Sunday, August 14, 2022

I have been blessed to have been raised in a home where questions were asked, respect earned, and trust given to the experts. Yet it seems like the majority has failed my upbringing.

In November of 2011, my father Michael J. Salamon’s book “Abuse in the Jewish Community” was finally published. I say “finally,” because I grew up in a home knowing full well the hate and rejection he received as he tried to bring the epidemic of abuse to light. “We’re Jewish; it can’t be happening in our community,” was the usual benign comment thrown about by acquaintances and friends. My father, of course, would politely correct that comment with the realities that were being ignored. The more upsetting comments were the ones published in big glossy papers, with the worst ones privately attacking my entire family. We didn’t abuse anyone—all my father did was shed light on the abuse, and advocate for a change.

We thought we might get there after Lanner’s abuses were uncovered, but the topic remained taboo. After Nechamaya Weberman’s conviction eight years ago (103 years for sex abuse), we were again left with a taboo that kept abuse just under the surface.

When the full depth and breadth of Chaim Walder’s abuse came to light, many were initially quick to defend. Mordy Getz (of Eichler’s) took a stand removing the books and refusing to sell them. From there, things changed—more people became willing to do the right thing. Yet his actions still have left many without any justice, or any recourse—with many more willing to happily move on, and pretend that this will not keep happening. Others will point to the myth of false reporting, which has prevented us from doing more; statistics indicate the rate of false reporting falling between 2.1-7.1% of all abuse cases ( https://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/Publications_NSVRC_Overview_False-Reporting.pdf ).

Protecting our children means listening to the real experts, and giving victims the ability, and comfort, to step forward and know that they will be heard—and believed.

Bryan Salamon
White Plains
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