Norman Goldwasser, Conversion Therapy, Meyer Seewald, and Jewish Community Watch
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Yesterday, after two-and-a-half years of privately debating the issue of Norman Goldwasser and his role within Jewish Community Watch (from when it was founded until about 2015), I was forced to release an audio recording of Meyer Seewald, founder and director of JCW, threatening me unless I dropped this issue.
I am publishing this today in the hope that this will be the last statement I have to make on the matter. While some people have expressed sadness over the fact that this dispute is now being played out in public, I truly believe that there was no other way for this to be resolved. JCW and Meyer Seewald have proven themselves unwilling to take any responsibility for their callous and irresponsible actions. Furthermore, once they became aware of their actions, they chose to try to cover up those mistakes, instead of addressing them.
As many people know, I underwent conversion therapy for a year and a half after I turned eighteen. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and have worked closely with Meyer Seewald on a range of cases and issues between 2012 and as recently as last month.
In July of 2014, I emailed Meyer Seewald and the board of directors of JCW about my concerns about Dr. Norman Goldwasser, primarily because he was still advocating for conversion therapy as a legitimate treatment for survivors of abuse. From the day that email was sent until the time of this writing, JCW has not only refused to acknowledge their error in employing and referring people to Dr. Goldwasser, they’ve chosen to attack and defame me, even though I've stood by their side despite the fact that this issue was significant, and grew more and more concerning each day that passed.
In April of 2014, when I attended one of their events in Monsey, Dr. Goldwasser was one of their featured speakers. During his speech, he made a few references to a ‘patient who lives in South Beach’. This was a backhanded attempt at pointing out this patient was gay (as South Beach is a predominantly LGBTQIA community). Goldwasser then concluded that he couldn’t help this patient because he was abused and then didn’t end up utilizing right therapy in time. In other words, in a public forum, a member of Jewish Community Watch’s Board publicly claimed that he couldn’t help a former patient who is gay because he didn’t get to him and his recommendation of conversion therapy ‘in time’. Goldwasser made almost identical comments at a later event in Israel, they were written about here.
After these events, the public debates over this issue started. There were two distinct threads on Facebook, one in April of 2015 and another in August 2015, where JCW officials (including Meyer Seewald, Eli Nash and Benny Forer) vigorously defended Goldwasser’s position on conversion therapy. In both these threads, the aforementioned individuals doubled down on their support for Goldwasser, and instead of actually considering the concerns that were being raised, they chose to make this personal and took it as an attack on themselves instead of about the many people who relied on them for support.
At some point in the next year (the exact date has not been determined as of yet) any and all references to Dr. Goldwasser were removed from JCW's site. While some remnants of Goldwasser’s speeches at their events are still available online, the fact that he was no longer a board member of their organization seemed to happen overnight and without any explanation. In private conversations with Meyer Seewald, it became clear that JCW terminated their relationship for personal reasons that were unrelated to any of the previous concerns regarding his stance on conversion therapy raised by myself and others. Seewald told me, in no uncertain terms, that he “did not get rid of him because of you.” Seewald also claimed that they were taking steps to actually “pull people out” of therapy with Goldwasser because of their newfound concerns about him.
Part of the problem is that because JCW gave this individual such a large platform, sent people to him, and allowed him to serve on their board, there was and still is no way for the public to know that JCW no longer endorses him. This has been my problem with JCW over the last two-and-a-half years, and continues to be the case. As recently as a few weeks ago, Meyer told me that his board gave him approval to publish an un-endorsement of Goldwasser, but for some reason that never happened. Instead, I was personally attacked and maligned yet again by Meyer Seewald.
The question people need to ask themselves is this: when did JCW terminate their relationship with Norman Goldwasser? Why did they terminate it? And most importantly, why didn’t they decide to alert the public that they were no longer referring patients to him? If they were concerned enough to take the step of actually trying to stop people from seeing him - people that they had previously referred to him - why would they just not simply make a public statement that they no longer endorse him?
These are tough but important questions. By bringing this issue to light (yet again), I am being accused by supporters of Meyer Seewald and JCW of attempting to harm victims, while nothing could be further from the truth. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I believe that advocacy on behalf of this cause is crucial to the safety of children, but we must hold the people doing this work to the highest possible standard. If you believe that JCW has met that standard with the way they handled this issue, then you are welcome to your opinion, but I highly doubt that most logical and honest people would agree. JCW and Meyer Seewald did themselves and their supporters a grave injustice by choosing to make this personal and about me and my supposedly 'hidden agendas’ when in fact, this was about one thing only: making sure that the people who came to them for help got actual help and not more abuse, which is what happened to some of the people they referred to Goldwasser.