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.

Part 5 – Riverdale Sex Abuse

Please click the photo to enlarge or you can go straight to the link at the SAR website.


The summary findings from the investigation on the child sex abuse at SAR Academy found the following regarding Stanley Rosenfeld and “Rabbi” Sheldon Schwartz:

T&M uncovered the following regarding Rosenfeld’s tenure and behavior while at SAR:

  • Rosenfeld was an administrator at SAR from 1974 to 1977 and he was also employed as a teacher by the school during the 1986-87 school year. The precise circumstances of his departure and rehire remain unknown.
  • Twelve former SAR students and one non-SAR student reported that Rosenfeld sexually abused them during his time as an SAR Academy faculty member.  
  • According to two victims, Rosenfeld’s misconduct was reported to at least one member of SAR’s administration at the time of these abuses.  
  • The investigation could not conclusively determine whether the administrators involved in the rehiring of Rosenfeld were aware of the nature of the allegations at the time of his rehire.  


T&M uncovered the following regarding Rabbi Schwartz’s behavior while at SAR:

  • According to multiple victims, details of Rosenfeld’s behavior were, at the time, raised directly to Rabbi Schwartz, who not only failed to act on the information appropriately, but was also alleged to have been present at and/or to have brought students to Rosenfeld’s home for Shabbat visits during which abuse took place.
  • Separately, through the course of this investigative effort, several students came forward alleging Rabbi Schwartz had acted inappropriately with them.  

Rabbi Schwartz served as a Judaic studies teacher until he was suspended in January 2018, once allegations concerning his knowledge of Rosenfeld’s behavior were brought to the attention of SAR. His employment has since been terminated.  Current members of the SAR administration were not aware of the allegations regarding Rabbi Schwartz until the commencement of the investigation.

 

T&M’s findings and the fact that Rosenfeld appears to have worked at and abused children at multiple schools and camps in the New York area gives all of us reason to pause and consider whether we are truly doing enough to protect our children. 

 

For those of you who sincerely listened and believed the cries of the many victims, thank you.


For those of you who were complicit and even continued in the denials, I will just say to you that G-d sees all!

Dear SAR Academy

To help the children… Religion is not just “teaching” Torah; it is also doing the right thing!

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

A few references:

Letter from SAR (January 2018)

Investigation Launches 40 Years Late(r) (January 2018)

Enabler/Facilitator Believed to be Still at the School (April 2018)

The Rabbi In The Bath House and More (June 2015)

Parole Violation Hearing (July 2009)

His Preferred Prey was Adolescent Boys (May 2006)

Case of Cantor Stanley Rosenfeld (August 2000)

(Source Video: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)

Part 4 – Riverdale Sexual Abuse

So this part 4 of my posts about the sexual misconduct inflicted on the children in Riverdale. 


This is a follow-on to my post of January 10 regarding a message from Salanter Akiba of Riverdale (SAR) Academy about the exploits of one of its former teachers and administrators who “pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree child molestation.”


I agreed to be interviewed by the SAR investigator about my experience as a 7th-grade child who had been lured for a Shabbat to this monsters home. 

Rabbi Rosenfeld was never my teacher, and I would have never ended up at his home for Shabbat if not for this person, who invited me there, drove me there, and listened to my cries in the next room. 


It was extremely painful to recount in detail the childhood memories of sexual assault as she asked me question after question about every detail, and without malice, but basically forced me to relive the events of so long ago.


What is incredible to me is that the enabler/facilitator of that Shabbat invitation and course of events, I have come to understand, MAY STILL WORK IN THAT SCHOOL!


How many other children were lured to Rabbi Rosenfeld’s home by this person–who was being paid and given benefits, as well as provided harbor and shelter, by this school (perhaps unknowingly) for decades and decades. 


But now if it is true, that this person is still there, the school has an ethical and I am certain, legal duty to protect the children that go there. 


No child should be abused sexually or otherwise or be part of such atrocities by former or current staff. 


I was one of the children who suffered in silence for too long. 


But now I understand that one of my purposes in this world is to help make things right. 


To the Riverdale community, to the board and leadership of SAR, I ask you, what is your role and responsibility?


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)