Who can be trusted at Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre?

Manny Waks

Often, in addressing the issue of child sexual abuse, I’m confronted with difficult decisions. For example, when is it appropriate to share something publicly? How many opportunities should one be given to do the right thing? At what point do we start to question whether our confidence in people has been misplaced? And there are plenty more.

Last week, the Australian Jewish News reported that the Principals of 6 of the 7 Jewish Schools that make up the Association of Principals of Jewish Day Schools in Victoria, Australia, had written to Adass insisting that they ‘send a representative other than Rabbi Kluwgant to the meetings of the Principals’ Association’. The only principal that was not part of this was Yeshivah Principal, Rabbi Yehoshua (Shua) Smukler.

Members of the broader community, members of the Yeshivah community and particularly those who were sexually abused at Yeshivah and who were impacted by Kluwgant’s conduct towards them, have a legitimate right to ask how it came to pass that Rabbi Smukler and Yeshivah were the only Jewish school principal and Jewish school that did not join with all of the others, from all streams of Judaism, in making their feelings known to Adass. Is there a difference in Rabbi Smukler’s and Yeshivah’s approach to child sexual abuse matters compared to every other Jewish school and principal? Is there still a propensity to protect their own at Yeshivah when you think nobody will ever find out? Whatever the case, an explanation is due. In fact, overdue.

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