Jewish Community Watch

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For other uses of JCW, see JCW (disambiguation).
Jewish Community Watch (JCW)
Formation 2011
Founders
  • Meyer Seewald
  • Schneur Seewald[1]
Purpose Prevention of child sex abuse
Headquarters Midtown Manhattan (formerly Crown Heights, Brooklyn)
Location
  • Midtown Manhattan
Official language
English
CEO
David Shapiro
  • Eli Nash
  • Abe Pasternak
  • Meyer Seewald
  • Rabbi Yosef Blau
  • Chana Holtzberg[2]
Slogan Prevent. Educate. Heal.
Website jewishcommunitywatch.org

The Jewish Community Watch is a Jewish organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse (CSA) within the Orthodox Jewish community. Originally based in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the organization has been noted for its controversial[3][4] wall of shame where it publicizing the names of people it considers suspected abusers by posting their names and alleged activities on the organization's website. The organization shut down in 2014,[5] though it has since been restarted with a new board of directors as well as an advisory board.[1] Jewish Community Watch focuses on abuse prevention through education and awareness as well as locating individuals thought to have abused children and warning the local community of their presence.[6] The organization's founders are two residents of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Meyer Seewald,[7] and his brother Schneur Seewald.[1]

Founding[edit]

The founder of JCW, Meyer Seewald, is a Crown Heights resident who, along with his brother Schneur Seewald, started the Jewish Community Watch in Crown Heights to investigate and exposes orthodox Jewish community members suspected of child sexual abuse (CSA).[1][8]


Personal life[edit]

Meyer Seewald was born in Crown Heights to Tzvi and Fayge Seewald, who became religious and belongs to the Chabad-Lubavitch community in Crown Heights.[8]

Seewald first became involved in anti-abuse work following two of his friends confiding to him that they were abused by a local man who had organized youth program's in the community.[3] Seewald later published his own recollections of being victimized at an overnight summer camp by his counselor.[8][3][9]

In December of 2015 Seewald became engaged to Raizel Kahn from Florida.[10][11][12]


Awards and recognition[edit]

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" in exposing Jewish Sexual Predators.[7][13][14]


Activities and initiatives[edit]

"Wall of Shame"[edit]

Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera, in the New York Times stated that Jewish Community watch is one among several blogs and web sites publishing photos of people accused as molesters. They state that although this is a risky move legally, - the sources believe it is justified by the need to warn the community, particularly given that the Brooklyn district attorney’s office has a policy of not publicizing arrests or indictments in such cases.[15]

The Tablet Magazine Noted that Seewald claims to have a database of 225 suspected offenders. JCW’s Wall of Shame posted 36 people accused of abuse. 21 of the 36 were arrested and charged. According to Seewald, a person is added when the “board” has determined sufficient evidence. When a victim is unwilling—or unable due to the statute of limitations—to press charges, Seewald conducts his own investigation, selectively exposing alleged abusers on his Wall of Shame.[3]

The Los Angeles Jewish Journal discussed the wall of shame similar to the tablet and reported that JCW says that its review process to includes "personal interviews with multiple alleged victims and what appears to be a thorough investigation process" and that "JCW will only post a suspect if its board unanimously agrees that the person is a child predator". It concludes that "neither Seewald nor JCW has ever been sued for libel or defamation regarding its publicizing of accused abusers".[16]

Wall of Shame Controversies[edit]

The Tablet points out that while Seewald says that molesters are more afraid of the Wall of Shame, than going to jail, - his "Wall of Shame has also proved to be deeply problematic, used irresponsibly, and it can easily undermine the organization’s objectives and destroy an innocent person’s life." Ben Hirsch, a co-founder of Survivors for Justice, an organization that advocates and educates on issues of child safety, says that Seewald is on a dangerous track. Noting that by setting up a separate registry and justice system [from the law enforcement agencies], in a way perpetuates the same message of the rabbis that "we can deal with this issue in-house". The message must instead be that the only way to deal with child sex abuse, is to report it directly to the police. [3]

Man Charged with Abuse Removed After Charges Dropped[edit]

The Tablet brings a case where the wall of shame posted a special-education teacher, who was accused of abuse by an autistic boy he tutored. After being arrested and charged by the Brooklyn District Attorney, the investigation was dropped when the child retracted his claim. The teacher wrote how Seewald confronted him at his house “rather aggressively,” and demanded he confess to molesting the child. This individual was placed on the Wall of Shame, in an effort to warn the community of the potential harm. When the case was dismissed, JCW removed him from the Wall. This he says destroyed his career and social standing. He wrote that “In people’s eyes I was no longer a Jew, let alone a human being, ... I was regarded as a monster, an out-of-control filthy, dangerous beast capable of snatching little children and sexually abusing them.” Soon after however, Seewald did remove the name and picture from the blog, citing that there was insufficient evidence against the teacher. The teacher said that because forgiveness is his nature, he removed his article criticizing JCW and replaced it with one praising Seewald’s work, blaming student who falsely accused him rather than JCW. The tablet concluded that JCW’s credibility never fully recovered from the debacle.[3][17] The Teacher wrote about his case which was publish on local blogs.[18]

JCW officially responded to this case in a letter to the teacher "Daniel G.". 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. [19]

Project E.M.E.S.[edit]

JCW initiated project E.M.E.S. to warn counselors against abusing campers. The Jewish Daily Forward noted that because only two camps signed up for the program, Seewald created a video to warning all camp staff members that his organization will not be tolerating abuse. The video received 16,000 hits in three days.[20]

Public events[edit]

The JCW has organized a number of public events dedicated toward addressing the issues of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community. At one event in Crown Heights, speakers included community rabbis, activists, therapists, former victims, and Brooklyn's District Attorney.[21][22][23][24] Another event took place in Los Angeles, California.[25] One event in Los Angeles, CA [26] Video from the event had a viral impact, and was reported on by several news agencies.[27]

Endorsements[edit]

A comedian and local Chabad celebrity Mendy Pellin, published a letter supporting JCW.[28] Mendy stated 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."

Other endorsements include Rabbi Blau (Rabbi of Yeshiva University), Asher Lipner (a child sexual psychiatrist), Benny Forer (orthodox Jewish Deputy District Attorney) and others.[29]

Criticisms[edit]

Community response[edit]

Members of the Chabad community, posting on local news blogs, have criticized the JCW website for not providing enough information on how investigations are performed, and for not detailing the evidence behind accusations of wrongdoing. The site has also been criticized for posting incriminatory information prior individuals being arrested or charged, and accused of later refusing to change or remove information alleged by some members of the community to be false.[30]


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Abuse Watch Returns With a Board." COLlive. July 7, 2014.
  2. ^ "Relaunch." Jewish Community Watch. Accessed Sep. 14, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Watching the Jewish Community Watch and Its 'Wall of Shame:' A young man’s brazen blog about alleged child sex-abusers in the Chabad community divides Crown Heights." Tablet Magazine. July 26, 2013.
  4. ^ "Questions and Answers with reporters". New York Times. May 11, 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  5. ^ "Jewish Community Watch Ceases Operations | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  6. ^ "Brooklyn DA Honors Jewish Community Watch". Crownheights.info. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Brooklyn DA Recognizes Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Algemeiner. December 14, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "Meyer Seewald was born in 1988 to a Lubavitch family in Crown Heights.". Mosrimwatch.com. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Abuse org to hold event. COLlive.com. Accessed Sep 15, 2014.
  10. ^ Ceitlin, Yehuda. "Mazel Tov". Collive.com. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "L'Chaim". Shturem.org. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "New Engagement". Shmais.com. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "Brooklyn DA Awards Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Huffingtonpost. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Brooklyn DA Honors Jewish Community Watch". Crownheights.info. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Questions and Answers with reporters". New York Times. May 11, 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Sichel, Jared. "Childhood abuse victims name alleged abuser | Los Angeles". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  17. ^ "News | Yes, Publish Abusers Name ● Opinion". Chabad.Info. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  18. ^ "A Victim's Plea". Mosrimwatch.com. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  19. ^ "JCW Responds: Halacha, On Our Side". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Would-Be Jewish Camp Molesters Get Video Warning." The Jewish Daily Forward. June 27, 2013.
  21. ^ "Hundreds at Event Against Abuse." COLlive.com. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014
  22. ^ "Jewish Watchdog Group Challenges Child Abuse Taboo." Israel National News. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014.
  23. ^ "Photos: Hundreds Attend JCW Event in Crown Heights." Crown Heights News. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014.
  24. ^ "Monday event to highlight relaunch of JCW." CrownHeights.info. Accessed Sep 18, 2014.
  25. ^ "Hundreds Attend Seminar on Child Abuse in LA | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  26. ^ http://crownheights.info/chabad-news/399215/hundreds-attend-seminar-on-child-abuse-in-la/
  27. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa0vNInQiyg
  28. ^ "Standing Up (or Sitting) For Others". Collive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05. 
  29. ^ Endorsement Letters
  30. ^ "Jewish Community Watch Kosher?". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013. 

External links[edit]