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Admit There Is A Problem
Wed, 04/03/2013 - 20:00

David Cheifetz, who wrote that he was sexually abused at summer camp and then made to feel he was to blame (“Sharing The Secret That’s Haunted My Soul,” March 29), rightly asks us in the Orthodox community, “How many rabbis have raised their voices to increase awareness or called for fundamental change?” 

I am not the senior rabbi of my synagogue, but I do give the weekly dvar Torah at the early Shabbat minyan. A number of years ago I spoke out against the abuse of children in the Jewish community; it is not a plague that affects only the Catholics, I said, but it also affects the Orthodox community (I gave Baruch Lanner as an example).

[Rabbi Lanner, the former principal of Hillel Yeshiva High School in Ocean Township, N.J. and former regional director of the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth, served a jail sentence for child sexual abuse; the allegations against him were first reported by The Jewish Week in 2000.]

One member came to me after davening (services) to say that my topic belonged on the front page of the Miami Herald; it did not belong in shul. I responded that had the Orthodox community talked about and been vigilant about the problem 30 years earlier, we never would have had the Lanner scandal (and some of the subsequent ones, as well). That was the last time I saw that member at the early service.

Cheifetz is right that the rabbis should raise their voices to focus attention at the abuse problem in the hope that our most vulnerable will not be victims. But it does not stop there. There has to be a willingness by the community to admit there is a problem. Until there is such an admission, the problem will continue and the guilty will get away with their crimes.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

North Miami Beach, Fla.


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I had attended the high school under the "rule" of Lanner and I must say that as a child I wish I knew more about sexual predators as the writing was on the wall. I can recall the constant calling to his office behind closed door daily of mostly female students. He was forceful in his conversations in public and held an iron fist over the school so everyone would fear him. I recall him kicking a friend of mine in the privates when he did not agree with him. I ultimately left the school to go to public school because of him ,but just of his harsh treatment in my junior year. I wish I saw this coming because as an adult this all would have been very clear. Shame on the rest of the staff for not recognizing the signs.

Thank you for responding. It if means anything, please accept my apologies for the lack of protection and security due you that the Orthodox community failed to provide.

It Is crucial that as a Rabbi,your command of the facts be impeccable.Lanner was not only a Regional Director for NCSY,he was the National Director of Regions as well as head of the NCSY summer Kollel programs.He did NOT go to jail for child sexual abuse nor was he indicted for that.
Your use of Lanner is clearly for emotional impact as it is evident that you have only a cursory grasp of that entire unfortunate affair.I sincerely hope that your weekly divrei Torah reflect greater attention to detail then this factually shallow and perhaps self serving article.

Ummm....your comment - is ridiculous, do your research. He lives in the great state of Florida - and here is his record.
It's amazing how quickly things are found on the Internet!


either lanner himself wrote this idiotic letter or he had someone do it for him. he was convicted of endangering the welfare of a minors and aggravated sexual misconduct... does it need to be spelled out more clearly.....?

who was in the camp administration of for dora golding who sent cheifetz home... not the abuser per se' but the coward who enabled this to go on? he should be held liable and at a minimum shamed publicly