As a community rabbi’s daughter, Rahel Bayar grew up in New Jersey seeing good works practiced on a regular basis. Her own path toward communal service led her to a job as a sex crimes prosecutor at the Bronx District Attorney’s office.
“I went to law school to pursue justice in some very real, tangible way,” said Bayar, who graduated from Seton Hall University School of Law. “I wanted to be a voice for people who need someone to speak up for them.”
Bayar did just that, successfully prosecuting crimes that allowed her to seek justice.
Bayar was also an avid former camper, having attended various Camp Ramahs as a staff child, and having worked at camps Nesher, Moshava IO, and Moshava Ennismore in Canada. In 2013, she was asked to speak on child safety to staff at a camp in Washington State; soon, word grew of her expertise in creating camp safety protocols and effective staff training. She has since spoken to camps, community centers and organizations across North America; most recently, she gave a webinar for JOFA about preventing sex abuse in summer camps.
“By acknowledging that there is a problem — and every community in every religion has this problem, unfortunately — we can then be empowered to deal with it,” said Bayar. “I have seen the impact of how just one person believing a child, and not turning away, can change a life. That’s a power we can and should harness.”
Bayar left the DA’s office in 2016 after six years, and currently works as a senior consultant for T&M Protection, where she investigates instances of sexual misconduct. She lives in Riverdale, NY, and still leads staff trainings at Jewish summer camps across the county. She recently helped launch Moshava California and, with her husband Tuvia, directed its staff education and child safety training.
“When you approach preventing sexual abuse with the perspective that it is our communal responsibility to help protect our children, and empower people to work on this issue collaboratively as an issue of pikuah nefesh, people can be incredibly responsive,” said Bayar. “I believe that with the right education and training, every community, big or small, can make a difference.”
A girl named Maria: Bayar and her husband met at Moshava Ennismore when they were cast as Tony and Maria in “West Side Story.”