Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Daily News: Telling Lies about Isaac Hersh

Regarding the latest news story you may have read, I'll publish another possible side to this horrible story:

The following is an email from a personal friend of mine:

I am writing to you about the story that was in the daily news about Isaac Hersh.

The story is a fabrication of the highest degree!

I grew up with them and know them since I was a little kid.The parents never abused anyone and I would know since my own family took in 10 foster children from abusive homes over the years.In short, it is about a prominent Chaim Berlin family with 6 kids. The 2nd and 3rd are twins. The father became a ba'al t'shuva in his teens. His parents were so anti-frum that it was borderline Anti Semitic and they made their feelings known loud and clear.The twins were extremely difficult babies and became inappropriate and violent to their siblings on a regular basis as they got older. No therapy of any kind helped...except one of them did get a bit better and stayed that way.The family moved to Israel in 2002 for a really good job offer and a relative told some rabbanim that they really went there because he was abusing the twins and was running from the law.

They moved back a few years later when he left the company and the relative told rabanim that it was because he was running from the law in israel and that the abuse continued there too. Explain why none of the other siblings were not abused...abusive parents abuse all of their kids.

In the meantime, they sent one of the twins to a boot camp in Jamaica with the blessings of rav Aharon Shechter.Most of the rabbanim didn't believe so the relatives took matters in to their own hands by sending a huge sob story to the daily news and to Jewish bloggers on the Internet.
As soon as this story came out, both parents were immediately fired from their jobs without any investigation simply because the companies didn't want to be associated with this.

Now there are people and groups that are doing things to destroy the parents. Please don't listen to them.


Anonymous said...

I know the family also.The father DID abuse the kids as well as his wife. Chances are this letter was written by the father himself. The social services in Israel is after him.

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Anon, I'm not certain of the actual truth but to clarify this was written by someone I knw PERSONALLY so I'm not so quick to write it off as untrue. Whereas you are Anonymous so you can understand if I'm not that quick to believe what you say as just plain loshon hora...

steve said...

The parents never abused anyone

Sending your kid off to an unlicensed boot camp with a horrible reputation is the worst form of child abuse.

Anonymous said...

I want to comment about this article, simply to clarify one part of the article I know to be incorrect. As for the rest, I cannot comment, as I do not know enough to claim myself an expert. The grandfather that was written as so anti-frum he is practically anti-semitic is an outright lie. He is a cousin of mine, a Holocaust survivor, and has even gone so far as to write a book (yet to be published) documenting his own torture at the hands of Hitler. I do not think Jews should attack other Jews with unfounded loshon hora when they do not know the facts. It is hurtful and unproductive.

Jewish Blogmeister said...


I'm not sure that they new about anything regarding any problems about this "boot camp". They had the go ahead from a prominent Rabbinical authority who had looked into the camp. It is possible they had the wool pulled over their eyes. I have no idea who is really at fault. However, when we are dealing with someone who headed an organization whose job was to save lives I'm not that quick to rush to judgment.

Anonymous said...

one aspect is of the letter deserves comment. it is entirely possible that only one child, or only some children may be abused in a family of many children. not commenting on this family by any means, but abuse can be a complicated dynamical system, not just a binary "this parent is evil, abuses all their children"
or "this parent didn't abuse the child I know, therefore s/he could never have abused any of their children" decision.

Anonymous said...

The anon above is making an excellent point. The position that a parent who abuses one child abuses all of them is preposterous. Anyone with any experience in the field can confirm that is not true. Also, anyone who has ever read David Peltzer's book (chronocling what has been called the worst case of child abuse in California history) can confirm that David was singled out and that his siblings were not abused. This is often a tactic used by abusive parents to psychologically torture the child into thinking that he is the "bad one".

I have no idea what happened in Isaac Hersh's case but I do know that making this falacious statement shows that somebody representing the family has no idea what they are talking about.

steve said...


The father is a computer technician. He knows how to use Google. If he really cared where he was sending his son, he would have googled Tranquility Bay, and within minutes he would have one hundred websites that detail the torture and abuse that takes place there. He would have also read about the fact that they are not licensed and that their employees have no background in dealing with troubled teens. Add to that, this place is owned by Mormons and that there is no yiddishkeit whatsoever, it is safe to say that the best interests of the boy were not included in this decision. I believe in giving the benefit of the doubt and dan l'kaf zchus, and I've heard and read all the arguments defending the parents. However, I find it nearly impossible not to hold them culpable.

yiddishe survivor said...

I would to clarify one point;
tranquility Bay is not a boot camp rather its a behaviour modification facility which happens NOT to staff any licensed therapists. makes you kinda wonder.
And its no secret, you can find clips on you tube where the administrator of the facility himself, will admit that there is no specific program in place to actualy help these children. rather, all they do is " keep them in line".

Boot camp is harsh enough, this facility is a complete nightmare.
The parents could have chosen a more prominent facility which actually has a rate of success, unlike this one.

bacci40 said...

jewish blogmeister,

not sure where you got your degree in psychology or social work, but it is not always true that abusive parents abuse all the children in their care.

you also leave out that isaac was staying at an ad hoc foster home in texas, before his return to brooklyn, when he was abducted.

you may know the family for a long time, doesnt mean you know everything that was going on behind closed doors.

Jewish Blogmeister said...

Bacci, Do me a favor before you comment you may want to actually READ what you COMMENT on. I wrote none of this information. This information was given to me by someone I know personally and you can agree to disagree.

Anonymous said...

Wow- Im so happy with this post. Thank you.
I not only grew up with the Hersh's but I still know them very well. Ive spent plenty of time in their home- even unexpected.
Michael and Miriam Hersh are the most wonderful people raising a terrific family. They are ehrlich, yashar, and sincere people.
They have 8 kids (thats the only mistake on the original letter), 2 of which are quite problamatic.
These two boys, whom I happen to know very well- theyve stayed at my house and i have a very nice relationship with them- are brilliant, adorable, and have great personalities... but they are VERY DISTURBED. They have been this way since they were young kids, resulting in them having gotten kicked out of at least 20 yeshivas. They are extremely difficult and even dangerous- especially one of them. They are charismatic and manipulative which is how they were able to fabricate such a fantastic story and get it carried all the way across the Jewish world.
It is sheker v'chosov.

The Hersh's woudnt hurt a fly. They are private and humble ppl.
After the court case, when the emes comes out, I will be proud to have gone against the whole Jewish oilam in the name of emes.

About the grandparents thing... maybe the two of you are talking about diff grandparents. The ones I know are far from innocent.

Just to clarify; The Hersh's DID NOT leave EY because of child abuse. That is totally absurd. They left bec a family member needed medical treatment that was not available there.
Please have in mind that there is another side to every story you hear.

Oh, and to BACCI,
I am a liscened therapist specializing in addictions and substance abuse, and I think the original poster is correct. Its rare to find a father abusing only oone child- altho you will find in most cases that one might get MORE abuse than others- but they will all be victims. Usually the child with the most similarities and tendencies to the father will get it the worst.
Go look at the other Hersh children and you will see absolute gems. Healthy, beautiful kids with the best upbringing.
Lets all be wary of this-its motzi shem ra.

Jewish Blogmeister said...


Thanks for your comments. I too wait for the truth to be told I can only hope they will have their names restores if they are indeed innocent.
I think we should all take a step back before we shamelessly accuse upstanding members of the Orthodox community.

Anonymous said...

anonymous @ 7:22 am

How could you know that the father abuses his wife and kids? If no one on their block, and none of their friends have EVER seen this kinda behaviour, how on earth can you know this??

Anonymous said...

Bais Shamai and Bais Hillel Would argue in the Bais Medrash all of the time. When they walked out of the doors, they were the best of friends. In fact, the families often married into each other. That is the only kind of fighting that g-d wants...over his Torah.

To you think for one moment that anyone from Bais Shmai or Bais Hillel called any of the Rabaninim on the other side a**holes?

Well of course not! If we are doing this L'shem Sh'mayim then why are the people who are so quick to judge the Parents in a harsh way using words such as a**hole on people such as Harav Aharon Shechter. People who are fighting in the name of the truth don't speak this way.

The truth has spoken by not speaking.

chaviva said...

JB: Any more word on this? The truth or anything? I can't find anything in the past few days, though I know Isaac is back in the U.S. I pray that it's all a big misunderstanding, but it just seems so obscene.


Anonymous said...

I left the original comment about the grandparents. I am speaking of Michael Hersh's parents, not the mothers. I am unfamiliar with them. I wanted to be clear.

Anonymous said...

"An attorney for the Hersh family, Shlomo Mostofsky, who became involved in the case at the request of Agudath Israel of America, maintained in an interview that “the
child was in a number of different places. Every single place he was at sent him home. At times he was suicidal. He would attack his siblings in the house. “Someone who knows [the
parents] since childhood is prepared to testify that he saw the kid go after his mother with a broom,” Mostofsky said, adding that psychiatric evaluations impacted the family’s decision to take drastic action. Friends of the Hershes, who know the family well, called The Jewish Star on Monday, eager to vouch for the parents, saying that they had witnessed Isaac’s behavioral problems and observed firsthand his strained relationship with the family. Isaac’s mother survived cancer a number of years ago while the family lived in Israel. That may have led to problems at home for Isaac and his twin brother, Sol, who also does not live with his parents today. Mr. Mostofsky said that according to his client, “Rav Aharon knew the place wasn’t kosher, that there was no Judaism there, and the feeling was that he needed a place like this or he wasn’t necessarily going to get through life –– that it was pikuach nefesh.”

Anonymous said...

It is not infrequent that finding the right place to send a youngster with a problem is a formidable challenge. Despite the progress that has been made in the frum community in the development of programs to meet many needs, there are still more services that have yet to be developed. It is not a doubt that placing Isaac was a challenging situation. Intensive treatment for severe behavioral and psychiatric disorders is not easy to find within the spectrum of what is existing in the frum community.

In terms of Tranquility Bay, it is recommended that everyone who wants to understand a bit more about the program investigate it to the degree and limits that our technological world permits. (In plain English, google it.) This facility calls itself a “reform school for troubled teens”. However, the vast majority of hits on google will reveal countless reports of abuse, torture, atrocities, inhumane treatment, and major gaps in what they purport to provide in terms of medical care, therapy, and education. Read, read, and then read some more. Even if only a percent of it is true, it is difficult to imagine the judgment used in placing a child there. Pikuach nefesh is the probably best translated as “life or death issues” or “with risk of death”. The TB program is certainly an emotional and spiritual death. The threat to the physical life of the child there is not to be underestimated, and that does not leave things better than before placement. Again, the investigation before sending Isaac there was either flawed or not done. Participating in the eitzah to send him there without doing the research was irresponsible. Most professionals that make referrals know something about the qualifications of the professionals they recommend and the programs they represent. Many professionals I speak to about referrals will tell me clearly that they have or don’t have personal experience dealing with certain programs.

It is no longer an issue of vouching for anyone. Investigating what happened needs to be done away from the court of public opinion. What remains is the need for placing Isaac where he can benefit most from the environment, and with referrals to programs, professionals, etc. that can help him be restored to his potential.

Anonymous said...

please take a moment in pursuing thte truth and visit