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Friday, January 17, 2014

Monsey - Survivor of Bais Mikroh in Monsey Speaks Out

My name is Shlomo Silber and I am a frum Jew living in Queens. I have a wonderful wife, two beautiful children and, God-willing, another one on the way. I love my job and the community I live in. Recently I have been going through the dilemma of trying to find a school for my older son and I find I am stuck with the hardest decision of my life. When I think of my yeshiva experience, my heart tightens in my chest as I recall those terrible memories.

I went to a couple of people and told them that I wanted to write an article, using my name, in which I will would graphically state what was done to me. It is my hope that maybe it will help some of the tortured souls (child or adult) who feel what I felt; it is my hope that it will raise awareness in our community and give strength to those suffering, to open up, come forward and get help. I thought that I would be encouraged. I thought that they would say “We will support you”, and that it is a very brave and admirable thing that I am doing by sharing my pain and experiences, yet the response I got was shocking. I was told they will ruin my business; they will threaten my family, or just get ready for the lawsuits.

This was very disturbing to me, considering I am just trying to spread a message of awareness to our community. What has become of us if we have this code of silence? And if that silence is broken, will the one who speaks be muzzled with whatever it takes? I have been meaning to write this article for a long time but have always pushed it off. Yet with recent events leading up to the Asifa and hearing the outcry of many children who are now adults who have been abused physically, emotionally and sexually, having seen exposes on TV of entire communities protecting people who hurt children, I thought it is time for me to stand up and speak out and if this has some repercussions, then so be it. Someone has to support those downtrodden and abused souls who are just looking for closure and validation for what has happened to them so they can begin to heal. Minimizing this issue is like telling a Holocaust survivor that the Holocaust never happened or that they should, “Just get over it”.

I know this is an extreme statement but unfortunately, it’s true. I get emotional just writing this, thinking back to the days when I was a scared, defenseless child who had no one to turn to. I am writing these events not so that I can defame the frum community, but so that we can rise as a community to protect our children. I also would like to shed light on what I feel are misguided solutions to these problems. It is very important to regulate our schools and to bring those responsible for the abuse to justice. But I would like to add one element.

How do we as parents respond to the needs of our children, especially while they are dealing with emotional trauma? Most of the articles I have read are based on bringing the abusers to justice. I think this is very important and must be done. While I am saddened by the Mafia-like tactics being used in our communities by those we are supposed to trust and admire, let’s not forget that no matter how bad the world around us is, we are the ones responsible for protecting our children. We must make sure they are safe, always. We must show our children that we trust them and will be there for them if something goes wrong. It is extremely important that your children feel that they can trust you and that they won’t be punished if they open up to you with an issue they are having even if they are in the wrong.

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