As an Orthodox mental health professional I was saddened to read the article, “Abuse Case Tests Ohel’s Adherence To Reporting Laws” (Feb. 25). After I graduated from the Silver School of Social Work at New York University nearly two years ago, I was fortunate to be offered employment at well-regarded agencies and hospitals throughout the metropolitan area. I intended, however, to seek work at a Jewish organization that served its community and people in need. I was saddened, disturbed and shocked when a number of esteemed mental health professionals in the Orthodox community advised and encouraged me to seek a position outside of an Orthodox agency. They noted that some Jewish agencies did not have the staff support, educational resources or leadership to train me. My professional growth would be best advanced within a secular agency that could support my professional development, they said.
After hearing and reading about Ohel’s questionable management at its Tikvah program, the wisdom of the advice offered to me was, unfortunately, confirmed.
My hope on behalf of our community is that these issues are not endemic. If at all accurate, they need to be addressed and not swept aside as other religious institutions have done. Otherwise the most vulnerable in our population may be doubly victimized, both by the perpetrator and by the inefficiencies and shortcomings of an agency.
Our children and our community deserve better.
The writer is a licensed social worker.