Sunday, December 24, 2006

Frum Community and Children's Safety

There has been much discussion in recent years on the issue of sexual abuse and the frum community. The Orthodox Jewish community is a subset of the general population, and despite the community's strong points, it is not immune fron the ills of general society.

I wish to let readers know of two positive developments:

A) The Dov Hikind show, hosted by Talkline Communications, is a New York City radio show which airs on 570AM, from 11.00 PM-12 AM on Motzoie Shabbos(Saturday nights). It is hosted by New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and deals with issues that are of interest to the frum and the general communities, such as situation in Eretz Yisrael, local and national politics, as well as various communal issues, including drug abuse, teens "off the derech" and other important social issues.

The show has interesting range of guests, including syndicated columnists and various professionals, and it has a large range of listeners from all parts of the Orthodox Jewish community, as well as some from the non-frum and non-Jewish communities. There is a also a segment at the end of the hour for listeners to call in.

On Motzoie Shabbos, December 16th, Assemblyman Hikind interviewed a therapist from Ohel's Children's Home and Family Services who specializes in child molestation. This guest discussed the steps parents need to take to keep their children safe.

Assemblyman Hikind will be doing another show the coming week(December 30th), and will have a panel of professionals on this important topic.

B) Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz is creating a "Bright Beginnings Program". See the e-mail below, which I have italicized. Rabbi Horowitz has posted on his blog about the general subject, and plans to post later in the month about the specifics of his program, as indicated in the e-mail below.

If anyone has any ideas, for the future, on how to insure the safety of children, please feel free to share them here. However, I ask you not to focus on any specific cases or allegations which have occurred. There are other mediums, both blogs and offline, where such discussions already take place, and I would like to keep the current Mishmar post focused on constructive suggestions for the future.

Thank you for your understanding.


The following is the e-mail I received about Rabbi Horowitz's new program:

Dear Readers:

Since my "Keeping Our Children Safe From Sexual Abuse" column (click
here for link) was posted, I received many emails from compassionate people looking to become part of the solution and help fund the abuse-prevention booklet that I wrote about at the end of my column. In fact, an editor who works in graphic design even offered his services to this project pro bono.

Quite a number of people requested that I create a venue for those who wish to make donations to this particular project (the abuse-prevention booklet) and/or for those who wish to fund some of the projects that I have been writing about in my columns over the past months and years.

To honor these requests and to help actualize many of my dreams for the enhancement of educational and social opportunities for Jewish children around the world, I am pleased to inform my readers that I am initiating the "Bright Beginnings Program." (Within 30 days, I hope to post a mission statement for Bright Beginnings on my website and list details regarding some of the programs that I would like to move from concept to reality.)

In order to provide prudent financial management and oversight, I asked two highly respected askanim (lay leaders), Mr. Barry Ray (Chicago) and Mr. Mendel Zilberberg, (Brooklyn), to serve as trustees and Co-Chairman of the Bright Beginnings Program. Michael Stein, CPA, a partner at the accounting firm of Brand Sonnenschine LLP, (New York, New York) has graciously volunteered his services pro bono and will be serving as Treasurer of Bright Beginnings.

In order to provide financial reporting and transparency to current and prospective donors, Mr. Stein will be posting interim quarterly financial statements of Bright Beginnings on my website, and will be engaging the services of an outside accounting firm to conduct an annual, year-end audit, which will also be posted on my website.

Bright Beginnings will be a division of The Center for Jewish Family Life, a 501-c3 that I founded several years ago to support Jewish families in the quest to raise self-confident, well-adjusted children. Bright Beginnings will operate as a separate entity and 100% of your donation will go to funding its programs.

We welcome those who wish to contribute to the publication and (free) dissemination of the sexual abuse prevention booklet to send their contributions to:

Bright Beginnings
c/o Mr. Michael Stein
377 Broadway, 9th floor
N.Y., N.Y. 10013

Please make checks payable to Bright Beginnings and indicate on the stub that the funds are dedicated for the abuse prevention booklet, should you wish them to be designated for that purpose.

Thank you for your interest and may Hashem grant us our most fervent wish - that all His children realize their fullest potential.

Yakov Horowitz

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