Letter to the Editor - Jewish Star Unfair to Ohel

To The Editor:

The article "Has the Silence Been Broken?" (Oct. 29, 2010) is not just tacky journalism, it is organizational assassination and should be condemned by the community.

What alarmingly many others in the observant media world may believe is a robust objective, investigative and fair style, it is nothing but a plethora of regurgitated agendas and baseless accusations that have proven irrelevant and without any foundation — factually and legally speaking.

Instead of delving into the book, "Breaking The Silence" — what I believe is a much welcome book in our community ‚ and evaluating the substantive issues raised, The Jewish Star chose to jump on the bandwagon of unfounded attacks on a noble community organization. Guilt by unfounded and baseless accusations by the usual protagonists.

One organization in our community has been tirelessly banging on doors and raising awareness of child sexual abuse for decades. However unpopular or unsettling that was to the community or to this organizations fundraises — in terms of a possible backlash — they believed their mission was clear in protecting the children. I should know, I am a supporter of all that OHEL has done and continues to do for our community.

The article is littered with the usual baseless accusations — most despicably that OHEL would deliberately place children at risk. As a social service organization that I would think must follow and fulfill rigid statutes and regulations in every area of operation, providing absolute transparency and accountability to all regulatory agencies, these accusations leveled at OHEL for "not following civil law" is malicious at best.

Maybe the writer could have really furthered the debate as OHEL itself has tried to do — in addressing one of the many complex issues faced by ALL social service agencies relating to reporting and offenders who have never been prosecuted, are not part of any mandated treatment program, are not on any criminal watch list — and who on their own accord – may enter the doors of voluntary treatment — only to suddenly leave.

It does not take much investigative work to Google OHEL's much publicized editorial just last year where they articulated "OHEL would be the first to acknowledge that the current systems which all social service organizations must operate within — are not perfect. OHEL would welcome expanded mandatory reporting laws But until that happens, OHEL must naturally comply with all existing statutes, as like any other social service organization."

The issue of child sexual abuse in our community should naturally be of paramount concern. For a community like ours, where parents invest much if not everything into their children, it is obvious. But if we are to fundamentally and constructively address the issue — we need to work with and bear in mind the context and complex dynamics at play — not where they can be used as an excuse, or a delaying factor — but a bridge to getting to the other side of a new dawn where as OHEL themselves put it in the same editorial, "a parent believes that identifying and pursuing charges is not only the right thing to do, but finds a community that is unanimously supportive of such a resolve, and grateful for the arduous and very public efforts of that family in making the protection of other children their priority."

The Jewish Star could have used the opportunity to further intelligent discourse and further community action. Instead it was a template of baseless accusations, character and organizational assassination.
We as a community can do better. Not least, for the sake of our children

Dr. Dan Kaufman