Rabbi Yossi Feldman, the RCNSW and The AJN

In 2011, The AJN called for Rabbi Yossi Feldman to be removed as president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW (RCNSW) after revealing that he had sent out emails saying people should report allegations of child abuse to a rabbi in the first instance and not the police. The rabbi would then determine what course of action to take.

Today have learnt through the Royal Commission that Rabbi Feldman thought you should report allegations of abuse to a rabbi before the proper authorities first, because a rabbi has common sense and can investigate … even when time and again we now know through the commission that senior rabbis put the welfare of paedophiles above children and didn’t report them and even though Rabbi Feldman has admitted that even though he was director of a school he didn’t realise it was illegal to touch a child’s genitals.

It has also now been shown he was worried about a rabbinic statement urging reporting alleged paedopiles to the police because it might affect his friend, the now convicted paedophile, David Cyprys …

At the time we called on Rabbi Feldman to lose his position, the RCNSW put out the following statement:

1.It is well known that halbanat panim be-rabim, shaming a person publicly, is a serious sin. To this end we unreservedly condemn the false and defamatory summary judgements that have been made by the media, Jewish lay organisations and even colleagues in the public arena without ascertaining the full facts.

2. In addition to our support and endorsement of the published statements of other major Rabbinic bodies of Australia on this matter, the RCNSW unreservedly and emphatically condemns all forms of child abuse and protection of perpetrators. We encourage all victims to report directly to the Police and relevant authorities.

3. Notwithstanding Rabbi Yosef Feldman’s full endorsement of the RCNSW’s position on child abuse as outlined in paragraph 2, we accept with respect his decision to step aside as President at this time, to clear his name.

4. The RCNSW and Rabbi Yosef Feldman, distance themselves from the distorted representation of Rabbi Yosef Feldman’s views as reported in the AJN. His actual view, is as outlined in paragraph 2.

5. The RCNSW condemns unreservedly the Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) perpetrated by the AJN as a result of its reckless and sensationalist portrayal of Rabbi Yosef Feldman’s views. Sensitive matters were distorted and presented out of context with damaging effect. We also condemn the AJN’s unjustified excoriation of the RCNSW. It is a sad day for the Jewish community when the largest circulation Jewish newspaper in Australia has stooped to the level of a cheap tabloid.

So the RCNSW stood by their man and condemned The AJN.

Under pressure, Rabbi Feldman did step aside briefly as the president … but subsequently resumed in the role.