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Malka Levine
Distance Energy Healer and Medical Intuitive, Believer in the Healing Power of Compassionate Community

Like Walder, Like Carlebach: (Part 3)

We finished Part 2 with discussion of the role of rabbis in enabling the metastasization of Shlomo Carlebach in our communities. In Part 3, we pause from reading what would have been a natural continuation, to address recent news in Jerusalem, as it relates to the sexual abusers Chaim Walder & Shlomo Carlebach.

Jerusalem News

As reported by news outlets, it came to the attention of Jerusalem City Council member Ofer Berkovitch that Walder’s books still remain in the city’s municipal libraries and public institutions. In response, he wrote a letter to the head of the Jerusalem Municipality’s Culture and Leisure Administration. Here are excerpts from this letter, taken from Arutz Sheva news:

“…I have learned that many municipal libraries continue to hold Mr. Walder’s books and even display them widely. In light of Mr. Walder’s serious actions, it is inconceivable that the Jerusalem municipality and its institutions would continue to display his books in its institutions as if he were a normal citizen. This is an action which harms those who have been harmed by him, and which may be construed as an acceptance of Mr. Walder’s actions…. As the head of the Culture and Leisure Administration, I request that you act immediately to remove Mr. Walder’s books from all municipal libraries.”

Another excerpt reads: “As a public figure, I recognize the great public responsibility that exists for every public and recognizable figure regarding his behavior and actions, and the duty imposed on each such figure to set a personal and exemplary example of how to treat people.”

My Thoughts

I wrote my thoughts to Council member Berkovitch in the following letter:

Dear City Council member Ofer Berkovitch,

Thank you for your efforts to ensure Walder’s books are removed from the city’s municipal libraries and public institutions, in which tragically, they still remain. Just reading about your actions caused me feelings of pride. Kol Hakavod!!!

Respectfully, I offer clarification to the excerpted below, from your letter to the head of the Culture and Leisure Administration:

‘…This is an action which harms those who have been harmed by him, and which may be construed as an acceptance of Mr. Walder’s actions…’

Jerusalem mental health organizations and professionals report that many in the general population, including people already in therapy, are affected by leadership and community response to Walder: Bayit Cham reported they gave a special professional workshop and lectures to the people answering their hotline, in anticipation of the dramatic increase of phone calls they correctly predicted they would receive from people affected by the news about Walder. Avi Kannai, a clinical psychologist, reported, “None of my patients were victims of Chaim Walder, yet a number of them were triggered and required additional support. I heard this from other therapists also.

More to the point of my letter, allowing Walder’s books to remain in libraries and public institutions should be viewed as harmful to all sexual abuse victims, in addition to those harmed by Walder. This is clearly evidenced by the sudden increase of crisis calls to organizations which offer support specifically to sexual abuse victims. For example, Shana Aronson, Director of Magen L’Kehilot, reported that in response to the news surrounding Walder, their helpline received three times their normal number of calls. Also, Avi Kannai reported that therapists working in treatment centers for sexual abuse victims had told him that the victims they serve were triggered by the news about Walder and required more support.

Thus, allowing Walder’s books to remain in libraries and public institutions triggers victims and leads them to deduce the public’s lack of sensitivity to their pain, as well as apathy and acceptance of the sexually abusive actions that were perpetrated upon them.

Inversely, by removing Walder’s books, the libraries and public institutions show sensitivity and compassion to all victims of sexual abuse, as evidenced by their having taken action to ensure its’ spaces do not harm victims, nor give the impression they condone the actions of their particular abuser.

With studies consistently showing that sexual abuse victims comprise 20-25% of our population, your steps to remove Walder’s books from the city’s municipal libraries and public institutions cast a much wider net of sensitivity to and support for victims than you may have realized. When you consider these victims have family, friends, children, and grandchildren who are affected by them, the net of kindness you cast expands even wider.

Also notable is that in your letter you expressed the assumption that our institutions should not cause harm.

Council member Berkovitch, borrowing language from your letter, as a public and recognizable figure, you have set a personal example for us to follow in how to treat people. Yasher koach!

 I now respectfully ask you to turn your attention to additional books in our libraries and public institutions which cause harm to and send a painful message to victims of sexual abuse, namely, Shlomo Carlebach’s books.

It is widely known that Shlomo Carlebach was a sexual abuser. [Below you will find links to my blogs and an article where you may read some testimonies from Carlebach victims.]

Here I share with you a statement from Asher Lovy, the director of Za’akah, a prominent organization in support of victims of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community: “The only difference between Chaim Walder and Shlomo Carlebach to my mind is the fact that we decided as a community to immediately remove Walder’s books from our midst, whereas Carlebach was allowed to live, die and have a 30-year lead time before we realized what the right thing to do was. Therefore, as difficult as it may be for people, the right thing to do is to expunge him from our shuls, communities, and homes.”

I assume you agree it is illogical to pick and choose which sexual abuser’s influences and offenses to shield and protect sexual abuse victims (and the public) from. On this basis, I ask you to ensure that Shlomo Carlebach books are expediently removed from Jerusalem’s municipal public spaces.

On a related matter, over the years, city money has been used to fund events honoring Shlomo Carlebach, including the December 25, 2021 event in Binyanei Ha’uma.

Council member Berkovitch, you stated your recognition of the responsibility and duty of public figures to set an example of how to treat people. In a scenario in which people want to organize a Carlebach event and request city funding for it, the people we need to remember and treat properly are victims of Shlomo Carlebach and other sexual abuse victims. They are the vulnerable, who kindness and compassion require us to accommodate, and not trigger or harm. Yet, decision makers at the city level have been irresponsibly funding their harm, by helping to sponsor these events.

Regarding the recent event in Binyanei Ha’uma, I emailed Deputy Mayor Arie King 10 days in advance of the evening, asking for his comment regarding using taxpayer money for public glorification of a sexual abuser. I also asked for his comment to Shlomo Carlebach’s victims and sexual abuse victims in general, whom this event and his attendance would deeply offend.

I included links in my email, where he could read victims’ testimonies. I also shared with him that I had personally interviewed victims of Shlomo Carlebach and listened to their testimonies of sexual abuse from him, including one woman who was 12 years old at the time she was sexually abused by Carlebach.

I specifically messaged Deputy Mayor Arie King, because I saw in an advertisement that he and the Mayor were scheduled to speak at the event. I did not message the Mayor, as I didn’t know how to reach him, though I did request his contact info in my email to Mr. King.

To my knowledge, they both still spoke at the event, despite my having stated in the email and providing proof from victims that it would be “deeply offensive” to them.

With their attendance at this event, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor displayed apathy for the feelings and welfare of Shlomo Carlebach’s victims and sexual abuse victims in general. Rather than stand with victims, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem stood against victims of sexual abuse.

The perpetuation and public glorification of Shlomo Carlebach is a tragedy that has been happening right in front of our eyes in the public arena, and in Jerusalem honored with the attendance of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and even paid for from the city’s coffers.

As someone who has assumed a leading role in removing Walder’s books from public spaces, I request that you also ensure the cessation of all future Jerusalem city funding of events which honor, knowingly play the music of, provide teachings of, display photos of, or in any other manner show reference to Shlomo Carlebach. All this should apply also to any announcements or advertisements in advance of said events.

In conclusion, I’ve asked that you ensure the removal of Shlomo Carlebach’s books from Jerusalem libraries and institutions, as well as the cessation of funding for any events connected to perpetuating this sexual abuser.

In light of the majority’s agreement and understanding of the reasons to remove Walder from our midst, not removing Carlebach would be illogical, as well as unjust and cruel to victims of Shlomo Carlebach and all victims of sexual abuse.

I realize you may meet with resistance in carrying this out. However, you will also have the appreciation of many who will be indebted to you, for taking an active role in creating a Jerusalem that is more compassionate, inclusive, and facilitative of recovery and healing for the 20-25 percent of the population who are victims of sexual abuse.

When you add to this the family, friends, children, grandchildren, businesses and their clients, schools and their students, organizations and institutions and those they serve, who are impacted by the welfare of these victims, the percentage of those positively impacted multiplies.

Thus, the net of kindness, compassion, and societal benefit you cast by cleaning out the presence and influence of sexual abusers from our libraries and institutions, directly or indirectly positively impacts likely every resident of Jerusalem.

I am asking you to act with moral courage.

Regarding how to go about throwing out the Shlomo Carlebach books, due to many of them containing verses of Torah, two rabbis who rule on Torah law said to place them in a bag before throwing them in the garbage.

Yours truly,

Malka Levine

1. In case the information will be useful to you in communicating the importance and urgency of the above, I am providing these links:

‘פי 3 טלפונים מהרגיל’: איך השפיעה פרשת חיים ולדר על נפגעות? • צפו – חרדים 10 : חרדים10 (ch10.co.il)—1:34-2:05

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/like-walder-like…/

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/like-walder-like…/

http://www.lilith.org/articles/rabbi-shlomo-carlebachs-shadow-side/

PPS. I will likely include this letter to you, in my next blog post.”

Readers, what are your thoughts on the contents of the letter?

Feel free to take actions to help ensure the city carries out the above!

Choose

As individuals, to be kind and compassionate requires us to choose speech and actions that benefit, or at least don’t harm, the vulnerable. Sexual abuse victims meet the definition of vulnerable.

It’s impossible to be kind and compassionate, meaning in support of victims, and also display or learn from Carlebach books or “teachings,” or attend the Binyanei Ha’uma or any other event to hear his music or honor him, participate in a Carlebach minyan, or sing prayers using his tunes. Any of these actions show one’s apathy for the feelings and welfare of victims of Shlomo Carlebach, and sexual abuse victims in general. Rather than show support to victims, these actions show one’s stance against them.

Victims report that being sexually abused is like being murdered, but still being alive. Consider that when you choose to sing along or dance to a Carlebach tune, or perpetuate him in another way, you are celebrating their funerals.

To be continued.

I can be reached at malkalevine2.0@gmail.com

There are worthy organizations serving the Jewish community and doing great work supporting victims of sexual abuse or providing free general therapy to underserved communities best served by religious therapists. If you are able to help them financially, it is a great mitzvah! For your convenience I am providing links to websites for organizations which I am personally familiar with and recommend highly.

In Israel

Magen for Jewish Communities https://magen-israel.org/

Bayit Cham https://www.bayit-cham.org.il/en/bayit-cham-clinics/

In America

Za’akah https://www.zaakah.org/new-page

Survivors of sexual abuse of all ages, if you are feeling triggered or distressed in any way, please reach out to your support system. You are not alone! There are people and organizations who care deeply about you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the following organizations:

 In Israel

Magen for Jewish Communities, 02-372-4073, support@magen-israel.org

 In America

Amudim, 646-517-0222, https://amudim.org/contact/

 Za’akah operates a helpline on shabbat and holidays: WhatsApp and phone 888-492-2524

About the Author
Malka Levine remembers that kindness and compassion are part of basic human decency, moral behavior, Jewish ethics, and halacha. As such, she has zero tolerance for the rampant insensitivity and spiritual-religious abuse that exists in synagogues and Jewish communities; namely, the perpetuation of Shlomo Carlebach tunes and teachings, despite the claims dating back to the early 1960s that Carlebach allegedly sexually abused and sexually harassed women and girls. Malka has listened to accounts of sexual abuse directly from alleged victims of Shlomo Carlebach, including a woman who allegedly suffered abuse from Shlomo Carlebach when she was just 12. For the basis of her writing, Malka relies on scientific sources, including published studies and material about the effects of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy, the impact of spirituality and religion for sexual abuse victims in the Jewish community, and the essential role of community in trauma victims’ recovery, as explained especially in, “Trauma and Recovery,” by Dr. Judith Herman M.D. (psychiatrist). Malka is an energy healer and medical intuitive. Healingdoneforyou.com
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