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Letters to the editor March 24
Mar 23, 2017 | 2943 views | 2 2 comments | 151 151 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On child sexual abuse, ask the tough questions

While everyone is giving kudos to the Yeshiva Boys School of Pittsburgh for its swift and appropriate handling of an alleged case of child sex abuse, the silence surrounding the cover-up of four cases of suspected molestation that occurred in Jewish institutions within the last six years is deafening. Which institutions was Det. Bryan Sellers referring to in The Chronicle’s “Day school teacher suspected of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh” (Feb. 24)? Who is looking into this scandal? Where are our religious and communal leaders? If you sit on a board of a synagogue, school, agency or organization, you have a duty to ask some hard questions.

Where is the outrage? What rationale could possibly justify turning a blind eye to the sexual abuse of our children? It should be appalling to every adult in Pittsburgh that there could be at least four alleged child molesters coming into contact with their children and grandchildren at this very moment in the places where we want them to feel comfortable and safe.

We need a thorough communitywide investigation that ascertains whether every organization that works with our young people — youth groups, religious schools, camps — has the proper protocols and policies in place to protect children. Everyone who works with children needs to be trained and understand their duties as mandatory reporters. Nothing less will suffice. Until then, parents should think very, very carefully before entrusting their precious children to any synagogue, day school or other Jewish organization.

Our children deserve better.

Dr. Lori B. Wynn


Thuggery at the Wall

In reading Rabbi Barbara Symons’ harrowing account of her visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall with the group Women of the Wall (“Now is the time to turn around” March 17), we see once again the evil that is perpetrated by some who cloak themselves in religion.

This courageous woman related the harassment she and her group were subjected to by those who fancy themselves holier than all others, individuals who have asserted a right to intimidate and bully women who dare to believe that they are entitled to pray at a holy site alongside men. The group was yelled at in order to disrupt their prayer and shamefully called “Nazi” and “goy.” They had to fear that stones would be thrown at them, a known tactic utilized by those who will stop at nothing to squelch the rights of others.

This is not the practice of an honorable faith; it is thuggery. We have come a long way in this world in our widespread recognition of civil, gay and transgender rights notwithstanding the election of a president who wishes to set the nation back. It is stunning and reprehensible that some would continue not only relegating women to second-class status, but that they would subject them to harm as they seek to pray. Those of our faith of goodwill and good heart should be ashamed.

Oren Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Concerned Parent
March 23, 2017
Please read the article that is referenced in this letter to the editor more carefully, Mimi M.

"Sellers has been assigned to four separate cases in the Pittsburgh Jewish community — including in the non-Orthodox community — in the last six years involving suspected child molestation. In each of the other cases, he said, THE INSTITUTIONS involved declined to cooperate with police, and he was unable to make a case against the suspected abuser."

He is not talking about cases of abuse within families or those where the individuals chose not to prosecute. He specifically said exactly what Dr. Wynn is responding to.

In addition, talking to one's children is of course important, but a frank and candid conversation with one's kids about sexual abuse is hardly enough to keep them safe from predators if the adults and yes, INSTITUTIONS we entrust them to do not take every precaution to protect them also.

I think you are getting angry at the wrong people, Mimi M. You should be upset at the abusers and their protectors in our community, not someone who demands that we do our very best to keep all of our children safe.

Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Day school teacher suspected of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh
Mimi M
March 23, 2017
Dr Lori B Wynn,

Ya gotta get your facts straight before you have your outrage.

Detective Sellers did not say the 4 other cases (that he knows of) occurred in any institution. Could have been within an individual's family, that is associated with one or more of our fine institutions. If a victim does not wish to report, or if G-D forbid is persuaded (bullied) into not reporting, that is also different.

You are correct that we all need to be aware and watch our children, and that there needs to be continued education and training on CSA. There have been a few professional workshops in recent years in the Day Schools addressing this issue.

You seem a bit quick to judge without all of the information.

You want parents to think twice about where they send their children; parents for sure should think carefully where they send their children, but they must first talk to their children and watch them. It is not enough to drop kids off at Boy/Girl Scouts, school, Shul or JCC; parents must take an active role in the lives of their children.

Even if our schools/shuls/organizations do everything right, sometimes things happen, it is how we react and handle each situation that is so important.

Be outraged or angry but be proactive. You want to know what what protocols or policies are in place? Ask, offer to assist, but be proactive.