By COLlive reporter
The Jewish Community Watch, an organization battling child abuse in the frum Jewish community and has been under criticism, has announced its reopening this week.
Its founder Meyer Seewald, who now holds the title Chairman of the Board of the organization, said that “our goal is not simply to relaunch, but to ensure Jewish Community Watch’s long term sustainability.”
Now based in Midtown Manhattan, the organization was founded in 2011 by Seewald, himself a victim of abuse, and his brother Schneur Seewald, both of whom were raised in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.
In 2014 it halted operations due to financial strain, according to the founders. Some resented its confrontational style and the lack of transparency in deciding how and which accused abusers were named on its “Wall of Shame.”
In a letter about the relaunch, Meyer Seewald said the crusading organization is now “more effective, transparent, and accountable” and has named the members of their Board of Directors and Board of Advisors.
Chana Holtzberg is the Treasurer and Rabbi Yosef Blau, Mashgiach ruchani at Yeshiva University, is a member of the Board of Directors.
Seewald said a CEO will be hired by September 2014 to run operations that are estimated to cost $238,573 in the first year.
The Board of Advisors includes 3 rabbinical figures: Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago; Rabbi Avrohom Stulberger, Dean and Rosh Yeshiva, Valley Torah High School in California, and Rabbi Elchonon Tauber, Dayan of Congregation Bais Yehuda in Los Angeles.
Certified medical experts include Dr. Chaim Drizin, a marriage and family therapist in Fort Lauderdale, FL; Dr. Ken Druck, a resilience expert in Del Mar, CA; Dr. Norman Goldwasser, a clinical psychologist in Miami Beach, FL; and Dr. Michael Salamon, a psychologist in Hewlett, NY.
Additional members are Pattie Fitzgerald of Safely Ever After, Dennis Brown of the Ness Counseling Center, Zvi Gluck of ZAKA International, Ben Forer, Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County and Schneur Seewald.
Meyer Seewald stated that “a comprehensive summary of our Investigative Policy, which explains the process and criteria by which JCW arrives at a final decision to publish information regarding a suspected offender” is published on the new website.
The Investigative Policy states that before publicizing an accused abuser as a danger to the public, “conclusive evidence is presented to a 6-member Investigative Committee.” It does not list the names of its members.
“Our work is as critical as ever,” Seewald said, noting a statistic that 1 out of every 5 children is abused before they reach adulthood.
“In insular communities, the problem may be even worse, and the staggering number of silent victims remains a dark secret. We are determined to help victims and to keep fighting abuse. We will never give in or give up. ”
Trailer of the upcoming documentary “Speak Up,” produced for Jewish Community Watch by Sparks Productions, about 7 abuse survivors who come forward to share their stories and give hope to others.