Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Australia) Protect Our Children - Jewish community members in Australia taking action against sexual abuse

Skokie Sexual Abuse Examiner - May 24, 2012

This week an ad was placed in the Jewish news media in Melbourne, Australia, regarding the alleged ongoing corruption in their community when it comes to how cases of sexual abuse have been mishandled over the years.  Melbourne is not alone in the frustration Jewish community members from in cities around the globe are frustrated and are starting to demand accountability from religious and other leaders.

Manny Waks, who is a spokesperson for survivors and is a member of The Awareness Center’s international advisory board stated:

"The fact that it has gotten to this stage, where supporters of child sexual abuse victims and their families feel the need to take out paid ads in the media in order to combat the ongoing abuse from a fringe sector within our community, is a terrible blight on the entire Jewish community.

My understanding is that these ads were initiated specifically to address the appalling attitude and actions of the Yeshivah Centre leadership and a small but not insignificant group of their followers. This re-victimisation must cease immediately. Victims and their families must be supported. Many have taken the very brave stand in taking these allegations to the police and the last thing we need is for them and their families to endure additional pain and suffering. It is simply unacceptable.

The Yeshivah Centre should undertake a process of serious introspection. They should also consider carefully the Magistrate’s comments against one of their leaders, former Yeshivah College Principal (and current teacher and Student Welfare Officer) Rabbi Avrohom Glick, whom she described his evidence as having no credibility whatsoever and especially that it is “unfathomable” that Rabbi Glick only became aware of the abuse in the last 10 years. Many of us who have made allegations regarding Yeshivah's facilitation and cover up of these crimes feel vindicated by the Magistrate's remarks. Hopefully this indictment will instigate a major re-think on the part of the Yeshivah leadership.

From a personal perspective, I and many of the other victims have been overwhelmed and humbled by the ongoing support from all sectors of the Jewish community—both in Australia and globally—including many from within the Yeshivah Centre community who have been appalled by the unconscionable, immoral and irreligious actions by the Yeshivah leadership. Having said that, unfortunately there have been numerous attempts by a fringe group within the ultra-Orthodox community to silence me personally through harassment, intimidation and threats. I am also aware that a number of individuals within the Yeshivah community have been significantly pressured to tow the Yeshivah leadership’s line—including through threats of excommunication. For those engaged in such actions I say, you will never succeed. We will remain resolute in our actions to combat this scourge.

As it says in the Torah, 'Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof' or 'Justice you shall pursue'. This is precisely what we are doing for the benefit of the entire community—to ensure we get justice for the victims, to increase our children's safety and to comprehensively change the appalling attitude to child sexual abuse within the ultra-Orthodox community."

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