The Yeshivah community have chosen the Jewish month of Elul, traditionally a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days, to once again deliver a huge slap in the face to child sexual abuse victims and in particular, to those who have suffered as a result of (Rabbi) Zvi Hirsch Telsner by appointing the disgraced Rabbi to ‘perform non-congregational/non-pulpit duties’.
In 2015, Telsner resigned his role at Yeshivah and admitted that his own ‘conduct towards victims and their families did not demonstrate…values or behaviour to the extent necessary of a Rabbi’ in his position. And yet, at a time when other community institutions are avoiding being associated with those implicated in the child sexual abuse scandal in our community, it is Yeshivah alone, the institution responsible for the rape and abuse of dozens of children in its care, that considers it appropriate to reward Telsner with a new contract.
That this appointment should be made under the guise of being ‘motivated by a genuine desire to move forward’ is cynical and offensive. That the announcement should fail to acknowledge the pain and suffering inflicted by Telsner on child sexual abuse victims and the embarrassment that he has caused the entire Jewish community is a reflection on just how out of touch and insensitive the Yeshivah Board remains.
Telsner’s re-appointment sends a clear message to the community that no matter how badly or how violently you attack child sexual abuse victims, Yeshivah will take little, if any, action. And it also sends a message to victims – that Yeshivah still do not ‘get it’ and you will find no support from within that community.
Despite all of the injustice that Yeshivah’s victims have experienced, it is again apparent that the Yeshivah community is determined to prolong our suffering by denying us the justice that comes with holding to account those who have hurt us.
Sadly, this has been the attitude of successive leaders of Yeshivah. Very little seems to have changed culturally and many are asking if Yeshivah can really ever change.
We call on Yeshivah to belatedly do the right thing and immediately disassociate itself from Telsner.
Since Yeshivah’s personal apology to Victims’ Advocate Manny Waks and their Redress Scheme announcement, Waks has occasionally engaged with the Yeshivah leadership. Due to Telsner’s re-appointment, Waks has decided to sever ties with the Yeshivah leadership.
Yeshivah Centre public announcement:
As you know, settling the matter of Rabbi of the main Yeshivah Shule, has been top priority of the CIVL Board.
We have considered feedback received from many groups of stakeholders including CIVL [Chabad Institutions of Victoria] members, broader Yeshivah community members, the other Moisdois [religious institutions], Halachic [Jewish Law] authorities, legal authorities, political entities, donors and supporters in the wider Jewish community etc.
Motivated by a genuine desire to move forward, we have been in comprehensive discussions with Rabbi Telsner and Rabbi Telsner has shown great support in enabling Rabbinical renewal within the main Yeshivah Shule and broader institutions.
Rabbi Telsner and the Board have reached a mutually beneficial agreement. Rabbi Telsner does not and will not be holding any formal position within the Shule. The Board recognises Rabbi Telsner’s value to the community and as such, the CIVL Board has chosen to retain Rabbi Telsner to perform non-congregational/non-pulpit duties.
Members of our community may choose to engage Rabbi Telsner in an individual and private capacity going forward.
The CIVL Board will now embark on the process of engaging a new Rabbi.
Ksiva Vachasima Tova [traditional Jewish New Year blessing]
The Board of CIVL (Chabad Institutions of Victoria Ltd)
PLEASE VIEW THE BLOG OF MANNY WAKS: http://www.mannywaks.com/