The following letter was sent by a survivor of Chaim Walder to Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel of Passaic. It was sent in full to the shul’s mailing list. I’m sharing it here so it can reach a wider audience. The survivor, whose name has been changed for this letter, is using the pseudonym Rena Solomon. The only edits that have been made by me are in formatting. Below is her letter as translated from Hebrew by Rabbi Eisenman
When Weeping Is Not Enough
by Rena Salomon
Dear Rabbi Eisenman,
My name is Rena Salomon, and I am a victim of cw.
I say this is in the present tense because even though he is dead (may the name of the wicked rot), he still terrorizes and victimizes me. I have never been to Passaic, New Jersey, and I am sure we don’t travel in the same circles.
Why am I writing to you?
I could pander to you and tell you that I am writing because “you get it.” However, that would be a lie. You may want to get it and try to get it, but you can’t, and you will never “get it.” My great grand-parents both did a stint in Hell on Earth. The world knows it as Auschwitz. They passed away when I was a child. My grandmother told me that her parents never spoke about being incarcerated in Hell.
The first time she asked her mother about the strange numbers on her forearm, her mother cried, pulled down her sleeve to the wrist, and through her tears said only, “mein baliebte tochter, vet keinmal nisht farshteyn” (my beloved daughter, you will never understand). Much later, my grandmother understood why her mother never spoke about it. Survivors such as my great-grandmother were embarrassed to speak about Auschwitz for the first few years. They always felt as if the listener blamed them for being in Auschwitz or never fully believed what they endured and how painful and life-changing it was.
Later in life, when the street narrative changed and holocaust survivors became heroic people who you should seek out for Brochus, my great-grandmother still chose to remain silent. When asked by her daughter, who by then was herself a grandmother, “Why, Mama, do you still remain silent?” My great-grandmother answered with a wave of her hand, “ich darf nisht kein rachmonus” (I don’t need anyone’s pity).
So too, Rabbi Eisenman, there are still many people who blame me for being molested. They ask me (or I can tell that they at least want to ask me) the same question as they questioned (or wanted to question) my great-grandmother, “Why didn’t you fight back?” Certainly, those people don’t get it as they persist in their belief that most victims are either lying, exaggerating or loshon hora mongers who have thinly-veiled agendas to destroy Orthodox Jewry. Thankfully, as time has gone on and more people have come forward, and the realization is beginning to take hold that sexual abuse occurs, the reaction of some people towards the victims has changed. Just as people began to change in their reaction to Holocaust survivors, people are also changing in their response to abuse survivors.
The reaction varies from disbelief at worst to pity and compassion at best. As much as compassion is better than feeling repulsed, rejected, tainted, and not believed, I say to you Rabbi Eisenman as my alter-bubbe told my grandmother, “ich darf nisht kein rachmonus.” I, and survivors like me, are not interested in being looked at as pitiful, stained misfits who now deserve your “deepest sympathies.” Rather, we need people to believe us and in us. And we need people to treat us as true survivors who have withstood the horrors of abuse and molestation and are still functioning human beings.
You want to commiserate and validate my pain. However, you have never done a stint in Hell on Earth on the folding cot in cw’s warehouse while being raped between stacks and stacks of books whose themes were helping, protecting, and empowering children. You have never lived a day in Hell where the daily schedule consisted of being violated and humiliated by the man (whose horrid breath I smell every day of my life) who was regarded by hundreds of thousands of admirers- as the ultimate protector of children. I appreciate your compassion, but never think Rabbi Eisenman (or any other rabbi) that you “really get it.” Unless you too were incarcerated, battered, humiliated, and wounded for life by the recipient of the 2003 Magen LeYeled (Defender of the Child) award from the Israel National Council for the Child- you don’t get it.
Would you ever tell someone who was in Auschwitz, “Yes, yes, I understand your pain? I, too, went through hard times.” That statement would be laughable cruel, and insensitive. Just as you can never understand imprisonment at Auschwitz, you can never understand being a caged twelve-year-old girl enslaved and subjugated by an evil, pernicious pedophile.
This pedophile is the embodiment of brutality and heartlessness. For me and hundreds of others, he was the most demonic creature to walk the face of this Earth. Therefore, you can never fully understand as sympathetic as you are, although I appreciate your sincere desire to understand.
There is something; I, too, will never understand. I will never understand how any sane individual, much less a rabbi, could allow cw’s books to remain part of a home or school library. If your grandmother was medically experimented on by Josef Mengele Yimach Shemo, would you ever think to allow his medical books in a Jewish home?
I and dozens if not hundreds were sexually experimented on by cw Yimcah Shemo.
The debate surrounding the retention of his books speaks volumes of the insensitivity of our Tzibbur to sexual molestation. Yet, my optimistic, hopeful self tells me to write with the hope that words that emanate from the heart will enter the heart of my readers. After encouragement from my own Rav and therapist, I have decided to put into words my story.
There has been much discussion and analysis in the Jewish world regarding the cw debacle. I have read and heard it all. Everything I have read and heard has been from people commenting on the events from the outside. I have been obsessed with the demise of this putrid, fetid monster ever since he did the greatest favor to the Jewish people (if only he had done so decades ago) by bringing to an end to his thirty-year reign of terror. Which I must add, was known about by much more people than you can ever imagine. How embarrassing it is and how ironic it is for our Tzibbur that a left-wing anti-religious newspaper was the savior, hero, and true defender of Chareidi Jewry, as it was their exposé that finally stopped the monster.
I’ll leave the message Hashem wants us to take from this to the rabbis.
Since, as mentioned, everything printed or posted has been from outsiders, namely, people who were never abused and certainly not by cw, I have decided to take my rightful place on the platform. Why should only those with outside knowledge comment, analyze, critique, and in some cases even justify cw?Should I not have a place at the table? After all, I spent more nights than I care to admit in the company of the embodiment of Satan himself. Who else has the right to be heard if not me?
Before I write about my feelings about how we should react, I want to tell you about myself to understand where I am coming from. I am the youngest of a large Hareidi family in Bnei Brak. When I was twelve years old, I began to act out in school. My parents took me to the Center for the Child and Family in Bnei Brak to be evaluated. A week after the evaluation, a phone call informed us that I had an appointment with a therapist for that Wednesday.
When I arrived, I was told to wait in an office for the therapist. To my amazement and the joy of my family, cw himself entered the room, introduced himself, and said he was going to be my therapist. I silently thanked Hashem for my good fortune of having the privilege of cw himself being my therapist. At first, he encouraged me to talk about myself and my family. Sometimes the questions he asked about the relationships between family members were strange to me. However, I was sure that cw knew what he was doing; after all, he was cw.
Soon his questions focused on me and my personal life. He asked me questions that I could not believe a man – much less a rabbi, much less a person such as cw who our family and almost every family we knew listened to him on the radio every week- would ask. He asked me if I had reached menarche. I was shocked and embarrassed by this question. I was going to tell my mother. However, I was too ashamed to say anything; after all, my mother was thrilled that cw had picked me to “treat.”
Soon he began to touch me. My body froze in horror when his maniacal hands touched my body. I was a twelve-year-old Hareidi girl brought up with “Kol kevuda bas Melech penima”- “The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace.” Meaning I should be quiet and obedient to my elders and not assert myself. I was taught to be submissive, especially to rabbis and cw was a great rabbi. “Hisbatlus”- to subordinate yourself to rabbinic will was the creed and doctrine of my upbringing.
The touching continued, and cw became progressively more aggressive. I told my best friend that I see cw every week. As can be predicted, soon, every girl in the class knew that I met one on one with cw every week. Girls would ask, “Does he give you free books? He must be so kind and understanding.”
Do you know what it is at twelve years old to have every girl in your class know that you know cw and be reminded of this daily? Can you imagine what it feels like to be raped at ten in the morning and then return to school, and all the girls crowd around to ask, “How did it go?” Do you know what pain and anguish it is to return to class after being assaulted by this monster only to discover that the Morah is reading aloud from Yeladim Mesaprim (Kid’s Speak) as a reward for good behavior?
Why didn’t I tell my mother? You must be joking.
My mother proudly asks, “How was it seeing cw today?”
Do I tell my mother, “That’s exactly the problem, I am seeing too much of cw”!
Can I tell my mother he did things that I have no facility to understand and process?
Do I tell my mother I need to see a therapist to speak to as the therapist’s therapist two hours ago assaulted me and left me to cry myself to sleep alone as I wonder if what happened in that warehouse made me pregnant?
Can you understand the loneliness, isolation, sense of abandonment, alienation, and desolation that a twelve-year-old girl from Bnei Brak feels as she cries herself to sleep nightly and quite often still does?
As a girl from Bnei Brak, I knew that we call out to Hashem in times of pain, and He will take away the pain.
Whenever his horrific hands touched my body, I cried and cried to Hashem to take away the pain. Yet, as I once heard my great-grandmother utter in a rare moment of complete candor, “Hashem forgot about us in Auschwitz.” So too, Hashem forgot about me in that warehouse in Bnei Brak, where a cot is sandwiched between the stacks of “inspirational books empowering children.”
I quickly dispelled that heretical thought from my mind and settled on a more acceptable explanation: “I am bad, and I am stained, and people like me are not worthy of Hashem’s kindness.” I appreciate your concern and validation; however, recognize the reality that your validation and empathy are limited to your life’s experience, and you were never a twelve-year girl being raped weekly by cw.
I knew it was wrong.
I knew a girl my age was not allowed to be alone with another man in a warehouse. But, a great rabbi was doing this, a person who I was taught to obey as he can do no wrong. It was drilled into me since I could walk that “we obediently listen to the rabbis’ without questioning. I knew from school, from home, from the streets of Bnei Brak, that we obediently listen to the rabbis’ without questioning. The great rabbis, and only they, possess this secret, mysterious, nebulous, amorphous power called Daas Torah.
I was raised with the dogmatic belief that women cannot decide important life-changing issues. Important issues are decided by those who have Daas Torah. If not considered the actual depository of Daas Torah, cw certainly had the backing and stamp of approval of Daas Torah. At the beginning of his books, there are glowing approbations and letters of validation from those who possess Daas Torah. Therefore, when cw told me we were taking a little trip to his warehouse, I obeyed; after all, obedience to those who represent DaasTorah is paramount.
Nobody ever told me that “all the glitters is not gold?”
Not once in all my years of education did a Morah, Menhales, Mechaneches, or anyone else in school inform me that Rabbis can be bad and do very bad things to little girls. We received no warnings of what to do if a man touches you. No one ever said, “If a man ever touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, no matter who he is, even a great rabbi, run away as fast as you can.” Not once did any educator tells us that all people can be bad.
We were taught rabbis are good, and greater rabbis are perfect. What was drilled into us was obedience without question to rabbinic authority.
So I lived in two worlds. At school, I was a Bais Yaakov Maidel, saying Tehillim and acting like any other girl. Yet, when cw had me, I became a sex slave, a Zonah, a harlot, a tramp, and a concubine to Satan himself.
Take a breath, Rabbi Eisenman. I know it’s painful to hear. But, I need to vent and pour out my pain. I would imagine that it’s not often that a woman who has a family of her own, a woman who no man besides her husband has ever seen one lock of her hair, talks like this. However, the same little girl who learned to compartmentalize life at age twelve and live simultaneously in two worlds is now a grown woman who still lives a double life. When I see my husband put on his Shtreimel Friday afternoons and he walks with our boys to Shul, I am filled with gratitude to Hashem for a wonderful, understanding husband and beautiful children. Yet, when I go light Shabbos candles and must face Hashem alone, my thoughts wander back to that warehouse of books in Bnei Brak.
I tremble as I light the match, and I begin to shudder and convulse. Every week for years and years, the same scenario repeats itself. I am ashamed and feel stained and sullied and most of all unworthy to light the Shabbos candles, which bring light when so much of my life was a black hole of darkness. You have no idea of what I (and many other survivors) experience when we are expected to enter the purifying water of the mikveh.
The destruction this satanic figure wrought in his thirty-year reign of terror will never be quantified or properly understood.
I know Rabbi Eisenman; you don’t have to defend or answer for anyone. I write these words not expecting you to answer, but rather as a crucial and essential cathartic exercise which I pray will help me one day achieve a true catharsis and relief for my troubled soul. I ask Mechilla in advance for any words that may seem disrespectful or disparaging. However, my goal is not to foster Machlokes; my goal is for all of us to come to a greater mutual understanding of the pervasive yet, currently silenced and swept-under-the-rug-problem of sexual molestation in our camp.
My goal is to be honest, raw, and real.
If I cannot reveal my true feelings, am I not still in the confining clutches of cw? Who inhibited and squelched me from speaking for so long. Can you deny a survivor her right to have her say after years of communal confinement? Is “our Tzibbur” so fragile that honest, heartfelt questions cannot be put forth?
I pray that is not the case.
Rabbi Lopiansky writes, concerning sexual abuse, ” if you prefer truth over enjoying life, you will discover a Gehinnom that exists here in our world.” I know the truth, and I saw a Gehinom that exists in this world. I “discovered” it lying on a cot between the aisles of a dust-filled warehouse as a man I had once idolized forced me to live in Hell. I discovered Gehinom in a hotel room in Ramat Gan as I was painfully violated and sentenced to live a Hellish existence until the day I die.
Rabbi Lopiansky, you are correct in referring to it as Gehinom. I prefer the English word Hell as it conveys the filth and nightmarishness of the experience. When we use Hebrew words, too often we sanitize and euphemize what should be explicit and clear. As a Bais Yaakov graduate and a victim of cw, I feel qualified to comment on how the “outside” world interpreted and explained (away) the infamous and vile debacle of cw.
For the first time in my life, you allow my voice to be heard. You are allowing me, in my own words, to tell my story.
I am tired of hearing my story told by others, especially those who never experienced Hell on Earth. I am tired of being told how I should feel, and I am tired of keeping my innermost pain buried deep in my Neshama.
I have a right to speak.
I have a right to have my voice heard.
I recently read an article by Rabbi Aaron Lopiansky titled, “For This, We Weep.” (It was originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 893; January 4, 2022) Rabbi Lopiansky, who I have heard is a very gentle and understanding person, presented a hypothesis to explain the almost pandemic problem of sexual abuse within the Chareidi world. Rabbi Lopiansky never mentions cw or any other known abuser by name, although he alludes to them. Rabbi Lopiansky is a man of integrity, and I am sure (as he says) he would encourage me to write the following piece.
He states the critical importance of hearing from survivors. Here are his own l words:
[“]A few years ago, I was involved in the publication of an issue of Dialogue on the topic of molestation and abuse. Included were lengthy interviews with professionals in the field and other related articles.
One article was written by a survivor. It is a person known to me whose every word is to be believed, someone who leads an extremely honorable and chashuve life. After the person opened up to me, I was shocked. He seemed to live such a fine and happy life. And only then did I discover what kind of Gehinnom he lived in. Decades after the events, he still lives with the trauma and has occasional suicidal thoughts.
To quote an adam gadol who read the article, “It has changed my understanding of what abuse and trauma are all about. I’ve turned from an agnostic to a fervent believer.”[‘]https://mishpacha.com/for-this-we-weep/
If I can change people’s understanding of what abuse and trauma are all about. And convince one more agnostic to (become) a fervent believer- I will be satisfied.
Rabbi Lopiansky deals with why abuse is so prevalent in our community- or as he calls us, “our Tzibbur”?Rabbi Lopiansky contends, “there is another reason why our tzibbur keeps falling into this situation time and again, and that is the “halo” effect. We have the misguided notion that “if it glitters it is gold,” all the way through. We feel that if a person is doing good in one area, he is perfect in every area. In order to move forward, we need to first rid ourselves of a fatal flaw.
The most fallacious statement in our misguided thinking is, “someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad in any way.”
This is flat-out wrong”
I, of course, know first hand that the above point is true. However, with complete deference to Rabbi Lopiansky, I must ask, where does he think we came up with (as he calls it) the “misguided notion that … if a person is doing good in one area, he is perfect in every area.”?
Rabbi Lopianky, forgive me, but I must ask, “Who implanted in “our Tzibbur” this “fatal flaw” in our “misguided thinking?” Why does “our Tzibbur” (as opposed to a secular or non-Jewish community) have this “fatal flaw” in our “misguided thinking?”
Did it fall from heaven?
Why do we think “someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad in any way.”? Do non-religious Jews better understand human nature than “our Tzibbur”? I believe that you and I both know the answer. However, it is too uncomfortable and politically incorrect to verbalize. However, as a survivor, I have no hesitations or reason to be politically correct. I did my time in the trenches of cw and was exposed to things a twelve-year-old should have never seen or experienced.
Perhaps you were anticipating and waiting for me to come forward. I believe b’emunah Sheleima; it is my calling to say what is in my heart. We possess this “misguided thinking” because our teachers instructed us in this manner. Where else could it come from?
I was taught in Bais Yaakov that rabbis are good people, basically flawless individuals. Excuse me for being audacious, however, when you wrote, “The most fallacious statement in our misguided thinking is, “someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad in any way.” Are there exceptions to this rule, namely people who we must accept as a truth that they “cannot possibly be bad in any way?”
You stress that we have the misguided belief that “if it glitters it is gold”. And you continue to point out, “In order to move forward, we need to first rid ourselves of a fatal flaw.” We are a Tzibbur which prides itself on “Moshe Emes V” Soraso Emes”. If so, where and how did our Tzibbur come to embrace such a fatally flawed, misguided way of thinking? Your average ignoramus, which you will find on any street corner, knows that all that glitters is not gold. How can it be that such a simple, self-compelling truth is not part of our Tzibbur’s collaborative thinking?
The obvious answer as to why our Tzibbur is stricken with the halo effect is because the halo effect is part and parcel of every Bais Yaakov girl’s education. Some evil spirit did not fall from the Shomayim and smitten us with “misguided thinking.” Indeed, embracing the “halo” effect and believing the misguided thinking that all that glitters is gold signifies a successful Bais Yaakov education.
Please forgive me, and cut me some slack. However, you hit a raw nerve in my Neshama. Thousands and thousands of Bais Yaakov girls are being programmed as we speak to believe rabbis are the correct address for proper counseling.
Emunas chachomim is a bedrock principle in Bais Yaakov. No Morah in any Bais Yaakov adds the caveat when she speaks about rabbonim, “But, girls, beware, even the good rabbis can be bad. Even good rabbis can be rapists, sexual predators, narcissists, mafia-chieftains, crooks, philanderers, debauched and depraved perverts who may attempt to rape you?”
If “our Tzibbur” has this “misguided thinking,” it came from the educators in the classrooms of “our Tzibbur!”
I can confidently say that in no Bais Yaakov classroom in Bnei Brak are the girls informed that good rabbis can also be very wicked people. And I doubt there is a Bais Yaakov in the world where the Moros make sure to impress upon the girls that they should know, “Even the great Tzadikim who we tell stories about- might assault you and traumatize you for life. Therefore girls, remember, even the good people who seem to glitter may have a dark side to them.”
You write, “In order to move forward, we need to first rid ourselves of a fatal flaw”. How do you propose “ridding ourselves of this fatal flaw” if it is being taught as a fundamental dogmatic principle in Bais Yaakov’s around the world?
Rabbi Lopiansky, are you a maverick and are proposing radical curriculum changes to our Bais Yaakov program? (I hope you are) Are you saying that Bais Yaakov Moros begin to start to warn their charges that not all rabbis are what they seem to be?
If you are, then you are my hero.
If such is your intent, you hit the nail on the head.
The only way to rid our Tzibbur of misguided thinking that all that glitters is gold is to proactively educate girls about life’s “real” facts from a young age. Namely, all men (and even women) can be bad people and hurt you very badly. If such had been my chinuch, I would have never fallen into the clutches of that fetid receptacle of fecal matter feigning to be human. If I were told this fact from the age of seven and retold it every year, when cw brought me into his office to place his putrid paws on me, I would have been prepared and protected. If only we knew (as you so eloquently write), “Even if one has bright and dazzling light radiating in his soul, it is not at all to the exclusion of him also having patches of darkness”- many girls and women would have been spared pain and suffering.
Rabbi Lopiansky, you are so right. This “everyone is always good” approach has worn out its usefulness.
If we want to rid our Tzibbur of this plague of molestation, an overhaul of girl’s Chinuch is step number one.
Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz taught, “Ohr v’chosech mishtamshim b’irbuvya” [lit. light and darkness are concomitant] we must embrace his deep insight. We must begin to teach our girls to be vigilant and unafraid to stand up for themselves. We must tell them that everyone, a rabbi, a therapist, a morah, and even a family member, has no right to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. If real change is to be had, we must expunge from our girls the misguided thought that all that glitters is gold.
Our girls must know the truth, namely, that everyone, literally everyone, can be bad.
Our daughters need to be drilled in the ugly truth that they must protect themselves from anyone who tries to violate them sexually, even if that person is in their own home.
Rabbi Lopiansky, I am sure you know that the overwhelming occurrence of sexual molestation occurs in the home where the perpetrator is a family member. Attend any support group of female survivors of sexual abuse, and you will quickly realize that the overwhelming majority of them were attacked and molested by brothers, step-fathers, cousins, uncles, sisters, and unbelievably shocking but true, even their father.
The “bad” therapist and the “bad” Rebbe or rabbi account for less than 10% of molestation.
Too often, a girl’s own bedroom is her Hell on Earth.
We must instill in our daughters this information. They must have the necessary tools to fight back.
Misguided thinking leads to fatal flaws in life. Educating our girls, especially at a young age, leads to empowerment and resistance to abuse. Our girls must know that if they are touched by a family member or a therapist, Rebbe, or whoever, they should immediately yell and scream. They should scream at the top of their lungs and claw and bite their molester if needed. Most molesters are spineless cowards who melt away at first sight of resistance.
The proof is in cw. As soon as he was exposed, he did the spinless act of shooting himself in the head.
The best weapon in our arsenal is our ability to shame and expose the molester.
The molesters best friend is the Sefer Chofetz Chaim. They rely on the fact that their victim will be silent.
The first step in eradicating molestation in our community is, as Rabbi Lopiansky states, ridding our Tzibbur of the misguided thought that all that glitters is gold. Once we have purified the minds of our daughters with the knowledge that anyone is potentially a molester, we can arm them with tools to fight back and protest. When molesters realize that their formerly meek and submissive victims are now fortified fighters of abuse, who refuse to go down without a fight and refuse to remain silent, they will crawl back into their private den of iniquity.
We should supply every Bais Yaakov girl with the reporter’s phone number from Haaretz as they alone seem up to the task of being brave enough to take down a monster. Hope is on the horizon once we have finally rid our daughters (and sons) of these fatal flaws of thinking all is good and glittery.
When I finally told my mother, and she told the local rabbi, I was violated again, this time emotionally. I was not believed, and even if finally, some local rabbis did, believe me, my pain was minimized, swept under the rug, and I was never validated. That is why I had to move from Bnei Brak. The approach of complete denial or minimization of the abuse, always lacking any validation of my pain, drove me far, far away from the environs of my hometown.
Rabbi Eisenman, I have taken too much of your time already. I end with a few closing remarks.
Rabbi Lopiansky writes, “Yes, you will righteously declare, “the rabbanim ought to do x, y, z.” I need to break the news to you: There is no organization called “the rabbanim.” There are thousands of rabbanim, rebbeim, ramim, each inundated with the needs and demands of their communities and talmidim. But each one is a yachid, overwhelmed by the particular needs of his charges.”https://mishpacha.com/for-this-we-weep/
I must ask Rabbi Lopiansky, “Yes, of course, there is no organization called “the Rabbanim,” but please don’t play me the fool by claiming that rabbis never act in unison or as an organization. You know better than me that as we speak, high-stakes politics are going on In Israel involving the religious identity of the Jewish State.
I have seen numerous proclamations signed by many well-known and high-profile Rabbis taking a stand TOGETHER condemning an individual minister or an Israeli government policy. I have yet to see the same signatures on a joint proclamation condemning cw (or Eliezer Berland, who you allude to in your article), notwithstanding the clear danger of these people to vulnerable Jewish children.
When it comes to supporting the oppressed and abused, namely victims of sexual assault, they are overwhelmed and have no time? Can they not find the same time to issue a proclamation supporting victims of cw? Does this respectful question not deserve an honest answer?”
I conclude with my revulsion to the most painful post I have ever read. I must react and protest as the truth must be revealed, and sheker must be called out!
A noted female educator, Tzipora Heller, shockingly wrote,
“Chaim Walder’s 53 books were inspiring, sensitively written, and sold 2 million copies, a record for Israel. He lost his balance. I didn’t stand in his shoes. Hashem is called The Place in which the world exists. Pirkei Avos tells you not to judge anyone until you stand in their place, where something pure remains.”http://www.tziporahheller.com/from-the-rebbetzins-desk/the-chaim-walder-parsha
Mrs. Heller’s remarks are too painful to believe that a Jewish mother wrote them. Suffice to say, they trigger strong flashbacks and are so hurtful I will limit myself to one comment.
Mrs. Heller, you wrote,
“I didn’t stand in his shoes. Hashem is called The Place in which the world exists. Pirkei Avos tells you not to judge anyone until you stand in their place, where something pure remains.”http://www.tziporahheller.com/from-the-rebbetzins-desk/the-chaim-walder-parsha
Mrs. Heller, I did stand in chaim walder’s shoes; I did stand in his place, too many times that I care to remember.
Let me make one thing, Mrs. Heller, crystal clear.
There is no purity in the place of chaim walder. Instead, there is filth, wasted seed, abuse, rape, violent humiliation of a twelve-year-old girl, evil in its worst form. In his place, there is trauma and destruction of souls. In his place, the only thing pure which remains is pure persistent perpetual pain and anguish.
Shame on you, Mrs. Heller!
You prove Rabbi Lopiansky’s thesis that the belief that “someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad in any way… is flat-out wrong.” I am sure you have done good; however, the bad that you did with your post is a shameful culmination of your life in Jewish education.
Mrs. Heller, you mentioned, “I didn’t stand in his shoes.”
I did stand in his shoes.
I was forced to stand in his shoes and forced to be in his place. As a person who has a right to judge cw, after all, Pirkei Avos tells you not to judge anyone until you stand in their place, and I did stand in his place; I judge him to be a wicked evil man. A man who was allowed by cowardly and spinless people to continue assaulting boys, girls, and women for decades. Ultimately, I judge him worse than a murderer. A murderer kills your physical body while the soul remains pure. The pedophile not only abuses and humiliates the body, but it also kills your soul forever.
I judge him as a man who stole my innocence, girlhood, adolescence, and naivete.
I judge him for taking away from me the excitement and anticipation every Kallah deserves the day of her wedding and replacing it with dread and horrible flashbacks.
I judge him for stealing my love of life and love of all aspects of marriage.
He caused me horrific spiritual and emotional damage, which is irreparable and continues to haunt me. May his name rot, and may his name be blotted out through the eradication of his books from this world forever.
I conclude with gratitude for finally allowing me to have a voice.
I conclude with an appreciation for helping me carry my burden.
Knowing that my voice is heard makes me optimistic that tomorrow will be better. The more you hear my voice, the more I know that Hashem has indeed listened to my voice.
And that knowledge is comforting.
With pain and gratitude,
formerly of Bnei Brak currently living in the United States
9 thoughts on “When Weeping Is Not Enough: A Walder Survivor Speaks Out”
I’m so glad that you found your voice and had the courage to speak up. We, as fellow survivors, have been waiting to hear from you! I’m so sorry for the hell and agony that you went through, and are still going through because of cw, and the inadequacy of most rabbonim in this area!! I do believe that your story, like nothing else until now is affecting change in the frum (ultra Orthodox) community. As an incest survivor I believed that certain parts of me would always feel damaged and broken. I want to give you hope by letting you know that..healing is possible!…Trust is possible! Healthy intimacy is possible, although for me it came after age 40. My heart is with you!
Anything I will say will undoubtedly fall short of condolences for the Hell you endured. At the same time I applaud and thank you for your heroism of speaking out, but I know my applause is not nearly enough. I am not a survivor, so I will never understand, but you have dispelled any doubts brought in by the “outsiders”. I worry everyday for my children that they never encounter any of these monsters that parade themselves around as “good people” and pray that I have given them the tools to speak up, should anything, G-d forbid, happen.
You accomplished part of your goal that I am throwing out the books I own of that monster, and I am sorry for not throwing them out sooner. And not only that, I will do it in front of my children as I explain to them how people who seem to be good can, in fact, be very very evil.
I would like to stop here, only because I do not wish to sound patronizing or, G-d forbid, insensitive. Thank you for speaking out.
Now I really get it. Kol hakavod for writing this article. You deserve a medal!
The applause I hear in my head for you and your truth is deafening!
Your words fill our world with a far better sound than the silence or explanations of our Rebbeim and Moros.
I hear you. I’ve learnt from you! I stand with you!
You have described such a Hell that I know I, could not have imagined much less endured. I’m so sorry and thank you for speaking out so incredibly. You ended your essay with, “The more you hear my voice, the more I know that Hashem has indeed listened to my voice.” This really resonated with me. I hear you.
I started reading… the more I’m reading my heart Starts pounding faster… my body is litterly trembling, I couldn’t finish . I’m sorry for all that you’ve survived in a day to day basis unfortunately I can relate in many ways , hope and I beleive by spreading the awerness people will stand up more and more to save our humanity with peace .Thank you for staying strong!!!
We hear your voice.
Speak your truth, and we will hear you.
We will witness what others have not had the courage to acknowledge.
You are the one with courage, with strength to simply get up and fight another day – because you ARE fighting, to build a life with these horrors in your past. Horrors which should have us rise up in masses and scream, “HOW DARE HE TREAT YOU LIKE THIS”, and to scream “NEVER AGAIN”.
We all have demons – yet yours are those of a Hell incomparable. No punishment is enough for these satanic perpetrators. May G-d avenge your suffering as only He can, and may you be blessed with all the possible blessings in the world. May you find some form of healing and peace, that which you richly deserve.
Let us educate our children and teens so that no more “good Beis Yaakov girls” suffer from ignorance. It is a crime to allow misplaced “frumkeit” or “awkwardness” to prevent candid information and education.
I, for one, will continue to spread your message.
I do not understand what you went through but I share your derision towards a Bais Yaakov, or in my case, Bais Rivkah education. We are taught to be pliable, compliant dutiful obedient, unthinking individuals. We are encouraged to think thatca husband’s word is law. We are taught to uphold privacy, to not discuss iss ues that are of a private nature.
I am so sorry that you underwent such horrendous experiences. But it is not your fault. You are not to blame. I tell myself this message daily. Hashem places challenges in our lives. I don’t know why. I don’t always accept them graciously. But I have to believe that the challenge shapes me into who I am.
Your letter is very powerful. May your life be enriched from these unwelcome, undeserving .experiences and may you use your insights to help other victims connect to their voices.
We will be silent no longer
Thank you for sharing. I felt a vicarious venting with some of the things you wrote