Ellen Jane Dopkin was the only girl in her Agudas Achim Synagogue class.
She was post-bat mitzvah age, but her Hebrew school classroom achievements gave her the rare opportunity as a girl to be part of a special class studying the works of the Jewish sage Rashi.
She was the only girl in a class of about 15 young teens.
Her teacher was the late Rabbi Ephraim Shapiro.
He asked her to stay after class one day. They were alone. He placed his hands all over her body. He forced a kiss on her lips.
This happened over and over and over again, she said.
Known to her friends as E.J., Mrs. Dopkin sits in her beautiful Pikesville home with her husband Michael. The events described above happened decades ago. Yet, they remain fresh for Mrs. Dopkin.
Someone she knows told her that there was a story about Rabbi Shapiro in the April 13 BALTIMORE JEWISH TIMES in which males who said they were abused by the rabbi told their story. She read about the courage of those interviewed in the article. She wanted to make sure that the community understood that Rabbi Shapiro’s molestations weren’t just with boys.
“Sometimes it happened in his office in the downstairs part of the school,” she remembered. “Sometimes he had me come to his house. I never told anybody. I was a young girl. I didn’t know what to do.
“It impacted me,” she continued. “It kept a block in front of me and my life. I felt that I wasn’t able to accomplish as much I could have because of what he did to me.”
Mrs. Dopkin thinks of herself as a survivor. She said she’s working to do what she can to get past her memories.
“Having an experience such as this makes you feel as if you don’t want to trust people of authority, and then you don’t want to trust anyone else, and then you don’t even want to trust yourself,” she said. “Then the healing process is to say to yourself, I can try to get past this.”
If Mrs. Dopkin could say anything to Rabbi Shapiro it would be simply a question: “How could you use religion as an entering point to your terrible behavior.”