Two Frum Boys Were Molested

Two Frum Boys Were Molested

Two frum boys were molested at Camp Dora Golding.

But the camp director responded completely differently to the two boys. Like night and day.

WHAT? What’s going on??? What’s the difference between these two boys? Both were molested. Both reported the molestation to the camp director. But one molester received a wrist slap and the other molester could be spending quite a few years in prison!

There’s only one difference between these two boys. But it’s an important one….thirty years.

The first camper, David Cheifetz, was molested 30 years ago.

And the second Dora Gold camper was molested this past Thursday.

43-year-old David Cheifetz told the participants of the Rabbinic Council of America’s Conference last month:

“My story begins very simply, in a camp called Dora Golding. I was thirteen years old. There was a senior member of the staff, a rabbi whom I choose not to name, who befriended me. He even took me bowling on visitors day when my parents were unable to come up to visit.

“One night, I think it was a Saturday night, he took me for a walk in the camp. He dared me to drink beer with him, and the 13-year-old show off that I was, I did. He then sexually abused me, and did again a few more times over subsequent days.

“At the end of the week I shared what was happening with a bunkmate, swearing him to secrecy. He did the responsible thing and may have saved my life – he reported the incident to the counselor, who reported the incident to the Camp Director…I was summoned to the office of Camp Director forced to confront the person who violated me, and encouraged to go home. My story was never doubted.

“I was sent home because it is easier to punish the victim than it is to punish the perpetrator.

“I believe that no one ever called the police. I believe that no one ever reported the incident to the Jewish Federation, a major funder of the camp. I believe that he was quietly let go at the end of the summer, because the camp had rachmunas on him and his poor pregnant wife. And I know that he went on teach for 30 years at an all boys yeshiva. God only knows how many children he molested.”

The second molested boy had a very different tale to tell. He reported that a 19-year-old counselor came into his bunk and began to massage his shoulders. The boy began to feel uncomfortable especially when the counselor put his hands down the boy’s pants. The boy reported the incident to camp officials, and the camp director immediately contacted the police. At present, the counselor faces charges for corruption of minors, unlawful contact with a minor, and indecent assault and is currently free on $20,000 bail.

After this incident, the camp director sent the following letter to parents of all campers:

Dear Parents:

Camp Dora Golding works year-round to ensure a fun-filled, memorable summer for each of our over 1000 campers. We work equally hard to ensure their safety and security.

I am writing to inform you of an incident that took place in camp this past Thursday concerning improper contact with a camper. Fortunately, I was immediately notified by the camper. My senior staff and I immediately launched our established plan-of-action which included safeguarding the affected camper, preventing the staff member from leaving camp premises, verifying the facts, and notifying law enforcement and the affected camper’s parents.

Within several hours, the staff member was arrested by the authorities and taken off camp grounds. We are of course completely cooperating with the authorities to assist their investigation in every possible way.

At this point, we have no reason to believe that any other campers were involved or in any way affected. We are in consultation with leading mental health professionals and social service agencies, and prepared to offer appropriate support and counseling to our staff, campers and parents, if needed. Through this consultation, it was decided not to alarm over 600 unknowing campers. Certainly, if you feel the need to speak to your son to allay your fears, we can have him call you.

For more than a decade, (even before recently publicized stories of abuse in the Orthodox community), our staff orientation included specific training to deal with improper contact and conduct between staff and campers. We have a zero tolerance policy towards any improper behavior and, as demonstrated by recent events, are ready to follow through whenever necessary. I am proud of my staff, which acted quickly, properly and responsibly.

Our established action plan includes contacting all our campers’ parents as soon as possible, however, before our earliest opportunity to properly do so; the incident was reported in a local Pennsylvania newspaper and quickly spread online. We regret that some parents had to learn of this story from media and online sources before hearing it directly from the camp.

If further relevant information becomes available, we will share it with you to the greatest extent possible. I am well aware that such incidents tend to generate rumors and unintended inaccuracies. Should you have any questions or concerns, I welcome the discussion, and ask that you feel free to contact me directly.

Sincerely,

Alex Gold

What a difference 30 years makes. This morning, when I read the news from Camp Dora Golding, I felt so proud. We are a new generation of Orthodox children and parents and teachers and administrators who are educated about the dangers of sexual abuse and simply ARE NOT going to put up with it anymore.

Today, I feel so proud to be a frum Jew. And I think Hashem’s proud of us too. Don’t you?

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20 comments

  1. When we stop screaming “mesirah” and wring our hands whether to report these people to the authorities, we’ll have something to be proud of.

    When we stop relying on the p’sak that only a certain specific act [not to be mentioned ona family website] “counts”, we’ll have something to be proud of.

    When we stop allying with the Catholic Church to prevent lawsuits against institutions that harbor these predators, we’ll have something to be proud of.

    When we stop giving interviews in our magazines to lawyers defending these predators, we’ll have something to be proud of.

    When we stop giving kavod to rabbannim who not only defend and vouch for these predators but host them in their homes and shuls and give them aliyos, we’ll have something to be proud of.

    • EXACTLY!!!!
      and also, it isn’t just sexual abuse that needs targeting, physical abuse is still an issue in our yeshivos, mesivtas and other institutions.

  2. The article asks if we think Hashem is proud of us. I have to admit that I don’t think so. How could Hashem be proud when these disgusting acts should not even be happening among frum Jews! We, parents, have enough to worry about with our childrens’ access to the world around us through Internet, we shouldn’t be worrying about sending our children to frum camps, employing “frum” rebbeim and “frum” counsellors. We, the frum, are missing a link somewhere in our practices and our chinuch. When we open our eyes and realize that the world outside of our frum circles are no more dangerous than inside our frum circles, then Hashem will be proud of us.

    • JewishMom

      No community anywhere is perfect. And I’m proud that we are making progress. This used to be an issue that nobody addressed in the frum community– it was always swept under the carpet. And now there are multiple organizations educating thousands of frum kids a year to protect themselves. The attitude towards molesters (while far from perfect) is seriously improving. I don’t think Hashem expects perfection from any person, he expects a serious effort, and that’s what I’ve been seeing over recent years. Again, far from perfect, but definitely moving in the right direction thanks, in large part, to the activists mentioned on the JewishMOM.com Wall of Fame: http://jewishmom.com/2013/07/15/the-jewishmom-com-wall-of-fame/

  3. shoshanna

    no the difference is one was a rabbi and the other a 19 year old

    • I do wonder what would have happened if this 19 yo boy was actually a grown man with a pregnant wife at home as in the 1st scenario, what would have happened then? We still sweep way too much under the carpet. I am sure that is exactly what will be going on in one camp somewhere in the world at this moment….

  4. I would think twice as a parent before sending one of my children to any camp like this, regardless of the good intentions of its leadership and staff. Distance from parents and manipulative adults can overpower a young child’s defenses, even if that child is thought to be prepared against such assault by well-meaning parents. The expedient handling of the situation referenced in the second incident is very laudable, but the damage has been done. The boy was molested. He will never forget what happened to him, even though time may bring a measure of healing. In my opinion parents are too quick to send their children away from home, where things like this happen. Many abusers are attracted to camps, even those with good reputations, since without the parents’ watchful eye these children are easier prey. Talking with your children and preparing them against such assaults is vital, and this blog gives some great information on how to do that. However, no amount of talk and preparation can replace your role as a parent as primary protector of your child.

    • Eliana stern

      When you send your son to camp you need to educate him and prepare him. My son went with a very strict rule: you may not be in the bunkhouse alone with less than three other boys. I spoke with staff members who agreed to give him their cell phones to call me privately if he told them it was an emergency. This happens everywhere. A least this camp called the authorities. I happens in schools, gyms, everywhere. You can’t keep your sone home forever, just need to educate them.

  5. I am not too sure the only difference is the great improvement after 30 years. The first molester was a rabbi and the second one was an unimportant councillor. I have my doubts weather some molesters who also happened to be rabbis are really being punished nowadays the way they should be!

  6. My son is at cdg. And having an incredible time. I will send my son back next year. The camp can only do so much to ensure who they hire us clean. But they can not control if evil slips through. The camp sent a detailed letter the before camp asking parents to discuss and teach thier children to report immediately and how to recognize abuse. I went over it wuth my kids.

  7. In addition every parent who sends their kid to a camp must ask what is the camps vetting process in choosing their Councillors, is there a psychologist present in the interviews ? or is the recruitment a case of ” Moshe needs a job, he is the son of your cousin of the cats mother who lent your father 20$ 30 years ago, he is a good kid and besides we are very rich and my husband is the Rav and maybe your daughter could be a Shidduch”

  8. Susanna Rossen

    I do not allow my boys to go to camps at all. We have become aware of so much of this stuff going on in our closest and most trusted institutions. It is one of the many reasons that we have and are homeschooling our six children. Supervision is getting harder and harder where there are large groups of kids. We know now that predetors are drawn to jobs involving young people.
    I find that guarding our children is a task that does’nt end when we can send them elsewhere to be schooled or entertained. For us the age of leaving for college is the time we feel that our kids are hopefully mature enough to defend themselves.
    Although we get a lot of head shaking, we feel that our children are entrusted to our care and we are responsible for them. No one else really is.

    • Hi Susanna, are you using a curriculum to homeschool? My kids are young for school yet and I’ve considered homeschooling, but I haven’t seen much out there with a Jewish frame of reference. What do you do about that if you don’t mind my asking?

      • Susanna Rossen

        Dear Sara, I am a Waldorf teacher and have used that method for all my children. It adapts easily to our requirements. I substitute with materials from http://chinuch.org/index.php
        Lots of help available from yahoo groups. Just put you requirements into search and you will be able to find exactly what your family needs.
        Lots of joy in home schooling for us.
        Take care!

    • Miriam P

      Dear Susanna, how can I write you to learn more about what you are doing?

    • We have been homeschooling for two years. I love it, but I would love to connect with more Jewish homeschoolers. Is anyone near Skokie, IL or in the greater Chicagoland area?

  9. Shoshanna

    wow, this stuff is scary.

  10. I have a very hard time at home with my boys during the vacation but I don’t think I would send them to a sleep away camp, no matter how much it would make my life easier. Even these days with all the awareness, things still happen. I think day camps should come back in vogue. We have them in Israel but they aren’t quality enough, so older kids avoid them.

  11. The vast majority of child sexual abuse occurs in familiar settings with family and close friends. Keeping your children home does not insure that they will not be victims. In fact they are less likely to report someone if they are a family member or a close friend. Educating them about what to do when they are not comfortable with an adult’s behavior does.

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