A FORMER spiritual leader of the Melbourne community is at the centre of fresh child abuse allegations.
The rabbi, who is no longer alive, is alleged to have sexually abused two male congregants, with the incidents dating back as far as the early 1960s. One of the victims is understood to have been abused while receiving bar mitzvah lessons from the rabbi.
The AJN understands police have been made aware of the allegations.
Manny Waks, founder of victims advocacy group Tzedek, said it was likely there were more children who had suffered at the rabbi’s hands and urged them to come forward. “It is my hope that when past victims hear about these particular cases, that they realise that they are not alone – this happened to many others within our community. It is irrelevant how prominent a rabbi is – anyone may be inflicted by this sickness and, importantly, no-one has immunity from the crimes they committed,” he said.
After learning of the allegations, the Rabbinic Council of Victoria last week issued a statement, urging anyone with information to go to the authorities.
“It is essential that when abuse has occurred the police must be informed without delay,” said RCV president Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant.
The fresh allegations come in the wake of a spate of reports of abuse within the community, many centred on Melbourne’s Yeshivah College.
Former teacher David Kramer is due in court later this year to face 12 charges, including indecent assault and indecent acts with a child under the age of 16.
Another past employee, David Cyprys, was in court last week, with a magistrate ordering him to appear again for a committal hearing on April 23. He is charged with 41 offences including rape.
Meanwhile, Sydney Yeshiva Centre’s Rabbi Pinchus Feldman this week reaffirmed that all cases of child sexual abuse should be reported to the police. Rabbi Feldman was responding to a claim reported in The Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday that 25 years ago an alleged paedophile, who is now the subject of a police investigation, confessed his crime to the rabbi.
Rabbi Feldman, however, told The AJN he had no recollection of the conversation. “To make my position absolutely clear, I endorse the unequivocal rabbinical rulings encouraging victims of abuse to report to the police and I will continue to support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in investigating and taking action against these heinous crimes,” he said.
When asked by The AJN if anyone had ever come forward to him to report child sexual abuse at Yeshiva or by Yeshiva members, he did not respond.
This week’s report follows revelations that NSW Police are investigating two cases of child sexual abuse that took place in the Yeshiva community in Sydney more than 20 years ago.
Yeshiva College spokesperson Rabbi Eli Feldman said after he saw the story in the newspaper he immediately contacted police “to offer our assistance and to ensure continued community safety”.
Yeshiva’s leadership was due to meet with NSW Police this morning (Thursday).
“We are committed to fully cooperate with the police in this matter and encourage community members to do the same,” Rabbi Feldman said.
He added Yeshiva will continue to fulfill its duty of care to children and that it has strong child protection policies in place. “The police have confirmed that the allegations are historical in nature and no persons have been charged in relation to those allegations,” Rabbi Feldman said.
“Yeshiva will maintain its close relationship with the police in ensuring community safety and welcomes community members to directly contact Yeshiva or the police with concerns or information relating to the investigation.”
ADAM KAMIEN AND JOSHUA LEVI
Manny Waks, founder of victims advocacy group Tzedek