Amudim and Project S.A.R.A.H. came together last week to impart critical chinuch lessons that every parent must know, with the belief that an evening of prevention is worth a lifetime of cure. Dr. David Pelcovitz and Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, professionals in their fields many times over, came to Congregation Israel in Springfield to shed some light on these issues, in conjunction with the shul’s continued efforts to be proactive in the growth and support of the local community.
Parents, grandparents, teachers and educators gathered to hear introductory remarks by Rabbi Chaim Marcus, who thanked participants for their attendance and stressed the crucial nature of the subject matter. Both Dr. Pelcovitz and Rabbi Zwickler impressed upon the audience the importance of education, maintaining open lines of communication and the need to show positive interactions and relationships in order to give children a feeling of safety and the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally.
The objective of the event was to initiate a dialogue that has yet to be started in the Springfield community about the importance of awareness and the dangers of abuse. “If you want to prevent abuse we need to be clear, open and honest with our children,” advised Rabbi Zwickler.
Dr. Pelcovitz noted that, according to research, children who have had even one or two simple talks about safety with their parents are better protected from abuse than their peers who have never been similarly educated.
Even parents who thought they were well informed about sexual abuse of children were surprised to find out that perpetrators target victims of all ages. “This was a wakeup call to all parents with young preschool-age children,” said Leora Babich. “These acts do not just happen to teenagers and young adults.”
While the audience came away feeling hopeful, there was an element of shock as well, as participants found themselves facing the statistics about the prevalence of abuse in the tight-knit Jewish community and how rarely it is discussed or condemned. “The program in our community that was brought by Amudim raised awareness about an important issue that is unfortunately prevalent in the Jewish community,” said Ariana Reich. “The speakers gave real-life, relatable examples of situations our children could face and then offered practical advice on how to speak to our children and raise awareness in our homes.”
“The event was extremely informative and eye-opening, but, more importantly, it empowered all the parents present to better know how to help keep our kids safe,” added Rachayl Wizenfeld.
Rabbi Zvi Gluck, director of Amudim, advised participants that left unspoken, the dangers of abuse will only continue to multiply, and stressed the importance of having both professionals and community leaders, often working in conjunction with each other, who are willing to tackle these dangers.
“As Rabbi Zwickler so aptly noted, sexual abuse can have an impact that lasts for generations,” said Rabbi Gluck. “We are all aware of sexual abuse and such issues in the Jewish community, but awareness, while important, is not enough. Our job is to know how vital it is to protect our children against abuse, to learn what we can do to be proactive and how to focus on prevention.”
To find out more about Amudim, visit them online at www.amudim.org or contact them at 646-517-0222.