October 21st, 2019: It has been nearly 7 years since I published the blog post below. I am wondering now if it did any good and whether I would publish it again. It led to many abusive emails, Facebook posts and Forum posts directed to myself. Many “senior” Feldenkrais trainers and their supporters calling me a loser, idiot, mentally deranged, etc. It’s all quite sad.
More recently, I have been receiving anonymous emails, Facebook messages and the like, telling me of allegations of sexual harassment, rape and bullying instigated by many of the so-called “senior” Feldenkrais trainers. I am staying out of it for now. But I hope at some point the truth comes out and people start coming to terms with the history of the Feldenkrais Guild system. Many people have been hurt. And many people have been silenced. I am now primarily blogging over at my main website.
The original post from 2012:
I did not cause Susan Marshall’s resignation. I did not say anything about trainers being special. As a trainer, I have no idea why Ms. Marshall resigned. – Jerry Karzen, from several posts on Facebook.
Read the pdf of the email exchanges that I have posted below and then tell me how much you believe what Jerry wrote above. In the email exchanges starting at page 67, you will find an email sent from Susan Marshall, recapping the Guild’s position. After Susan’s email, you will see the knives come out as Denis Leri, Jerry Karzen, Paul Rubin, and many others begin chanting “off with her head,” and telling her that it is OK to break the law because they don’t think they will get caught.
What Susan wrote with some deletions to save space for posting online:
Re: Use of email addresses
From Susan Marshall Fri, Nov 30, 2012 4:37 pm
To a group of FGNA trainers and member of the BOD
Thank you for your comments and thoughts…
The largest concern appears to be how training organizations will communicate with people who may be interested in attending trainings. While there are many ways to do this, the most cost-effective method in the past has been by commercial email. Although FGNA mailing lists are still available for one-time rental, FGNA email lists are no longer available for rent.
Even if FGNA maintained a more segmented “opt in” process to develop an email list of persons interested in receiving emails advertising trainings, FGNA would still be exposed to unacceptable business and legal risks if it shared its email lists with others.
FGNA must remain compliant with anti-SPAM laws, non-profit regulation, and the agreements that FGNA has entered into with bulk email service providers, email hosting providers, website hosting providers and internet service providers. FGNA navigates the anti-SPAM laws largely by sending “relationship” and “transaction” based emails (rather than “commercial” emails) of interest to all of our members and practitioners and by using the services of a bulk email provider…our Constant Contact Account Review Department confirmed in writing that FGNA may not share our lists with members, even if FGNA gets the permission of our members. This means that each individual training organization must gather their own permissions and maintain their own lists.
Note from Ryan: I deleted several paragraphs. Read them on the leaked emails or the link below.
Some have suggested that we have a telephone conference to discuss the options that are available, answer questions, understand the alternatives available, etc. If any of you are interested in participating, could you let me know? Thanks, Susan Marshall Executive Director
And then what? You can read the entire document of the leaked emails at your pleasure. But let me point out a few choice ones.
It seems, for all the world, that you are throwing around vaguely threatening and fear-inducing language and revivifying already dealt with and irrelevant issues to obscure and make it seem as if the larger issue of list sharing is much more complicated and fraught with danger than it is. It is a great and often used tactic to control people whose trust you have and who do not feel the need to independently apply independent critical thinking and to do some research on their own. Paul Rubin, Saturday, December 01, 2012 12:41 PM
How scary is what Paul Rubin wrote?? Do you find anything about Susan Marshall’s letter to be threatening and fear-inducing???? I certainly do not. She’s trying to control people by writing a clear position of the Guild’s policy and legal situation? Wow.
Susan et al, That’s it? That’s your best shot? Really worth waiting for. Same old, same old. Dennis Leri Fri, Nov 30, 2012 4:58 pm
Like Dennis, I too find Susan’s responses, ‘same all, same all”. The people who we left in charge to take care of the house (BOD) let in an intruder who has no idea whatsoever why we built this home. … I feel like a man, who with friends built a beautifully landscaped estate. Now, if any of those who built it, and continue to maintain it, need to enter for a drink of water, we are told, “sorry, no water here. Move on. You cannot come in.” … Why would any association bite the hand that feeds it? This subject has unnecessarily escalated way out of proportion. Why wake a sleeping tiger? All I want is a drink of water in our own home. Our home, the one that I and all my hard-working friends built . . . and continue to maintain . . . for over three decades. Jerry Karzen
Susan Marshall, the director of the FGNA was an intruder?! And legalities be damned. Jerry Karzen wants the emails and to deny them based on solid policy reasons is somehow an insult to him personally.
I should also point out that Jerry Karzen, Paul Rubin and Alan Questel had asserted earlier in the exchange that Susan should base her decision on the limited chance that the governement or anyone else would pursue a case. i.e. “just do it, we can get away with it.”
I feel that you and the Board are reacting out of fear. And fear of what? Do you really believe that either a state or federal agency cares anything about such a small organizations activities? Jerry Karzen
My question: who, when, and where has an organization similar to FGNA ever been penalized by the government for a third party misusing a properly shared list and already publicly published list of contact information? Paul Rubin
We need to protect ourselves as best we can but not to the point of shutting ourselves down. We are such a small organization. To think we will be singled out and shut down is not only unrealistic, it approaches hubris. Alan Questel
I will say this again, as I said in my video a few days ago. According the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 you can not distribute or rent email lists…even when those lists are legitimately and legally collected. It does not mention being exempt from the law if you are a Feldenkrais Trainer, knew Moshe Feldenkrais personally, or feel entitled to another’s email address. Paul Rubin does not believe me? Jerry Karzen wants a reference? Well, they can hire a lawyer on their own time. It is common knowledge, common sense and (shock) good business practice. Sending people unwanted email without their permission pisses them off. Is that what we want?
On the other hand, when you have a relationship with a person and have their permission to send an email, they are more likely to open it and more likely to take action when doing so, such as buying a product or clicking through to a website.
Here are a few more replies to Susan’s email. I mentioned them in the video, but they bear repeating:
It is astounding to me that this matter of access to email lists, which will ensure the continued existence of the Guild, has been met with so much resistance from the Guild. Astounding, but unfortunately not unpredictable. It seems clear to me that the BOD must step in and get this sorted out immediately or all of us involved in Trainings will have to take more drastic measures to get our voices heard and our legitimate access to the e-mail lists assured. From: Katrin Smithback Mon, Dec 3, 2012 3:37 pm
Yes, thanks Katrin. If you do not have access to the email lists the Guild will die. We will all die. And cats and dogs will start sleeping together and the world will come to end. I am glad that no one is being overly dramatic.
Although we have supported the Guild for decades, if they can’t work with us and our organizations, I agree with Jerry’s suggestion that we consider bypassing the Guild and finding other ways to pursue our goals of advancing the Feldenkrais Method. – Angel Di Benedetto Mon, Dec 3, 2012 5:00 pm
I agree with Angel. Her business and all of the trainer’s businesses (and your business and mine) should have multiple ways of advancing our practices and business…otherwise known as having business strategies and a business plan. Angel, like many trainers seems to have thought she was exempt developing her own business assets. I am glad she is learning otherwise. I have friends in the psychotherapy field who have email lists with 5K, 8K and 40K emails on them! And we help each other promote our events. When the various Feldenkrais communities have this, we will be well on our way.
Like I said to the Training community, this issue could possibly do what Anat couldn’t, that is, bring about the dissolution of the Guild. Maybe that’s good, maybe not. Anyway, this issue is emblematic of the dispiriting sorts of interactions that have become all too common. Dennis Leri, Mon, Dec 3, 2012 8:24 pm
Denis may be correct, but not in the way he intended. My hope is that this issue will bring about the end of the Guild as we know it. Wake up Feldenkrais practitioners. You pay for the guild. You have the power. You can organize and change things – if you chose. Stop looking the other way. Look at what is happening. A small but vocal group of Feldenkrais trainers bully and harass and rant and rage to try and get their way. They have been doing so for decades. They are not entitled to use your money nor your email address. They do not own the guild. And they do not own the service marks. If they want to leave, let them leave. The Guild can manage without them and can find other ways to certify students and trainers.
As I said, you may think my interpretations are wrong. You may have others. Feel free. I post – as always – the original source documents as I receive them. In this case, I have eliminated the email addresses in the document and eliminated the names of several practitioners who had little or nothing to do with email exchanges and did not participate.
Addendum: It is late and I am tired and perhaps prone to spelling or factual errors. I reserve the right, as always, to modify this blog post after it is published to correct formatting, spelling or factual errors. Feel free to point out any that you might find.
Click to download: FGNA Leaked Emails