I want to commend David Cheifetz for “coming out” as a victim of childhood sex abuse in a Jewish institution and on his significant and practical imperatives for minimizing the likelihood of our children becoming victims in the future (“Sharing The Secret That’s Haunted My Soul,” March 29).
Regarding the institution of mandatory training programs for Jewish day schools and camps, Cheifetz correctly states that, “isolated programs already exist, but are only in place in limited instances.” Magenu, a nonprofit group that seeks to protect children by promoting personal safety education, is doing great work educating faculty and parents of children in Orthodox Jewish day schools in Brooklyn about this important and timely topic. Similar programs exist in Queens and Long Island, and Magenu plans to offer the program in several other communities this upcoming school year.
As the head of school of a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school that brought in a similar, professionally created and implemented program, I can personally attest to the necessity and positive results of such programs. Only because the administration, faculty and parents were trained in the language of child personal safety, warning signs and what actions to take in various situations — before the program was presented to the students — at least two children were spared from being subjected to continued abuse by a family member.
Kudos to Magenu for inspiring me and my wife to serve as volunteer coordinators to try to bring the Magenu (and affiliated Safety Kid) program to the dozens of Jewish day schools in our community this upcoming school year, and to David Cheifetz for re-inspiring me to make bringing this program to all Jewish day schools my #1 professional priority.