Friday, February 20, 2009

Dr. Benzion Twerski responds 

The comment below was sent in By Dr. Benzion Twerski as a response to personal attacks regarding his appearance at the Hikind hosted community-wide event to show solidarity with victims of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community.

The following is the comment by a reader Expatriate Owl directed at Dr. Twerski

My understanding was that Dr. Twerski was so threatened and intimidated and scared, for himself, his reputation and his family, that he had forever forsworn any participation in these types of things.

It's certainly good to have him on board again, but his sudden development of a spine, in addition to being a medical miracle, does raise some questions as to what evil forces are at work, and what has been done in the past few months to reduce or elimiate the threat they posed to Dr. Twerski's person, reputation and family.

Here Dr.Twerski responds.

The question was asked and deserves an answer.

Yes, there were threats to my reputation (not threats to my safety). No, it was not an issue of spine at the time of my withdrawal, nor has anything changed now. I consider Dov Hikind a good friend, and respect his passion to resolve this serious issue.

The task that was placed before me was the establishment of a process by which complaints and accusations could be handled in a manner that would effectively preserve the personal safety of every child while also maintaining complete compliance with halacha and the dignity of our yeshivos and communities. This mission is extremely delicate, and requires much input and teamwork. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there whose understanding of the task and of me was distorted and myopic. The assumption was that my association with Dov and with the subject matter would result in my being responsible for exposing schmutz throughout the community, closing yeshivos, and chasing innocent people to jail through mesira. None of these suspicions could be farther from truth. Many who know me better spoke out in my support, and those who understood what the mission was continue to seek my thoughts about the subject matter.

I will continue all efforts I was making prior to any involvement in the Dov Hikind project to improve and protect the safety of our children, and I will do in accordance with halacha and secular law. My spine is exactly where it always was.

The event that heads this thread of comments is a public forum that has zero political importance. It is simply a show of support for those victims that have not gotten the attention of the public until now. These innocent victims have typically suffered in silence with their secrets under threats of revictimization, and in many cases have been revictimized by the system. If you, the reader, do not know any of these people, stay home or dig your denial heels in deeper. I know many of these, and Dov’s office knows many more.

The message I hope to share is that we are going to be innovative, and devise a system that does not allow for victims to be revictimized, nor will an accused molester be able to impose an address change in order to escape prosecution while continuing the murderous exploits somewhere else. I hope that those who need professional help will avail themselves of it sooner, and I hope that all the professionals, rebbeim and school staff, and parents be educated about abuse. It does happen, and knowledge about it goes far to prevent it.

If this event is, in fact, what Dr. Twerski claims, it behooves Mr. Hikind to prove the point by standing in the crowd and not addressing the audience.


First and foremost, I apologize to Dr. Twerski for any slight caused by the hyperbolic tone of the subject posting. I regret that my remarks were taken as a personal attack.

Without in any way negating my own negligence in the matter, the spin placed upon this by the news media seems to have been quite distorted. In addition to what purportedly were direct quotes from Dr. Twerski's e-mails to Hella Winston of Jewish Week [10 September 2008], there was the account by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, on his website [17 September 2008], of how Dr. Twerski related to him "the details of the threats [Dr. Twerski] and his family members were receiving." I, along with so many others, read too deeply into the news accounts and overestimated the nature of the "threats" directed towards Dr. Twerski and his family.

I thank Dr. Twerski for providing some much needed clarification, and also thank him for the work he has done, and is doing, to address this serious issue.


What a SPINELESS, lowlife, coward. He deliberately made it sound as if there were physical threats against him to rile up the hyper molestation Taliban. Now, he is forced to admit that there were no threats. Obnoxious hypocrite! All he cares about is his own self image and PC crap.


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