200 Gather in Cleveland to Combat Child Abuse

200 members of Cleveland’s orthodox Jewish community gathered on Sunday night to hear from abuse survivors, mental health professionals, and legal experts, in a “Night of Awareness and Education” about CSA. The event was organized by Jewish Community Watch (JCW), an organization committed to raising awareness of and preventing CSA in the orthodox Jewish community. The standing-room only crowd included survivors, parents of small children, and community leaders.

Ruth Gordon spoke about her son Dave Gordon who he had been a victim of horrific abuse as a child growing up in Michigan. As a young adolescent he suffered through depression and addiction but eventually turned a corner and became an outspoken anti-abuse activist. He joined the Israeli Defense Force and partook in the Operation Protective Edge in Gaza this past summer. Shortly after, he was tragically found dead of gunshot wounds.

Ruth spoke about the specific struggles that victims of abuse face within the orthodox Jewish community, where the institutional cover-ups and shame have destroyed numerous lives. She noted the irony that her late son Dave had received more unconditional support in his Narcotics Anonymous groups, which were mostly held in churches, than he received at his local synagogue. With her voice shaking she concluded with a message for the parents in attendance “watch your children, listen to your children, believe your children, protect your children and love your children”

Eli Nash, a survivor of CSA and an anti-abuse activist, urged parents not to “sacrifice your children on the altar of keeping up an image and reputation.” While Meyer Seewald, founder and CEO of JCW had a message for survivors “You are not alone! You must know that you have a place to turn to!”

Dr. Norman Goldwasser, a trauma psychologist, spoke about the impact he’s seen firsthand from JCW events on survivors. Ronnie Ducoff, an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Cleveland, explained the process of bringing charges against a perpetrator and by urging victims to go to the police.

Rivka Joseph, a member of the Cleveland community and the local coordinator of the event, revealed publicly for the first time that she is a survivor of CSA, declaring that she is no longer ashamed and no longer feels judged. “Jewish Community watch is a survivor’s best friend” declared Joseph.

Mendy (Robert) Klein, a businessman, philanthropist and community leader, stood up at the conclusion of the event and declared that the Cleveland Jewish community maintains a zero-tolerance policy towards CSA and that this is the policy adopted by the community Rabbis.

After the event, Seewald said, “Thank G-d, I really feel the tides shifting. This is the third event JCW has held in the last 6 months and in each case the turnout and support from the community has been overwhelming. The age where abuse in our community is covered up is coming to an end. JCW has another event planned next week in Miami, and we plan on traveling to every city with a major Jewish population in order to bring our message of prevention, healing, and education.”

For more information visit: http://www.jewishcommunitywatch.org. Join a JCW event in Miami next Sunday, February 15th https://www.facebook.com/events/860939950624556.

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  • 1. non-gender wrote:

    The point to be raised it thus: If the standard Rabbinical institutions and so-forth within the Orthodox community does not do the proper thing as Ms. Gordon mentioned in the case of her son, the real issue become how does one rectify the situation and end the crisis. We have witnessed not to long ago on these pages and elsewhere this same issue and the outpouring of rage against the victims because they went outside the inner community–which had failed them–for assistance. In fact, the perpertators were protected and victims became the evil ones subject to retribution from the community

  • 2. frum event wrote:

    If this was a frum event 4 the Lubavitch community as well as the frum community of Cleveland y wasn’t there separate seating that’s #1 & what about the telz community y don’t we c any of them ?

  • 3. To #2 wrote:

    Maybe the better question is how were families allowed to sit together during the discussion of topics that could potentially cause someone to relive trauma and want to be near loved ones, and why didn’t the whole world fall apart as a result?

  • 4. Still Frum wrote:

    Could you please consider the context here, exactly what this meeting was about, before freaking out about mixed seating and improper thoughts?

  • 5. non-gender wrote:

    right on # 4; is this a way of advoiding the issue as before? This a real problem that will not go awahy and all you are doing #2, 3 is hiding the smutz under the carpet by your comments

  • 6. flow wrote:

    well let the bloods flow in all major Jewish community’s.
    Are they really helping or planting fear.

  • 7. to #2 wrote:

    its bothersome that out of everything that can come out of your mouth when discussing such a sensitive and serious issue like protecting our children, what concerns you the most, is no separate seating.

    i highly suggest that you reevaluate your priorities in life and stop deflecting the issue and deal with the issue at hand; protecting our children.

    and yes unfortunately the “leaders” of our community aren’t doing enough, quite frankly they can not get along themselves.


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