Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes.”

He said, just think about it: “You have the chance to say I’m sorry, I regret what I did, and I won’t do it again, and be forgiven — what a tremendous opportunity that is!” I had never really thought of repentance in this particular way…as an opportunity. Usually, it’s more of something that is uncomfortable, difficult, and that we really don’t want to have to do.


So with a few more days to go before Yom Kippur, let us thank G-d for the chance to make amends and do better in life, because this is an incredible opportunity and a true blessing, and one that we do not know will ever come again.

(Credit Photo: Gil Kremer, Israel Defense Forces)

SAR — A THIRD Round of Child Sexual Abuse Scandals

What a NON-surprise from SAR in Riverdale.


The Judaic Studies principal (grades 6-8), Rabbi Jonathan Skolnick has been arrested for “production of child pornography.”


This after numerous child sexual abuse scandals in the Jewish community in Riverdale, and at SAR in particular!

  • Now for a third time in 2019, SAR’s 2018-2019 newly appointed Middle School Principal of Judaic Studies is arrested for production of child pornography and SAR’s principal is stunned at how this could be happening: “It is shocking to know that someone who we have trusted with our children has been accused of harming them. Despite the practices in place to protect our children, we are not immune to breaches such as the one that seems to have taken place at SAR.”

Clearly there is a PATTERN OF BAD BEHAVIOR AND NEGLIGENCE here (i.e. like a repeat offender) and at a certain point, the patience and excuses completely runs out!


This latest sexual abuse debacle with Rabbi Skolnick (where was the vetting process on hiring him?) occurring AT THE VERY SAME TIME that SAR was conducting and publishing the results of it’s earlier sex scandal with convicted sexual offender Stanley Rosenfeld and SAR’s statement in their October 5, 2018 message releasing their report that:


Continuing our conversations with our students and faculty on preventing and addressing sexual abuse. In 2014, SAR implemented an Anti-Harassment Policy:www.saracademy.org/antiharassmentpolicy. Training is done annually for all staff as well as appropriate training for high school and middle school students as part of their advisory program. Emphasis of the training is on awareness and reporting of any potential abuse as well as setting appropriate parameters for student-staff interactions. We are fully committed to the safety of our students and to continuing to implement best practices in these areas.  

As anyone can see that the words by SAR are nothing but cheap and empty as demonstrated by the facts of their now THREE TIMES REPEATED sexual scandals as reported!


How SAR could be “shocked” after three times the same types of sexual abuse occurring under their watch should be a complete mystery to any reasonable, thinking human being with a soul.  


Where is the outrage by the Riverdale community and by the current board of directors of SAR?  And where is the REAL action by them to correct their now half century HISTORY of abuse against the children in their completely negligent care?


Of course, let us also not forget the other sexual scandal allegations in the same community at the Riverdale Jewish Center and the chorus of denials and lack of accountability that went on with their prior “Sauna Rabbi” of thirty years who finally stepped down in 2016. 


Would the Riverdale community and SAR in particular like to offer up any new denials today and provide any more cheap words about their Anti-Harassment policy and phony “commitment to the safety of our students”? 


Less than two-weeks before the Jewish New Year 5780, will SAR finally take RESPONSIBILITY for the abuse to their past students and REALLY do what it takes to protect its current and future children.

Whose Throat Do You Choke

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So this was an interesting term that I heard about getting people to take responsibility for their actions.


“Whose throat do I choke for this?”


Sounds a little severe, no?


I think this is partially an adverse reaction to “analysis paralysis” and “death by committee” — where no decisions can ever get made. 


And organizations where lack of accountability runs rampant and it’s more about finger pointing at each other, rather than owning up to your responsibilities, decisions, and actions.


So with dysfunctional  organizations, the pendulum swings aimlessly being no accountability and the ultimate chopping block. 


But choking off the life blood of our human capital certainly isn’t conducive to innovation, exploration, and discovery or to productivity, employee morale and retention.


So when it’s simple human error with our best effort and no bad intentions, how about we say a simple “Who done it this time,” do a post-action, figure out the valuable lessons learned, and resolve how we do better going forward. 


No throats or heads necessary (most of time). 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

So Sorry, Charlie

So Sorry, Charlie

In the old Starkist Tuna commercials, Charlie the cool tuna thinks he’s all that, but he keeps getting rejected by Starkist, because he’s just not good enough and then the narrator comes on and says, “Sorry Charlie!”

These days, from my perspective, people often do not take responsibility when they mess up and arrogantly they can’t bring themselves to just say, “I’m sorry”–it was my responsibility, I messed up, and I am committed to doing better in the future.

It’s really not so hard to say sorry, if you let your ego go. Most often, from what I’ve seen, unless the boss, spouse, or friend is just a jerk, saying sorry goes a long way to making things right–it shows you care about the relationship, your human and fallible (like the rest of us) and you are able to introspect, self-help, and learn from mistakes.

In contrast, Bloomberg BusinessWeek (18 April 2013) says sillily, “Don’t Apologize”–that refusing to apologize makes a person feel better about themselves, more powerful, and less of a victim.

Certainly, we don’t want to apologize for things we didn’t do, when we really don’t mean it, or to give someone on a pure power binge the satisfaction of making us beg–in those cases, we should be truthful and respectful and set the record straight. We should also, make it clear that we will not be victimized by anyone, at anytime.

But when we are wrong–and it’s not easy for everyone to recognize or admit it–just say so. It won’t kill you and you’ll usually see the other person lighten up on the punishing diatribe and maybe even admit their part in it or the stupid things they may have done at other times.

No one is so perfect–despite some very large egos out there. And the bigger the ego, the bigger the jerk. The humbler the person, the nicer and more workable they are.

Don’t apologize for things you didn’t do or to satisfy someone’s bullying, but do apologize when you could’ve done better and you are committed to improving yourself and building the relationship.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)