Child sexual abuse survivors break silence
Child sexual abuse survivors, rabbis and mental health professionals all repeated this duel message as they recently addressed a crowd of 400 Orthodox Jews at Aventura Chabad — “The Orthodox Jewish community will no longer sweep abuse under the rug and survivors who step forward will be embraced.”
The event was organized by Jewish Community Watch, an organization based in New York committed to raising awareness and preventing child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. The organization wanted to further its goal of educating parents, preventing child sexual abuse, assisting survivors and breaking the silence and shame that surrounds CSA in the Orthodox Jewish community at the event, which was emceed by reporter Rosh Lowe. The event included survivors of abuse who bravely broke their silence and shared their story publicly.
During the event Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, a rabbinical judge from Los Angeles, insisted to the crowd that someone who knows of abuse and doesn’t report it to the police is in violation of Jewish law. He also urged the audience to view child sex abuse as they would any other crime.
“If you saw someone poisoning the food in a Cheder (religious elementary school), you wouldn’t ask your rabbi his opinion on whether or not they should be reported. You would go straight to the police. Do the same thing with abuse! If you know of an individual who is harming children, go directly to the police,” Tauber urged the audience.
Miami resident and entrepreneur Eli Nash, who has advocated for JCW since it provided him with aid while he confronted his own childhood sexual abuse, told the crowd that keeping the dark secret of abuse quiet is not a healthy option. He urged the community to combat abuse and support survivors and concluded his talk with a resounding, “We deserve better!”
Bibi Morosow-Saul, another survivor of abuse, explained the psychology of abusers and the hold that they can place over their victims while Yoni Skurwitz spoke about his experience after he came forward about his abuse.
“The re-victimization that I endured by some in the community, led by rabbis of shuls, schools and Kollels — none of whom spoke with me, and some of whom knew there were other victims — was a hundred times worse than the abuse itself,” Skurwitz explained.
Meyer Seewald, founder and chief executive officer of JCW, mentioned in a statement that the organization’s mission is simply to prevent, educate, and heal.
“We prevent further abuse by notifying the public to the threat of abusers in their vicinity, we educate the public about what to look out for, and we help survivors of abuse heal by reminding them that they are not alone and by supporting them through their battles,” Seewald added.