Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Partial Excerpt from Abuse Book - Dr. Baruch Shulem

From Professional Clinician to Obligated Jew


This book is a partial fulfillment of a religious, emotional, and professional obligation that was forced upon me years ago by my clients who suffered from child abuse. I can’t remember one of them ever saying to me “you have to …” but their pain and questions were enough of a reprimand that I took upon myself to do more than just “talk.”

This book is more than ‘just about talk therapy and helping individuals;’ it is about advocacy, namely the pursuit of influencing outcomes that directly affect people’s lives. My clients were challenging my deeply held beliefs in Torah and Torah communities. Both in their eyes and in my own mind, I became the representative of the Orthodox Jewish community that had not adequately answered their cry for help. They were not only abused, but also abandoned by the community that makes up a significant part of the Orthodox ‘self. It is as if there is – beyond the pain of abuse – a psychological punishment of “Karet".

No secular therapist could understand this unique facet of the Jewish self: how the individual is indivisible from his or her community. The secular therapist would counsel the individual to be strong, independent, overcome, forget and maybe even forgive. But for us ‘Karet’ is too meaningful and too overwhelming to “go on with life.” There is no life after “Karet”, be it just psychological or heaven forbid otherwise.

This kind of ‘Karet’ inadvertently begins long before the abuse. It begins with the absence of a vocabulary of abuse. The source of this lacuna seems to be the belief that the Torah community and the Torah personality do not do these ‘things'.

They – the other groups be they religious, ethnic, or national - might do it, so why “open your mouth to the devil?” If you don’t talk about ‘it’ it doesn’t exist. Why voluntarily bring even the subject into our homes or schools? This approach is grounded also in a unique religious perspective, that in reality speech and actions are indivisible. In other words, talking facilitates doing. [this is page 1 of 10 page essay]


  1. This seems like a powerful insightful piece of writing. Can you proivde the full citation. Is this in English or Hebrew?

  2. Yerachmiel Lopin said...

    This seems like a powerful insightful piece of writing. Can you proivde the full citation. Is this in English or Hebrew?
    This is page 1 of an essay that was specifically written for my book and it is in English as you see it. To see the rest of it you will need to buy a copy of the book.

  3. Rabbi Eidensohn,

    A little while back you had a discussion about the fact that the book is not fully edited, etc. and that, due to the expenses, you don't see that as feasible.

    I would stress to you that it is IMPERATIVE that this book be polished with correct grammar and full citations so that it can have the greatest, strongest impact on everyone and anyone within the wide spectrum of our Jewish community.

    If you would like me to find donors who are willing to sponsor the editing of this book please let me know.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.