Monday, June 16, 2008

Vicki Polin responds to my criticism of insensitive condescension

Vicki Polin has left a new comment on your post "The insensitive condescension of the secular towar...":


It saddens me that you would write such a strong letter of condemnation to my statements posted on your blog. I wanted to make sure that you are aware that I have been living within the eruv of various orthodox communities for just under 10 years. Though I am no longer looking to become observant, I am very familiar with many of the cultural issues pertaining to sex crimes. When I've had questions I have always sought out one of my halachic advisors.

I'm sorry that your experience with the secular world has been to be looked down at. I have never thought of the Torah observant community as being "Primitive" or "unenlightened." I have used the terms "insulated " and "unaware," yet never "primitive" or unenlightened." I have often asked myself, how can someone have information or reach a level of awareness if they have not been education on various issues?

It was until around 1999 - 2001, that sexual abuse began to be discussed in orthodox circles. It wasn't until the case of rabbi Baruch Lanner hit the news media, did the religious world start paying attention.

2001 was the yearThe Awareness Center was founded I was living in Jerusalem at the time, and realized how little was known in how to deal with cases appropriately in the religious world. When I saw appropriate I am meaning reporting crimes to law enforcement, verses chasing the offender out of town -- or shaming and blaming the victim (or their family members) into silence.

I became aware of the severity of the problem when I started doing outreach with a friend with religious teens who made their way down to Ben Yehuda. Just about every teen I met disclosed stories to me of molestation. Some of the kids were incest survivors others were being abused by neighbors, teachers, rabbis, etc. When I tried to get them help -- there was really nothing out there set up to address the issues. Most of the teens I spoke with came from communities such as Neve Yaakov and Har Nof.

Most of those who work in the field of sexual violence have at least a masters degree. This means 4 years of college, plus two years of graduate school. After they receive their masters degrees they are required to received at least 1000 hours of supervision prior to becoming licensed. Law enforcement officials who work sex crimes also have to undergo vigorous training in this highly specialized field.

Though our rabbis are experts in halacha, they are not experts in criminal matters, especially sex crimes committed against our children. When The Awareness Center first got started, I could not find one rabbi who could explain the difference between sexual assault and sexual harassment. Whenever the topic came up of child molestation in which the perpetrator and the victim were male, they automatically called the sex crime -- "homosexual behavior." Unfortunately, in most insulated communities using the wrong terms to describe a sex crime still occurs. By using incorrect termonology often shames and blames the victim and little is done to stop the assailant, which ends up with the offender creating move victims.

Those who are gay do not commit sex crimes anymore then those are heterosexual. When a male sex offender molests a child who is male -- this is NOT "homosexual behavior". The same is true in cases in which a yeshiva bochur is manipulated or forced into having sexual relations with a rav, or anyone else. These are SEX CRIMES!

I'm sorry you are confusing facts and the attempt to prevent anyone else from being a victim of a sex crimes as being condescending, offensive or insensitive towards your religious values. The bottom line is that our ravs don't have the information, education or training to be making determinations if a sex crime had occurred. Just as I would not go to a rav to determine if I needed open heart surgery, I would not go to a rav to determine if a sex crime had occurred.

My suggestion is that our rabbis send a few students to graduate school, let them volunteer at rape crisis centers, let them study law enforcement and then maybe I and many others would feel differently about them making a determination if a child or adult was molested or raped.

Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC

Founder, Executive Director -The Awareness Center, Inc.
(the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209


  1. "I'm sorry you are confusing facts and the attempt to prevent anyone else from being a victim of a sex crimes as being condescending, offensive or insensitive towards your religious values."

    What was offensive is your entirely missing the point that the Rav said in most any case one should call the police, and that they are better equipped to determine whether a crime has occurred.

    "Law enforcement officials who work sex crimes also have to undergo vigorous training in this highly specialized field."

    You make it seem as though the "vigorous training" is equivalent to the six years you described. Can you seriously tell me that the police, whom we are talking about contacting, have six years of training? Or is it condescending slight of hand?

    I'm all for positing that there is almost no case where a predator pose no threat, or that there is no way of someone untrained to know. It is something else to mis-characterize the Rav's position as anything other than a sweeping recognition that these people need to be reported.

  2. regarding Vicki Polin's criticism as well as other relevant items - she has a web site

  3. I'm just glad the matter is finally being discussed. Whether it's perpetrated by a rabbi or a catholic priest sex abuse against a child is nevertheless a crime and needs to be investigated as any other crime.

    All the more so when the victims are children or otherwise vulnerable.

    I'm sure those who bring their concerns and suspicions about possible abuse to rabbis (and the rabbis themselves) are sincere in their desire to protect the victim but sex predators are notorious for being charmers and con-artists.

    In all honesty, law enforcement officers deal with con-artists everyday.

    Rabbis deal with good and decent people everyday.

    Would he really be able to see the evil in someone from his own community?

    In my humble opinion--Let the rabbi heal the victim and help the guilty atone for his sins.

    Let the police investigate the crime.

    For what it's worth, I believe Rabbi Sternbach's advice was well-intentioned. I don't think anyone is criticizing his intention.

    BTW: it was very objective to post Ms.Polin's letter and link to her website.

  4. Vicki, I appreciate your taking the time to reply. However, you still don't get it - and I find that puzzling since you are obviously a very intelligent and sensitive person. I don't understand why you don't understand what I am saying - especially since you note that you have had years of contact with the religious community.
    I also don't understand why you aren't aware of the fact that not every or even most police or social workers who have to deal with these cases are as professional and sensitive as you are.
    Perhaps next time you are in Jerusalem we can meet to discuss the issues.

    I also want to express my appreciation for your efforts to help not only the victims of abuse but to help the community prevent such crimes. I agree with you that there is a serious problem. However I do wish you had a deeper understanding of the nature of the community itself. It could only be beneficial to your ability to help.

  5. I'll solve the mystery for you. Ms. Polin doesn't "get it" because she has a vendetta against Rabbis and Religion. If you read her posts on her site (which I don't suggest) and the emails she sends to her mailing list (which I also don't suggest) the recurring theme is that Rabbis and Religion cannot be trusted and their story is one big failure after the next. I'm not convinced that she has the plight of the victims in her heart. Here's a test - send her an email about being molested by a Rabbi and send her another at the same time about being molested by the owner of a 7-11 and see which one gets a more enthusiastic response from her.

  6. I think you've made an error. Vicki Polin's web site is

  7. If we are dealing with Ms. Polin's arguments as arguments, then that is one thing and I think it is extremely even-handed of R' Eidensohn to give her space here.

    However, no one should accept any point she makes for which we must trust her. I believe she has grave credibility problems. She was clearly delusional at one point in her career; when she appeared, slightly disguised, on the Oprah show and stated that Jewish families across the country worship the devil, that her own family had devil worshippers going back to the 1700's and that they sacrificed babies in that worship. Here is the clip:

    Until Ms. Polin deals with that publicly, she has no credibility. This is doubly true when she has made statements that seem strange and demand a leap of faith to believe them.

  8. Daniel,
    It's late. I want to respond to the comments on your blog so I will make this short.

    I want to suggest that you help us find sponsors for The Awareness Center's certification program. Perhaps Rabbi Sternbuch would be interested in attending. This way we can all start working together, speaking the same language in our attempts at ending sexual violence in Jewish communities.

    There is different requirements for law enforcement depending on which state and city you are in. You would have to consult with The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel to learn about the requirements there.

    English site:

    Hebrew site:

    In the United States, each county is required to have a child advocacy center in which works utilizing a multi-disciplined approach. This usually includes law enforcement, a trained psychotherapist trained in working with child abuse and neglect cases, legal professionals, child protection workers, and a forensic pediatrician.

    The web page in which I'm associated is that of The Awareness Center:

  9. Apparently, the link to the clip on Oprah got chopped off. You can use this instead:

    Or, you can just read this part of the show's transcript:

    Vicki as Rachel on Oprah, May 1, 1989

    OPRAH: As a child, my next guest was used also in worshipping the devil, participated in human sacrifice rituals and cannibalism. She says her family has been involved in rituals for generations. She is currently in extensive therapy, suffers from multiple personality disorder, meaning she's blocked out many of the terrifying and painful memories of her childhood. Meet "Rachel," who is also in disguise to protect her identity. You come from generations of ritualistic abuse?

    "RACHEL", Was Used In Satan Worship Rituals: Yes, my family has an extensive family tree, and they keep track of who's been involved and who hasn't been involved, and it’s gone back to like 1700.

    OPRAH: And so you were ritually abused.

    "RACHEL": Right. I was born into a family that believes in this.

    OPRAH: Does everyone else think it's a nice Jewish family? From the outside, you appear to be a nice Jewish girl?

    "RACHEL": Definitely.

    OPRAH: And you all are worshipping the devil inside the home?

    "RACHEL": Right. There's other Jewish families across the country. It's not just my own family.

    OPRAH: Really? And so who knows about it? Lots of people now.

    "RACHEL": Well, I talked to a police detective in the Chicago area, and several of my friends know, and I've spoke publicly before, and…

    OPRAH: So when you were brought up in this kind of evilness, did you just think it was normal?

    "RACHEL': I blocked out a lot of the memories I had because of my multiple personality disorder, but, yes. I mean, it's like if you grow up with something, you think it’s normal. I always thought something…

    OPRAH: So what kinds of things? You don't have to give us the gory details, but what kinds of things went on in the family?

    "RACHEL": Well, there would be rituals in which babies would be sacrificed, and you would have to, you know…

    OPRAH: Whose babies?

    "RACHEL": There were people who bred babies in our family. No one would know about it. A lot of people were overweight, so you couldn't tell if they were pregnant or not, or they would supposedly go away for awhile and then come back…

    "RACHEL": The other thing I want to point out not all Jewish people sacrifice babies. I mean, it's not a very typical thing.

    OPRAH: I think we kind of know that.

    "RACHEL": I just want to point that out.

    OPRAH: This is the first time I heard of any Jewish people sacrificing babies, but anyway--so you witnessed the sacrifice.

    "RACHEL": Right. When I was very young, I was forced to participate in that-- in which I had to sacrifice an infant.

    OPRAH: And the purpose of sacrifice is to what? Is to bring you what? What are you sacrificing for?

    "RACHEL": For power...

    OPRAH: Power. And so were you ever used? Were you ever used yourself?

    "RACHEL": I was molested. I was raped several times.

    OPRAH: What's your mother doing in all of this? What's her role in all of this?

    "RACHEL": What is-- I'm not exactly- -what her role is-- I haven't, you know, recovered all of my memories, but her family was extremely involved. You know, she brought me to it. Both of my parents brought me to it.

    OPRAH: And where is she now?

    "RACHEL": She lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. She's on the human relations commission of the town that she lives in, and she's an upstanding citizen. Nobody would suspect her. Nobody would suspect anybody involved in it. There's police officers involved in it. There's, you know, doctors, lawyers, Indiana chiefs involved in it.

    OPRAH: Are you kidding?

    "RACHEL": I mean, it's not the person, you know, who looks scummy that's involved in it. It's someone who looks normal

  10. The Awareness Center, Inc.
    (the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
    P.O. Box 65273, Baltimore, MD 21209

    For immediate release:
    June 17, 2008

    For more information:
    Vicki Polin, CEO / Founder
    The Awareness Center, Inc.
    (the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)

    Robin Sax joins The Awareness Center's International Advisory Board

    The Awareness Center is pleased to announce that Robin Sax has agreed to serve on our international advisory board.

    Robin Sax is a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles and specializes in crimes against children. Robin also is a legal analyst and commentator. She has been most recently featured on Larry King Live.

    For over fifteen years she has prosecuted some of the most despicable defendants who have committed the most heinous crimes. For the last seven years, she is the prosecuting attorney for the Los Angeles County Child Sexual Assault crime. Robin sits on a multi-disciplinary team at UCLA's Rape Treatment with Department of Children and Family Services, law enforcement, victim advocates, and social workers. Robin conducts forensic interviews of children victims of abuse and structures investigation plans to maximize the chances of successful prosecution and disposition. Prosecutor Sax is an instructor for the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, California District Attorney's Association, an adjunct professor at Cal State Los Angeles and a lecturer in UCLA's Paralegal Program. Other college courses Robin teaches include Constitutional Law and Multi-Cultural Diversity. She is a sought after speaker on child sexual assault, family violence, internet safety, and parenting/disciplining children.

    Robin Sax educates hundreds of parents each year about how to prevent their child from becoming a victim of the internet. In her internet safety course, parents acquire the tools to get tech savvy quickly, become familiar with the symptoms of internet danger, become trained to recognize cyber crimes and cyber bullying, and leave the course with the ability to develop a personalized family internet protocol.

    Robin Sax is the author of "A D.A.'s Guide To Parenting... In The Best Interest of the Children", a prosecutor's perspective to raising school age children, is writing "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Criminal Justice System." and is a regular blogger on Women in Crime Ink. She has received many community awards for her work to protect children of sexual abuse and victims of domestic abuse.

  11. The last comment obviously was from Vicki, yet her own site using cyber bullying against at least one Rav who clearly, as anyone could see after some research, is innocent. Plus, sounds like, she her self is the victim of false memory. Get help, Vicki! Real professional help! And sue your previous therapist, judging by the video clip, you do have a good case.

  12. Vicky Polin is a crazy woman, no one can trust her "testimony" on Oprah Show, if she is a jew, it's a big Chillul Hashem.

    If so, she would be a great partner of antisemites and even 30's nazis in Europe...


    PS: Yes, Im frum, and I NEVER heard that crazy stuff she said in Oprah's.

  13. B"H

    While I feel for Miss Polin and agree that real abuse cases should be investigated and dealt with. I feel that there is another issue which Miss Polin herself must deal with or it should be dealt with by a qualified Beit Din:

    You have all seen chas v'shalom what Vicky has said about her parents and the Jewish community of her childhood. There is no-one reading this blog who would not agree that these are extremely serious allegations and if proven to be lashon ha'ra (not to mention. bringing one's parents to serious shame in public) would in all likelyhood be grounds for Cherem (G-d forbid).

    If her activities are now in Skokie, then that is ideal, since a Beit Din could be convened to investigate the allegations and if true to help others and if not true to get to the bottom of this matter once and for all and expose any lies told and vindicate innocent family members of Vicki.

    If indeed it is all made up or invented by cracker jack box psychology, then it has to be stopped and exposed before more innocent lives are ruined. But a Beit Din in Skokie or Chigaco must deal with this and NOW!

    G-d forbid that anyone of us should expose our innocent parents or anyone else to public ridicule by untrue words from our mouths!



  14. Oi Vey

    Vicki Polin / Rachel / mavanyam .. is a sick MPD as she is announced to be on the OPRAH show.

    Vicki Polin who befriended the Sick Nuchem Rosenberg? Gosh!

    Find yourself within the pages of this blog especially put up against your partner in crime and hatred Nuchem Rosenberg. Go ahead enjoy:

  15. Just noticed that Polin got an article published on the Huffington Post. She really must be insane to be able to do that.

  16. Polin's also listed as a guest reporter on a blog called Women in Crime Ink. You should see the other insane women she's writing with on that blog.

  17. Re Vicky's appearance on Oprah, she was very careful to state that most Jewish families do not participate in the kinds of activities she claims her family was involved in. She wasn't expecting Oprah to bring up the fact that her family is Jewish. Oprah was roundly criticized for that after the show. Ritual sexual abuse has infiltrated many religions.

    To understand what Vicki was describing, it would be enlightening to read "To Eliminate the Opiate" by R' Marvin S. Antelman.

    Vicki is a credible and caring professional. To dismiss her on the basis of her heroic efforts, early on in her recovery, to expose the scourge of sexual abuse, is to do a disservice to others who suffer like she did.

    1. You don't seem to understand that she has no credibility. I am not questioning her sincerity or efforts - just the results. One simple example - she states on her site that it is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein banned the music of R Shlomo Carlebach - but it simply is not true.

      She states there:

      "It is also well known that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a highly revered spiritual leader made a declaration banning all of Carlebach’s music created after he went “off the derech” (off the path). The truth is that no one seems to know when Shlomo Carlebach was not manipulating or threatening women for sexual favors. Instead of following the declaration make created by Rav Feinstein, there has been a movement to make this serial sexual predator into a sort of saint...."

      If you look on the web page you will find that there is fact a translation of the teshuva of Rav Moshe WITH AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT BY THE TRANSLATOR THAT THE MUSIC WAS NOT BANNED.

      "In 5719 (1959), R. Moshe Feinstein was asked to rule on the permissibility of playing the music of a certain song writer who was rumored to engage in disreputable behavior. (Teshuvot Iggerot Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer, I, no. 96.) R. Feinstein distinguished between this composer’s early compositions and his later ones. Any music written in his early years when this individual comported himself appropriately remained permissible; at that time he behaved properly and his later activities can not retroactively taint his prior achievements. One of the proofs that R. Feinstein brought is from the case of a Torah scroll that was written by a heretic—Jewish law requires that such a scroll be destroyed so as not to perpetuate his name, reputation or achievements. (Hil. Sefer Torah 6:8) However, the law also asserts that a scroll written while that person was a true believer remains valid, even if he later became an apostate.(Pit’hei Teshuvah, Yoreh De’ah 281, no. 2.) Concerning subsequent musical compositions, R. Feinstein stated that even those songs that this person wrote after his “reputation became objectionable” are permissible because music, unlike Torah scrolls, have no intrinsic holiness. Furthermore, the questionable activities had nothing to do with undermining the fundamentals of Jewish belief but rather with casualness with regard to the intermingling of the sexes that were not in keeping with Orthodox norms. Such a lapse would not render a Torah Scroll he wrote invalid; it would certainly not disqualify his music. R. Feinstein wrote nothing about learning Torah from this individual. However, based on R. Feinstein’s discussion, one might distinguish between the teachings and insights of a heretic before and after his apostacy: the earlier Torah would remain kosher; the latter Torah would be banned...."

      You can't have credibility when you simply throw out accusations without checking or even noticing whether the material is coherent! You can't have credibility when you make disgusting lies on public tv about Jews eating babies for religious reasons. She in fact has served to discredit the sex abuse issue.


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