Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sexual Abuse Victim Demeaned and Put on Notice for Misconduct at Hebrew Theological College

Hebrew Theological College Dean Doctor Esther Shkop demeans student survivor of sexual abuse and puts her on notice for having the audacity to talk about her experience. Kaylie's* (a pseudonym) courage is to be applauded. The college's actions are outrageous.

Kaylie*, an 18 year old College student in Chicago, had recently posted this image on her Facebook page with this caption:

I'm a survivor of sexual abuse.

This is not a new thing. I've been a survivor as long as you've known me.

Are you going to change your opinion of me just because three evil people took advantage of me?

Are you embarrassed of me? Are you willing to share our story?

Let's see who my real friends are.”

Just a few hours ago, Kaylie* received the following email from one of the dean’s at her school with the subject line “Breaking all Boundaries”:

From: Esther Shkop <>
Date: Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Subject: Breaking all Boundaries
Cc: "" <>, "" <>

I received an anonymous phone call last night with a message from one of your "friends" on Facebook, who expressed great consternation and concern that you have chosen to publicize to "friends" (regardless of their age, sincerity and level of intimacy) your history of sexual abuse.  Your public Facebook page is troubling enough, as is your Google history [which are open to the whole world].  It is troubling primarily because you have chosen to identify yourself by your pathology.  You no longer appear as a full human - but rather as "case study" of a young woman warped by her childhood experiences, and is thus identified wholly by that past.

I am not asking you to deny your pain.  I am asking you to exercise a measure of discretion, and develop a plan to go beyond your past  towards healing.  You seem too intent on wallowing in the past, and drawing sick attention to yourself for all of the wrong reasons.

At the same, you identify yourself as a student of Hebrew Theological College, and by association besmirch your peers as well as yourself.
This misuse of social media is definitely a violation of the HTC Personal Conduct Policy (see page 17 in the Student Handbook). Consequently, the HTC Administration is putting you on formal notice that all inappropriate materials should be removed from your Facebook page forthwith - both on the front page and the back pages.

If you have questions about what is and is not appropriate, feel free to come to speak to me or Mrs. Lipshitz.

Esther Shkop

Esther M. Shkop, Ph.D.
Dean, Machon Torani L'Banot
Blitstein Institute of Hebrew Theological College
2606 West Touhy Avenue
Chicago, IL  60645

Hebrew Theological College’s actions would reduce free speech to misconduct and Kaylie* and her courage to nothing. The school’s actions are the only misconduct, and it is utterly horrendous.

If you believe the school should rescind its notice of misconduct and issue an apology to Kyalie* and other survivors, please contact:

Chancellor, Dr. Jerold Rabbi Isenberg

Dean Shkop

Assitant Dean, Rita Lipshitz

Saturday, February 9, 2013

One Year of Hope - To Many More!

This past week on February 4th I celebrated the one year anniversary of this blog. It’s been a crazy year to say the least, I have grown in many different ways and have accomplished things that three years ago never seemed possible or logical in my mind. One year of hope, one year of light, one year of putting my personal trials and tribulations of what it meant to grow up gay in the Jewish orthodox community as well as experiencing severe sexual abuse during my childhood, one year.

As I reflect on the incredible amount of feedback that I’ve gotten since I started this blog, I can only look at the future with a lot more hope than I had when I was 16, alone, confused about who I was without an ounce of hope or light for the future. As I look back at the incredible stories that so many brave people have shared with me along the way I feel nothing but inspired and even more motivated to continue this incredible and vital mission of giving others hope.

I know that I am extremely lucky to be living in this day and age where any teenager or individual struggling can turn on the internet and type in keywords such as gay, orthodox, Jewish, sexual abuse, and other hot button words that have been talked about a lot over the past year and find an arsenal of hopeful resources at their disposal; when I was 17, these resources and this amount of awareness were practically non existent.

I hope that this blog along with the many other great resources out there will continue bringing hope to those who need it most. I also believe that now is the time to stand up to the currents that are standing against us, the currents of those who choose to be intolerant of others, ignorant of the tragic damage sexual abuse causes, and the currents of those who knowingly continue to live in ignorance despite the clear and unmistakable reality that proves otherwise.

I want to end on a personal note by thanking every single person who has helped me turn this dream into a reality. So many of you have reached out to offer feedback, support, and most importantly encouragement that reminded me just how important this work really is and that it must be continued and grown so that every single person in this world will know that he or she has a chance at a bright and hopeful future.

With much gratitude and awe,

Chaim Levin

Update on Tuvia Perlman

On Tuesday, I published a Facebook post about a man named Tuvia Perlman, who worked as a teacher and a choir director in Milwaukee after mo...