate with her, who could independently investigate the facts and coordinate a proper hearing before the Bais Din, these questions would’ve been answered.
3. What exactly, was the purpose of the Sharei Tefilah speech by Sima? This is the most vexing question. The organization that she was speaking for has a mission statement of exposing abusers on their wall of shame. So why didn’t Sima expose her abuser in her speech? If she wasn’t exposing the rotten apple in our community then what exactly was the point of her speech? It seemed like the rabbi bashing received standing ovations and they were done with too much glee. This did not seem right to me. It felt that the crowd was already bittered by rabbis and jumped all too eagerly to applaud Sima when she criticized the rabbis. Something did not feel right to me about this.
I am a womens’ advocate. I was a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault and stalking myself.
There are a world of courts that most people have never been exposed to, such as civil court, criminal court and a Bais Din courts. I know theses courts and systems thoroughly and help victims navigate through the system. I have helped victims with restraining orders, the police, Bais Din’s etc. At the same time, I have helped rabbis and Lawyers filter out cases that have holes, inconsistencies, and unanswered questions.
I am available to assist as a woman’s advocate to any victim or her family in need of direction and advice. I am also available to Rabbi’s to help verify the facts of the victims claim(s). Any request for interviews must come through emails. My contact number is 310.894.3370 email is firstname.lastname@example.org – Diane Polonsky