Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Agudath Israel of America Urges Activism: That's Funny I Thought They Were Busy Silencing Abused Women and Blocking Protections For Children

1 Comments:

At 5:02 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1101830895700
US haredi leader urges activism By Uriel Heilman - Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2004


1) Silencing Abused Women

Family Violence? Not in My Community!
Alexiou, Alice Sparberg. Lilith. New York: Spring 2004. Vol. 29, Iss. 1; pg. 8

Miklat, the only battered women's shelter in Israel specifically for Orthodox and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish women and children, has announced plans to open a second shelter, somewhere in the center of the country. Experts say that the country's current crisis mode has increased violence against women. Miklat founder and president Estanne Fawer told LILITH that in the last year and a half, the shelter has had to turn away 70 women and their children because of lack of space. Fawer created Miklat in 1996.

In fact, religious women are less likely to use secular services, so it becomes imperative to give them shelter where they will feel comfortable and welcome.

Breaking the silence on abuse in the Orthodox world, both in North America and in Israel, apparently upsets Agudath Israel, an organization representing the ultra-right wing of Orthodoxy. In January, Agudah spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran sent LILITH a press release complaining that the attention now being focused on spousal abuse among Jews is tantamount to Orthodox-bashing.

"All the Orthodox rabbis I am privileged to know are exquisitely sensitive toward women, as they are towards men," he writes. Those who take seriously those rabbis' advice, Rabbi Shafran says, "would be rendered virtually incapable of abusing his or her spouse."

Tell this to the women in the Miklat shelters.

2) Blocking Protections For Children

Religious Groups Stall Reform Law
The New York Post
August 1, 2001, Wednesday
Page 14
by Douglas Montero

A strongly backed bill that would make it a crime if educators fail to report an accusation of school sex abuse to the police is being stymied by two of the city's most powerful religious organizations, City Hall sources told The Post.

Bill No. 933, inspired by several mishandled complaints in public schools, would require cops to investigate allegations of sex abuse involving private schools run by churches and temples as well as public schools.

The law could set the stage for a battle between church and state because both Catholic and Jewish schools deal with sex-abuse allegations against clerics internally, experts said.

City Hall sources admit they were surprised by the religious groups' 11th-hour request to postpone the vote in the City Council's Education Committee on June 4.

"They claim they were unaware that the provisions of the law applied to both public and private schools," one source said.

Council staffers are quietly negotiating with a coalition of religious groups hoping to tailor the bill to fit everyone's demands - a delicate process during an election season.

When told the law covers "co-curricular and extra-curricular activities" such as prayer groups or kids helping out in religious ceremonies, New York Archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling seemed surprised.

"I'm not sure the law covers that," Zwilling said, who refused to say if the church supported the bill.

Zwilling insisted the bill applies to clerics working only in schools, but a second City Hall source said it reaches into "all of the properties on school grounds."

Zwilling referred questions to Rabbi David Zwiebel, of the Agudath Israel of America, a Jewish advocacy network that's spearheading talks with council.

Zwiebel argues the bill is too broad in its definition of abuse, and thinks it will strip school principals of their "professional discretion" to resolve disciplinary problems internally.

The failure to let principals "exercise professional judgment and discretion in dealing with actual or threatened criminal conduct is a serious flaw," he wrote in a five-page June 28 letter to Council Speaker Peter Vallone and committee members.

Zwilling and Zwiebel deny allegations they want to kill the bill to protect accused clerics.

Zwiebel said the law could create "tensions" between church and state.

The committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the matter in the fall.

"The new legal mandate is not embraced by everyone because it is designed to change the usual way of doing business for the protection of children," a mayoral administration source said.

"Because of the delay, the window for getting this in place by September is closed – and that's a terrible shame."

3) Ignoring Post-Lanner Reality

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=7893

Further to the right on the Orthodox spectrum, the Agudath Israel has not dealt with the issue of rabbinical sexual abuse directly at a convention and is less inclined to institute any kind of centralized body to deal with the problem, according to spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran. Complainants would be encouraged to “go to the rebbe or community rabbi” on an individual basis, he said.

 

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