Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Whom to Believe? In Search of a Sexual Abuse Policy” (Dec. 22), highlights many of the challenges of responding to claims of sexual abuse. When I was a teenager, a rabbi crossed proper boundaries with me. I was vulnerable, impressionable and I believed he loved me. I kept it a secret. Only years later did I understand that his conduct was unconscionable. He didn’t love me; he harmed me. I am embarrassed and deeply regret my involvement with him — for my sake and his family’s.
When I was wrestling with my decision to bring a claim, I needed advice from people knowledgeable about the Jewish institutions and my options, but there was nobody to consult.
Creating an organization to register complaints and provide advice, and establishing procedures, like the Central Conference of American Rabbis’, to investigate and root out transgressive conduct is vital for the integrity of Jewish institutions. The hearing process should be fair, thorough and confidential; women and men should evaluate the evidence and make the determinations; and the process should not be a sham merely to protect the institution.
Such a process also helps the person who has been abused. By bringing a claim and having him censured, I empowered myself and, ultimately, protected others. The process changed my life.