Friday, February 16, 2018

Fifty one percent of the respondents reported receiving mental health treatment during their lifetime. The specific conditions for which respondents sought treatment were depression (22%), anxiety disorders (17%), eating disorders (4%), marital problems (21%), and other emotional or psychological problems (14%). ...

Objective: The authors examined instances of past sexual abuse and related demographic characteristics in the self-reports of a select group of married observant Jewish women.

 Methods: Orthodox Jewish married women (N=380) ages 19 to 58 responded to advertisements asking them to complete an anonymous questionnaire about sexual experiences, including sexual abuse.

 Results: Sexual abuse was reported by 26% of the respondents surveyed, with 16% reporting abuse occurring by the age of 13. More ultra-Orthodox Jews reported abuse than modern-Orthodox Jews. Women who were raised observant reported significantly less childhood sexual abuse than those who became observant later in life. Sexual abuse was associated with increased treatment-seeking for depression, marital counseling, or other emotional or psychological problems.  

Conclusion: While observant Jewish women live in a culture defined by a high degree of adherence to specific laws of conduct, including rules designed to regulate sexual contact, sexual abuse of various types still exists among them.

Most studies investigating religiosity and sexual abuse have examined whether religiosity ameliorates the negative consequences of sexual trauma (14) , rather than whether religiosity affects the occurrence of sexual trauma. There are currently no statistics regarding the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse within religious communities. Accordingly, it is not possible to know whether cultures that constrain sexual activity protect individuals from sexual abuse, increase occurrence of such abuse, or have no effect at all. In Orthodox Judaism, there are major constraints on sexual behavior compared with U.S. cultural norms, including a strict prohibition of premarital and extramarital physical contact of any sort (5) . We examined the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse in a group of self-reporting married Orthodox Jewish women. Data on abuse were collected as part of a larger study investigating sexual behavior and dysfunction. Because the subjects were recruited by advertisements, they were more self-selecting than subjects in a sampling frame-based survey. Thus, those who chose to participate may not be representative of the population.

Participants were categorized as either modern-Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox based on their self-reported religious affiliation. This subdivision reflects a debate within the Orthodox Jewish community. Unlike modern-Orthodox Jews, who actively participate in the general culture, haredi Jews, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, embrace a theologically conservative outlook that advocates substantial separation from secular culture ( haredi literally means “one who trembles before God”) (6) .

 This issue of openness versus insularity provided an additional basis for comparison within the 
Respondents were Jewish married women (N=380) ages 19 to 58. To be included in the study, the participant had to report regular use of a ritual bath (i.e., Mikvah), reflecting adherence to Orthodox Jewish law, which proscribes sexual contact during menstruation and for seven days thereafter (7) . Subjects responded to a flier or advertisement asking married women to consider participating in an important research study conducted by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine examining sexual life in marriage among observant Jewish women. The advertisements emphasized that the goal of the study was to gain a better understanding of sexual attitudes and practices, and that the study investigators believed that such knowledge could inform premarital education (Kallah) classes, as well as be useful for medical, mental health, and rabbinic professionals who treat and counsel observant Jewish women.

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. 

Participants completed the questionnaire anonymously and without financial reward and returned it by postal or electronic mail. To obtain a diverse group of observant Jewish women, subjects were sought across a large range of religious Jewish communities by advertising through synagogue bulletins, Jewish organizations, newspapers, Jewish-oriented web sites and Listservs, and a network of medical professionals (e.g., obstetricians/gynecologists, nurses, and pediatricians) whose practices consisted of sizable numbers of Orthodox Jewish women. The design of this study did not allow us to estimate the number or characteristics of women who heard about the study and refused participation.

The questionnaire developed for the participants was comparable to that used in the National Health and Social Life Survey (8 , 9) , administered by the Sociometrics Corporation, with additional questions regarding religious affiliation and other specific questions related to sexual life within Orthodox Jewish communities. These additional questions were based on questions described comprehensively in documents available from the Sociometrics Corporation. This section of the questionnaire began by asking respondents the question “Did anyone ever touch you sexually in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?” and, if so, requesting a brief account of the incident. We excluded responses where the account itself concluded that abuse had not occurred, such as 1) when the situation was consensual, although uncomfortable (e.g., “Past boyfriends sometimes pushed too much. I do not consider it abuse, so maybe my original answer should be changed to no”), 2) when the account was of a nonconsensual but inconsequential event (e.g., “My father’s friend wanted to have sex with me,” or “A stranger fondled my backside on the street”), or 3) when the respondent did not describe the event in the follow-up questions used in the analyses (e.g., characteristics of the perpetrator[s], number of times abused, age of respondent and perpetrator at the time of abuse, and whether the abuse involved forced touching of genitals and/or penetration).

The National Health and Social Life Survey used examiners to ask further details about each experience; in this study, the questionnaire asked for personal relevant details.

Statistical Analysis
Chi-square tests were used to compare sociodemographic characteristics of the participants based on religious affiliation (modern- versus ultra-Orthodox) and whether the respondent was raised observant or became observant later in life.

Three dichotomous variables relating to sexual abuse were also considered: presence or absence of a history of sexual abuse, whether genital contact occurred in the abuse, and age at time of first abuse (“13 and below” versus “other”). We also examined characteristics of the abuse itself and its disclosure. Sexual behavior within the marriage was noted but not assessed for possible abuse.

Table 1 shows the demographic characteristics of the respondents, as well as subgroup comparisons between modern- and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women and between women who were raised observant and those who became observant later in life. There were no significant differences between modern- and ultra-Orthodox respondents in age, birthplace, income, or prior marriages. However, compared with modern-Orthodox women, ultra-Orthodox women were more likely to have ended their education with high school or 1 year of religious seminary and were less likely to pursue graduate education, although the percentage of those with graduate education was higher among ultra-Orthodox women who were not raised observant.

The proportion of women who reported being raised observant did not differ between modern- (63%) and ultra-Orthodox (65%) women (χ 2 =0.186, df=1, p=0.66). There were no differences in birthplace or income between respondents who were raised observant and who became observant later in life.

However, there was a significant effect of age, as a greater proportion of younger participants were raised observant, and a greater proportion of participants between the ages of 35 and 49 reported becoming observant. Women who became observant were also significantly older at the time of marriage and had more often been married before.

Twenty six percent of respondents reported experiencing at least one instance of sexual abuse. There was significantly greater reporting of sexual abuse by ultra-Orthodox women compared with modern-Orthodox women (χ 2 =5.88, df=1, p=0.015). The comparison was repeated and the women reporting abuse were subdivided into two groups: those abused by the age of 13 and those abused after this age.

More ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women reported their first abuse at or before the age of 13 (χ 2 =7.37, df=2, p=0.025). Report of sexual abuse was nearly twice as high among Jewish women who became observant compared with those raised observant (χ 2 =6.98, df=1, p=0.008). More incidents of abuse were reported by ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women, both for those raised observant (χ 2 =4.06, df=1, p=0.04) and for those who became observant and for whom the abuse preceded increased religiosity (χ 2 =4.23, df=1, p=0.04) ( Figure 1 ).

 As seen in Figure 1 , religious affiliation and being raised observant were not related. When controlling for whether or not the subject was raised observant, stepwise logistic regression showed a higher proportion of sexual abuse for ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women (χ 2 = 7.79, df=1, p=0.005), and a higher proportion of abuse for those participants who became observant later in life, whether affiliated with ultra- or modern-Orthodox Judaism (χ 2 =12.59, df=1, p<0 .0005="" nbsp="" p="">
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Figure 1. Prevalence of Sexual Abuse According to Religious Affiliation and Upbringing
Table 2 shows the characteristics of the sexual abuse for the respondents who reported being abused. Among those who reported sexual abuse, half reported a single incident of abuse and half reported multiple incidents. Regarding the nature of the abuse, 48% reported genital contact/penetration, whereas 52% reported incidents of molestation (e.g., inappropriate fondling of the breasts and buttocks or attempted rape, which the respondent reported successfully fleeing). For 23% of sexually abused women, the abuse was perpetrated by a stranger. For 40%, the abuse was perpetrated by someone known to the respondent but not a family member, and for 30%, the abuse was perpetrated by a relative. Only 35% of respondents disclosed the abuse to another person, with 13% disclosing the event to their mother and 6% to their father. When the respondents were subdivided on the basis of whether they were raised observant, those raised observant were more likely to have been abused by strangers and were more likely to report incidents involving genital contact/penetration than those who become observant later in life.


Fifty one percent of the respondents reported receiving mental health treatment during their lifetime. The specific conditions for which respondents sought treatment were depression (22%), anxiety disorders (17%), eating disorders (4%), marital problems (21%), and other emotional or psychological problems (14%). Analyses based on religious affiliation and upbringing did not yield significant results, with the exception that persons who became observant sought more treatment for other emotional or psychological problems. Table 3 shows that respondents who reported sexual abuse were more likely to report seeking mental health treatment than those who did not report abuse, with significant differences for depression, marital problems, and emotional or psychological problems in general. Whether or not the abuse involved genital contact did not differ between those who did and did not report mental health treatment. 

While observant Jewish women live in a culture with a clearly prescribed set of laws designed to regulate sexual contact, sexual abuse still exists in these communities. Indeed, 26% of the participants in this study reported lifetime sexual abuse, with 16% reporting abuse occurring by the age of 13.

Almost a third of the participants reported sexual abuse perpetrated by relatives, and less than a quarter reported sexual abuse perpetrated by strangers. These estimates are consistent with data from several national surveys, in which 25%–27% of women, regardless of marital status or religious affiliation, reported sexual abuse (1012) . A meta-analytic study by Gorey and Leslie concluded that approximately 22% of women report childhood sexual abuse, a figure slightly higher than was noted in the present study, with about one-third reporting genital penetration (13) . Additionally, more ultra-Orthodox women reported sexual abuse than modern-Orthodox women. 

Although health professionals may be reluctant to inquire about sexual abuse in order not to offend patients for whom such topics are considered improper, it may be particularly important to screen for sexual abuse, since only one-third of the participants in this study reported disclosing the abuse to someone else. However, while the possibility of past abuse should be probed, it is also critically important to understand that the threshold at which someone may feel the victim of sexual abuse may be lower for those living in a more restrictive religious community. Approximately half of the reported incidents of abuse in this study did not involve genital contact. Since many researchers have historically defined sexual abuse as genital contact or even penetration (14) , there might be a tendency to minimize the significance of reported experiences that do not involve genital penetration.

Recent observations—which found that the effect of sexual trauma may depend less on the characteristics of the abuse itself and more on factors such as the relationship of the victim to the perpetrator and the family and community environment within which the abuse occurs—support the use of less restrictive criteria, particularly if the goal of such studies is to determine the impact and health consequences of sexual abuse (15 , 16) . Indeed, for the respondents in this study, a history of abuse was related to a greater prevalence of mental health treatment, including treatment for depression, marital problems, and some other emotional and psychological problems, consistent with reports (17 , 18) . There were no differences in seeking mental health treatment between sexually abused women who did and did not report abuse involving genital contact.

The higher proportion of reported abuse among women who became observant versus those raised observant is also significant. For Jewish women, the decision to become observant of the dictates of Orthodox Judaism involves a comprehensive change in lifestyle, which almost always includes a manifest restriction in sexual behavior. Furthermore, those who choose to affiliate with ultra-Orthodox Judaism undertake an additional isolation from the surrounding culture (6) . While the decision to increase religious observance may be motivated by many factors, it is noteworthy that of the respondents who became observant later in life and were not sexually abused, 60% were affiliated with modern-Orthodox Judaism, while among those who were sexually abused, only 43% were. Thus, women who are sexually abused or threatened may be more likely to seek out a more structured and sexually restricted lifestyle.

A major limitation of this study is that it was not feasible to obtain a representative sample of observant Jewish women, since no sampling frame was available. It was also not feasible to limit a representative sample of the general population to just observant Jewish women. This study used a wide variety of recruitment methods to provide coverage of the target population, which was married Jewish women who observe the strict laws associated with Orthodox Judaism, namely proscribed sexual activity except within marriage. We do not, therefore, claim that this study group is representative of all observant Jewish women. On the contrary, the high level of education, even among the ultra-Orthodox, suggests a sampling bias that may be associated with a willingness to participate in research. Furthermore, there was a high proportion of subjects receiving mental health treatment in this group, which may also reflect an openness to discussing sensitive topics with others.

Despite these potential sampling biases, the respondents were unquestionably from a population that is substantially different from normative Western secular culture. To obtain a more complete picture of the role of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, it would be necessary to also examine sexual abuse among unmarried observant women, since a history of sexual abuse is known to affect the capacity for intimacy or trust in close relationships (1416) . Similarly, since more than half of Jews who were raised Orthodox no longer affiliate with Orthodox Judaism as adults (19) , it would be necessary to examine the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse in Jewish women who were once observant but are no longer so. For all of these reasons, the estimates of prevalence of sexual abuse reported here are not the actual prevalence of sexual abuse among Orthodox Jewish women.

Despite these limitations, we are not aware of any other study examining sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community or in any other similarly insular religious society. This may be due to laws governing modesty, which discourage public or even private discussions of sexuality (5) . We have received numerous comments on the survey from respondents expressing gratitude for this forum and suggesting support for further discussion in this area (Participant Perspective).

Received Dec. 3, 2006; revisions received March 7 and May 7, 2007; accepted June 7, 2007 (doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.06122030). From the Division of Traumatic Stress Studies, Department of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York; and the James J. Peters VA Medical Center
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Yehuda, Psychiatry OOMH, James J. Peters VA Medical Center, 130 West Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx, NY 10468; rachel.yehuda@va.gov (e-mail).
The authors report no competing interests.

The authors thank Sharon Jedel, Psy.D., who assisted in the literature review, and Janine Flory, Ph.D., and Claude Chemtob, Ph.D., for their assistance with this manuscript.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Know the rules. But more importantly, know when to break them....To do that, however, you have to think for yourself. You need the courage to walk away from the majority, and you need the audacity to follow through...

Why Only Rebels Find Real Fulfillment

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This is taken from a famous Apple ad. It helped put the company back on track after Steve Jobs returned to revive them from near-bankruptcy in 1997.

It’s touching, inspiring, and empowering. It’s how marketing should be done. But why is it relevant to the rest of us? Not all of us can, will, or want to change the world. There’s an easy answer. Because you’re not always at the center of a bell-curve, and that’s who the status quo caters to. You live a unique life, and it demands a unique outlook.

A Few Things the Status Quo Says..

  • Don’t be an artist because you will never make a living
  • Don’t be an entrepreneur because you’ll probably fail
  • Don’t quit your job to travel because it’s shortsighted
  • Don’t take the road less traveled because it’s risky
Is it good advice? For some people, yes. But there is also more to the story.

Let’s Talk About the Other Side


“Success is achieved by people who deeply understand reality and know how to use it to get what they want.” — Ray Dalio
The status quo is unapologetically biased towards average in EVERY situation. Sometimes, in certain instances, sure, you’ll fall close to the middle of the bell-curve, and that’s fine. But much of the time, you’ll be navigating the corners, and that’s when you’ll be punished. Societial rules don’t cater there. We live in a complex world, and we have complex lives based on a personal combination of memories and emotions. They don’t fit a predefined mold. It’s critical to understand the existing conventions, structures, and systems. They provide a reference point, and more often than not, they are useful. But it’s far more critical to know that they also aren’t set in stone.

 Outside of the law and the boundaries of modern science, much of reality is flexible. Almost everything around us that we presume to be fixed and static was produced and labeled by other people. There is no law in the universe that invents ideas and implements them. Powerful brains, like yours, do that.
The world — if understood well — can be reshaped with the right tools.

What Are These Tools?


“You’ve got to have [mental] models in your head… and the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department.” — Charlie Munger
You need to understand the world from as many diverse angles as you can.

Mental models are a way to do that. They provide a fundamental framework for deciphering complexity so that you can optimize your decision-making.

A common example is Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule), which tells us that in any domain about 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the causes.

In businesses, about 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of customers. In software, 20 percent of the code accounts for about 80 percent of errors.

Another is Cost-benefit Analysis. It’s a systematic approach to evaluating the different avenues ahead and weighting their positives and their negatives.

Each of them, in their own way, help us make sense of the noise around us.

They either explain a generally observed trend, or they give us a method for breaking down and ordering information in a way that’s a little more useful.

A Few Models I Find Valuable


  • Socratic Method — Discourse to stimulate critical thinking and eliminate weak hypothesis with meaningful questions and constructive arguments.
  • Combinatory Play — Einstein’s method of creativity where imagination is used to combine existing parts of reality to produce something new.
  • Bayes’ Theorem — Using probabilistic thinking to estimate the likelihood of future events based on a rational evaluation of prior conditions.
  • Design Thinking — An approach to solving problems by understanding the needs of a person before working backwards to craft a solution.
  • First Principles — Breaking things down to their fundamental truth and reasoning upwards from there to bypass any potential inefficiencies.
The world is messy. It can’t be viewed through a single lens. It needs to be simplified and approached from a multi-dimensional viewpoint, and a well-diversified collection of mental models are the best way to do that.

They allow room for flexible evaluation, and they accurately assess how reality interacts with the different components of your own personal life.

A good combination of mental models are a far better tool to make life decisions than blindly accepting the status quo because you’re supposed to.

Explore different disciplines and create your own personal toolkit of models.

A Better Approach to Life


“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” — Steve Jobs
If you ask good questions, strive to always learn, and develop a strong mental framework for evaluating the divergence between where you are and where you want to be, you’ll be able to navigate the world far more successfully.

To do that, however, you have to think for yourself. You need the courage to walk away from the majority, and you need the audacity to follow through.

You’re not just a passenger hoping to observe reality but leave it untouched. You’re a participant, and your job is to challenge it and carve your own way.

Know the rules. But more importantly, know when to break them.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Where did this strange dude come from? איפה מנהיגי הדור שלנו?

Monday, January 14, 2008 - THE UOJ VAULT


Once Upon A Time There Was A Rabbi......

People thought him strange!

He had these weird ideas...like every Jewish child must be granted a Jewish education...free if necessary. Every major city in the world, starting with the United States...should have a Hebrew school staffed with educated, qualified, religious, career teachers.

Every Jewish child should be educated according to his/her abilities; set up separate parallel classes for the brightest...and classes for the beautiful children that did not necessarily like learning, that would rather play ball. He actually understood that. He forced his best students out of the bais medrash during the lunch hour and on to the playground. Exercise was important for everyone.

Children that came from "modern" homes were not permitted to change their dress - to "hasidic" garb. Tzizis...were to be neatly kept in their pants pockets, and peyos were to be combed around the ear - if you came to the yeshiva with them -- if not -- you needed to keep and respect the dress code of your parents. You had to be immaculate in your appearance.

This was some strange guy!

Girls had to be formally educated - both in limudei kodesh - Hebrew studies - and secular studies. He fought tooth and nail against the fanatics that wanted to keep girls at home - learning to cook and clean and some home-study. (Urged them to learn that from their mothers' - at their leisure.)

He despised religious fanatics!

Boys had to excel - according to their abilities - both in their Hebrew and secular studies. If you failed in mathematics, history or English - you risked being penalized. (knass - or money sanctions...or even expulsion)

Where did this strange dude come from?

He was brought to tears, everyday, at least three times...at v'Yerushalayim ircha b'rachamim tashuv...v'sihkon b'socha k'asher dibarta....He cried real tears when his students were in pain, emotional or otherwise. It affected his ulcers drastically when people suffered; all Jewish pain was personal. He understood pain - if any one ever did. He understood "responsibility." He understood dedication to the klal...and every living, breathing moment was on fire...with that commitment.

He never had a personal savings bank account...it was a failure in bitachon. Hashem provides, and will always.... if you do your part - with serious hishtadlut ! When Mr. Irving Bunim put down the down payment ($5G) for his house in Monsey - New York, this rabbi made certain it was in the name of the yeshiva (against the express wishes of the benefactor), and that fair market value rent - was deducted from his meager paycheck.

He borrowed money for students that he felt needed to leave the yeshiva...and helped them to start businesses with personal loans. He encouraged others to get jobs. He encouraged many to go to college - in to the professions - and only the few totally dedicated boys were to stay in learning - full time - for more than a very brief period of time. This was a man who understood the stark realities of life...and what it meant not to make a living; and the broad - forever - wide-reaching ramifications on the entire family's well-being if there was no food in the ice-box.

This was a wild & crazzzzy guy!

Where are those rabbis? What happened to us? How did we drift so far apart from Torah values - that we don't know right from wrong, legal from illegal, sane from insanity, truth from blatant falsehoods, real from unreal, rational from irrational, and seemingly profane from seriously profane?............

We sold away our traditions for money, kavod, power, a few minutes in the spotlight; and whored ourselves for every single secular - anti-Torah value that we once died for!


So what gives? What happened to this generation of leaders? ...When they’re not busy clapping each other on the back steering us dead-on into the Icebergs/Goldbergs...

The End of Leadership


Or, Why We Don’t Have Leaders Today — We Have Demagogues


Here’s a tiny question.

What happened to this generation of leaders?

Climate change, financial crisis, inequality, debt, stagnation, robo-dystopia…a nearly endless, panic-attack inducing list of Really Major Global Issues Threatening the Ongoing Survival and Prosperity of Humankind…and they mostly seem to be slumped over snoring at the wheel…when they’re not busy clapping each other on the back steering us dead-on into the icebergs. (Goldbergs)

In this little essay, I want to advance a small thesis. Many of today’s leaders aren’t worthy of the word. Because they are not leaders at all. So what are they? Let me explain, with a simple example.

There is no good reason for American leaders, left and right, to have inflicted decades of austerity on a society in which incomes have been stagnant and living standards have fallen,inequality has spiralled, and the average person’s future is ever more uncertain. No good reason at all. Even the IMF has both renounced austerity and agreed that advanced economies can not just sustain, but probably need, a deficit to operate at optimal levels of productivity.

I could repeat these stories with reference to politicians around the globe. In Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Britain— where a generation of politicians proclaims they “do not believe in” a European Union whose living standards are vastly higher than theirs. Here is the issue: there is simply no support — whether economic, ethical, or moral; whether scientific, rational, or humanistic — for most of their policies, stances, perspectives.

So what gives? What happened to this generation of leaders?

There is something very different about many of today’s so-called leaders. It is that they are demagogues. Let’s review what “demagogue” actually means. Here’s a decent definition:
“a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.”

Let me explain why that’s important, using the example of the 80s. A generation of conservative politicians then — Thatcher, Reagan, and so on — and the like — ripped up and rewrote social contracts wholesale.

So what is the difference between them — and the demagogues of today? A very great one indeed. There was intellectual and perhaps moral support for the decisions the leaders of yesterday took.

Here’s a simple example. We may disagree now over trickle-down economics, since prosperity hasn’t trickled down. But at the time there was at least a reasoned position in support of it, built on a consensus amongst thinkers. You may think of the Laffer Curve as a simple illustration: it may have been proven largely wrong now, but at least there was an effort to produce a reason to slash public services then. (The Laffer Curve still proves correct today)

The neo-demagogues of meta-modernity are very different. There is no serious intellectual, moral, or ethical support for their decisions at all. Demaogues are irrational, insensible, not beyond reason — but scurrying in the abyss deep below it. They are simply, as the definition simply says, “arousing the passions and prejudices of people”. Let’s take immigration as a simple example. Decades of logic — not to mention evidence — confirm that (legal) immigration only benefits advanced economies.

Demagogues do not act rationally or sensibly, reasonably or sanely — whether in terms of economics, morality, politics, or anything else that might justifiably be called a system of thought. Why not? They prey on our emotions; they exploit our biases and prejudices; like magicians, they devour our fears and dangle before us our wishes. They are sorcerers of our animal beings. Pumping the bellows of unreason, they stoke the dark fires that burn deep in the human soul.

It’s true: empiricism alone can never guide us in the human world — but still, we must struggle not merely to be prisoners of our biases and prejudices. And that is precisely what demagogues reduce us to. Unthinking servants of our own worst selves. The selves that, instead of thinking, dreaming, wondering, rebelling, defying, creating, loving — are filled with spite, greed, jealousy, fear, and, at last, hate, of the self and the other, of god and man, of life and death alike.

There are many ways in which the institutions of modernity are decaying, sputtering out, breaking down. But one of the most significant, insidious, and damaging is that they no longer seem to reliably produce leaders — but demagogues. And, in turn, demagogues are, of course, historical bellwethers of decline, stagnation, disintegration.

True leaders lead people to an impossible destination. It does not exist in the world. It exists in being. They lead us towards to our better selves. Those seared, impossibly, defiantly, courageously, with happiness, purpose, meaning. Lives which may swim in the mighty river of grace, and, because they give thanks for the boundless privilege of life, bestow the gift of mercy and love upon each and every fellow traveller they meet. That is the defining characteristic of every leader that history remembers. 

Demagogues do not lead us to our better selves. They lead us to the very opposite: our worse selves. They condemn people to become nothing more than twisted, stunted caricatures of who they were meant to be. And by doing so, they diminish what is truly most valuable in the world: human potential.

For the tragedy of the demagogue is this: the demagogue is an anti-leader. He is not merely the absence of leadership. But the opposite. He is not just the drought. He is the locust and the flood. His followers aren’t merely left no better off — but also no worse off. Life’s most valuable creation is what is truly wasted by demagogues. The one thing we may each call our own. Ourselves.

Demagogues reduce us to being empty, twisted, broken husks of the people we should have been. People who, in the act of wasting their days on spite, greed, envy, and anger, fail to develop, grow, become themselves — and do great and mighty, noble and soaring things. That is why history condemns not just demagogues. But also the people who eagerly follow them. For they are prisoners. But they are also jailers. Each of whom holds the key to the cell next door.

I don’t think this is the end of leadership — forever. But I do think that leadership is in deep, serious, and historic trouble today. As both art and science, practice and pursuit, creation and gift. In all these ways, I think that leadership demands abiding, radical reinvention — and further, that reimagining it is going to require coming squarely to terms with the failures and shortcomings that have produced a hollow generation of demagogues with scarcely a single true leader amongst them. And so it is up to each and every one of us who wishes to be a leader to understand precisely why. For we can no longer conveniently leave the necessary, worthy, difficult work of leadership at the doorstep of the boardrooms and backrooms (and Agudah conventions).

Let us remember where leaders truly lead each and every life that walks with them. To lives brimming with purpose, riven with grace, seared with love, overflowing with meaning. That is the truest miracle of all. That, from mere things scurrying and clawing at one another in the glittering darkness, we may follow one another to the pure light of our higher selves.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

That means that in every classroom, team and congregation it is likely that there are children who have been or are being victimized....

Larry Nassar stands as he is sentenced by Judge Janice Cunningham

The costs of surviving childhood sexual abuse


The impact of child sex abuse is not just emotional for victims, but financial as well


It is difficult not to be stunned into silence by the testimony of 156 female gymnasts against serial pedophile Dr. Larry Nassar. His “practice” was a factory assembly line of abuse — one girl after the other, day after day. He was prolific but not a rarity: child sex abuse in the United States is a mass epidemic that saturates our culture and even impacts the economy. And as the national #MeToo movement has shown, the time is now, to say, “enough is enough.”

Ignorance, discomfort and a legal system geared toward adults rather than children have kept these stories from the public. The numbers are staggering: research by the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. That means that in every classroom, team and congregation it is likely that there are children who have been or are being victimized.

Victims often do not disclose their abuse until they are in their 40s, according to the University of Georgia School of Law's Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic. While 38 states have eliminated the criminal statute of limitations (SOL) for at least some child sex crimes, most have not done so for all of them, leaving large loopholes that protect many perpetrators whose “lesser” abuse can still yield enormous harm. Many more states have not yet eliminated the civil SOL, which means institutions and their insurers have not been adequately incentivized to change their practices to deter child sex abuse effectively. 

Indeed, the worst states, like New York, Alabama and Michigan, permit institutions and predators to revel in SOLs that cut off claims once the victim reaches their early 20s.
For the victim, the impact of child sex abuse is not just emotional but financial as well. Up to 50 percent of child sex abuse victims develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Teens who were victims of child physical or sexual abuse are three times more likely to develop substance abuse problems. On average, violent trauma in childhood costs the victim $210,000 over their lifetime — that’s $13.5 trillion over a generation in the United States alone.

The public also pays. The states with short SOLs force not just victims and their families, but even taxpayers, to foot the cost. Our tax-dollar funded prisons are filled with victims of abuse: over 80 percent of female inmates and nearly 60 percent of male inmates were physically or sexually victimized as children. Many victims go on to file for disability and also receive Medicaid and other state and federal support, while the person responsible for the harm pays nothing. For example, in New York, taxpayers underwrite the costs that should be paid by the institutions hiding predators. A change in law would save taxpayers no less than $250 million a year by reviving expired and extending civil SOLs to hold abusers accountable.

And of course, this abuse is also expensive for the institutions that enable and protect predators, which is why groups like the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts have spent millions lobbying to kill reform that would hold them accountable. There is the cost to reputation and careers: look at the fallout in USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University after it was discovered there was direct knowledge of Nassar’s abuse for years. The sitting presidents of Penn State and Michigan State lost their jobs over Jerry Sandusky and Nassar, respectively. There is also the cost of the lawsuits: jury verdicts in child sex abuse cases have registered all the way up to $100 million.

 Because of the potential for these sky-high verdicts, institutions typically aim for mass settlements: the Catholic Church cases have yielded average settlements of $100,000-500,000 per victim, with combined payments at this point well over $4 billion. Every university, religious organization, sports organization and institution needs to realize these numbers could be their future and must act now to institute best child protection practices. This includes reporting allegations of abuse to the authorities, providing internal whistleblower protections and restricting adults from being alone with children. They must cycle the poison out of the system or compound the impact.

These numbers are real, and what they should tell lawmakers, business leaders and their number-crunchers, is that child sex abuse prevention is not only the morally right path, but also the only one they can reasonably afford.

Marci Hamilton is the CEO and Academic Director of CHILD USA, and co-founder of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators. She is the author of "Justice Denied: What America Must Do to Protect Its Children."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Uncle Howard Nevison was a well-known member of the largest Jewish synagogue in America and his congregation so believed in his innocence they raised enough money to buy him four defense attorneys who tried to discredit Neulinger and succeeded in dragging the trial on for years....

When Sasha Joseph Neulinger was raped by two of his uncles and his cousin as a child, he didn’t have a Child Advocacy Center to turn to.

Neulinger told his story as supporters of the Onslow County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) ate lunch and listened with rapt attention, watching home movies of Neulinger as a child from a video he put together.

When he was facing the toughest time of his life, Neulinger said he had no CAC to back him up, and he praised the work the Onslow County CAC is doing.

An abused child

Neulinger felt he couldn’t tell anyone what was going on. One uncle promised death if he breathed a word about the abuse, and the then-4-year-old little boy felt alienated.

Years passed, and the abuse continued. Neulinger said he thought the abuse was his fault.
“A part of me was starting to believe I deserved the pain,” Neulinger said.

But that was before, at the age of 7, he found his 4-year-old little sister walking out of his cousin’s room sobbing, tears streaking down her blotchy red face.

As he told the gathered Child Advocacy Center supporters his story Friday afternoon, they gasped at the realization of just how far the abuse went – and indeed it went even further still with one of Neulinger’s uncles sodomizing several people within his family, he said.

“I couldn’t understand how or why anyone could hurt her,” Neulinger said of his little sister. “I knew she didn’t deserve to be hurt.”

Seeing his sister facing the same fate he was, Neulinger said he found courage through his love for her, and he realized how wrong the abuse was. His sister drew photos when words wouldn’t come, and he found the voice to tell his story.

Becoming vocal

As a child Neulinger was an insomniac and so suicidal that he thought jumping from a moving car was preferable to the death his rapist promised waited for him if he spoke – so he jumped.

He then went to therapy and started with drawings, then used his words to explain his traumatic experiences and he told his story over and over and over again.

Neulinger spent the next nine years of his life in and out of courtrooms testifying against his abusers and spoke about the incredible support system he had behind him, including his parents, his sister, and the law enforcement officer on his case.

While one uncle and his cousin were convicted, Uncle Howard Nevison was a well-known member of the largest Jewish synagogue in America and his congregation so believed in his innocence they raised enough money to buy him four defense attorneys who tried to discredit Neulinger and succeeded in dragging the trial on for years.

Eventually, at the age of 17, Neulinger agreed for his uncle to plead guilty to misdemeanors, taking all of the felony charges off the table in order for him to finally be able to move on.

Getting help

Neulinger said he was emotionally exhausted from reliving his abuse through every retelling. He spoke of visiting law enforcement and the prosecutor to talk about one incident or another and how the defense used that to their advantage in court, catching a slip as little as Neulinger mixing up the color of his abuser’s shirt on a specific occasion.

That trauma has been erased for children in Onslow County thanks to the CAC.

Neulinger pulled up photos of a waiting room with a tree painted in the wall’s corner and notes from other children left behind to make newcomers feel safe. Some of them were left at the tables for those at the luncheon to read, including one from a 13-year-old girl who wrote, “Don’t be scared!

Everybody is nice. These people help you get through tough times!”

Kids leave the CAC with a stuffed animal and handmade quilt, a reminder that they are safe and loved, and Neulinger explained that in Onslow County, a child tells their story once, to one person.
“It only takes that one person,” said Dawn Rochelle, the executive director of the Onslow County Partnership for Children.

The child is taken into a room for the interview where they’re videoed, and down the hall the prosecutor and others watch it live and give directions to the interviewer if necessary.

That video can then be used in the courtroom, said Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery, who added that it was her “great honor and privilege” to prosecute sexual abuse cases.

Child sexual abuse should be a topic that’s brought up more often due to how much it occurs, Avery said.

We all pay when we don’t get things right with children, Rochelle said.

“Child abuse is 100 percent preventable,” Rochelle said. “That’s our call to action.”

Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or Amanda.Thames@JDNews.com


Friday, February 09, 2018

Gershon Biegeleisen, 28, of Lakewood, was arrested Thursday at his home on charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Lakewood Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced....

Lakewood Man Charged With Distributing Child Porn: Prosecutor 

Breaking: Gershon Biegeleisen was identified after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted authorities to downloads.

By Karen Wall, Patch Staff |

Lakewood Man Charged With Distributing Child Porn: Prosecutor

LAKEWOOD, NJ — A Lakewood man has been charged with distributing child pornography after authorities traced the activity to his home, authorities said Thursday.

Gershon Biegeleisen, 28, of Lakewood, was arrested Thursday at his home on charges of second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Lakewood Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced.

The arrest is the result of a referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force indicating someone within Ocean County had downloaded and was sharing images of prepubescent children engaged in sexual acts, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

The prosecutor's office's High Tech Crimes Unit detectives investigated and that led to a search warrant being executed at a home on Columbus Avenue in Lakewood, Della Fave said. Evidence collected at the scene led to Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Pressman approving the charges, he said.

The Ocean County Prosecutor's High Tech Crime Unit, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Lakewood Police Department teamed up in the case, Della Fave said.

Biegeleisen is being held at the Ocean County Jail pending a first appearance hearing, he said.

Gershon Biegeleisen photo provided by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office


Let Us Welcome The Newest Honorary Member of the Moetzes Agudath Israel ---- Hart insisted that sexual abuse was “a spiritual encounter with God through the priest” and was “of a higher order” than criminal law.

Catholic Archbishop: ‘I’d Rather Go to Prison Than Report Child Abuse to Police’


One of the highest-ranking officials in the Catholic Church has stated that he would “rather go to prison” than report pedophilia to police.

Australia’s most powerful clergy, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart, says he’s prepared to be jailed for failing to report child sex abuse by pedophile priests.

He made the shocking statement in response to the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse saying there should be “no excuse, protection nor privilege” for clergy who failed to alert police of abuse.

Hart insisted that sexual abuse was “a spiritual encounter with God through the priest” and was “of a higher order” than criminal law.

A new report by the commission proposed 85 sweeping changes to the criminal justice system and recommended that priests face criminal charges for failing to report serious crimes such as sexual abuse to the police.

As the law currently stands, clergy are not legally obliged to report crimes to the police and disciplinary proceedings for criminal activity by members of the Catholic Church are handled internally by Canon law, which operates independently of the regular legal procedure.

Following an investigation by the commission, officials believe that the Catholic Church is using “confessional confidentiality” as a cover for not reporting child sex abuse to the authorities.

“We understand the significance of religious confession – in particular, the inviolability of the confessional seal to people of some faiths, particularly the Catholic faith”, said the report. “However, we heard evidence of a number of instances where disclosures of child sexual abuse were made in religious confession, by both victims and perpetrators.”

We are satisfied that confession is a forum where Catholic children have disclosed their sexual abuse and where clergy have disclosed their abusive behavior in order to deal with their own guilt.”

Independent reports: Asked on Tuesday if he would rather go to prison than breach the seal of confession, he told ABC Radio Melbourne:

“I’ve said that I would.”I believe that this is an absolutely sacrosanct communication of a higher order.”


Thursday, February 08, 2018

Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, 49, was convicted last July in Nazareth District Court as part of a plea deal over a series of crimes committed against women who came to him for advice and counseling --- Sheinberg’s wife told Eliyahu that she knew her husband had sex with the women, but that the sex was part of their therapy....

Beyond evil - with the full knowledge of his wife ---- How low does it get?

Safed rabbi sentenced to 7.5 years in jail for sexual assault


Ezra Sheinberg, ex-yeshiva head, confessed to using his position as spiritual leader to take advantage of 8 women

Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg is brought for a court hearing at the Kiryat Shmona Magistrates Court on July 2, 2015. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg is brought for a court hearing at the Kiryat Shmona Magistrates Court 

A well-known rabbi and yeshiva head from the northern city of Safed was sentenced Tuesday to seven and a half years in prison for committing a slew of sexual crimes against eight women, including multiple counts of sexual assault. 

Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, 49, was convicted last July in Nazareth District Court as part of a plea deal over a series of crimes committed against women who came to him for advice and counseling.
The specific charges were not publicized by the court. The criminal proceedings were under a gag order preventing publication of any details of the incidents due to the “egregious nature” of the crimes and to protect the privacy of the victims.

The prosecution had initially demanded that the former head of the Orot HaAri yeshiva receive a minimum of nine years in jail sentence after his conviction. But the defense provided “significant proofs which helped discredit some of the accusations,” according to a Tuesday Justice Ministry statement, prompting both sides to accept the plea bargain after several charges of rape were dropped.
Responding to the sentencing, Sara Markovich, who represented three of the victims, said they were “satisfied” with the ruling, despite having sought harsher punishment.

“Overall we are satisfied that this criminal who calls himself a rabbi is not immune from punishment under the law and is going to sit for many years in prison,” Markovich said. “This man abused the trust of these women in the most discraceful way possible and deeply damaged them, some of them members of his own community.”

A total of 14 women made allegations against Sheinberg to a special investigation team and police suspect that many other victims were afraid to come forward. The victims were all religious women who had come to the rabbi for advice or help on various issues including health.

Rabbi Ezra Sheinberg, suspected of sexual abuse against several women, is seen at the courtroom of the Kiryat Shmona Magistrates

Sheinberg had been a popular Kabbalist and respected figure in Israel’s national-religious community and author of several books of Torah ideas.

He was arrested on July 1, 2015, as he attempted to flee the country as allegations against him emerged. He has been in prison since that time.

According to prosecutors at the time, Sheinberg used his position of prominence and reputation as a powerful mystic to lure in and take advantage of women who came to him for religious counsel and blessings for fertility when they struggled to conceive.

They alleged that the victims shared a number of characteristics: they were young religious women whose husbands, in most cases, were Sheinberg’s students at the seminary.

Part of his modus operandi involved convincing the victims that only he could provide a solution to their problems, through a treatment he dubbed “relaxation.”

During those sessions, Sheinberg fraudulently obtained his victims’ consent to commit sexual acts, prosecutors said, adding that the defendant used innocent young women who trusted him as a tool to satisfy his sexual desires.

Some of the women had originally approached a rabbinic council with the allegations. A team of local rabbis, led by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, began investigating the accusations in mid-June 2015, and later reported them to the police.

Sheinberg’s wife told Eliyahu that she knew her husband had sex with the women, but that the sex was part of their therapy.

Sheinberg has eight children and several grandchildren.