Jewish communities unite to fight sexual abuse

Leaders of Jewish communities need to embrace fact that sexual abuse happens, learn how to react, says head of US umbrella group.

Raphael Poch,

(Illustration)
(Illustration)
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There has been a dramatic change over the past three decades with regard to how the Jewish community, and more specifically the Orthodox Jewish community deals with the after effects and trauma of sexual violence and abuse. This change is not only taking place in the Modern-Orthodox world, but also in the haredi world.

Tzvi Gluck, the founder and director of Amudim, an organization that works with victims of abuse as well as many others, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the changes that are currently taking place in the Jewish community around the world.

“The Jewish community historically has always been brushing matters of sexual abuse under the rug. That is part of what we are trying to change right now. They are always worried about shidduchim, schools, what people will say. We are trying to make this something people can talk about. Once they can talk about it they can get help.”

According to Gluck, the worldwide Jewish community has become a lot more open and significantly more adept at helping victims of sexual abuse find help over the past decade.  

“We are so far ahead than we were ten years ago when I first got involved. But a lot still needs to be done. We need to train the rabbanim, the heads of schools and community leaders not to be embarrassed by cases of sexual assault, but rather to embrace that it happens and that we are going to work together to eradicate it so that the next generation does not have to suffer.”

One of the reasons, according to Gluck, why community leaders are afraid of such cases is due to ignorance of police procedure and how, if a situation is reported, the police will react to it.

Fears that innocent people will end up in prison if accusations are reported to police are unfounded, he insisted.

“The rabbis need to understand the process that the police do. The rabbis do not know the type of investigative process the police use. Right now only 15% of reported cases lead to an arrest and only 5% of those lead to a conviction. People are scared of the elephant in the room.”

Gluck’s organization, Amudim, as well as the instructors at the Tahel conference have been promoting and training community leaders from around the world, to encourage those who have suffered sexual abuse, to go to professionals and to get help.

“Therapy, is extremely expensive in the US and most health cares don’t cover it. But there are wonderful organizations out there such as Ohel, the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, MASK, and our organization of Amudim, and we will do whatever we can to help the victims.

“We try to help whoever comes. If we find that the situation is so severe that we can’t help we will send the person to someone who can. We are trying to get organizations to work together to provide the help that victims of sexual abuse need so much.”

Amudim as well as Tahel are less interested in the credit and more interested in making sure that people get the help that they need. “ it’s not about who gets the credit, it’s about whether those in crisis are getting the assistance they need,” Gluck concluded.




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