January 11, 2007
Awareness Center and other blogs draw praise and scorn
(Page 2 - Previous Page)The Awareness Center, also known as the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, has its own confidentiality policy regarding victims of sexual misconduct and others. "As a victim advocate, I never name the survivors," Polin said.
The Awareness Center no longer names its board members, either, "due to harassment," according to Polin, who said she herself has been threatened repeatedly with physical harm and once was spat on by a woman who was angry over an Awareness Center disclosure.
In 2003, Polin said, a supporter of an alleged abuser named on her site did background checks on her advisory board members, "found something about them or someone they cared about and threatened to make it public." Half a dozen resignations ensued, she said.
Among those who were formerly listed but resigned for other reasons is Rabbi Mark Dratch, who chairs the Rabbinical Council of America's Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties and has founded Jsafe, an organization to deal with sexual abuse in the Jewish community.
Dratch said he left the Awareness Center board in "disagreement with [Polin] on the standards required for publishing on her Web site. I wasn't satisfied with the threshold of verification. There are people who've been victimized, and others who've been subject to false reports also being victimized. The big problem we have in this area is verifying the allegations and moving forward."
As of early December, the Awareness Center site still listed 236 "supportive rabbis." Polin said more than 500 people receive her e-mail alerts, and the Web page averages around 35,000 visitors per month.
One of the e-mail recipients is Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and a trained psychologist.
"I read everything with a grain of salt," he said. "On the other hand, [the Awareness Center and the blogs] have served the purpose of keeping this in the public spotlight and keeping the pressure on established institutions to police their constituencies."
As of late December, the Awareness Center was in danger of closing for lack of funds, according to Polin, who was seeking donations to keep the organization afloat.
1 | 2