Running JCW for the better part of the last 7 years, I have seen and heard a lot of terrible things that have kept me up and night and triggered me and made me physically sick. Usually I think I can handle it and can push through it, over it and past it. But tonight I got an email that makes me feel like I’m not even sure what to do next.
The things I share publicly are often very personal, but this is another level, because it’s about my abuse. My first abuser who destroyed my innocence, who left me with traumas I tried to run away from and yet am l dealing with constantly to this day.
When I was in summer camp when I was a young boy, I was molested by Mendel Levine. He was my counselor. When I came to him for help with a cut near my private parts, he rubbed my private parts all over in ways that had nothing to do with the cut or helping me. When he heard someone come into the bunkhouse, he told me to pull up my pants and sit on the bed. On another occasion I watched him walk around in the mikvah watching me with an erection so noticeable that till this day I still have that image in my head that scares me. And even recently working through it in therapy other disgusting memories have continued to came back, the memories of tiny little meyer being in a mikva room, memories that are so evil that I dropped the theratapper (vibration paddles) crying and told my therapist that I can’t do anymore.
Mendel Levine was added to the WOS only after a second victim came forward, and JCW conducted an investigation.
Mendel Levine now lives in the Netherlands, he is a shliach under Merkos for a number of years. Last month a media and community storm started in the Netherlands around Rabbi Secr Opperrabbijn Jacobs, the chief rabbi and head Shliach of Chabad there, regarding another terrible case of CSA he has been involved in covering up. Through that, an investigation was initiated by the NIK Joodse Gemeenten Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap into the allegations against Mendel Levine.
I prepared a statement. The other victim prepared a statement. I was interviewed by the NIK’s investigators. They spoke to other individuals who were involved and who were privy to the investigation by JCW. They interviewed a respected rabbi who testified that Mendel Levine had confessed to him that he molested boys. I’ll be very honest, the process was very painful to me and made me very uneasy but I knew it was important.
An hour ago I received an email that the NIK has decided that I wasn’t actually molested. They sent it minutes before they released a public statement, intentionally so it gave me no time for myself or anyone to respond.
They did this by email, broken down into bullet points of all the things I said that they don’t believe. This is what they believe.
They don’t believe it’s “probable” that I was molested.
They don’t believe it’s “probable” that I was telling the truth.
They don’t believe it’s “probable” that the second victim was telling the truth.
They don’t believe it’s “probable” that a respected rabbi is telling the truth about witnessing an abuser confess.
They believe it’s “probable” that when the abuser admitted what he did to me by phone, he didn’t really mean it.
They believe it’s “probable” that an abuser is telling the truth.
Since I started JCW, I have always ended my speeches at events with the same lines, directed to the survivors in the crowd. I only now really understand how important and meaningful the line is.
“To every survivor here, after years of silence, isolation, shame, guilt, trauma you have endured, you have a friend. JCW is a place to turn to, a place that we will validate your pain, your suffering, we won’t question you or judge you. We will listen to you and believe you.”
Because not being believed is really one of the worst feelings in the world