FORMER Yeshivah principal Rabbi Avrohom Glick described a function at the school last week where he shared the stage with child sexual abuse victims as a “significant step”.
Rabbi Glick, who was principal when more than a dozen students were abused by paedophiles, acknowledged and apologised for the mistakes and the failings of the past.
“I realise and I regret that in the past the true impact of child abuse, and the pain and suffering that abuse caused to victims and their families were not fully understood,” Rabbi Glick said.
“I am sincerely sorry and I apologise for that pain and suffering.”
He commended advocates for victims who have shed light on the issues of child sexual abuse and the victims for their courage to speak openly.
Rabbi Glick said that if the community works together, the “real beneficiaries will be children, who in the future will be much safer, and past victims, who will be able to move forward towards a better, brighter and happier future.”
Rabbi Glick spoke in front of more than 200 people at the function, Silence No More, last Wednesday night.
Rabbi Yosef Jacobson and four victims of child sexual abuse, including Manny Waks and president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse Dr Cathy Kezelman, also spoke at the function.
Waks challenged those in attendance about the concept of lashon hara, an evil tongue, because he said that it applies to those who listen to people speaking badly but do nothing about it, not just those who say something bad.
“Reflect, for a moment, if you ever spoke badly, not just about me or my family, but about other victims,” Waks said. “Reflect, if you ever listened and did nothing about that and just consider that for a moment.
“Think about the impact it had on so many people.”
And a second victim, who chose not to be named, picked up on the same point and emphasised the damage to each and every child in the community from lashon hara.
He said when people make disparaging comments about those who were abused, they are sending a message that if someone in your family is abused, you will be the brunt of the community if you make a disclosure.
“A paedophile doesn’t have one victim so if the first victim doesn’t speak up, then the perpetrators will act again,” the victim said.
“When you make those hurtful statements, and as a result people don’t come forward, you are actually compromising your own children and your own grandchildren.
“That is the culture you are creating – policies and procedures can’t address that.”