Friday, October 19, 2007

Dangerous Message - Aish HaTorah: Date From Hell

© (2007) Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC

Click here to watch the video: Date From Hell
Rebbetzin Lori Palatnik

Sometime ago a rabbi sent the following link out to his mailing list promoting an online video, "Date From Hell", which was produced by Aish HaTorah. I have to admit that I was appalled at the message that was being promoted by Rebbetzin Lori Palatnik.

The short film revolved around the fact that everyone has an opinion and how important it is to keep your opinion to yourself or that you need to be extremely careful before offering it.

Palatnik went on to say that: "You need to know the difference between fact and opinion". She goes on telling the story about a young male Baal Teshuva, who was learning with her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Palatnik.

As time progressed Rabbi Palatnik felt the man had "put his playboy lifestyle behind him." He wanted to know if Lori's knew any "girls" that she could fix him up with. Rabbi Palatnik said "the man wanted to get married."

Lori came up with a "great girl." After the date the woman called Lori and said "that was the date from hell." Later, Rabbi Palatnik asks Lori to fix the man up with another "girl." Once again after the second date the woman calls Lori saying "that was the date from hell." The same exact words as the first woman. Rabbi Palatnik once again requested that his wife fix the man up with a third woman -- this time Lori refused.

What is missing from the film is the reason why both women stated that "this was the date from hell." Was it because the man dressed funny or had a strange odor? Did the two women dating they think he was boring, rude, impolite, not gentlemanly enough, self-centered? Or could it be he was sexually inappropriate or had to do with some other issue regarding their safety? Without knowing this key information we cannot determine if dating this man was dangerous.

"Six months later the man got engaged to another great girl," stated Rebbetzin Palatnik. The woman was someone known to Lori. She continued by saying, "if this new woman was very lucky she never called her to find out about the man, because if she did -- she would have warned her to stay away."

Lori continued, "To this day the couple is happily married." She saw this as a life lesson and said "You can destroy things before they are started by giving your opinion...One woman's date from hell is somebody else's prince charming...You can stop things before they start by giving your opinion. You can destroy things once they are started by giving your opinion. Think before you speak. Keep your opinions to yourself"

There is some vital information missing from the Lori Palatnik film. She never let her viewers know why the two women called their experience with the man "the date from hell."

When I sent the video “Date From Hell” out to a few observant mental health professionals and survivors they made the following comments:
  • It appears that the fear is really about 'lashon hara.'
  • When two people had a terrible experience on a date with the same person the shadchan should be responsible enough to find out WHAT WAS WRONG before deciding to set up the man or woman again. The reality is that sometimes there is a serious problem. The person could be abusive towards women, for example. The clip gives the message that marriage is the priority above all else....Who cares what the issues are as long as they get married.
  • Getting people married seems to be the ONLY goal in life....what happens after... Who cares?
  • This is THE VIDEO FROM HELL. Another move toward the Taliban.
There are two very important books that everyone should read concerning dating in the orthodox world. They are “The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures.” Urim Publishshing Co., and also another one that will come out next year: “Every Pot Has A Cover: A Proven Method for Finding and Enhancing Relationships. University Press of America.

Click here to watch the video: Date From Hell

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Background Information and The History of Rabbinical Ordinations

Background Information and The History of Rabbinical Ordinations  
By Rabbi Yaakov Siegel
The Awareness Center - July 19, 2007
 
Part 1
In recent months, The Awareness Center has issued articles and opinions about the giving and revoking of Smichah (rabbinical ordination). I would like to clarify certain things in this regard, and to offer some suggestions that might be helpful.
 
First of all, our ordination is not an unbroken chain from Moses. There was indeed such an ordination, but it died out (or, more correctly was killed out) in the fourth century c.e. by a systematic Roman decree (anyone giving or receiving ordination, as well as all Jewish residents of the town it was given in, or if outside a town, then the nearest town, would be killed). That is why the early Rabbis of the Talmud have the title rabbi, and the later ones rav, the latter indicating that while a sage, he lacked official ordination.
 
Maimonides opines that the chain could be restarted if all the sages in the Land of Israel would ordain one man, that man would resume the chain. There were several unsuccessful attempts to do this, most notably in the 16th century. There is currently another effort in this direction, but, so far, has met with little support.
 
After the 4th century, sages were looked to for guidance and instruction, but there was no ordination process. It should be noted that there is no currently observed Jewish ritual that needs a rabbi. Any Jew can perform any function, provided he knows all the applicable laws, and abides by them. The function of a rabbi at a wedding, for instance, is to ensure that all rituals are done properly. This is in contrast to Christian marriage, where the priest or minister make the marriage. In Judaism, the couple and witnesses make the marriage. The rabbi is a sort of legal adviser.

 
Part 2
Around the year 1300, a prominent German rabbi was troubled by the phenomenon of unqualified people presenting themselves for communal positions (nothing new under the Sun!). He instituted a rule in Germany that no one could serve as a rabbi unless he was authorized by a recognized figure. This authorization was called smichah, although it had little to do with the original smichah. It was, in effect, a letter of recommendation, as good aw the person giving it. This procedure was challenged by many (the great North African rabbi, Yitzchal ben Sheshet, wrote a responsum that a rabbi is made not by a letter, but by the acceptance of the community [Teshuvot HaRivash 271]). However the practice spread, and became standard in most Jewish communities.
 
It should be clear that a rabbi's legitimacy depends on his knowledge and integrity, not on his ordination. One very prominent East European rabbinical figure of the late 19th and early 20th century was without ordination nearly all of his life. When the Polish government required him to get an official ordination, he simply went to one of his disciples to be ordained!
 
Since the 14th century, most communities required a rabbi to be certified (ordained) by known and respected figures. A rabbi might have several such smichot to show the extent of his acceptance. In ultra-Orthodox circles this is still the norm. I personally have seven Smichot.
 
In modern orthodox circles, as well as non-Orthodox circles, institutional (Yeshiva or Seminary) ordination has largely replaced private Smichot.
 
Now we may understand why a particular body can not "defrock" a rabbi whom they did not ordain, or even recognize. It isn't an "either you do or don't have Smicha" situation. The Smicha is as good as the person giving it. If a particular rabbi or seminary felt that one of their ordainees was no longer worthy, they may issue such a statement. No one else could.
In Israel, the Chief Rabbinate has legal standing. Rabbinical positions are, in effect, civil service positions, funded jointly by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior. Only those either ordained by the Chief Rabbinate, or those who have been personally approved by one of the Chief Rabbis (some positions require approval of three members of the Supreme Rabbinical Council too) may serve as a rabbi. That is why in Israel an official rabbi may be "defrocked" i.e. no longer recognized by the institution of the Chief Rabbinate. People outside the "system" i.e. rabbis without the authorization of the rabbinate, have no legal status anyway.

Part 3
Before we can discuss how to deal with our "bad apples" and the rabbis and institutions who seem insensitive to the situation, I think we need to understand the dynamics of the situation. There was and is a tiny minority of "rabbis" who sell smichot. However, these are widely known (years ago there was even one who advertised the sale of smichot in the newspapers), and shunned by other rabbis.
 
There is, however, a danger to unsophisticated congregations who don't do their homework when hiring a rabbi. Then there is another small group that gives ordination as a favor, usually to help someone get a position so as to earn a living. their motive is unselfish, but nevertheless dangerous to the community. However, even great rabbis may be lulled into silence for one of several reasons.
 
First, there is the fear of violating the prohibition of Lashon Hara-slander. There are many laws governing this grievous sin. Although there are clear rules when one may expose an evildoer, few rabbis have the resources to check out the veracity of charges. The feeling is "since I can't be sure, better I do nothing."
 
Second, there is the concern for causing the offender to lose his livelihood. Recently, a colleague of mine was studying with another rabbi in the study hall of a well known yeshiva. A menial worker at the yeshiva was insulted, or at least thought he was insulted, by a student in his early teens. The worker grabbed the student by the throat.
 
My friend came to the students defense, and was struck. The boy's father called the authorities, and the worker was arrested. That evening the man came to evening services at the yeshiva, and the Rosh Yeshiva (dean) stood up and shook his hand warmly.
 
My friend asked the Rosh Yeshiva for the meaning of his actions. He informed my friend that he had personally bailed him out. When my friend protested, the Rosh Yeshiva said "Don't you realize that this miserable job is this man's only livelihood?" Undoubtedly, the Rosh Yeshiva felt he was performing an act of ultimate chessed-kindness. He apparently felt that this came before the physical safety of the students.
 
Third, there is concern for the honor of the offenders family. While this is a legitimate concern, it must, of course, be balanced with the honor of the victim.
 
Fourth, there is a fear of getting the secular authorities involved. Although the Halachah (Jewish law) provides for cases where a person who is a danger may be given over to the police, the fear of doing so in a case which might not be true deters most.
 
Fifth, there is the fear of chillul Hashem-desecrating the Name of G-d were it to be known that a "rabbi" had committed unspeakable evils. This must be balanced with the principle "in a place of desecration of G-d's Name, we give no honor even to a rabbi."
 
Sixth, there is a concept of despising a scholar. Maimonides considers this a serious form of heresy.
 
Many will simply not believe that a earned man could do such base things. They usually are right, but, unfortunately, not always. So, protecting the offender is usually done from a feeling of misplaced altruism, fueled by the real feeling that the allegations may, in fact, be false.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"It Takes a Village to Raise a Sexual Predator"

JewishSurvivors Blog - April 24, 2007
http://jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com/

 
Vicki Polin has said it a million times: "It takes a village to raise a sexual predator"

I think the rabbonim of New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles need to be aware that the problem we have with sexual predators is on them. The warnings signs were there, yet they choose to lead our communities to ignore them. It's been much easier for them to blame survivors of sex crimes.

It's vitally important that all survivors and parents of survivors to make police reports on those who offend. It's not up to our rabbis to conduct investigations. It is also important that survivors of sex crimes file civil suits against those who offend and also those who enable them to continue to rape our men, women and children.

It is time for all Jewish survivors of sexual abuse, sexual assault, clergy sexual abuse, sexual manipulation to unite. There is power in numbers. Don't allow those who ignored our cries to divide and conquer us anymore. Start self-help groups in your community and start networking with others. We do not need to be alone anymore. Use the law of the land and not the politics of our religious leaders.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Passover Prayer On Behalf of Abused and Neglected Children

(The author of this prayer is unknown, yet was originally published by The Awareness Center in 2007.  It was republished by The Times of Israel on March 16, 2015)

The following prayer was written for protective parents and their loved ones, child abuse advocates, and all who care about children to recite at their passover seder. A spring onion is added to the seder plate, or placed on the table as a symbol.

The Passover Seder is a time to celebrate our freedom and remember those who still struggle for the freedoms they deserve. Freedom from tyranny, violence, and oppression is a core value for us as our ancestors have known slavery, and our heart goes out to the enslaved and the imprisoned of any race, culture or creed. Tonight we remember a group of individuals often forgotten, trapped by a kind of slavery so cruel, that society often looks the other way—children (including adult survivors of child abuse) enslaved in lives of abuse. 

Today I remember ____________ (fill in name of a child or children you know trapped in lives of abuse. or substitute… “these children.”) Though many of us have tried to free them, the Pharaohs in our generation have blocked our efforts or looked the other way. Our hearts ache knowing the pain these children live with day after day. They are not forgotten. With this prayer we share our commitment to find a way to liberate them from their lives of exploitation and tyranny.

This spring onion on the Seder plate is our symbol for these children and their plight. The shape of the onion reminds us of the whips used on slaves to keep them subjugated. The tears we shed from the onion remind us of the silent tears of these children waiting for rescue. The newness of the onion reminds us of the promise of hope, that one day these children can grow healthy and free from the tyranny they are living with today.

We pray for the wisdom to find an effective path to liberate these children. We pray for the courage to stand up to the Pharaoh’s of our generation and speak the truth of what we know. We pray for the strength and fortitude to keep on fighting for their freedom.

May these children (including adult survivors) soon know the sweetness of freedom from violence and oppression and share Passover Seders and other celebrations of freedom, safely, with loved ones next year!

Amen.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Passover Prayer On Behalf of Abused and Neglected Children

(2007) Author Unknown

The prayer below was written for protective parents and their loved ones, child abuse advocates, and all who care about children to recite at their passover seder.   A spring onion is added to the seder plate, or placed on the table as a symbol.

The Passover Seder is a time to celebrate our freedom and remember those who still struggle for the freedoms they deserve. Freedom from tyranny, violence, and oppression is a core value for us as our ancestors have known slavery, and our heart goes out to the enslaved and the imprisoned of any race, culture or creed. Tonight we remember a group of individuals often forgotten, trapped by a kind of slavery so cruel, that society often looks the other way---children (including adult survivors of child abuse) enslaved in lives of abuse.

Today I remember ____________ (fill in name of a child or children you know trapped in lives of abuse. or substitute... "these children.") Though many of us have tried to free them, the Pharaohs in our generation have blocked our efforts or looked the other way. Our hearts ache knowing the pain these children live with day after day. They are not forgotten. With this prayer we share our commitment to find a way to liberate them from their lives of exploitation and tyranny.

This spring onion on the Seder plate is our symbol for these children and their plight. The shape of the onion reminds us of the whips used on slaves to keep them subjugated. The tears we shed from the onion remind us of the silent tears of these children waiting for rescue. The newness of the onion reminds us of the promise of hope, that one day these children can grow healthy and free from the tyranny they are living with today.

We pray for the wisdom to find an effective path to liberate these children. We pray for the courage to stand up to the Pharaoh's of our generation and speak the truth of what we know. We pray for the strength and fortitude to keep on fighting for their freedom.

May these children (including adult survivors) soon know the sweetness of freedom from violence and oppression and share Passover Seders and other celebrations of freedom, safely, with loved ones next year!


Amen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

How Jewish communities are still promoting Marc Gafni

The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - February 12, 2007

October 1, 2004, The New York Jewish Week published a letter to the editor called "Abhorrent Column" (see below) by Rabbi Arthur Green.  

In the letter Rabbi Arthur Green referred to those who advocate for survivors of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni as "rodifim."According to Jewish law, a rodef can be killed on sight. You can't break the Sabbath to save the life of a rodef. "Din rodef" -- the Jewish law of rodef, which literally means one who chases and refers to a license to kill someone who intends to kill someone else.

To this day Rabbi Arthur Green has never apologized to the executive board of The Awareness Center, Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Heshie Billet, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the women who have been sexually assaulted by Rabbi Gafni and all of the other child victim advocates who have supported the victim/survivors over the years. Rabbi Arthur Green has put all of these individuals at risk of harm.

Since October 2, 2004, The Awareness Center has been demanding a retracting of Rabbi Green's statement and also that a public apology for making such a dangerous of statement.

I think it's vitally important to also mention that there are several other individuals who have neglected to make apologies to the past victim/survivors of Marc Gafni and also those who advocated for them. The individuals who have neglected to privately and publicly apologies include Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Saul Berman, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone, Rabbi Shefa Gold, Rabbi Eli Hersher, Stephen Marmer, MD, Naomi Marks, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, etc.

Today the Baltimore Jewish Times published a story that was written by JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency). The article is called "Jewish Renewal Maverick Rabbi Carries On." In the article it quotes Rabbi Arthur Green, who continues to be the president of Boston's Hebrew College.

What surprises me is that the Baltimore Jewish Times has room in their paper to promote an organization that has never done the right thing when it came to the survivors of Marc Gafni. It's important to note that as of today the Baltimore Jewish Times has not published the entire JTA series called "Reining In Abuse," that explores many issues we are all faced with when it comes to clergy sexual abuse in Jewish communities. The editor of the Baltimore paper stated, they just didn't have room.Listed below are a few of the cases that have connections to the Jewish Renewal Movement
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni

Rabbi Michael Ozair

Rabbi Hershy Worch

__________________ 
Abhorrent Column
By Rabbi Arthur Green
New York Jewish Week - October 1, 2004

Although I am not a regular reader of The Jewish Week, a New York colleague sent me your column regarding Rabbi Mordechai Gafni ("The Re-Invented Rabbi," Sept. 24). It makes me wonder whether journalistic honors and awards are as rescindable as rabbinic smicha seems to be.

 I have known Rabbi Gafni for several years and think highly of his abilities as a creative teacher of Torah. As a trusted friend, I also know how he struggles with a personal history that includes some genuinely bad deeds done when he was quite young, some 20 years ago. He has been relentlessly persecuted for those deeds by a small band of fanatically committed rodfim, in whom proper disapproval of those misdeeds combines with jealously, anger at his swerving from Orthodoxy, and a range of other emotions.

Perhaps this rabbi should be made to confront his past more fully. A bet din before a mutually accepted rabbi would be the right setting for that. But the public press? Who set you up as ruler and judge over us? Is this responsible journalism?   

Rabbi Gafni has more or less been assassinated in the Jewish community. None of his explanations will mean much against the whispering that will accompany him forever, thanks to your article, within the confines of our extended gossipy shtetl. You have taken it upon yourself, on erev Yom Kippur, to drive a man away from Jewish life. In the absence of anything like a "smoking gun" evidenced in present or recent conduct, I find this journalistically and Jewishly abhorrent.


Contact Information:
Rabbi Arthur Green
617-559-8626
Rector
Rabbinical School agreen@hebrewcollege.edu

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Awareness Center and other blogs draw praise and scorn

by Eugene L. Meyer
Jewish Journal - Jan. 11, 2007

There is no unabridged database of rabbinic sexual abusers. But there is the Awareness Center. 

It's not a physical place, but a Baltimore post office box, cellphone number and Web site -- www.theawarenesscenter.org -- where online surfers can find a listing of scores of Jewish clergy and hundreds of other Jewish officials in positions of trust or authority who are alleged to be sexual predators. Some of them have been convicted of crimes; some have not even been charged or sued. 

Vicki Polin, 47, is the nonprofit organization's executive director and only full-time staffer. A licensed clinical professional counselor and an art therapist, she founded the Awareness Center in 2001, after becoming fed up over what she deemed to be inaction in bringing perpetrators to justice and protecting the public. 

Her biggest weapon: exposure of alleged wrongdoers. 

Her efforts have won her loyal supporters and harsh critics. 

"Vicki's site is very valuable," said Rabbi Yosef Blau, religious adviser at Yeshiva University and a vocal advocate for victims of rabbinic sexual abuse and other forms of sexual misconduct. "Since you can't get people arrested, and there are no court cases, you have to use a standard that's reasonable and [disclosure] works in that context." 

The Awareness Center's outing of alleged and confirmed abusers has inspired an army of Jewish bloggers eager to discuss the topic. Their anonymous postings appear on Web sites, such as the unorthodoxjew.com, the canonist.com, Jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com and lukeford.net

"In the Orthodox community it is much harder to be heard, so people go online instead of going to police and the rabbi," said a woman now living in Israel, who reported being abused as a child by her father, an American rabbi who is principal of an Orthodox school on the Eastern seaboard. "The blogs are safe for survivors." 

The Awareness Center and the bloggers not only have brought this sensitive subject to the attention of a wide audience, they have also stirred up considerable controversy over issues of fairness, attribution and transparency. 

"The blogorai, as I call it, is the new way of making irresponsible accusations," charged Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the ultra-Orthodox advocacy organization, Agudath Israel. "Using a blog is a very easy and effective way of casting aspersions on people." 

Blau said blogs are a mixed blessing. 

"Since they are anonymous, they can say almost anything," he said. "On the other hand, until the community is more willing to deal with issues, I can understand why writers won't reveal their identity." 

One blog-intensive case listed on the Awareness Center site involves Mordechai Tendler, a disgraced Modern Orthodox rabbi from Rockland County, N.Y., who was accused of having illicit sexual relationships with several women who had come to him for counseling. 

The charismatic scion of distinguished rabbinic scholars, Tendler ironically was known as a strong advocate for Jewish women who were unable to obtain a get, or religious release from marriage, from their husbands. 

Tendler was expelled from the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) in March 2005 for "conduct inappropriate for an Orthodox rabbi." The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance praised the RCA "for taking these issues seriously and instituting formal procedures to deal with them." Those procedures included hiring a Texas-based private investigative firm to conduct a probe of the matter and convening an in-house ethics panel to rule on the case. 

In April, Tendler was fired from the congregation he had helped establish in the mid-1980s, Kehillat New Hempstead. Undaunted, he held High Holiday services this year in a public elementary school directly across the street from his former shul. 

Tendler, married and the father of eight, has consistently denied the allegations against him, but did not respond to inquiries from JTA seeking comment. His attorney, Glen Feinberg, said his client retains a large following in Rockland County. JTA asked Feinberg to encourage Tendler's supporters to contact JTA, but none did. 

The scandal has spawned at least three lawsuits, including one filed by Tendler against his former congregation for alleged breach of contract. That suit has been dismissed, but the ruling is being appealed. The litigation filed against Tendler has publicized the sort of matters that once would have only been whispered about in private. 

For example, a lawsuit filed in December 2005 by former congregant Adina Marmelstein alleges that Tendler, who portrayed himself as "a counselor and adviser with expertise in women's issues," advised Marmelstein to have sex with him so that "her life would open up and men would come to her," and she would then marry and have children. 

The suit also claims that Tendler told Marmelstein that he "was as close to God as anyone could get," and that he "was the Messiah." And when the relationship ended, the suit contends, Tendler encouraged congregants to "harass, threaten and intimidate" Marmelstein in an apparent attempt to discredit her accusations. 

As for Tendler, his legal filings included petitions submitted in Ohio and California seeking to force the disclosure of the identities of anonymous bloggers who had been attacking him publicly for his alleged conduct. But he withdrew both petitions. 

In the California case, a judge ruled Oct. 12 that Tendler must pay the bloggers' legal fees -- a decision that was praised by attorney Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen, who represented three of the bloggers involved in the case. 

"The right to criticize anonymously on the Internet is a fundamental free-speech right and an important tool for whistle-blowers and consumers who speak out about the misconduct or corruption of big companies or public figures," Levy said in a press release. 

A letter from Tendler to the judge who had ruled in the California case was posted Nov. 15 on a victims' advocacy blog. In the letter, Tendler asked the judge to reconsider his decision on attorney's fees, adding: "I have been the subject of a concerted and constant Internet campaign to destroy my reputation, livelihood and family. Disgusting allegations of sexual impropriety, all of them false, have been circulated about me and amplified in such horrific proportions as only can happen on the Internet. These allegations and threats have, in fact, destroyed my reputation as a rabbi and teacher and have caused me hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in actual and future damages." 

The letter described the bloggers as being "like poisonous snakes" who "want to continue to do their damage and spread their filthy vicious lies with no accountability." The Awareness Center, also known as the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, has its own confidentiality policy regarding victims of sexual misconduct and others. "As a victim advocate, I never name the survivors," Polin said.

The Awareness Center no longer names its board members, either, "due to harassment," according to Polin, who said she herself has been threatened repeatedly with physical harm and once was spat on by a woman who was angry over an Awareness Center disclosure.

In 2003, Polin said, a supporter of an alleged abuser named on her site did background checks on her advisory board members, "found something about them or someone they cared about and threatened to make it public." Half a dozen resignations ensued, she said.

Among those who were formerly listed but resigned for other reasons is Rabbi Mark Dratch, who chairs the Rabbinical Council of America's Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties and has founded Jsafe, an organization to deal with sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

Dratch said he left the Awareness Center board in "disagreement with [Polin] on the standards required for publishing on her Web site. I wasn't satisfied with the threshold of verification. There are people who've been victimized, and others who've been subject to false reports also being victimized. The big problem we have in this area is verifying the allegations and moving forward."

As of early December, the Awareness Center site still listed 236 "supportive rabbis." Polin said more than 500 people receive her e-mail alerts, and the Web page averages around 35,000 visitors per month.

One of the e-mail recipients is Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and a trained psychologist.

"I read everything with a grain of salt," he said. "On the other hand, [the Awareness Center and the blogs] have served the purpose of keeping this in the public spotlight and keeping the pressure on established institutions to police their constituencies."

As of late December, the Awareness Center was in danger of closing for lack of funds, according to Polin, who was seeking donations to keep the organization afloat. 

(NOTE: There's an error in this article.  The Awareness Center got started in 1999 and not 2001)



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