OPINION: Justice on the Horizon

Jewish Journal

February 21, 2018

By Nicole Meyer

It was a typical evening. The kids were settled and I finally sat down to relax. Then the phone rang. It was a familiar number from Israel and I thought the call would be nothing more than a quick hello. But within 30 seconds, my life sharply tilted off-kilter.

“Malka Leifer has been arrested.”

“What?” was all I managed to articulate, my body flooding with adrenalin and my mind with a multitude of scrambled thoughts. My fingers shook as I messaged my sisters. Within minutes, they were at my door and we all spoke at once. Could this long journey to justice finally have arrived? Would Leifer finally return to Australia to face her alleged crimes or would she again evade extradition? Five television channels were already clamoring for our reaction to this huge news.

Leifer, the 54-year-old former principal of Adass Israel Jewish School in Melbourne, fled Australia for Israel in March 2008 after allegations of sexual abuse of numerous female students came to light. My sisters and I never thought we would tell anyone of the abuse. But then in early 2011, my sister Elly was the first to make a police statement, followed by my other sister, Dassi. Finally, I made my statement, too.

It was the start of a journey we never imagined would last this long. In May 2014, Leifer was arrested in Israel for the first time and before long was released on bail, albeit with an ankle bracelet. For the next two years, every time a court date was set for extradition proceedings to begin, she checked herself into a psychiatric hospital.

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