Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Crazy Israeli Rabbis Block "Abuse Crisis Hotlines" on the Kosher Phones!

by Sandy Eller
Pointing the finger of blame squarely at rabbinical authorities, Israeli cellular providers admit that access to mental health and sexual abuse hotlines are blocked on kosher phones.
According to reports on Israeli news service Ynet, which conducted an investigation into the blocked kosher phone numbers, the only service provider which allowed kosher phone users access to the mental health hotline, 1201, was Orange.  No cellular providers gave kosher phone users the ability to access either 1202 or 1203, the sexual abuse hotlines for women and men, respectively.
Legislation passed by the Knesset last year mandated that calls to the above hotlines would be free calls which would not appear on user’s statements in attempt to provide an extra layer of discretion, but also allowed the Rabbinical Communications Commission the ability to have input into the cellular communications system. 
Representatives at two major cellular providers told Ynet that the decision to block the numbers came directly from the Rabbinical Communications Commission.  However, according to one representative, the Ministry of Communications is equally at fault for giving the Rabbinical Communications Commission the authority to block the hotlines.
According to the Ministry of Communications, there are four numbers that have been set aside for emergency use:  100, 101, 102 and 104, and that there is currently no law that mandates having sexual abuse and mental health hotlines on cellular devices.
One chareidi kosher phone user who tried to call a mental health hotline on his cell phone said it was obvious that the decision to restrict access to the emergency number came from the rabbinic board.
“An act of this magnitude should generate huge public protest,” said the user.  “It makes no sense that as a citizen, I should be denied the ability to get help when I am in distress.”
“What is next?” added a friend of the user.  “Tomorrow they will tell me that I can’t call Magen David Adom, I can only call the chareidi Hatzolah?  There is a reason why these emergency lines exist and it is unacceptable that the Israeli government is playing a part in blocking access to these numbers.”
David Koren, the CEO of ERAN, Israel’s Emergency Hotline for Emotional First Aid, told Ynet that he was aware of the problem and blamed the Rabbinical Communication Commission for the blockage.
“For now what we can do is give people an alternate phone number for ERAN, which may not offer as many services as the hotline, but will at least provide some level of service,” said Koren.
Calls from chareidim to ERAN are not rare, according to Koren.
“While we have not asked the Rabbinical Communications Commission to remove the block, we would be happy to work with them so that we can continue to offer services to the chareidi community,” noted Koren.
A group of representatives from sexual abuse hotlines and crisis centers were shocked to discover that their numbers had been blocked, insisting that by law, emergency hotline numbers for abuse victims must be accessible as free numbers from all phones.  Citing the greater sensitivity needed when dealing with chareidi abuse victims and their increased reluctance to ask for help, they insisted that there is a dire need for abuse hotlines in the chareidi community.
Separate abuse crisis centers were created for chareidi men and women in 1993, allowing molestation victims in the religious community to come forward and receive support and advice.  Those centers can be accessed from any phone and are 02-673-0002 for women and 02-532-8000 for men.

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