Thumbs up for the new book Abuse in the Jewish Community

by Vicki Polin

Finally, after several long months of waiting, Abuse in the Jewish Community: Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims, has been published by a well known Jerusalem based publishing house — Urim Publications.

This must read book uses simple language to explain what abuse and neglect are and the context of how many cases have been mishandled in the past within Jewish orthodox communities worldwide.  We all must be aware that every faith based community has its own unique manner of explaining and often ignoring sex crimes, domestic violence and other types of abuse. This is also true for Judaism. Finally, psychologist, Michael J. Salamon has put together a book that addresses issues in a clear and succinct manor.

While there have recently been two edited books on the topic of abuse within the orthodox world, some of the authors and editors have little training or experience in the anti-rape field. Often parading themselves around as experts, detracting from the real message that needs to be promulgated.

According to those in the marketing field, when a person sees a name seven to eleven times they most likely will start to see that individual as a friend and or an expert in what ever it is they are trying to sell.  Unfortunately, in the Jewish world we have seen this happen to many times when it comes to those promoting themselves as experts.  What ends up happening is that survivors of abuse and non-offending parents end up going to these self-proclaimed experts for help — and end up being taken for a horrible ride. All too often these types of cases never get reported to official law enforcement agencies and or the evidence becomes tainted.

Michael J. Salamon not only has the proper education, he also has years of experience working with survivors, along with a proven track record of handling cases appropriately. Meaning, when one suspects a child is being abused or neglected, one should automatically call their local child abuse hot-line, and NOT ask a local orthodox rabbi for permission first.  If a house was on fire, one would NOT ask a rabbi for permission to call 911, the same MUST be true for our children.

Dr. Salamon reminds us that it is important to continuously break the myth that “it is just survivors of the holocaust who might abuse their children in Jewish communities.”  Offenders can and do include people from all walks of life including parents, teachers, members of the clergy and even our trusted neighbors.

The book Abuse in the Jewish Community is full of case reviews, anecdotes and a deep discussion of religious law as well as social and cultural issues that contribute to the problem.  The case studies used in Dr. Salamon’s book are very enlightening and his explanations of Jewish law are well delivered, clear, in a word – superb.

We all need to applaud psychologist Dr. Michael Salamon’s courage to write about a topic which has been taboo to discuss in the Jewish world and thank Urim Publications for helping to get the word out in all Jewish communities. Beyond noting the pain, denial and outright avoidance of abuse, Dr. Salamon’s book shows the reader that there is hope and healing available for those who have been victimized. This very well written, probing and thought provoking book, is one every parent, rabbi and community member, survivor and friend of survivors should read, reread and have on their bookshelves to use as a reference.

Within some communities, this book may cause a controversy and will most likely be banned because of the issues so brilliantly expressed in the text.  But Michael Salamon’s book, The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures, was also seen as somewhat controversial in the beginning, yet over the years has became a best seller and has helped many people.”

The most important message in the book Abuse in the Jewish Community,  is that like in any other community, we can no longer sweep abuse under the rug and pretend it never happened.   We must accept that there are serious issues to be dealt with openly and maturely and the information in Abuse in the Jewish Community will begin to help us do so.

The book was released initially in Israel and will be available in the U.S. at bookstores and online at and Barnes and Noble sometime in the next few weeks. But, I urge you not to wait. You can and should purchase a copy of this must read book now at Urim Publications.

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