STOP Human Trafficking

So we watched the movie “Sold.”


It was about this young Nepalese girl (maybe age 12) who was sold into a horrible brothel in Kolkata, India.


She fought to keep from getting raped, but eventually they drugged her and tied her hands to the bedpost–where the evil bastards had their way with this child. 


She and the other young girls in the brothel were raped about 10 times every evening to “repay their debts.”


The horror these children go through taken, beaten, drugged, and raped over and over again. 


It’s unthinkable and the lowest grotesqueness of people who could possibly treat children this way. 


Finally, the young girl does manage to escape to Hope House (a rescue shelter for the human trafficking victims) and with the information she provides, the police are able to raid the brothel and rescue the other children. 


The movie tells how their are 5.5 million children around the world that are being sex trafficked–and I would presume that the real number is unfortunately much higher!


I can only imagine how G-d must cry heavenly tears for these poor children.


It is incredibly hard to understand that in some areas of the world poverty is so bad that some desperate families actually feel they have to resort to selling their children to survive.


In other cases, the children are preyed on and simply disappear.


Children who should be playing with toys are instead forced to be sexual play things. 


Innocent children who should be treated with love and care are instead treated as animals for the sick and cruel physical pleasures of others. 


Have mercy on these children—save these children from wherever they are bound and held–give them back their freedom and their dignity. 


If ever there was a cause for people to rally around–surely, saving these children from sexual abuse and trafficking is one that all can agree is at the crux of our very humanity and mankind’s soul. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Alarming Graffiti Message

I actually stopped to read and photograph this graffiti or should I all it a cry for help.


First of all the “artist” was considerate and put it on paper (that was taped up), and not directly on the street pole.


Second, there are some incredibly thoughtful, alarming, and prayer messages on this in both English (as well as in Asian, and Hebrew languages), such as:


– “Jewish prayer for no rape.”


–  “Abusive bee.” “Bee pose,” “Queen bee,” “Bee wisdom,” and “Bee Sting”


– “Abusive spiritual teachers being arrested”


– “We are angelic”


– “I pray for diversity in the bee colony”


– “I pray for a well taught dog”


– “Goddess may the dog be happy”


– “Hashem [G-d] causes the generations to realize they are one”


– “Temple of the animist”


– “Freedom of religion.”


– “Kosher U.S.A. Government”


– “Thanks MD/DC Service Dog.”


There is more, but I couldn’t make out all of it.


There is a also a drawing of a girl in a sitting position with her knees up and sort of smiling.


What strikes me most in this are the numerous references to some sort of abuse, likely sexual with the references to things like prayer for no rape, abusive bee, bee sting, bee pose, and abusive spiritual teachers being arrested.


I feel very unsettled by this, like someone is in trouble and this is a call for help from the community.


All the identification with religion, spirituality, and G-d make this even more significant in terms of the spiritual questioning and perhaps confusion from it all.


Also, is this person disabled/blind–note the reference to the service dog.


I hope that this person(s) are okay and that if they are in danger and need help: go immediately to your parents, the police, school authorities, or a social worker.


People in the community care, and especially G-d hears your prayers.


Whoever might be hurting you needs to be dealt with by the authorities, and please G-d, you will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why Yell And Intimidate The Child?

Child.jpeg

So at the table next to us this morning at breakfast was a mean looking lady and a fidgety young child. 

The lady as we found out over the course of their dialogue was the child’s grandmother. 

And she wouldn’t stop berating this kid, maybe 5-years old. 

Grandmother: “Don’t you dare get up from the table until I’m done with my coffee, [and then this weird chilling] thank you.”

Child: Obviously looking to run around and have some fun, “But I just want to go.”

Grandmother:  Who has finished her breakfast and coffee and is just making a continuing point, “You’ll wait until I’m done, and I say we’re ready, [and again, the long controlling pause and then] thank you.”

Child: “I’m tired.”

Grandmother: “Then you’ll go upstairs, get back into bed and go to sleep, and no tv, just sleep–you will not move!”

Child: Looks up helplessly sad.

Grandmother: Now the truth starts to come out, “You know I don’t like the way you treat you mother. Your disrespectful! And that won’t go with me.”

Child: Appears to not really understand what she is saying and legs dangle anxiously off the chair, but clearly very afraid to get up.

Grandmother: “You’ll learn to be respectful to your mother. You will learn!”

Child: Head leaning sideways on table, says nothing. 

Grandmother: Makes child wait some more and more, and finally, “Now we can go.”

Child: Child picks head up and runs to take her hand. 

Grandmother: Sneers and smirks with her power over the child–she looks like a freakin’ witch. 

Whole scene was sort of heartbreaking. 

My wife and I look at each other, and shake our heads.

This was not teaching or loving, but something else and it wasn’t normal or nice. 

I say, “Perhaps, when a child is abused this way–day after day, year after year–this is why they grow up and then do horrible and hateful things.”

It’s amazing how adults take out their issues on children–and they think it’s legit–but deep down you can see it really isn’t–and the children and society pays for the sins of the adults. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Save Our Children

Missing and Exploited Children.jpeg

I was very taken by this ad yesterday for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children


NCMEC is primarily funded by the Justice Department for preventing and assisting with solving child abductions, child sexual abuse, and child pornography. 


It’s horrible when something bad happens to to an adult, but when it happens to a child–that is catastrophic. 


I remember my dad used to say when he went to the funeral for a child–“A child is supposed to bury his [/her] parents, and not the other way around!”


It is unthinkable the pain that a helpless child goes through when taken or abused.


And for the parents, who are responsible for and love that child, I don’t think they can ever rest or be at peace for a single moment, until the child is, please G-d, safe again. 


This reminds me of the tragedy this week, where a one-year old child was one of the victims in a terror car-ramming at a bus stop in Israel that wounded 11 people. 


Unfortunately, the baby’s leg that had been nearly severed by the terror attack, was unfortunately lost despite heroic attempts by the doctors to save his leg.


What did this kid do to deserve such a trauma and fate? 


As the NCMEC motto states, “Every child deserves a safe childhood.”


How can people be so cruel to others and especially to innocent children?  


Despite G-d’s love and caring in this world, evil still exists and every time a child goes missing, is exploited, or is hurt/killed is proof of this, and is a mandate for our need to fight for their good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Birds Of A Feather

An open letter to the Board and members of the Riverdale Jewish Center (RJC) and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office:


In my May 30th blog, G-d is Good, (Some) People Not So, I wrote about the accused Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt of the RJC, the now known “Sauna Rabbi,” who the New York Times disclosed about having some unorthodox and usual practices of getting naked with children and young adults. 


Yesterday in the New York Times, I read the follow up to the story that Dr. Donald Liss, the Chairman of the Board, overruled the board who demanded that Rabbi Rosenblatt leave the synagogue, and now many of the board members are resigning over this travesty of justice and members are leaving the synagogue to start break-away prayer services. 


At the end of my last blog on this subject, I wrote: “One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.”


One of the others involved, guess who?


Yes, the Chairman of the Board who overruled the community and is protecting Rabbi Rosenblatt. 


I grew up in Riverdale from the age of 10 when my family moved from the upper west side of Manhattan. I attended SAR Academy, the local yeshiva.  My family had many lovely friends in this community and we attended the RJC where we were members for over 20 years.


Dr. Donald Liss significantly older than myself and my friends growing up frequently invited us to his house in Riverdale to “learn” Torah and for Shabbat meals, although the learning frequently turned into talk and banter and “wrestling.”  Dr. Liss, as a doctor of rehabilitative and sports medicine, claimed great interest in my physical fitness as a youth and my practice of martial arts. He started to run and workout with me and my best friend and this at times lead to more “wrestling” matches.


Later Dr. Liss provided me a Summer job in his and his brother’s practice at Englewood Hospital. Dr Liss was quite well off and took advantage of me that my family was less so and I needed a job. He provided me the opportunity to work out there in their “gym” during lunch and then when I would change in the locker room, he would invariably show up to talk with me. 


Other times, he invited me to go on vacation with his family to the Poconos to babysit his kids.  I remember one particular time, I went running on the trail there, and he came.  When we got back to the house we were staying in, he dropped all his clothes in the kitchen area in front of me and his wife and totally nude just started talking. 


Other times, when I would work out in my apartment in Riverdale with weights or stretching for karate, even during the day, Dr. Liss would show up. And he would also invite my friend and I to his home to lift weights and more “wrestling”.


As I got older and smarter, I realized Dr. Liss’s behavior was not normal, and his interest in my workout and my Torah learning did not seem innocent any longer. I stopped getting together and taking his phone calls. His calling, hang-ups, and messages increased.


I met Dr. Liss one last time to put an end to his harassment, and I confronted him that I thought despite his being married with kids and his professing of religion that he had abnormal tendencies, and I wanted him to stay away from me.  He pretended to be shocked at my allegations as a Jewish man who sat towards the front of the synagogue and was learned. 


When I moved to DC, the only contact I had from Dr. Liss was when he tried to friend me on Facebook, which I promptly cut him off. 


That Dr. Liss would now protect Rabbi Rosenblatt and overrule the wishes of the Riverdale Jewish Center is a Chillul Hashem and travesty of justice. 


Every word in this blog is true, and I hope it helps the community and the victims to get over this tragedy and desecration of G-d.  The good people who wish to grow up and pray without unwanted advances of some sick individuals hiding behind many veils of religion and family deserve their community back. 

G-d Is Good, (Some) People Not So

G-d Good

I am quite disabled after hip surgery, but I am livid. 


There was an article in the New York Times about a Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt who likes to take children and young adults naked to the sauna and Mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) and watch!


Some even reported that he “gawked at a naked 12-year old,” “invited a 15-year old for intimate night time conversations during which he frequently put his hand on the boy’s leg,” and invited himself into a 17-year old’s living room and tried repeatedly to persuade him to change into a bathrobe.”


The article describes how this has been going on for around 30 years and the Rabbi was asked in various forms to stop by the Riverdale Jewish Center synagogue, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), and even investigated by Yeshiva University (YU). 


Interestingly, this is happening after the “2012 sex scandal involving top Rabbi’s from Yeshiva University, another with Rabbi Baruch Lanner with “sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of scores of teens” in his charge in the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), and most recently, the 6-year sentencing for “videotaping more than 150 women” (going to the Mikvah) of Rabbi Freundel of Kesher Synagogue (right here in Washington, D.C.). 


All of these sex scandals involved highly prominent rabbi’s (and I feel sick to my stomach even using that esteemed word for them), and at the time this abuse was going on and for years after, no one wanted to believe this was happening!


A friend posted this article about Rabbi Rosenblatt on my Facebook page –we both know this Rabbi from Riverdale, NY where we grew up–and asked “What have you to say to this?”


Well let me tell you…many have come forward for the NYT’s article and others on my Facebook page and behind the scenes to confirm knowledge of Rabbi’s Rosenblatt’s gawking and other inappropriate behaviors with children.


– “I refused to consider having him perform my marriage ceremony because of this and another of his ‘unusual habits.'”


– “Not only was this common knowledge personally–it was known institutionally, by both YU and the RCA.”


Yet others choose to continue the disbelief (some excerpts):


– “I believe these rumors to be vicious slander.”


– “I want to believe some weird habits are being blown out of proportion.”


So let me tell you that not knowing something is happening or not wanting to believe does not make it so. 


I and others I have spoken to remember children being invited to play racquetball as I remember it (squash in the article) and to go to the Sauna with the Rabbi afterward. 


As someone described for the NYT article about going to the Mikvah with the Rabbi, I can attest that this similarly happened to me PERSONALLY. 


Before I got married, the Rabbi accompanied me to the Mikvah for the ritual bathing which he said was needed before marriage, and just as the 15-year old victim in the article described, the Rabbi was “watching me” and I remember the Rabbi also telling me that he had to in order to see my whole body immersed.


I also remember feeling his look at me being off and feeling sick afterwards, like I just wanted to wash again and again. 


However for others referenced in the NYT article, it was much worse, “The routine was always the same: ‘Always the hand on the shoulder or the leg, always the hand touching some part of your body’…The rabbi’s touch ‘was very seductive and it was very manipulative in a way.'”


Unfortunately, as is typical, it is easier to blame the victims or disavow them, then acknowledge a deep-rooted sick and evil in our society by some who are at the top of the pecking order religiously and otherwise.


To be completely clear, the chilul Hashem is NOT with the victims, but RATHER it is with the man who for over 30 years continued this sick ruse, even after he was asked repeatedly to stop his inappropriate behavior with children and young adults. 


For those who choose to continue to look the other way, say how nice and scholarly these Rabbis are, and make every excuse in the book, rather than demand a FULL investigation and justice, all I can say is they are being complicit! 


One last thing I will say, there are others in that community that were involved.  


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Struggle Against Nature and Nurture

Struggle Against Nature and Nurture

I started watching The Following on Netflix.

If you haven’t seen it, the show is a portrayal of a serial killer.

This criminal has a near cult like following of people who want to kill, like him, and they do.

It is a frightening portrayal of people who murder, gruesomely.

They do it almost nonchalantly, like second nature.

They have no remorse, quite the opposite, they are deeply committed to what they do (e.g. through stabbing, burning, choking, etc.)

And they connect with each other, and the main serial killer, in their brutal acts of murder.

The show is deeply troubling in that there seems to be so many people out there who savor this, and that the authorities struggle to try to stop them.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal explored the science behind violent criminals.

They found in more than 100 studies that “about half of the variance in aggressive and anti-social behavior can be attributed to genetics.”

The study of this is called neurocriminology.

When this predisposition of genetics is combined with “early child abuse,” an individual is more prone to commit violent acts.

This is the old, “nature and nurture,” where our biological predisposition combined with our specific environmental factors, in a sense, make us who we are.

Understanding these contributors can help to both predict behavior and recidivism, and very importantly help with early treatment by “making it possible to get ahead of the problem” through therapy, medication, and so on.

People can be the worst type of animals, killing not only for food or because they are threatened, but actually for the joy of it.

The show is scary, but the reality is even more frightening as we battle heredity and environment.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Women, Not Things

Women, Not Things

In the context of the brutal raping and murder last year of a 23-year old women on a bus to the disgusting rape of a 5-year girl more recently in India, the Wall Street Journal (17 May 2013) has an article on “To Wed Your Rapist, or Not: Indian Women on Trial.”

It is an eye-opening article about the prejudices and horrible injustices that women face in India and other countries–and it’s not only due to the misogyny of some, and power- and pleasure-seeking of others, but it is based also on justices, lawyers, law enforcement, legislators, and spiritual figures in society that perpetuate the oppression of woman.

Some societies are stacking the deck, so women cannot reasonably win due protection–from legislators who do not write and pass substantive and equitable laws to protect women, to law enforcement that will not commit the resources to pursue the rapists and women beaters, to lawyers and judges that raise ridiculous demands for proving guilt and sentencing, and to spiritual leaders that blame the victim rather than hold the perpetrators to task.

These people who are supposed to bring justice to the victims, instead add insult to injury. Some of these include:

– Ruling against rape victims because they didn’t successfully fight back. For example, a “lower court ruled that she was lying citing among other things the fact that she could have scratched the man’s genitals, but didn’t.”

– Professing that victims are at fault for causing the rape, such as by wearing skirts, having male friends (i.e. “asking for it”), or otherwise dressing or behaving immodestly. At the extreme, one prominent spiritual figure actually held that the victim could’ve avoided trouble if she had “chanted a prayer, taken one of her attackers by the hand, and called him ‘brother'”–as if one can convince an attacker not to attack by holding their hands and gushing brotherhood.

– Teaching that rape is not possible for strong women or those of a labor caste. A 2005 textbook stated, “In normal circumstances, it is not possible for a single man to hold sexual intercourse with a healthy adult female in full possession of her senses against her will.” Oh, really? I doubt these teachers would like to test this hypothesis on their beloved mothers, sisters, wives, or daughters.

In Indian and other societies where women are so degraded, there is a standing notion of a rape victim having to marry their rapist–to make things right. Yet, how can this resolve anything? As if the incident of rape is not enough, the victim must endure a lifetime of rape–and by an individual without character or soul, who could commit such a brutal, violent act to begin with.

Forcing the victim to marry the rapist does not spare a woman the challenge of marrying normally after such an traumatic act, but rather it precludes her from ever having an opportunity to rid herself of the pain and shame, and go on to be with someone who truly loves and respects her as a person, and not an object.

As long as societies marginalize women through their beliefs, teachings, and systems of injustice, women will not be spared the agonizing harm they suffer by men who abuse their status of power. But as the old saying goes, “what goes around, comes around,”–what is incredible is that so many of these people just see it going, but don’t see it coming.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Help Button Is Only A Kiosk Away

Great job by the ANAR (Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk) Foundation in Europe to aid abused children.

The ad is hidden from adults, and the message is only visible to children–based on their height and angle of viewing.

To the abused child, they see: “If someone hurts you, phone us and we’ll help” with a number to call to get help in an anonymous and confidential way.

To the accompanying adult, they see: “Sometimes, child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.”

This is a great reminder to adults to behave themselves in how they treat children, and a way to get critical assistance information to children discreetly.

Learning from this, I’d love to see a similar campaign here in the U.S. to help child abuse victims, as well as other variations to help abused women, human trafficking victims, and others–by finding technological innovations to help them get the message in ways that their abusers don’t necessarily detect and which can’t easily be blocked from their victims.

Perhaps, one way to do this is to widely deploy emergency, push button, help kiosks where victims can easily reach out for assistance, where otherwise they would have no way to call for help–such as when their phones, money, passports, and so on have been confiscated.

Their are a lot of people hurting out there and we need to get to them to tell them that there is help available, that they will be protected (and mean it), and that they can easily reach out and we’ll be right there for them.

Now that’s an easy button to really help people. 😉

Rape-aXe Takes Hold

Rape-aXe Takes Hold

As a follow up to my blog on Tuesday about the Anti-rape Bra, a colleague gave me the lead to another prototype device called Rape-aXe.

Here is a YouTube video that explains how it works (explicit topic).

According to Nicci Talbot in Suite101, Rape-aXe is a female anti-rape condom that has small razor sharp barbs on the inside.

A rapist, who inserts into the female condom, gets trapped by the device, which needs to be surgically removed and leaves small scarring.

The device was invented by Sonnet Ehlers a South Africa women, and it went into production in 2007 going for $2 a piece.

According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.”

“It’s a medieval device for a medieval deed,” stated Ehlers, and no such evil deed should go unpunished.

Females and males should be protected from sexual abuse both legally as well as with anti-rape devices–and that’s the real point. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to haleybean91)