Abuse in the Jewish Community by Michael J. Salamon

by Daniel ScheideAbuse in the Jewish Community

A decade ago, it seemed as if the Catholic Church had a monopoly on sexual abuse scandals. Now, it seems that every week there is a new story about abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. After defining a wide range of types of abuse, Dr. Michael Salamon digs to the roots of the problem, examining the challenges particular to working with ultra-Orthodox victims. Salamon explores halakhic, quasi-halakhic and cultural issues that may prevent victims from reporting their abuse. He also considers the difficulties inherent for therapists in working in these communities. Important both for community leaders as well as psychologists and social workers that deal with these communities.

This review first appeared in the AJL newsletter.

Abuse Among the Orthodox: Bad News, Good News

by Yoel Finkleman

First, the bad news: Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse occurs in Orthodox Jewish communities.

Next, the worse news: Though there is no evidence that such abuse occurs more frequently among the Orthodox than in other populations, two recent front-page New York Times stories are just the latest piece of evidence that Orthodox communities are often in denial and worse.  As publicized on the muckraking website FailedMessiah.com, rabbis and communal leaders, instead of supporting victims and punishing abusers, often seek to save the community from embarrassment and, in doing so, protect the perpetrators.  If children complain of being abused, their parents may silence them.  Some community leaders deny that the problem is significant.  Educators charged with children’s safety discourage victims from speaking up or pressing charges.  If victims and families do complain, their neighbors, claiming a religious prohibition on giving Jews up to secular authorities, harass them to prevent their going to the police.  Indeed, the official policy of the Haredi organization Agudath Israel of America is that school teachers or administrators who suspect abuse must ask a rabbi before going to secular authorities, despite New York State laws that prohibit them from doing so.

In the Modern Orthodox community, things are presumably better.  But Continue reading “Abuse Among the Orthodox: Bad News, Good News”

Brave doc tells how religious community covers up abuse . . .

by Doreen Wachmann

Wachmann talks to an observant psychologist who lifts the lid on a previously taboo subject of abuse in the Orthodox world

MUCH has been written about abuse in the Catholic Church but less about that committed by Orthodox Jews and covered up by the religious establishment.

One man who has been brave enough to raise the lid on the Orthodox community’s tendency to protect the perpetrators of abuse rather than the victims is New York psychologist Dr Michael Salamon.

His courageous comments are made in his recently published book Abuse in the Jewish Community – Religious and Communal Factors that Undermine the Apprehension of Offenders and the Treatment of Victims (published by Urim).

Revelations about abuse in the Catholic Church led to a torrent of abuse against the Church with many objecting to the Pope’s visit to Britain because of the issue.

But Dr Salamon, an Orthodox Jew, claims he is not a “charedi basher”.

He says: “I was born into a religious family. I grew up going to yeshiva.”

When asked whether he would describe himself as charedi, he said: “I hate religious labels. When I was growing up there were no distinctions. I still believe there should be no distinction.

“I guess people would refer to me as modern Orthodox. I and all my family went to very prestigious yeshivot. My wife Naomi also attended the Orthodox school system.”

Dr Salamon became interested in the subject of abuse in the Jewish community early in his career as a psychologist.

Cases of abuse in the Jewish community were referred to him 30 years ago when he was the only Orthodox person working in a clinic on research for the National Institute of Mental Health.

In one case a young woman in her late teens was abused by a close relative. But her Continue reading “Brave doc tells how religious community covers up abuse . . .”