Monday, February 19, 2018

Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community - " From my perspective as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I believe that there is still not enough being done in Orthodox communities to prevent sexual abuse of children. The areas which I believe would be the most productive are preventive education for parents and children, and mandatory criminal background checks for all employees of day schools, seminaries, yeshivas, and summer camps."


by Nachum Klafter, MD - Guest Blogger


Printed with authorization of the author. His complete bio appears at the end of this post.

 An academic paper about sexual abuse among Orthodox Jews, "History of Past Sexual Abuse in Married Jewish Women," was published in the November, 2007 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) by Rachel Yehuda, PhD, et al. This paper has generated significant controversy in the Orthodox Jewish world. For the most part, the controversy is actually a reaction to an article in The New York Jewish Week (10/25/2007) by Debra Nussbaum Cohen, "No Religious Haven From Abuse," which characterizes the AJP study as follows: "New study finds Orthodox women are sexually victimized as much as other American women are."[2] Orthodox Jewish mental health professionals have been debating the significance of the data from the AJP paper. The following is my critique of the study.[3] My remarks will be organized in the following three sections:
  1. My demonstration that the AJP paper draws no conclusions about the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, and no conclusions about a comparison with the rate in the general population. The nature of this study would preclude any such findings, as I will clarify. In fact, this is clearly stated in the AJP paper. Therefore, the New York Jewish Week article by Debra Nussbaum Cohen is a gross misrepresentation of the study by Dr. Yehuda, et al.

  2. My critique of the paper, including my defense against some of its detractors.

  3. My recommendations for what the Orthodox community should and should not conclude from this study.
Part 1: This paper does not draw any conclusions about the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Community. The New York Jewish Week's reporting of this study is entirely inaccurate.

The AJP study can be summarized as follows: The investigators recruited observant, married women to answer an anonymous questionnaire "examining sexual life in marriage among observant women." Subjects were sought "across a large range of religious Jewish communities by advertising through synagogue bulletins, Jewish organizations, newspapers, Jewish oriented web-sites and list-serves, and a network of medical professionals… whose practices consisted of sizable numbers of Orthodox Jewish women." (p. 1700) Self-report of regular Mikvah use was the key inclusion criterion for this study. 26% of the total respondents (N=380) reported sexual abuse at least once, and 16% reported occurrence of abuse before age 13. Some very interesting patterns were observed. Ba'alei teshuva in their sample reported sexual abuse histories in this survey about twice as frequently as women raised in an Orthodox home, (36% vs. 19%).(p. 1701) Women who defined themselves as "ultra-Orthodox" reported abuse more frequently than those who defined themselves as "Modern Orthodox." Other interesting findings are reported, but I believe that these are the most significant with respect to the ensuing controversy.

The authors briefly comment on the rate of sexual abuse in the general population. In the Discussion (p. 1703), they state:

These estimates are consistent with data from several national surveys, in which 25%-27% of women, regardless of marital status or religious affiliation, reported sexual abuse A meta-analytic study by Gorey and Leslie concluded that approximately 22% of women report childhood sexual abuse, a figure slightly higher than was noted in the present study.
The investigators made no attempt to measure the rate in the general population in this study. Therefore, a statistical comparison is impossible. Their mention of the prevalence of abuse in the general population is for the purpose of establishing a reference point for readers who are not familiar with the abuse literature. In fact, the authors repeatedly state that there are numerous indications that their sample is not representative of the larger population of married, Orthodox women, and they deny that they have drawn any conclusions about the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community:
A major limitation of this study is that it was not feasible to obtain a representative sample of observant Jewish women, since no sampling frame was available…. We do not, therefore, claim that this study group is representative of all Jewish women. On the contrary, the high level of education, even among the ultra Orthodox, suggests a sampling bias…. For all of these reasons, the estimates of prevalence of sexual abuse reported here are not the actual prevalence of sexual abuse among Orthodox Jewish women. (p. 1704).[4]
Three papers are cited in the AJP paper to establish a 25%-27% rate in the general population. A careful examination of these references further clarifies why no conclusions can be drawn from the AJP data regarding the rate in the Orthodox community, or comparisons with general population. The 25%-27% rate is based on data from surveys which used random sampling methods from groups which are representative of the general population, and measured the response rate (i.e., what percentage of potential subjects agreed to be interviewed).[5] By contrast, the AJP study made no efforts to measure the total number of women who saw the advertisement. Therefore, there is no way to estimate the response rate. For example, if 2,000 women saw this advertisement, her response rate would be 19%; if 10,000 women saw the advertisement, it would be only a 3.8% response rate. This is not a criticism of their study; it is simply a clarification of the kind of study this is. It is not an estimate of the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community.

In addition, if these authors wished to draw conclusions about the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community relative to the general population, they would need to consider the following: The rate of sexual abuse is about twice as high among subjects in their study who are ba'alei teshuva vs. subjects in their study who were raised Orthodox ("FFB women"). A plausible explanation for this curious finding (if the sample were representative, which it is not) is that there may be an actual lower rate of sexual abuse among FFB women vs. Jewish women raised among non-observant Jews.[6]

In conclusion, it should be clear to anyone who reads this paper carefully that there is no data presented which justifies a conclusion about the rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, or a statistical comparison with the rate in the general population. The investigators have made this abundantly clear. The fact that this is not clear to Debra Nussbaum Cohen, or the editorial staff of the New York Jewish Week may be evidence of a lack of sophistication with academic papers. I would never expect, for example, that a science writer at the NY Times would misunderstand this so significantly. The NY Jewish Week article makes assertions that are disavowed numerous times in the AJP paper!

Part 2: My critique of the paper, and response to Dr. Marvin Schick.

One might ask, "If these data are from a sample which is not representative of observant, married Jewish women, then what is the point of this study?" Admittedly, this paper is more significant for fellow researchers about sexual abuse than for the lay public. Sometimes, good research suggests more questions than it can answer. This study would suggest that the following questions need to be investigated. Why did FFB women in this sample report abuse about half as frequently as ba'alei teshuva? Would a questionnaire given to a randomly selected sample of women raised Orthodox show lower rates than an age matched unobservant or non-Jewish cohort sample? If Orthodox women were randomly sampled from some institutional settings, would they answer differently according to their identity as Haredi or Modern? Are Modern Orthodox girls better educated about avoiding sexual abuse? Or, are Haredi communities particularly impervious to representative sampling for scientific surveys?[7]

I would fault the authors of this paper with only one thing: They fail to acknowledge the very plausible possibility that a lower rate of abuse in Orthodox communities would explain the difference they observed between FFB women and ba'alei teshuva. Instead, they offer the following speculation, "Thus, women who are sexually abused or threatened may be more likely to seek out a more structured and sexually restricted lifestyle." (p. 1704) In fairness to the authors, etiquette in scientific papers is that wide latitude is typically granted to authors to speculate about their findings in the Discussion. Actual statistics, conclusions based on actual statistics, and conclusions which are reported in a paper's Abstract are reviewed at a much higher level of scrutiny than the Discussion. Those familiar with reading the scientific literature realize this, and in my opinion it is not the fault of the authors that their paper was so greatly mischaracterized by the New York Jewish Week.[8] Nevertheless, the addition of one sentence might have averted significant misunderstandings.

I would like to respond to Dr. Marvin Schick's lengthy remarks.[9] He characterizes the AJP paper as "the reckless scholarship and statistics of Dr. Yehuda, et al which constitute a form of group libel and severe cruelty toward observant Jews." He makes numerous arguments against the validity of their data set. For example, he complains that the sample is too small to draw conclusions. In reality, smaller data sets increase the risk of Type II Errors (false negatives, i.e. failure to identify a legitimate finding), but not Type I Errors (false positives). Furthermore, if this were a representative sample (which it is not), then this sample size would be perfectly adequate for estimates. Schick states, "The greatest flaw in the research and presentation is that 137 or 36% of the respondents were not raised Orthodox, becoming observant later in life, a statistic that is incompatible with the distribution of ba'alei teshuva or return to Judaism women in the Orthodox population." To the contrary, the discrepancy between ba'alei teshuva and FFB women who were recruited via the same sampling methodology is one of the most interesting findings in this data set and worthy of future research. Despite dismissing the sample as unrepresentative, Schick concludes, "Contrary to popular wisdom which decrees confidently that the Orthodox tend not to report abuse, 44% of those raised Orthodox reported the incident. The comparable figure for those not raised Orthodox is 39%." He also states, "In sum, to the degree that this survey has any value, it appears to point to a lower, probably much lower, incidence of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community than in American society as a whole." It puzzles me that while he so eloquently estlablishes that the data are not representative, he is nevertheless willing to tentatively draw selective conclusions from it.

The most problematic aspect of Schick's remarks is that he appears to imply that it is he who has discovered that the data are not representative of the general population. (I do not assume he has done this deliberately.) For example, he cites the high graduate education rate (53%) amongst the ultra-Orthodox respondents, as well as the high proportion of subjects who have been treated with psychotherapy in the past (51%). Yet, he omits the fact that it is the authors of the AJP paper themselves who state that these particular findings indicate that their sample is not representative (p. 1704):

We do not, therefore, claim that this study is representative of all observant Jewish women. On the contrary, the high level of education, even among the ultra-Orthodox, suggests a sampling bias that may be associated with a willingness to participate in research. Furthermore, there was a high proportion of subjects receiving mental health treatment in this group, which also may reflect an openness to discussing sensitive topics with others.
In summary, Schick unfairly portrays the AJP authors as though they have drawn conclusions about the rate of abuse in the Orthodox community and a comparison with the general population (which they have not), and inaccurately portrays himself (presumably inadvertently) as though he has discovered findings which indicate their data are not representative.

The authors of this study, Rachel Yehuda PhD, Michelle Friedman MD, Tali Rosenbaum PT, Ellen Labinsky PhD, and James Schmeidler PhD, have been subject to very unfair and inappropriate criticism from the Orthodox community.[10] There is much to learn about sexual abuse in general population as well as in the Orthodox community. Their paper does suggest that religious identity and religious upbringing may exert effects on the prevalence of sexual abuse. That alone is a worthwhile contribution. Determining exactly what these effects are will require further research.

Part 3: My recommendations as to what Orthodox Jews can and cannot conclude from this paper.

Jewish Law imposes strong prohibitions against any premarital or extramarital sexual contact. The Jewish religious tradition emphasizes the cultivation of high personal and communal standards of modesty in all interpersonal relationships. It is, therefore, quite reasonable that Orthodox Jews should expect that there would be a significantly lower rate of sexual offenders brought up in an Orthodox environment. One might hope the same for violence, theft, tax-fraud, gossip, anger, and arrogance. The AJP paper does not present any evidence that there is a lower, comparable, or higher rate of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community as compared with the general population, and we must acknowledge that there is no scientific evidence to support an assumption that sexual abuse, or any other social evil, is less frequent in our communities. Being raised in a Torah environment is not a guarantee that someone will grow up to become an ethical, balanced, humble, and refined human being. How certain are we, for example, that arrogance and anger, despite admonitions against them by Chazal and in the mussar and Hassidic literature, are expressed less frequently or intensely among Orthodox Jews, as compared with unobservant Jews or the general population?

As far as the impact of Orthodox Jewish life on the rate of sexual abuse in a given community, I would suggest the following: It would be more relevant to investigate the percentage of sexual offenders in a given population, as opposed to prevalence of victims of sexual abuse. By way of analogy: Locks and burglar alarms probably reduce the incidence of theft, but not the prevalence of thieves. Prevention of sexual abuse is best achieved by implementing safety measures, and by enforcing the law. In other words, we wish to prevent potential sexual offenders from becoming actual sexual offenders, and to prevent one-time offenders from becoming serial offenders. Preventing the development of pedophilia is another matter.

I would also suggest that we must consider the following: Although this is highly controversial and although there is not yet a consensus in the scientific literature, there is an emerging body of evidence to suggest that pedophilia may be a manifestation of biological problems in the brain.[11] I do not argue for leniency toward sexual offenders, regardless of the question of a biological disposition toward pedophilia. However, this consideration does suggest important theoretical questions about the degree to which a religious upbringing can be expected to prevent or reduce manifestations of biological abnormalities.

What should the Orthodox community conclude from this study? I would suggest only the following: We cannot rely upon lay Jewish media to accurately report on scientific developments, particularly those which are juicy and controversial. Sensationalizing scientific findings for the sake of noble causes (like protecting our children from sexual abuse) tends in the long run to undermine rather than bolster them. This study provides no conclusive information about the rate of sexual abuse in our communities, and should not factor into Jewish communal policy decisions.

In my opinion, there is currently a positive trend toward increased collaboration between lay leaders, rabbinic leaders, mental health professionals, and law enforcement agencies for how to prevent sexual abuse in our communities. The rights of the accused, the vulnerability of young children, and the charged nature of highly emotional reactions by most individuals in response to allegations of sexual abuse pose irresolvable dilemmas for those trying to formulate consistent policies. From my perspective as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I believe that there is still not enough being done in Orthodox communities to prevent sexual abuse of children. The areas which I believe would be the most productive are preventive education for parents and children, and mandatory criminal background checks for all employees of day schools, seminaries, yeshivas, and summer camps. My perspective is informed by the following: (1) an understanding of the devastating consequences of childhood sexual abuse which comes from in-depth psychotherapy treatment of numerous patients who continue to struggle with the consequences of it during adulthood, (2) being privy to numerous incidents of sexual abuse in Orthodox communities across North America which have been horribly mishandled when mental health professionals and law enforcement were not involved, and (3) seeing numerous incidents of sexual abuse in Orthodox communities where involvement of the legal authorities and mental health professionals was enormously helpful to victims and their families, as well as to institutions and communities as far as preventing further incidents of abuse.

[1] It is clear to me that one must report allegations of child abuse (sexual or physical) when one is aware of it, (even if this means that the child might be places in a Gentile foster home). Rabbi Abraham Sofer Abraham, Nishmat Avraham Volume 4, pages 307-11, quotes responsa from Rabbis Auerbach, Elyashiv and Waldenberg in agreement on this point, that one must report cases of child abuse. No alternative view is quoted in this enclyopedic work. Rabbi Abraham writes:
A child or infant who is brought to a hospital with symptoms of being a battered child... it is prohibited, after an investigation, to return him to his home as they will continue to beat him until he might die. Because of the real danger, it is obligatory for the doctor to inform the courts, and with an order from the court, place the child with a foster parent or agency. There is no problem of informing since we are dealing with danger to life and the parents are the pursuers. This is permitted even if they will place the child, due to no choice, with a family or agency that is secular. It is incumbent upon the Jewish court to do everything in its power to insure that the child is placed with an observant family or agency. Particularly in the diaspora it is important that the Jewish court work to insure that the child not be placed with a Gentile family or agency. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach agreed with all of the above.

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv recounted to me that it is permitted for the doctor to inform the authorities even if it is possible that the child will be placed with a family or agency that is not Jewish...

Rabbi Waldenberg wrote "if there is a real risk that the parents will continue to hit the child... it is obligatory for the doctor to report the matter to the police..." Sexual abuse (of either boys or girls) is no different than physical abuse. [Rabbis Waldenberg, Elyashiv and Auerbach agree that reporting is mandatory also.] Rabbi Elyashiv writes "there is no difference between boys and girls since one is dealing with a seriously life wounding event (pegiah nafshit) and a danger to the public... this is much more serious than theft and one certainly must report this matter to the school administration and if nothing is done, even to the police even in the Diaspora."
For more on this, see http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/mesiralaw2.html

[2] Avi Shafran (http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/11/22/sin-and-subtext/) which correctly points out that the New York Jewish Week article is inaccurate. Marvin Schick (http://mschick.blogspot.com/2007/12/scholarly-abuse.html) has attempted to discredit the AJP paper. A brief critique is also offered by David H. Rosmarin et al (http://www.jpsych.com/abuse.html) which is similar in content to Schick's.

[3] A brief word about my qualifications to analyze this paper: As the Director of Psychotherapy Training in the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Cincinnati, one of my responsibilities is to help resident physicians learn how to read academic and scientific papers critically. The American Journal of Psychiatry is the most widely read academic journal by American general psychiatrists, and is widely read by clinicians as well as researchers. Its articles are not intended to require special expertise in statistics or neuroscience. Therefore, I submit that I am certainly qualified to critique this paper.

[4] In an exchange between Dr. Rachel Yehuda and myself on the list-serve for Nefesh International (an network of Orthodox Jewish mental health professionals), she has confirmed that I am correctly reading the intent of their paper. Dr. Yehuda states: "You [Klafter] are completely correct that our study does not permit conclusions regarding the exact rate of abuse in the Orthodox community. Given the nature of the sampling and -- more importantly -- the limited information we have about the sampling frame in general (i.e., demography of the Orthodox community) it is impossible for us to know the extent to which our sample is even representative of married, observant women. This is clearly stated in our paper. " (Nefesh International List-serve, January 1 2008, "Response to Dr. Klafter")

[5] The first source, Finkelhor, et al, reports data from a study conducted by a randomized phone survey. In other words, it is not comparable to the AJP data, which are from a self-selected group who chose to respond to a widely distributed advertisement. The second source, Vogeltanz, et al., reports data from a face to face interviews of women from two data sets with similar methodologies, one done in 1981 the other in 1991. The response rates were 92% and 91% respectively. As I discuss below, the response rates for the study by Dr. Yehuda et al. are unknown, but should be presumed to be much, much lower because it is a self-selected, non-randomized sample. The third source is a 1993 monograph by the National Research Council, "Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect." The full text of this valuable resource is available online: http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=2117&page= Refer to pp. 78-105, "Scope of the Problem" where you will see that the studies cited do not resemble the study by Yehuda R, et al., because its samples are representative, randomized, and have known response rates.

[6] I would like to clarify, however, that I object to drawing any conclusions about the relative rate of sexual abuse among FFB women vs. ba'alei teshuva (i.e., that there is a lower prevalence of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community); as I have stated, this sample is not representative.

[7] I have been told by researchers that, in Israel, survey data from Haredi populations is widely suspected as being influenced by a strong cultural bias against participation in scientific research.

[8] Rabbi Avi Shafran (http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/11/22/sin-and-subtext/) appropriately limits his criticism to the New York Jewish Week. He has correctly read the AJP paper, and understands that no conclusions were made about the rate of abuse in the Orthodox community.

[9] http://mschick.blogspot.com/2007/12/scholarly-abuse.html

[10] The response by David H. Rosmarin et al (http://www.jpsych.com/abuse.html) is also flawed. A couple of examples: This critique also incorrectly attributes conclusions to the AJP authors which they have not made regarding the prevalence of abuse in Haredi communities vs. Orthodox communities. Then, in order to refute this imaginary claim by Yehuda et al, Rosmarin et al offer the following convoluted suggestion: "If abused Ultra-Orthodox women were less likely to drop their affiliation with Orthodoxy than Modern-Orthodox women, perhaps because of a tighter communal structure among the Ultra-Orthodox and a resulting increase in emotional support for victims of abuse, then there is not necessarily any connection between the study's reported rates of abuse and the actual rates." I should not need to mention that since the samples are not representative (which Rosmarin et al argue), all such speculation is meaningless. Furthermore, in order to adduce evidence that the AJP sample (which contained a 53% rate of prior mental health treatments) is not representative Rosmarin et al state: "The general reluctance of Orthodox Jews to seek out psychological and/or psychiatric services is well-established." To justify this completely unsubstantiated claim, they quote Margolese (Am Jour Psychotherapy, 52:1, 37-53): "Prior to engaging in therapy, an Orthodox Jew may view psychotherapy with ambivalence at best and as heretical at worst." A review of the cross cultural literature on attitudes toward psychotherapy in any other ethnic and religious group will reveal similar things about stigma and resistance to treatment. Furthermore, Margolese's paper makes no effort to measure the rate of mental health treatment in the Orthodox community, rendering this entire argument and citation meaningless, not to mention that Dr. Yehuda et al have clearly acknowledged that this finding indicates their sample is not representative.

[11] For a sample of recent papers on this controversial and complex topic, see: Cantor JM, et al. Cerebral white matter deficiencies in pedophilic men. J Psychiatry Res. 2008 Feb,42(3):167-83; Schiltz K, et al. Brain pathology in pedophilic offenders: evidence of volume reduction in the right amygdala and related diencephalic structures. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007 Jun, 64(6):737-46; Joyal CC, et al. The neuropsychology and neurology of sexual deviance: a review and pilot study. Sex Abuse 2007 Jun 19(2):155-73; Cantor JM, et al. Grade failure and special education placement in sexual offenders' educational histories. Arch Sex Behav. 2006 35(6):743-51; Tost H, et al. Pedophilia: neuropsychological evidence encouraging a brain network perspective. Med Hypotheses 2004,63(3):528-31.

Dr. Nachum Klafter was born and raised in upstate New York, where he attended college and medical school. He also studied in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and Yeshivat Darchei Noam. Dr. Klafter completed his residency training in psychiatry at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he also served as Chief Resident. Dr. Klafter was recruited by the University of Cincinnati in 2000, where he continues to teach psychodynamic psychotherapy. He completed his training as a psychoanalyst at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute in 2011. Dr. Klafter maintains a private practice in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, and psychotherapy supervision. He serves on the teaching faculty of the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute, which offers advanced training in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis for licensed mental health professionals. He writes a monthly essay for the list-serve of the Nefesh International organization, and and serves as a board member. He has delivered psychotherapy trainings for professional organizations regionally, nationally, and overseas. He has authored papers and book chapters on terrorism, the impact of sexual abuse, boundaries and boundary violations in psychotherapy, greed, fear of success, trust and mistrust in the clinical setting, and the various aspects of the interface between psychotherapy and Judaism. In his personal life, Dr. Klafter is an accomplished musician and photographer, and has given a regular shiur in his community in Choshen Mishpat for the last 10 years. He resides in Cincinnati with his wife and four daughters. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Fifty one percent of the respondents reported receiving mental health treatment during their lifetime. The specific conditions for which respondents sought treatment were depression (22%), anxiety disorders (17%), eating disorders (4%), marital problems (21%), and other emotional or psychological problems (14%). ...

Objective: The authors examined instances of past sexual abuse and related demographic characteristics in the self-reports of a select group of married observant Jewish women.

 Methods: Orthodox Jewish married women (N=380) ages 19 to 58 responded to advertisements asking them to complete an anonymous questionnaire about sexual experiences, including sexual abuse.

 Results: Sexual abuse was reported by 26% of the respondents surveyed, with 16% reporting abuse occurring by the age of 13. More ultra-Orthodox Jews reported abuse than modern-Orthodox Jews. Women who were raised observant reported significantly less childhood sexual abuse than those who became observant later in life. Sexual abuse was associated with increased treatment-seeking for depression, marital counseling, or other emotional or psychological problems.  

Conclusion: While observant Jewish women live in a culture defined by a high degree of adherence to specific laws of conduct, including rules designed to regulate sexual contact, sexual abuse of various types still exists among them.

Most studies investigating religiosity and sexual abuse have examined whether religiosity ameliorates the negative consequences of sexual trauma (14) , rather than whether religiosity affects the occurrence of sexual trauma. There are currently no statistics regarding the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse within religious communities. Accordingly, it is not possible to know whether cultures that constrain sexual activity protect individuals from sexual abuse, increase occurrence of such abuse, or have no effect at all. In Orthodox Judaism, there are major constraints on sexual behavior compared with U.S. cultural norms, including a strict prohibition of premarital and extramarital physical contact of any sort (5) . We examined the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse in a group of self-reporting married Orthodox Jewish women. Data on abuse were collected as part of a larger study investigating sexual behavior and dysfunction. Because the subjects were recruited by advertisements, they were more self-selecting than subjects in a sampling frame-based survey. Thus, those who chose to participate may not be representative of the population.

Participants were categorized as either modern-Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox based on their self-reported religious affiliation. This subdivision reflects a debate within the Orthodox Jewish community. Unlike modern-Orthodox Jews, who actively participate in the general culture, haredi Jews, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, embrace a theologically conservative outlook that advocates substantial separation from secular culture ( haredi literally means “one who trembles before God”) (6) .

 This issue of openness versus insularity provided an additional basis for comparison within the 
Respondents were Jewish married women (N=380) ages 19 to 58. To be included in the study, the participant had to report regular use of a ritual bath (i.e., Mikvah), reflecting adherence to Orthodox Jewish law, which proscribes sexual contact during menstruation and for seven days thereafter (7) . Subjects responded to a flier or advertisement asking married women to consider participating in an important research study conducted by the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine examining sexual life in marriage among observant Jewish women. The advertisements emphasized that the goal of the study was to gain a better understanding of sexual attitudes and practices, and that the study investigators believed that such knowledge could inform premarital education (Kallah) classes, as well as be useful for medical, mental health, and rabbinic professionals who treat and counsel observant Jewish women.

This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. 

Participants completed the questionnaire anonymously and without financial reward and returned it by postal or electronic mail. To obtain a diverse group of observant Jewish women, subjects were sought across a large range of religious Jewish communities by advertising through synagogue bulletins, Jewish organizations, newspapers, Jewish-oriented web sites and Listservs, and a network of medical professionals (e.g., obstetricians/gynecologists, nurses, and pediatricians) whose practices consisted of sizable numbers of Orthodox Jewish women. The design of this study did not allow us to estimate the number or characteristics of women who heard about the study and refused participation.

The questionnaire developed for the participants was comparable to that used in the National Health and Social Life Survey (8 , 9) , administered by the Sociometrics Corporation, with additional questions regarding religious affiliation and other specific questions related to sexual life within Orthodox Jewish communities. These additional questions were based on questions described comprehensively in documents available from the Sociometrics Corporation. This section of the questionnaire began by asking respondents the question “Did anyone ever touch you sexually in a way that made you feel uncomfortable?” and, if so, requesting a brief account of the incident. We excluded responses where the account itself concluded that abuse had not occurred, such as 1) when the situation was consensual, although uncomfortable (e.g., “Past boyfriends sometimes pushed too much. I do not consider it abuse, so maybe my original answer should be changed to no”), 2) when the account was of a nonconsensual but inconsequential event (e.g., “My father’s friend wanted to have sex with me,” or “A stranger fondled my backside on the street”), or 3) when the respondent did not describe the event in the follow-up questions used in the analyses (e.g., characteristics of the perpetrator[s], number of times abused, age of respondent and perpetrator at the time of abuse, and whether the abuse involved forced touching of genitals and/or penetration).

The National Health and Social Life Survey used examiners to ask further details about each experience; in this study, the questionnaire asked for personal relevant details.

Statistical Analysis
Chi-square tests were used to compare sociodemographic characteristics of the participants based on religious affiliation (modern- versus ultra-Orthodox) and whether the respondent was raised observant or became observant later in life.

Three dichotomous variables relating to sexual abuse were also considered: presence or absence of a history of sexual abuse, whether genital contact occurred in the abuse, and age at time of first abuse (“13 and below” versus “other”). We also examined characteristics of the abuse itself and its disclosure. Sexual behavior within the marriage was noted but not assessed for possible abuse.

Table 1 shows the demographic characteristics of the respondents, as well as subgroup comparisons between modern- and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women and between women who were raised observant and those who became observant later in life. There were no significant differences between modern- and ultra-Orthodox respondents in age, birthplace, income, or prior marriages. However, compared with modern-Orthodox women, ultra-Orthodox women were more likely to have ended their education with high school or 1 year of religious seminary and were less likely to pursue graduate education, although the percentage of those with graduate education was higher among ultra-Orthodox women who were not raised observant.

The proportion of women who reported being raised observant did not differ between modern- (63%) and ultra-Orthodox (65%) women (χ 2 =0.186, df=1, p=0.66). There were no differences in birthplace or income between respondents who were raised observant and who became observant later in life.

However, there was a significant effect of age, as a greater proportion of younger participants were raised observant, and a greater proportion of participants between the ages of 35 and 49 reported becoming observant. Women who became observant were also significantly older at the time of marriage and had more often been married before.

Twenty six percent of respondents reported experiencing at least one instance of sexual abuse. There was significantly greater reporting of sexual abuse by ultra-Orthodox women compared with modern-Orthodox women (χ 2 =5.88, df=1, p=0.015). The comparison was repeated and the women reporting abuse were subdivided into two groups: those abused by the age of 13 and those abused after this age.

More ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women reported their first abuse at or before the age of 13 (χ 2 =7.37, df=2, p=0.025). Report of sexual abuse was nearly twice as high among Jewish women who became observant compared with those raised observant (χ 2 =6.98, df=1, p=0.008). More incidents of abuse were reported by ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women, both for those raised observant (χ 2 =4.06, df=1, p=0.04) and for those who became observant and for whom the abuse preceded increased religiosity (χ 2 =4.23, df=1, p=0.04) ( Figure 1 ).

 As seen in Figure 1 , religious affiliation and being raised observant were not related. When controlling for whether or not the subject was raised observant, stepwise logistic regression showed a higher proportion of sexual abuse for ultra-Orthodox women than modern-Orthodox women (χ 2 = 7.79, df=1, p=0.005), and a higher proportion of abuse for those participants who became observant later in life, whether affiliated with ultra- or modern-Orthodox Judaism (χ 2 =12.59, df=1, p<0 .0005="" nbsp="" p="">
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Figure 1. Prevalence of Sexual Abuse According to Religious Affiliation and Upbringing
Table 2 shows the characteristics of the sexual abuse for the respondents who reported being abused. Among those who reported sexual abuse, half reported a single incident of abuse and half reported multiple incidents. Regarding the nature of the abuse, 48% reported genital contact/penetration, whereas 52% reported incidents of molestation (e.g., inappropriate fondling of the breasts and buttocks or attempted rape, which the respondent reported successfully fleeing). For 23% of sexually abused women, the abuse was perpetrated by a stranger. For 40%, the abuse was perpetrated by someone known to the respondent but not a family member, and for 30%, the abuse was perpetrated by a relative. Only 35% of respondents disclosed the abuse to another person, with 13% disclosing the event to their mother and 6% to their father. When the respondents were subdivided on the basis of whether they were raised observant, those raised observant were more likely to have been abused by strangers and were more likely to report incidents involving genital contact/penetration than those who become observant later in life.


Fifty one percent of the respondents reported receiving mental health treatment during their lifetime. The specific conditions for which respondents sought treatment were depression (22%), anxiety disorders (17%), eating disorders (4%), marital problems (21%), and other emotional or psychological problems (14%). Analyses based on religious affiliation and upbringing did not yield significant results, with the exception that persons who became observant sought more treatment for other emotional or psychological problems. Table 3 shows that respondents who reported sexual abuse were more likely to report seeking mental health treatment than those who did not report abuse, with significant differences for depression, marital problems, and emotional or psychological problems in general. Whether or not the abuse involved genital contact did not differ between those who did and did not report mental health treatment. 

While observant Jewish women live in a culture with a clearly prescribed set of laws designed to regulate sexual contact, sexual abuse still exists in these communities. Indeed, 26% of the participants in this study reported lifetime sexual abuse, with 16% reporting abuse occurring by the age of 13.

Almost a third of the participants reported sexual abuse perpetrated by relatives, and less than a quarter reported sexual abuse perpetrated by strangers. These estimates are consistent with data from several national surveys, in which 25%–27% of women, regardless of marital status or religious affiliation, reported sexual abuse (1012) . A meta-analytic study by Gorey and Leslie concluded that approximately 22% of women report childhood sexual abuse, a figure slightly higher than was noted in the present study, with about one-third reporting genital penetration (13) . Additionally, more ultra-Orthodox women reported sexual abuse than modern-Orthodox women. 

Although health professionals may be reluctant to inquire about sexual abuse in order not to offend patients for whom such topics are considered improper, it may be particularly important to screen for sexual abuse, since only one-third of the participants in this study reported disclosing the abuse to someone else. However, while the possibility of past abuse should be probed, it is also critically important to understand that the threshold at which someone may feel the victim of sexual abuse may be lower for those living in a more restrictive religious community. Approximately half of the reported incidents of abuse in this study did not involve genital contact. Since many researchers have historically defined sexual abuse as genital contact or even penetration (14) , there might be a tendency to minimize the significance of reported experiences that do not involve genital penetration.

Recent observations—which found that the effect of sexual trauma may depend less on the characteristics of the abuse itself and more on factors such as the relationship of the victim to the perpetrator and the family and community environment within which the abuse occurs—support the use of less restrictive criteria, particularly if the goal of such studies is to determine the impact and health consequences of sexual abuse (15 , 16) . Indeed, for the respondents in this study, a history of abuse was related to a greater prevalence of mental health treatment, including treatment for depression, marital problems, and some other emotional and psychological problems, consistent with reports (17 , 18) . There were no differences in seeking mental health treatment between sexually abused women who did and did not report abuse involving genital contact.

The higher proportion of reported abuse among women who became observant versus those raised observant is also significant. For Jewish women, the decision to become observant of the dictates of Orthodox Judaism involves a comprehensive change in lifestyle, which almost always includes a manifest restriction in sexual behavior. Furthermore, those who choose to affiliate with ultra-Orthodox Judaism undertake an additional isolation from the surrounding culture (6) . While the decision to increase religious observance may be motivated by many factors, it is noteworthy that of the respondents who became observant later in life and were not sexually abused, 60% were affiliated with modern-Orthodox Judaism, while among those who were sexually abused, only 43% were. Thus, women who are sexually abused or threatened may be more likely to seek out a more structured and sexually restricted lifestyle.

A major limitation of this study is that it was not feasible to obtain a representative sample of observant Jewish women, since no sampling frame was available. It was also not feasible to limit a representative sample of the general population to just observant Jewish women. This study used a wide variety of recruitment methods to provide coverage of the target population, which was married Jewish women who observe the strict laws associated with Orthodox Judaism, namely proscribed sexual activity except within marriage. We do not, therefore, claim that this study group is representative of all observant Jewish women. On the contrary, the high level of education, even among the ultra-Orthodox, suggests a sampling bias that may be associated with a willingness to participate in research. Furthermore, there was a high proportion of subjects receiving mental health treatment in this group, which may also reflect an openness to discussing sensitive topics with others.

Despite these potential sampling biases, the respondents were unquestionably from a population that is substantially different from normative Western secular culture. To obtain a more complete picture of the role of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, it would be necessary to also examine sexual abuse among unmarried observant women, since a history of sexual abuse is known to affect the capacity for intimacy or trust in close relationships (1416) . Similarly, since more than half of Jews who were raised Orthodox no longer affiliate with Orthodox Judaism as adults (19) , it would be necessary to examine the lifetime prevalence of sexual abuse in Jewish women who were once observant but are no longer so. For all of these reasons, the estimates of prevalence of sexual abuse reported here are not the actual prevalence of sexual abuse among Orthodox Jewish women.

Despite these limitations, we are not aware of any other study examining sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community or in any other similarly insular religious society. This may be due to laws governing modesty, which discourage public or even private discussions of sexuality (5) . We have received numerous comments on the survey from respondents expressing gratitude for this forum and suggesting support for further discussion in this area (Participant Perspective).

Received Dec. 3, 2006; revisions received March 7 and May 7, 2007; accepted June 7, 2007 (doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2007.06122030). From the Division of Traumatic Stress Studies, Department of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York; and the James J. Peters VA Medical Center
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Yehuda, Psychiatry OOMH, James J. Peters VA Medical Center, 130 West Kingsbridge Rd., Bronx, NY 10468; rachel.yehuda@va.gov (e-mail).
The authors report no competing interests.

The authors thank Sharon Jedel, Psy.D., who assisted in the literature review, and Janine Flory, Ph.D., and Claude Chemtob, Ph.D., for their assistance with this manuscript.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Know the rules. But more importantly, know when to break them....To do that, however, you have to think for yourself. You need the courage to walk away from the majority, and you need the audacity to follow through...

Why Only Rebels Find Real Fulfillment

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

This is taken from a famous Apple ad. It helped put the company back on track after Steve Jobs returned to revive them from near-bankruptcy in 1997.

It’s touching, inspiring, and empowering. It’s how marketing should be done. But why is it relevant to the rest of us? Not all of us can, will, or want to change the world. There’s an easy answer. Because you’re not always at the center of a bell-curve, and that’s who the status quo caters to. You live a unique life, and it demands a unique outlook.

A Few Things the Status Quo Says..

  • Don’t be an artist because you will never make a living
  • Don’t be an entrepreneur because you’ll probably fail
  • Don’t quit your job to travel because it’s shortsighted
  • Don’t take the road less traveled because it’s risky
Is it good advice? For some people, yes. But there is also more to the story.

Let’s Talk About the Other Side


“Success is achieved by people who deeply understand reality and know how to use it to get what they want.” — Ray Dalio
The status quo is unapologetically biased towards average in EVERY situation. Sometimes, in certain instances, sure, you’ll fall close to the middle of the bell-curve, and that’s fine. But much of the time, you’ll be navigating the corners, and that’s when you’ll be punished. Societial rules don’t cater there. We live in a complex world, and we have complex lives based on a personal combination of memories and emotions. They don’t fit a predefined mold. It’s critical to understand the existing conventions, structures, and systems. They provide a reference point, and more often than not, they are useful. But it’s far more critical to know that they also aren’t set in stone.

 Outside of the law and the boundaries of modern science, much of reality is flexible. Almost everything around us that we presume to be fixed and static was produced and labeled by other people. There is no law in the universe that invents ideas and implements them. Powerful brains, like yours, do that.
The world — if understood well — can be reshaped with the right tools.

What Are These Tools?


“You’ve got to have [mental] models in your head… and the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department.” — Charlie Munger
You need to understand the world from as many diverse angles as you can.

Mental models are a way to do that. They provide a fundamental framework for deciphering complexity so that you can optimize your decision-making.

A common example is Pareto’s Principle (80/20 Rule), which tells us that in any domain about 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of the causes.

In businesses, about 80 percent of sales come from 20 percent of customers. In software, 20 percent of the code accounts for about 80 percent of errors.

Another is Cost-benefit Analysis. It’s a systematic approach to evaluating the different avenues ahead and weighting their positives and their negatives.

Each of them, in their own way, help us make sense of the noise around us.

They either explain a generally observed trend, or they give us a method for breaking down and ordering information in a way that’s a little more useful.

A Few Models I Find Valuable


  • Socratic Method — Discourse to stimulate critical thinking and eliminate weak hypothesis with meaningful questions and constructive arguments.
  • Combinatory Play — Einstein’s method of creativity where imagination is used to combine existing parts of reality to produce something new.
  • Bayes’ Theorem — Using probabilistic thinking to estimate the likelihood of future events based on a rational evaluation of prior conditions.
  • Design Thinking — An approach to solving problems by understanding the needs of a person before working backwards to craft a solution.
  • First Principles — Breaking things down to their fundamental truth and reasoning upwards from there to bypass any potential inefficiencies.
The world is messy. It can’t be viewed through a single lens. It needs to be simplified and approached from a multi-dimensional viewpoint, and a well-diversified collection of mental models are the best way to do that.

They allow room for flexible evaluation, and they accurately assess how reality interacts with the different components of your own personal life.

A good combination of mental models are a far better tool to make life decisions than blindly accepting the status quo because you’re supposed to.

Explore different disciplines and create your own personal toolkit of models.

A Better Approach to Life


“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” — Steve Jobs
If you ask good questions, strive to always learn, and develop a strong mental framework for evaluating the divergence between where you are and where you want to be, you’ll be able to navigate the world far more successfully.

To do that, however, you have to think for yourself. You need the courage to walk away from the majority, and you need the audacity to follow through.

You’re not just a passenger hoping to observe reality but leave it untouched. You’re a participant, and your job is to challenge it and carve your own way.

Know the rules. But more importantly, know when to break them.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Where did this strange dude come from? איפה מנהיגי הדור שלנו?

Monday, January 14, 2008 - THE UOJ VAULT


Once Upon A Time There Was A Rabbi......

People thought him strange!

He had these weird ideas...like every Jewish child must be granted a Jewish education...free if necessary. Every major city in the world, starting with the United States...should have a Hebrew school staffed with educated, qualified, religious, career teachers.

Every Jewish child should be educated according to his/her abilities; set up separate parallel classes for the brightest...and classes for the beautiful children that did not necessarily like learning, that would rather play ball. He actually understood that. He forced his best students out of the bais medrash during the lunch hour and on to the playground. Exercise was important for everyone.

Children that came from "modern" homes were not permitted to change their dress - to "hasidic" garb. Tzizis...were to be neatly kept in their pants pockets, and peyos were to be combed around the ear - if you came to the yeshiva with them -- if not -- you needed to keep and respect the dress code of your parents. You had to be immaculate in your appearance.

This was some strange guy!

Girls had to be formally educated - both in limudei kodesh - Hebrew studies - and secular studies. He fought tooth and nail against the fanatics that wanted to keep girls at home - learning to cook and clean and some home-study. (Urged them to learn that from their mothers' - at their leisure.)

He despised religious fanatics!

Boys had to excel - according to their abilities - both in their Hebrew and secular studies. If you failed in mathematics, history or English - you risked being penalized. (knass - or money sanctions...or even expulsion)

Where did this strange dude come from?

He was brought to tears, everyday, at least three times...at v'Yerushalayim ircha b'rachamim tashuv...v'sihkon b'socha k'asher dibarta....He cried real tears when his students were in pain, emotional or otherwise. It affected his ulcers drastically when people suffered; all Jewish pain was personal. He understood pain - if any one ever did. He understood "responsibility." He understood dedication to the klal...and every living, breathing moment was on fire...with that commitment.

He never had a personal savings bank account...it was a failure in bitachon. Hashem provides, and will always.... if you do your part - with serious hishtadlut ! When Mr. Irving Bunim put down the down payment ($5G) for his house in Monsey - New York, this rabbi made certain it was in the name of the yeshiva (against the express wishes of the benefactor), and that fair market value rent - was deducted from his meager paycheck.

He borrowed money for students that he felt needed to leave the yeshiva...and helped them to start businesses with personal loans. He encouraged others to get jobs. He encouraged many to go to college - in to the professions - and only the few totally dedicated boys were to stay in learning - full time - for more than a very brief period of time. This was a man who understood the stark realities of life...and what it meant not to make a living; and the broad - forever - wide-reaching ramifications on the entire family's well-being if there was no food in the ice-box.

This was a wild & crazzzzy guy!

Where are those rabbis? What happened to us? How did we drift so far apart from Torah values - that we don't know right from wrong, legal from illegal, sane from insanity, truth from blatant falsehoods, real from unreal, rational from irrational, and seemingly profane from seriously profane?............

We sold away our traditions for money, kavod, power, a few minutes in the spotlight; and whored ourselves for every single secular - anti-Torah value that we once died for!


So what gives? What happened to this generation of leaders? ...When they’re not busy clapping each other on the back steering us dead-on into the Icebergs/Goldbergs...

The End of Leadership


Or, Why We Don’t Have Leaders Today — We Have Demagogues


Here’s a tiny question.

What happened to this generation of leaders?

Climate change, financial crisis, inequality, debt, stagnation, robo-dystopia…a nearly endless, panic-attack inducing list of Really Major Global Issues Threatening the Ongoing Survival and Prosperity of Humankind…and they mostly seem to be slumped over snoring at the wheel…when they’re not busy clapping each other on the back steering us dead-on into the icebergs. (Goldbergs)

In this little essay, I want to advance a small thesis. Many of today’s leaders aren’t worthy of the word. Because they are not leaders at all. So what are they? Let me explain, with a simple example.

There is no good reason for American leaders, left and right, to have inflicted decades of austerity on a society in which incomes have been stagnant and living standards have fallen,inequality has spiralled, and the average person’s future is ever more uncertain. No good reason at all. Even the IMF has both renounced austerity and agreed that advanced economies can not just sustain, but probably need, a deficit to operate at optimal levels of productivity.

I could repeat these stories with reference to politicians around the globe. In Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Britain— where a generation of politicians proclaims they “do not believe in” a European Union whose living standards are vastly higher than theirs. Here is the issue: there is simply no support — whether economic, ethical, or moral; whether scientific, rational, or humanistic — for most of their policies, stances, perspectives.

So what gives? What happened to this generation of leaders?

There is something very different about many of today’s so-called leaders. It is that they are demagogues. Let’s review what “demagogue” actually means. Here’s a decent definition:
“a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.”

Let me explain why that’s important, using the example of the 80s. A generation of conservative politicians then — Thatcher, Reagan, and so on — and the like — ripped up and rewrote social contracts wholesale.

So what is the difference between them — and the demagogues of today? A very great one indeed. There was intellectual and perhaps moral support for the decisions the leaders of yesterday took.

Here’s a simple example. We may disagree now over trickle-down economics, since prosperity hasn’t trickled down. But at the time there was at least a reasoned position in support of it, built on a consensus amongst thinkers. You may think of the Laffer Curve as a simple illustration: it may have been proven largely wrong now, but at least there was an effort to produce a reason to slash public services then. (The Laffer Curve still proves correct today)

The neo-demagogues of meta-modernity are very different. There is no serious intellectual, moral, or ethical support for their decisions at all. Demaogues are irrational, insensible, not beyond reason — but scurrying in the abyss deep below it. They are simply, as the definition simply says, “arousing the passions and prejudices of people”. Let’s take immigration as a simple example. Decades of logic — not to mention evidence — confirm that (legal) immigration only benefits advanced economies.

Demagogues do not act rationally or sensibly, reasonably or sanely — whether in terms of economics, morality, politics, or anything else that might justifiably be called a system of thought. Why not? They prey on our emotions; they exploit our biases and prejudices; like magicians, they devour our fears and dangle before us our wishes. They are sorcerers of our animal beings. Pumping the bellows of unreason, they stoke the dark fires that burn deep in the human soul.

It’s true: empiricism alone can never guide us in the human world — but still, we must struggle not merely to be prisoners of our biases and prejudices. And that is precisely what demagogues reduce us to. Unthinking servants of our own worst selves. The selves that, instead of thinking, dreaming, wondering, rebelling, defying, creating, loving — are filled with spite, greed, jealousy, fear, and, at last, hate, of the self and the other, of god and man, of life and death alike.

There are many ways in which the institutions of modernity are decaying, sputtering out, breaking down. But one of the most significant, insidious, and damaging is that they no longer seem to reliably produce leaders — but demagogues. And, in turn, demagogues are, of course, historical bellwethers of decline, stagnation, disintegration.

True leaders lead people to an impossible destination. It does not exist in the world. It exists in being. They lead us towards to our better selves. Those seared, impossibly, defiantly, courageously, with happiness, purpose, meaning. Lives which may swim in the mighty river of grace, and, because they give thanks for the boundless privilege of life, bestow the gift of mercy and love upon each and every fellow traveller they meet. That is the defining characteristic of every leader that history remembers. 

Demagogues do not lead us to our better selves. They lead us to the very opposite: our worse selves. They condemn people to become nothing more than twisted, stunted caricatures of who they were meant to be. And by doing so, they diminish what is truly most valuable in the world: human potential.

For the tragedy of the demagogue is this: the demagogue is an anti-leader. He is not merely the absence of leadership. But the opposite. He is not just the drought. He is the locust and the flood. His followers aren’t merely left no better off — but also no worse off. Life’s most valuable creation is what is truly wasted by demagogues. The one thing we may each call our own. Ourselves.

Demagogues reduce us to being empty, twisted, broken husks of the people we should have been. People who, in the act of wasting their days on spite, greed, envy, and anger, fail to develop, grow, become themselves — and do great and mighty, noble and soaring things. That is why history condemns not just demagogues. But also the people who eagerly follow them. For they are prisoners. But they are also jailers. Each of whom holds the key to the cell next door.

I don’t think this is the end of leadership — forever. But I do think that leadership is in deep, serious, and historic trouble today. As both art and science, practice and pursuit, creation and gift. In all these ways, I think that leadership demands abiding, radical reinvention — and further, that reimagining it is going to require coming squarely to terms with the failures and shortcomings that have produced a hollow generation of demagogues with scarcely a single true leader amongst them. And so it is up to each and every one of us who wishes to be a leader to understand precisely why. For we can no longer conveniently leave the necessary, worthy, difficult work of leadership at the doorstep of the boardrooms and backrooms (and Agudah conventions).

Let us remember where leaders truly lead each and every life that walks with them. To lives brimming with purpose, riven with grace, seared with love, overflowing with meaning. That is the truest miracle of all. That, from mere things scurrying and clawing at one another in the glittering darkness, we may follow one another to the pure light of our higher selves.