Friday, January 25, 2013

UOHC child protection letter

My quick translation:
"Parents and educational establishments in our community dedicate themselves to educate pure souls and to bring them up and to protect them in holiness and purity, and thank G-d are very successful in this. The safety of our sweet children and protecting them from every harm and abuse is of course necessary.
And for that reason, it is our duty to consider every claim of abuse as a very serious thing, and we need to inform how to properly deal with this and to make fences in order to prevent such possibilities and to give proper assistance to everyone who has been abused.
The Union has a special committee to deal with cases of abuse amongst our children. The members of the committee are rabbis, educators and members of the community who have been properly trained in how to deal with this. The rabbinate recognises that there are certain times when it is correct and necessary to call the social services and police. The committee will consult with the rabbis to determine the proper course of action in each case.
The committee will try to use the advice and help of experts to help families or children who have suffered from abuse.
Unfortunately a programme has been made that is about to be broadcast on television about the abuse of children in our community, which claims that even after the actions of abusers are known, they have the possibility of continuing in their acts. The committee for child protection and determining the correct way to protect our children in our community will help please G-d to silence the claims of the questioners that the Union does not fulfil its obligation in this matter.
In every case that comes before one of the rabbis, educators or principals of one of the institutions, where there is fear for a child's safety, you are requested to refer the matter to the committee, which will deal with it in consultation with the beth din and according to the law of the land.
The number of the committee is below.
[Ephraim Padwa]
UOHC child protection line: 020 - 3322- 8384

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is the internet destroying Christianity?

Much has been made of the threat that the internet poses to Charedi Judaism, by providing a forum in which information can flow freely, and anonymously. The web has been a "safe" place for many Charedim to vent frustrations about the way their community functions, express theological doubts, meet like-minded people and access the outside world, all without fear of discovery. The prime example right now is, of course, If You Tickle Us,  a Charedi blog which has helped expose a sexual scandal in London, and allowed thousands of local Charedim to express their anger and disgust at the community's leaders in a way they could not in 'real' life.

But has a similar process happened in other faith communities? I might have guessed it had affected Muslims, some of whom live tight community lives not dissimilar to strictly Orthodox Jews. This piece, however, highlights the way it is destroying churches. For example, by providing
Supportive communities for people coming out of religion. With or without the net (but especially with it) believers sometimes find their worldview in pieces. Before the internet existed most people who lost their faith kept their doubts to themselves. There was no way to figure out who else might be thinking forbidden thoughts. In some sects, a doubting member may be shunned, excommunicated, or “disfellowshipped” to ensure that doubts don’t spread. So, doubters used keep silent and then disappear into the surrounding culture. Now they can create websites, and today there are as many communities of former believers as there are kinds of belief. These communities range from therapeutic to political, and they cover the range of sects:  EvangelicalMormonJehovah’s Witness, and Muslim. There’s even a web home for recovering clergy.  Heaven help the unsuspecting believer who wanders into one of these sites and tries to tell members in recovery that they’re all bound for hell.

Sound familiar?

Also this:
 Lifestyles of the fine and faithless. When they emerge from the recovery process former Christians and Muslims and whatnot find that there’s a whole secular world waiting for them on the web. This can be a lifesaver, literally, for folks who are trapped in closed religious communities on the outside.  On the web, they can explore lifestyles in which people stay surprisingly decent and kind without a sacred text or authority figures telling them what to do. In actuality, since so much of religion is about social support (and social control) lots of people skip the intellectual arguments and exposes, and go straight to building a new identity based in a new social network. Some web resources are specifically aimed creating alternatives to theism, for example, Good without GodParenting Beyond Belief, or The Foundation Beyond Belief.

For  Jews who learn that the outside world is threatening and that the secular world has no values, the internet might similarly provide an eye-opener.