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Thursday, May 24, 2012

CHILD ABUSE IN OUR COMMUNITIES .......... IF ONLY..

Recent revelations in both local and national media in regard to the reporting cases of sexual abuse directly to the rabbis and not to the authorities have sparked a major controversy on the issue and its halachic implications. This has turned into a huge fiasco with the retraction by Charles Hynes, the D.A. of Brooklyn, saying that the position of Agudath Israel of America is not acceptable. The D.A. is now claiming that he never approved a special arrangement with rabbis
                                              
There are two issues that have divided our once strongly united community,
and have created chaos where cooperation had formerly prevailed
.
1) Halachic misinterpretations on reporting
2) The stubborn refusal by the D.A not to publicize Jewish child molesters within the community
History of Charles Hynes and the Agudath Israel of America:
Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes has a long distinguished history of professional service in the criminal justice system;
In 1969, he became an assistant D.A., for Brooklyn;
In 1971, Hynes was appointed Chief of the Rackets Bureau for Kings County;
In 1973, Hynes was named first assistant district attorney;
In 1975, Charles Hynes’ career was catapulted when he was appointed special state prosecutor for nursing home and Medicaid fraud;
Governor Hugh Carey said that the appointment of Hynes brought national acclaim and Hynes’ career really began to flourish.
I have known D,A, Hynes personally for more than 20 years and I deeply believe him to be a man of honor and a man that can continue to bring necessary changes in our justice system. I recall meeting the D,A many times, whether it be at political events or at holiday gatherings like Chanukah parties. I participated with him and supported his various different initiatives to bring the people of Kings County together.
"The Voice Of Justice" has worked closely with the staff of the D.A’s office in Brooklyn as a liaison to many victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
Regarding Agudath Israel: I met David Zweibel on numerous occasions and found him to be a charming and energetic individual with a widely diversified rabbinical board that has many different halachic perspectives and directions.
Over the years I have been friends with many people in leadership positions in Agudath Israel. I have been a supporter of Rabbi Yaacov Horowitz and "Project YES."a division of agudah I am also proud to have raised substantial funds for certain worth while projects that the Agudah initiated.(like the PCCS vocational job placement agency)
However, in the last five years, I have become extremely disillusioned at the direction of their approach in regard to molestation of children. I have not hesitated to speak out against their policies in the public media, especially on the "Zev Brenner Hour" radio program
I find that their position with regard to protecting our children terribly flawed and misguided, as well as their interpretations of major rabbinical declarations, especially that from the leading sage of our generation, Rabbi Eliyashuv Shlit"a as being distorted and wrong.
The position by Agudath Israel has caused and continues to cause a great deal of pain and suffering to survivors and victims of child abuse
IF ONLY.... Agudath Israel had issued a public declaration that protecting and giving support to victims of abuse is important and condemning harshly those who harass and intimidate victims and families who have gone to the Criminal Justice System for closure.
IF ONLY.... the rabbis at the ASIFA held at Citifield and Arthur Ashe stadiums would have devoted five minutes to a proclamation as well as a joint recital of Tehillim on behalf of our precious children who have suffered molestation.
IF ONLY.... Agudath Israel would have supported mandatory finger printing of all personal in yeshivas and private schools and done so strongly rather their back and forth vacillation.
IF ONLY.... Agudath Israel had arranged a meeting between survivors and rabbis for the sharing of pain and frustration.
IF ONLY.... Agudath Israel had joined the effort to make reporting of child abuse mandatory by rabbis. In 26 of the fifty United States, it is already mandatory that cases of sexual abuse be reported to state authorities.
In summary, I and many of the advocates I have solemnly marched with for
the last five years are deeply committed to our Jewish faith and Emunah.
Articles written by some rabbis which have called us anti-religious, anti-rabbi and some have even equated us to the Judun Ratt in Nazi Germany. Many of us advocates have spent enormous amounts of money of our own funds as well as time providing support to victims and survivors.
To date in 2012, I traveled across America, to many different states, totaling thousands of miles, to lend support to victims of child abuse and to community efforts on their behalf.
We must meet the critical challenge of our generation with direct and hard
hitting responses. Victims and survivors must know that Am Yisrael, the entire Jewish community, is united on this urgent subject to save future generations of our youth by keeping them safe and healthy within the community.

                                                         IF ONLY....
mark meyer appel

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