Media Release: Victims welcome Royal Commission findings into Yeshivah

Manny Waks
November 29, 2016

‚ÄčOn behalf of myself, my family and other victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, I welcome the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse's Report into the responses of Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne to allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups made against people associated with those institutions.
Regarding Yeshivah Melbourne, the Report highlights the failures of the Yeshivah leadership, and in particular the late Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, which directly resulted in the sexual abuse of numerous children. It also confirms the abhorrent, hypocritical and irreligious way in which the Yeshivah Melbourne community, enabled and/or incited by the lay leadership and Rabbi Zvi Telsner (the son-in-law of Rabbi Groner), responded to victims of sexual abuse, their families and supporters.
It is particularly telling that on all contentious issues, the Commission preferred the evidence given by victims to that of the Yeshivah leadership.
Regrettably, in the year and a half which has transpired since the public hearing into Yeshivah, while there have been many positive developments, the response of the Centre has fallen well short of what ought reasonably to have occurred. It is clear that anybody who was involved in the religious or lay leadership of Yeshivah prior to the Royal Commission has no business being involved in its leadership today. Yet several of the Yeshivah leaders whose conduct was exposed by the Commission have been allowed to maintain their roles or standing within the community. 
Now that the Report has formally confirmed the culpability of Yeshivah and its leadership, Yeshivah must immediately act to:

  • suspend the ongoing performance of religious leadership functions by Rabbis Telsner, Abraham Glick and Meir-Shlomo Kluwgant on its premises or with its endorsement, including leading prayer services, delivering sermons/lectures and/or performing kosher slaughter or certification activities; 
  • stand down Rabbi Chaim-Tzvi Groner, the only Board Member who has failed to resign from the Board; and
  • stand down Mrs Nechama Bendet, the former General Manager and Board member of Yehsivah who remains in a senior management position there.

On a personal note, as the Commission determined that my family became the secondary victims of the abuse I endured, Yeshivah and other guilty parties should offer them, at the very least, an unequivocal personal apology. As the Report notes, none has been forthcoming to date.
Until all of this occurs, any statements of regret or promises of change on behalf of Yeshivah do not reflect the reality on the ground.
I hope that other Jewish communal bodies, who are normally so vocal on matters affecting our community, will join with me and others in exerting pressure on Yeshivah to remove those from its midst who have done so much damage and brought such shame on our entire community.
I thank the Royal Commission for completely vindicating the actions of myself and other victims and holding Yeshivah and its leadership to account. I look forward to the follow-up public hearing in March 2017.


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