Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"Standing Silent" January 25 - 31

January 25 - 31

“Do not stand idly by while your brother’s blood is being spilled,” is Standing Silent’s message.  Gripping and unsettling, the film sheds light on the victims of sexual abuse in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community and helps break the cycle of silence.

Washington Jewish Post editor Phil Jacobs recounts the harrowing experiences of survivors of sexual abuse and fights the establishment to give their stories a voice.  

Strengthened by the author’s personal story of abuse after 25 years of silence, the film began as a series of articles on sexual abuse in the Baltimore Jewish Times. Uncovering a web of sexual abuse against a rabbi and his son in the Baltimore Orthodox Jewish community, Standing Silent, reveals the hidden truth as it documents the pain and suffering of the survivors. 

Standing Silent director and Home Alone producer, Scott Rosenfelt stated, “I saw a narrative character that was in great conflict between protecting his faith and his community and protecting children and humanity.”  A controversial topic in the Jewish community, as in other tight-knit communities, the film seeks to uncover abuse and make it an obligation to protect abuse victims.

Vilified for reporting allegations of sexual abuse in Baltimore’s Orthodox community, Jacobs fights on to bring these cases to life despite the charged emotions surrounding the issue and the backlash from the community.  One victim in the film says, “Everyone was telling me it didn’t happen…no one wants to talk about this stuff.” 
January 25 – 31!

Exclusive Q&A with Standing Silent’s Phil Jacobs

Q:How did Standing Silent come about?
A: One of my dearest friends is a man named Bob Rosenfelt. We share a love of baseball. Every March we try to take three days, go to South Florida and see as many spring training major league baseball games that we can. We've been doing this for years. And from the beginning, Bob's brother Scott has joined us. While I was writing the series of stories on molestation, I had an interview set up with a molestation survivor in Vero Beach, Fla. At the time, the Dodgers trained there. So, on the way to the ball park, Scott and Bob dropped me off at a coffee house to interview a survivor. I introduced the gentleman to my two friends. Scott saw immediately that this was a person whose face generated sadness. Even his handshake was tentative. When I was finished with the interview, the man took me back to the baseball stadium. I took my seat in between Bob and Scott. During the game, Scott kept asking me questions about what I was writing. By the 9th inning, he said to me, "I've never made a documentary before. But if I could raise the funds, would you let a crew follow you?" I replied that I'd have to check it out with my wife. And that's how it got started. The crew came to Baltimore many times and even traveled to Israel when I was there visiting my oldest daughter.

Q: What was something good that came from all of this?

A: The articles created a conversation within the Baltimore Jewish community and helped validate the work of a Jewish Baltimore organization, the Shofar Coalition that works with survivors. The articles brought the issue out into the open and helped victims come forward and begin a process of healing.

Q: What brought about the investigation you did?

A: There was little or no news about molestation in the Jewish community. In May of 2006, a friend invited me to a meeting he was putting together. It was for survivors of sexual molestation….I wrote the article, "Steve is 25." And it was the first story in a series of many articles. It was Steve's encouragement that made the article possible.

Q: What was the impact on your personal life in Baltimore?

A: It wasn't very pretty. Some people I considered friends wouldn't even look me in the eye. They'd stare down at the sidewalk instead of looking at me. I was shouted at while standing in line at a kosher grocery store. However, I also learned who my real friends were within the Jewish community. That is something I will always cherish. My real friends circled my family with love and encouragement.

Q: What has happened in Baltimore since the articles were published and Standing Silent was screened?

A: I wouldn't take credit for any of this. However, the Shofar Coalition now has a speaker's bureau where survivors meet with adults and youth and share their stories.  It's quite a change in reaction.

Q: Was there a particular difficult moment during or following the screening of the film?

A: Almost every screening I've attended, someone will approach me and tell me their most difficult stories. I've learned that there are so many people who are in deep, deep pain.

Q: Do you feel that this is an issue only connected to the Orthodox community?

A: Not at all. I have met many, many survivors from all denominations and also many not affiliated at all with any branch of Judaism.

Q: What would you do differently if the filming were to start over?

A: I think I would have offered websites of agencies people could call for help.

Q: Are you still writing about this subject?

A: Off and on, yes I am. It hasn't stopped. I receive phone calls and emails regularly as a result of Standing Silent. The film changed the lives of many for the good.


  1. where is the nearest digiplex theater in San Diego

  2. Hi Sharron, check out our locations here:

  3. I commend Digiplex Destinations for having the courage to present this documentary on such a wide scale. Sexual abuse, as horrific as it is, I believe, can only be dealt with and intervened upon when 'light is shed' upon it. This kind of abuse knows no ethnic or religious boundaries. Thank you contributing to the recovery and healing of those impacted by it. And the education of all of us to prevent future occurrences of it.