My story, unlike most others at JCW, has a happy ending. This story ends happily for two reasons: The Grace of God and the existence of Jewish Community Watch.
Although I would find great satisfaction in naming names, I’m afraid it would distract from the point of sharing this. I’m going to tell my story in a generic fashion because my point here is to express to you through first-hand experience how JCW is saving lives and for you to better understand how a pedophile works in his efforts to victimize. Without question, JCW saved the lives of my son and his friends.
My son had been an active participant in a Jewish after-school program lead by a well-known family here in my city. For two years my son worked closely with the Rabbi who headed the teen program. This particular Rabbi, z’l, was not related to the family. Unfortunately this wonderful Rabbi fell ill and had to return to his home city. In the meantime, the family who owned the program brought in a new “Rabbi” from New York. This Rabbi was married to their daughter and he and the daughter would now be the heads of the teen program. Given that my son had been such a dedicated participant, I was asked by the family to meet and discuss ways to help promote the program and bring more teens. Given my son’s previous experience I of course agreed.
I entered the office of the family’s very large community center and behind the desk sat the head Rabbi—the father of the family, and seated next to me was the new Rabbi who I will refer to as Rabbi X. Of course Rabbi X’s wife also joined us. The session began by them explaining to me who Rabbi X was, that he had come from New York and that they would love it if I would host parlor meetings at my home to discuss the teen program with potential parents. They were all very excited about this and Rabbi X was very clear to me that he had met my son, that my son was a wonderful student, and that my son would be “his right hand person” in the program. He assured me that right after our meeting he would phone my son to start making plans to meet right away and plan the teen program.
I was handed flyers to start distributing in the community that had the program information. But something caught my eye: the former Rabbi’s name was still on the flyer. Rabbi X and his wife were nowhere to be found on it. Naturally I asked where the new flyer is with the new names—they simply “had not gotten around to making one yet.” Given that I was not about to hand out flyers with misinformation, I told them to contact me when the new material was ready and went on my way.
A week passed and Mrs. X called me several times to schedule parlor meetings. I reiterated and insisted that I was unable to host until all the updated information had been printed. Promises were made, no new flyers ever arrived. Rabbi X had made contact with my son to ask for help in planning. Another friend of my son’s had also been contacted. It seemed that things were moving along.
Until July 19, 2013.
On that day I had been doing some research and I came across a listing for Jewish Community Watch. I have no idea why but I felt compelled to find out what it was. The site was clear: they are a watch dog organization to prevent and/or catch pedophiles in the Jewish world. But then there was this one link . . . this infamous link that read “Wall of Shame.” I immediately became curious and felt an uncontrollable urge to find out what it was—I still remember the feeling. It was a distinct feeling as if I really had no choice but to look at it.
I clicked the link.
My heart stopped beating.
My breath left my body.
I was frozen.
I was utterly confused.
I can only imagine this is what a victim must feel like the very first time a known and trusted predator crosses that line . . . shock. Absolute shock.
Front and center on the Wall of Shame was the face of the man who had just told me how wonderful my son is. The face of a man accused of heinous crimes against teen boys in New York. The face of Rabbi X.
For a few moments I could not move, I could not collect my thoughts; I could not process what I was seeing. Finally, I collected myself and both called and emailed JCW. I connected with a man who I learned was Meyer Seewald, the founder and leader of JCW.
After the basic hellos I launched in: “I need to understand how someone qualifies to be put on this page.”
“Who are you calling about?”
“I am not going to say until I better understand how you decide a face makes this page.”
“I see from your number you’re calling from XYZ city, I know who you are calling about. You are calling about Rabbi X. But let me explain how this works.”
Meyer proceeded to tell me the detailed process by which they choose to put someone on this page. He also shared with me the charges against Rabbi X. He explained that they knew his family had taken him out of New York to my city, but that JCW had lost track of him because his name was not listed anywhere, and the family was housing him in their homes so he had no known listed address.
When I began to tell my story I could hear Meyer’s fury build: Not only had the family pulled him from New York, but they had put him in charge of teens. The family, knowing full well the accusations against their son-in-law, put him in direct contact with teens—most specifically MY TEEN.
Things moved quickly from there. Meyer got on a plane, he mobilized our community, he called the local police, he exposed the family and revealed that Rabbi X was in fact working with children even though these charges existed against him.
After speaking with my son I realized that God had reached his hand into our lives before damage occurred. God had taken me to that website to save him, his friends, and our community from this so-called Rabbi. My son, thankfully, had not gotten close with Rabbi X. His friend however, had been getting rides home with him, and had been given several small gifts like sushi dinners, etc. The grooming process had already begun.
In spite of my absolute rage at this family and this man, I kept quiet. Even if there was the slightest chance he was not guilty I did not want to speak out against him or the family. However, now that Rabbi X has pleaded guilty to his crimes, I am speaking out to say this: Rabbi X, and his family who knew and did nothing, who knew and gave him access again, should be shunned and ostracized from our community. The title of “Rabbi” of the father of the family should be stripped. The community center, which has children in and out every day, closed down. How utterly arrogant of this family. How positively irresponsible. How dare they play games with the lives of our children. How dare they play games with MY CHILD. Believe me, there is a special place in hell for Rabbi X and his family. God has ways, as he did with bringing me face-to-face with the Wall of Shame, to guide and protect us. And we MUST do everything in our power to educate and empower our communities from sick criminals as these and those who choose to aid and abet them such as this entire family did.
Jewish Community Watch and Meyer Seewald single-handedly prevented untold tragedies in my community. We, as an international Jewish community must stand with them, support them, and scream from the mountain tops that monsters like Rabbi X WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Pedophiles in the Jewish community know this: WE ARE WATCHING FOR YOU NOW. We, our communities, are getting wiser through the education and awareness JCW provides. We will empower our children to defend themselves and we will stand strong next to the victims. We, as a global community, demand from our Rabbinic authorities to steadfastly do the same!
I thank God every day for JCW and the work of Meyer Seewald and I hope you do to.
What if, God forbid, it had been YOUR child?
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