Meyer Seewald

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Meyer Seewald
JCW Director
Incumbent
Assumed office
November 2011
Personal details
Born 1988 (age 25–26)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Religion Judaism

Meyer Seewald is a Crown Heights resident who started an organization dedicated to eradicating child sexual abuse (CSA) within the Orthodox Jewish Community. The now defunct, and soon to be restarted(JCW), organization,[1] Jewish Community Watch, focuses on locating predators and warning people within the community of their presence. JCW accomplishes this goal by posting the predator's name and photo on its "Wall Of Shame".

In an article about Seewald and his organization, Tablet magazine discussed the work Seewald's organization does.[2] To the great relief of survivors of sexual abuse, JCW provided an outlet for change within the community. "According to Chaim Levin, 24, a Crown Heights blogger and activist who won $3.5 million judgment against his cousin on June 12, claiming years of childhood sex abuse, gaining Seewald as an ally was a relief. “The day I got a call from Seewald asking me about my story was the first time I believed that our community was actually making some progress in combating abuse,” said Levin. “I had been talking about what happened to me to anyone who would listen since I was 14, but everyone told me to keep it to myself and move on.'"[2] "One of Keller’s alleged victims...said he emailed Rabbi Shea Hecht...but Hecht, concerned for Keller’s family, did not suggest going to the police. “[Hecht] was the go-to guy [for sex abuse]; if you couldn’t trust him to take care of things properly, there was no one else.” said the victim, now 25, who asked not to be named."

On December 12, 2012, the Brooklyn District Attorney, Charles Hynes, presented an award of excellence to Seewald for "tireless service and dedication to the community".[3][4][5]

Methods of investigation[edit]

Because of pressure within the Orthodox Jewish Community on any individuals that come forward,[6] the methods utilized for investigation prior to posting an individual's name, photo, and address have remained private. In a Jewish Journal article, Seewald was quoted "Refusal to go public with sexual abuse accusations, Seewald believes, is a common problem in the Orthodox community." [7]

Nevertheless, Jewish Community Watch does possess a secret board that approves any posting of any predator.[8][9] The site does not provide any specific evidence relating to the incidents in order to protect all potential victims from community condemnation. Typically, JCW will post "is an alleged child molester" without providing any further details in an effort to keep the victims anonymous. On several occasions, survivors of abuse shared their stories regarding the alleged molester. See, e.g., an anonymous letter from a victim of Rabbi Mendel Levine,[10] an open blog, a survivor of a Rabbi Yaakov Bryski, a Chabad Rabbi, wrote regarding his experience,[11] a survivors trauma as a result of Abba Piekarski[12]

In August, 2013, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal published an article detailing the abuse inflicted by a non-convicted individual appearing on JCW's Wall of Shame.[7] The JJ confirmed JCW's review process. "That review process includes personal interviews with multiple alleged victims and what appears to be a thorough investigation process. Following that, JCW will only post a suspect if its board unanimously agrees that the person is a child predator. JCW has a database of about 200 suspected predators that it is still investigating."

A common community claim is to proclaim that some people were posted on the website and later found innocent by law enforcement, while others were arrested and the website updates on the arrest.[13][14][15][16] Due to his efforts, Seewald has successfully brought to light the issue of sexual molestation that is prevalent in the orthodox community. As a result, many have sought to discredit his efforts, posting anonymous and false articles on local orthodox blogs. As an example,[13] in a poorly written and badly researched article, an anonymous poster falsely claimed several allegations against JCW.

Endorsements[edit]

Similar to the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Jewish Community has engaged in a series of cover-ups designed to help predators and prevent victims from going to the police. Rabbinical authorities utilized a variety of methods to intimidate victims from going forward with their charges. Consequently, rarely, if ever, do Orthodox Jewish victims go forward.[17][18][19]

A few members of the community[who?] stepped up to assist in putting an end to this cycle of harm. These individuals quickly affiliated themselves with JCW, publicizing letters of support.[20]

Yossi Jacobson, a rabbi, teacher, speaker and author, strongly endorsed JCW.[21]

Other endorsements include Rabbi Blau (Rabbi of Yeshiva University), Asher Lipner (a child sexual psychiatrist), Benny Forer (orthodox Jewish Deputy District Attorney) and others.[22]

In a heartfelt article, comedian and local Chabad celebrity Mendy Pellin, published a letter supporting JCW.[23] Mendy said that "Where many of our community leaders have shied away from addressing this issue head-on, Meyer has devoted himself to doing the dirty work that needs to be done to keep our children safe."

Project EMES[edit]

In the spring of 2013, JCW created a comprehensive camp sexual abuse policy, designed to advise and warn overnight staff regarding issues pertaining to CSA.[24] This policy was endorsed by a wide range of community professionals: The Rabbonim of Crown Heights, The Crown Heights Community Council, Yossi Paltiel, Abba Paltiel, YY Jacobson, Elchonon Tauber, Levi Kaplan, Yosef Blau, Avraham Zajac, Yoseph Geisinsky, Benny Forer, Chaim Drizin, Norman Goldwasser, Asher Lipner, Michael Salamon.[24] Each staff member was required to sign an agreement detailing their understanding of the issues and advising them of their responsibilities.[25]

Upon contacting the various Chabad overnight camps, JCW was dismayed to learn that the camps would not cooperate.[26] Thus, in an effort to ensure child safety, JCW sent a flyer and handout to all overnight camp staff members.[27] JCW also produced a video urging staff members to maintain child safety and warning them against harming children.[28] In two days, the YouTube video had approximately 12,000 hits. Within a month, the video had 22,000 hits.[29]

Other Projects[edit]

On August 20, 2013, Meyer Seewald organized a ground-breaking evening dedicated toward addressing the issues of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. Titled "A Night of Awareness", Seewald brought together a world-renowned Rav and Dayan: Rabbi Tauber, a veteran prosecutor: Benny Forer, an abuse therapist: Dennis Brown, and a prevention specialist: Pattie Fitzgerald to speak regarding CSA issues.[30] The critically acclaimed evening [31] was welcomed as a success. A compilation video was released shortly thereafter.[32] Within a few days, the video was viewed 30,000 times, receiving hundreds of "likes".

Controversies[edit]

Because Seewald's website does not provide any information on how he investigates, often, but sometimes does not provide evidence backing the allegations, and posts before any arrests or charges were brought against the individual, the website has received criticism. In an anonymous article written on April 13, 2013, a virtually unknown community blog website reported that one person, for example, who was found innocent has abandoned his religion, and is currently on suicide watch.[13] No further data was presented to establish the veracity of this claim.


Daniel G. publishes criticism and then retracts, supporting JCW[edit]

In an article titled "It happened to me, It Could Happen To YOU". Daniel wrote a lengthy story about how he was falsely accused. His name was subsequently published on JCW's Wall of Shame. "As I subsequently found out, the whole community found out about it instantly. I don't think I need to go on about how I was shamed and humiliated publicly after this, including getting thrown out of the shul(synagogue) where I davened(prayed) on Shabbos for the past three years...".[33][34]

Subsequently, the articles were removed from the posted websites. In a follow up, Daniel professed that his first article was wrong and ill conceived. Furthermore, Daniel agreed with JCW's policy of posting all potential predators and called on others to stop using his name and story as an example to delegitimize JCW. The title of the article is "Yes, Publish Abusers Name".[35]

JCW's Position[edit]

JCW responded to inquiries regarding how individuals are posted. In a responsive letter to Daniel G.'s original (now deleted) Op-Ed, JCW commented that "[individuals] who have been arrested and charged with crimes relating to child sexual abuse [will be exposed]. When an individual is charged, the charges and arrest are available on the public record and the community should be notified...Considering Jewish Community Watch was not involved with the investigation, he was immediately removed from the site and further an update was published regarding the charges being dropped. There is no obligation for Jewish Community Watch to apologize. If he truly is innocent, his accuser should apologize, the investigating officer should apologize, the D.A. should apologize. JCW simply reported news that was in the public domain."[36][37]

Personal life[edit]

Meyer Seewald was born in Crown Heights to a Lubavitch family. His parents Tzvi and Fayge Seewald became religious before marriage. His father Tzvi Seewald has been serving the Lubavitch community as the local car dealer for over 30 years.[38][39][40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jewish Community Watch Ceases Operations | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/138918/jewish-community-watch
  3. ^ "Brooklyn DA Awards Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Huffingtonpost. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Brooklyn DA Honors Jewish Community Watch". Crownheights.info. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Brooklyn DA Recognizes Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Algemeiner. December 14, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ survivorsforjustice.org
  7. ^ a b Sichel, Jared. "Childhood abuse victims name alleged abuser | Los Angeles". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  8. ^ jewishcommunitywatch.org
  9. ^ jewishcommunitywatch.org
  10. ^ jcw (2011-11-27). "Another victim of Mendel Levine shares his pain". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  11. ^ "Survivors Of Bryski: Thank You "Crown Heights Watch" For Sharing This Storyt". Bryskisurvivor-gmail.blogspot.com. 2011-10-09. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  12. ^ "Abba Piekarski: "I can no longer daven because of you."". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  13. ^ a b c "Jewish Community Watch Kosher?". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Mosrimwatch.com". Mosrimwatch.com. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  15. ^ jcw (2012-10-24). "Menachem Piekarski". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  16. ^ "This is a cached mirror in case the original was changed or unavailable". February 13, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  17. ^ http://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/day-16-since-kolko-conviction-and-the-ou-and-rca-are-still-struck-dumb/[better source needed]
  18. ^ Saul, Josh (2013-01-23). "Unholy monster Weberman gets 103 years | New York Post". Nypost.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  19. ^ http://nechemyaweberman.com/
  20. ^ "Endorsement Letters". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  21. ^ Jacobson Supports Jewish Community Watch, March 15, 2013
  22. ^ Endorsement Letters
  23. ^ "Standing Up (or Sitting) For Others". Collive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  24. ^ a b "Project E.M.E.S". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ Shaya Miller (2013-06-20). "Jewish Community Watch Distributes Handout to all CGI Staff". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  27. ^ [2][dead link]
  28. ^ "Video: Message To Camp Staff". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  29. ^ "Friendly Message to Camp Summer Staff". YouTube. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  30. ^ [3][dead link]
  31. ^ "Hundreds Attend Seminar on Child Abuse in LA | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  32. ^ "When should orthodox Jews expose child molesters?". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  33. ^ "I Was Accused, It Could Happen To YOU". chabad.info. March 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  34. ^ "This is a cached mirror if original article was removed". chabad.info. March 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  35. ^ "News | Yes, Publish Abusers Name ● Opinion". Chabad.Info. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  36. ^ "JCW Responds: Halacha, On Our Side". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  37. ^ "This is a cached mirror if original article was removed". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Results (Shmais Archives)". Shmais.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  39. ^ "Put Your Money Where Your House Is. A Savings Guide For Crown Heights". Shop The Shchuna. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  40. ^ "Chabad Lubavitch Community News Service | Classifieds". COLlive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.