Jewish Community Watch
|Purpose||Prevention of child sex abuse|
|Headquarters||Midtown Manhattan (formerly Crown Heights, Brooklyn)|
|Slogan||Prevent. Educate. Heal.|
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 publicizing the names of people it considers suspected abusers by posting their names and alleged activities on the organization's website. The organization briefly shut down in 2014, though it has since been restarted with a new board of directors as well as an advisory board. 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. The organization's founders are two residents of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Meyer Seewald, and his brother Schneur Seewald.
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 as one of the first Jewish community watchdog groups to investigate and exposes claimed child sexual abuse (CSA) predators in the Orthodox Jewish Community.
Awards and recognition
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. Seewald later published his own recollections of being victimized at an overnight summer camp.
Activities and initiatives
"Wall of Shame"
One key activity Jewish Community Watch is noted for is their locating individuals thought to have abused children and warning the local community of their presence. JCW in the past accomplished this goal by posting the predator's name and photo on its "Wall Of Shame" on its website, though this confrontational tactic received mixed support from the Orthodox Jewish community.
In August, 2013, the Los Angeles Jewish Journal published an article detailing alleged abuse inflicted by a non-convicted individual who had appeared on JCW's Wall of Shame. The newspaper reported that JCW's review process included "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 reported that JCW had a database of about 200 suspected predators that the organization was still investigating, and that "neither Seewald nor JCW has ever been sued for libel or defamation regarding its publicizing of accused abusers".
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. This policy was endorsed by a wide range of community professionals: The Rabbonim of Crown Heights, The Crown Heights Jewish 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. Each staff member at participating camps was required to sign an agreement detailing their understanding of the issues and advising them of their responsibilities.
The JCW stated that they had initially received little cooperation from community summer camps on the subject of child safety. The JCW subsequently distributed a handout to numerous overnight camp staff members . JCW also produced a video urging staff members to maintain child safety and warning them against the harm of children abuse. In two days, the YouTube video had approximately 12,000 hits. Within a month, the video had 22,000 hits.
The project was covered by The Jewish Daily Forward. The paper noted that the JCW video did not mention that the summer camps must report abuse incidents to the police; the article quoted Seewald saying that the lack of mention was an oversight on their part, occurring due to time constraints in releasing the video.
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. Another event took place in Los Angeles, California. The organization also published a compilation video of event talks shortly thereafter.
The JCW has received a number of endorsements from local community members. Yossi Jacobson, a rabbi, teacher, speaker and author, strongly endorsed JCW. And comedian and local Chabad celebrity Mendy Pellin, published a letter supporting JCW. 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.
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. However, no evidence of the falsehood of any allegation has ever been proven or presented. 
Supporters of JCW counter, among other points, that certain Chabad community news sites and blogs have engaged in similar conduct. Subsequent to a recent arrest, community news sites exposed the arrestee and the pending charges, prior to conviction.  Additionally, local institutions notified the communal body regarding the pending arrest and advising that the accused (an independent contractor) would no longer be contracted for any services. 
JCW's response to criticism
JCW officially responded to inquiries regarding how individuals are selected for inclusion on the "Wall of Shame" in a letter to "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. 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."
In response to claims of wrongful accusations against innocent people, JCW proponents have indicated that an individual who suffered from a factually incorrect JCW post later endorsed the concept behind the website.
- "Abuse Watch Returns With a Board." COLlive. July 7, 2014.
- "Relaunch." Jewish Community Watch. Accessed Sep. 14, 2014.
- "Jewish Community Watch Ceases Operations | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- "Brooklyn DA Honors Jewish Community Watch". Crownheights.info. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- "Brooklyn DA Recognizes Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Algemeiner. December 14, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "Jewish Community Watch." Tablet Magazine.
- "Brooklyn DA Awards Jewish Organization That Exposes Sexual Predators". Huffingtonpost. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- "Brooklyn DA Honors Jewish Community Watch". Crownheights.info. December 13, 2012. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
- Abuse org to hold event. COLlive.com. Accessed Sep 15, 2014.
- Sichel, Jared. "Childhood abuse victims name alleged abuser | Los Angeles". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Project E.M.E.S". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- however, in a subsequent email to the Chabad community of Los Angeles, Zajac condemned advocates claiming that their criticisms of Rabbis is anti-semitism.
- "Staff responsibility agreement." Jewish Community Watch.[dead link]
- Shaya Miller (2013-06-20). "Jewish Community Watch Distributes Handout to all CGI Staff". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Full handout." Jewish Community Watch.[dead link]
- "Video: Message To Camp Staff". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Friendly Message to Camp Summer Staff". YouTube. 2013-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- "Would-Be Jewish Camp Molesters Get Video Warning." The Jewish Daily Forward. June 27, 2013.
- "Hundreds at Event Against Abuse." COLlive.com. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014
- "Jewish Watchdog Group Challenges Child Abuse Taboo." Israel National News. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014.
- "Photos: Hundreds Attend JCW Event in Crown Heights." Crown Heights News. Accessed Sep. 18, 2014.
- "Monday event to highlight relaunch of JCW." CrownHeights.info. Accessed Sep 18, 2014.
- "Hundreds Attend Seminar on Child Abuse in LA | CrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". Crownheights.info. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- "When should orthodox Jews expose child molesters?". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
- "Endorsement Letters". Jewishcommunitywatch.org. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- Jacobson Supports Jewish Community Watch, March 15, 2013
- "Standing Up (or Sitting) For Others". Collive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- Endorsement Letters
- "Jewish Community Watch Kosher?". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- To the Parents of Oholei Torah: Unfortunately, there have been allegations of inappropriate conduct on the part of one of our (and other schools) kriah consultants. To the best of our knowledge, the charges do not relate to any conduct occurring within our yeshivah or involving any of our talmidim. While the allegations are pending, due to the nature of these allegations and as a precaution, we acted to protect our talmidim, who are our first priority. We have therefore suspended his services indefinitely in our yeshivah, effective immediately. Following this letter appears a list of the precautions we have adhered to in recent years. One precaution, instituted in 2010, is that windows have been installed in the door of every room. No interaction between a talmid and a teacher or tutor takes place out of view of all passersby. This rule was followed by the individual in question. If you have any reason for concern, please contact me. Sincerely yours. Rabbi Hershel Lustig 718-778-3340 Ext. 1103
- "JCW Responds: Halacha, On Our Side". chabad.info. April 4, 2013. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- "News | Yes, Publish Abusers Name ● Opinion". Chabad.Info. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-10-05.