High Holidays 5782
Re: Highlighting the issue of child sexual abuse and request for support during the High Holidays
I write to you from my quarantine hotel in Melbourne, Australia, where I have travelled to continue the important work of VoiCSA and, in particular, to attend the Committal Hearing of Malka Leifer in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (which is scheduled to take place during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) and to support her alleged victims.
As you may be aware, child sexual abuse is prevalent in the Jewish and broader community globally. According to the US-based Darkness to Light, around one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (in Israel, it’s around one in five). Around 90% of those children will be sexually abused by someone they know and about 60% of those children will be sexually abused by someone the family trusts (including 30% of all sexually abused children who are sexually abused by family members). Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem facing children in our community with the most serious array of consequences.
Rabbi Michael Melchior (VoiCSA Global Advisor, Former Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Former Minister of Social and Diaspora Affairs) has stated:
“Just as in the Catholic world and in society at large, in many parts of the Jewish world we have been silent for too long about the terrible phenomenon of child sexual abuse. On the most important day in the Jewish calendar, on Yom Kippur in the afternoon, at the peak of the day, we read in the Torah about the forbidden sexual relations. These are amongst the only crimes of which the Torah says that the land will not tolerate them, and will spit you out. There should be zero tolerance for sexual abuse in general and for child sexual abuse specifically. This is both a core Jewish value and a universal one.”
In the lead up to the High Holidays, I respectfully ask you to support VoiCSA in combatting child sexual abuse in the global Jewish community in the following ways:
Discuss the issue of child sexual abuse with your community, family and broader network.
Share this letter and the attached flyer with your community, family and broader network to
help raise awareness and funds for our critical work.
Wishing you a Shana Tova and a G’mar Chatima Tova and thank you in advance for your support.
Chief Executive Officer