Brooklyn, NY – Avi Fishoff On Anti-Chasidic Film And Footsteps: Unconditional Love Can Bring Lost Jews Back


    Avi Fishoff a well-known name in dealing with 'Kids in Pain' addresses in nearly one hour video the ’Footstep Community’ and a message to the ‘Frum community’ after watching the Netflix documentary ‘One of us’Brooklyn, NY – In a grippingly raw and emotional video, Avi Fishoff, a well known and respected name in the world of at risk behavior, speaks passionately about the Footsteps organization, the Netflix documentary One of Us and his thoughts on the most effective way to ignite the spark of yiddishkeit in those who have abandoned their religious roots.

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    While much of the focus on One of Us has been on the stories of three former members of the Chasidic community who were rejected by their families after adopting secular lifestyles, Fishoff noted that there is a much deeper theme running through the documentary:  the heartbreaking torment of child rape victims.

    Expressing surprise that anyone would make a movie about child trauma victims, Fishoff noted that there seemed to be a deliberate intent to show that the characters’ struggles were caused by their desire to leave the Chasidic community, while the movie clearly portrays a longing for the lives left behind and glosses over the greater issue of sexual abuse.  It was the trauma they suffered as children, and not theological differences, that caused each of the three to sever their ties with their families and the Chasidic community, observed Fishoff.

    The three subjects of the movie seem to have only one criticism of their former community, according to Fishoff: the rejection facing those who choose to leave.  He described the pain that Luzer, Etty and Ari, the three subjects of One of Us, experienced as “heart wrenching” and “a travesty” but noted that it was unrelated to Judaism.

    Quoting rabbinic giants including the Baal Shem Tov, the Chazon Ish, the Satmar Rebbe and the Gerrer Rebbe Fishoff said that the only way to deal with those who are in pain is to shower them with unconditional love.  Those who have suffered trauma become  dysfunctional, explained Fishoff, making it impossible for them to carry on their normal lives. Sleep becomes elusive. Drugs become a way to numb the pain.  And religious practice becomes too difficult to bear for those who have been abused.

    Fishoff noted that in his own experiences working with at risk young adults he has found that acceptance and love are key to restoring emotional health, with most ultimately choosing to become religiously observant on their own as they heal.  Footsteps does provide victims of abuse with emotional support, but Fishoff said that their blatant efforts to separate Orthodox Jews from their religious practices without addressing the trauma of having been abused is a clear indicator of their blatant anti-religious agenda, one that does a disservice to those in pain and are poorly equipped to be making life-altering decisions.

    But the blame for Footsteps’ all too successful efforts to woo Chasidic and Orthodox Jews away from their religious lives must be shared by the Jewish community, who failed to step up to the plate when it came to dealing with the taboo topic of sexual abuse.

    “There never should have been an organization that was created by people off the derech to help off the derech,” said Fishoff. “It should have been us. We failed.  We created Footsteps and now we don’t like their attitude. They were raped, molested, abused  people  left for dead; they opened up an organization to help other people in that same matzav  and we don’t like their attitude?  Where were we? Where were we? We didn’t open up the hospital. So the inmates had to open up the psych ward.  So the patients had to run their own hospital. And you don’t like their attitude?”

    Fishoff said that he was deeply touched by the stories told in One of Us, lamenting the rejection they faced and assuring them that they would always be welcome in Jewish community.

    “Luzer, Etty, Ari and all the Luzers and Ettys and Aris that are out there, you are one of us,” said Fishoff. “You are our responsibility, the responsibility of klal yisroel. You never should have been abused. You never should have been traumatized  You never should have been rejected. It’s all wrong.”

    Fishoff also did not mince words when it came to people who cover up sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

    “Blood is on your hands, every single one of you,” warned Fishoff.

    Today’s world is vastly different from that of even ten years ago, observed Fishoff, warning that abuse happens even in the best of families.  And while it may be difficult for parents to cope with at risk children, rejection will only make the situation worse.

    “Just like there were Jews in Auschwitz, there are Jews in our day that their life, [in] their head they want to die,” said Fishoff. “They’re in Auschwitz in their head … you want to make it better for them  emotionally physically, spiritually? Be mikarev them with your love.”

    Fishoff, the author of several books and seforim, has been working with what he refers to as “Kids in Pain” or “KiPs” for the past 20 years and has more than 80 YouTube videos that address dealing with the at risk population.

    The founder of Twisted Parenting and director of the Home Sweet Home boys’ shelter, Fishoff’s approach of responding to children who leave yiddishkeit with unconditional love has been gaining in popularity in recent years.

    Considered one of the most sought after expert, Fishoff has coached Thousands of parents throughout the years about his methods with tremendous success.

    Nearly one hour powerful speech by Avi Fishoff, Watch below:

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