The Halachic Obligation to Report Abuse

scales of justice and child

http://www.kollel.edu.au/single-post/2016/12/25/The-Halachic-Obligation-of-Reporting-Abuse-to-

FACING CHALLENGES, REPORTING ABUSE, AVOIDING HARM…

We are surprised by this. You may be too.

“Don’t Stand Back. Don’t Withhold Yourself.”

 

The following is a link to a video regarding the obligation to report abuse.

http://www.kollel.edu.au/single-post/2016/12/25/The-Halachic-Obligation-of-Reporting-Abuse-to-

 

Australia – Abuse Victim Suing Yeshiva Centre – a Groundbreaking Development

Abuse victim suing Yeshivah Centre

https://www.jewishnews.net.au/abuse-victim-suing-yeshivah-centre/56689

Shimon Walles. Photo: Peter HaskinShimon Walles. Photo: Peter Haskin

A CHILD sexual abuse victim of Rabbi David Kramer has gone public for the first time, claiming his negotiations with Yeshivah Centre for compensation have hit a roadblock.

Shimon Walles, who was sexually abused by Kramer when he was a Yeshivah student in 1990, spoke to police for the first time in 2008.

In 2013, Kramer pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting Walles among others, and received a jail sentence.

“When Kramer was convicted I was more traumatised by the re-victimisation,” Walles exclusively told The AJN this week, referring to his treatment by some members of the Yeshivah community.

“At the time, the retribution was so bad that I couldn’t live in Australia.

“I was just trying to move on with my life and at the time I never thought of civil action.”

According to Walles, when he returned to Australia in 2014 the victimisation and intimidation continued.

He said he felt like he was being driven out of the country ahead of the Royal Commission. He then contacted Yeshivah for the first time to seek compensation through mediation.

He claimed that over the course of two years Yeshivah failed to adequately respond, and that earlier this year his lawyer told him to start proceedings in court.

“I told my lawyer that I want to keep things civil with Yeshivah, and instead of going to court to write them another letter and try and go to mediation again.

“I wasn’t looking for a war with Yeshivah, I just wanted to be peaceful.”

But last week, after another round of negotiations with Yeshivah, Walles finally gave up and decided to take legal action.

“I’m very frustrated and unfortunately it has come to this, but if they can’t wake up after everything that has happened what choice do I have?

“I am now ready to start exposing it for what it is.”

Walles said that deciding to publicly reveal himself as a victim was difficult, but made easier given his treatment by the community.

“I know they speak about me behind my back and do terrible things behind my back, so at this point in time what do I have to lose?”

In a statement to The AJN the Yeshivah’s management said that ensuring that survivors of child sexual abuse are treated with respect and dignity has the highest priority.

“Measures have been put in place through education and training to try to ensure that survivors are treated with sensitivity and compassion,” the statement said.

“In recognition of past abuse, the centre also established a redress scheme offering redress including monetary payments and access to counselling which is available to survivors in a respectful confidential manner outside the legal framework.

“The centre takes all such claims seriously but is understandably not in a position to make public comment in relation to a particular claim or individual making a claim.”

JOSHUA LEVI

 

https://www.jewishnews.net.au/abuse-victim-suing-yeshivah-centre/56689

Nechama Bendet – Inconsistencies and She Claims Libel? An Utter Disgrace!

 

Bendet

 

THE HERALD SUN:

Jewish college director sues over sex abuse claims on Facebook

A SENIOR administrator of Yeshivah College is suing for libel, claiming she had been accused of pressuring child sex abuse victims not to pursue their complaints with police.

The orthodox Jewish school’s former general manager, Nechama Bendet, has lodged a writ in the Supreme Court seeking damages over five Facebook posts by Bruce James Cooke, whom she describes as a “vocal member of the Jewish community”.

Now the school’s director of development, she claims Mr Cooke suggested she had sought to ostracise two victims by calling them “mosers” for going to police and had thereby tried to pressure them not to pursue their complaints.

“Moser” is an offensive ­Hebrew term for one who breaks a code banning Jews from informing on one another to secular authorities.

This year, Ms Bendet told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse that the college had never discussed investigating claims of a cover-up after a former Yeshivah guard, David ­Cyprys, was accused of child sex crimes.

David Cyprys
David Cyprys

In 2011, it approached Robert Richter, QC, who ­advised it on public relations and dealing with victims, she said.

In her statement of claim, she says Mr Cooke’s posts suggested that she knew of abuse but did not report it to police; that she had shown complete disregard for victims by asserting the school had no legal obligation to report their abuse; that she condoned not reporting child sex abuse and rape to police unless there was a legal requirement to do so; and that there were reasonable grounds for police to investigate whether she had engaged in criminal conduct in relation to abuse.

Ms Bendet claims he also suggested she bullied and intimidated teachers and staff at Yeshivah and at Beth Rivkah Ladies College; that she abused her position by terminating a security contract for personal reasons; and that by her behaviour she was destroying the Yeshivah Centre and must be immediately removed.

She claims the posts were published without an honest belief in their truth or with reckless indifference, that her feelings, credit and personal and business reputation had been gravely injured, and that she had been humiliated and embarrassed.

Ms Bendet is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Mr Cook from making such publications.

Mr Cooke’s lawyer, Chris Stakis, said his client would defend the case because he believed the publications were part of a legitimate debate on matters of importance.

 

 

At What Point Does the Ultra-Orthodox Community Tackle Abuse Head-On?

 

 

https://www.blogger.com/static/v1/jsbin/4044097237-ieretrofit.js
Unorthodox-Jew A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism

“A society that refuses to rally against its own criminals at least with same roar as it rallies against other sectors of society is indeed doing a lot of harm to itself.”

The Hasidic teachers in court, Tel Aviv, August 2, 2016.

It’s Time for the ultra-Orthodox Community to Tackle Sex Abuse Head-on

A society that refuses to rally against its own criminals at least with same roar as it rallies against other sectors of society is indeed doing a lot of harm to itself.   

Last week in a bold and unprecedented move, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau penned an open letter to Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) educators cautioning them to “deal seriously” with instances of child abuse that have been reported at educational institutions and in some homes. “Burying our heads in the sand is not the answer to these difficult and painful issues,” Lau wrote, urging members of the community to take responsibility for the atrocities.

Lau’s letter came in the wake of a report that as many as six teachers from a Hasidic school in Tel Aviv have been charged with abusing almost two dozen preschool and elementary school students. This is by no means an isolated incident: In the last few months at least three Israeli Torah scholars have been accused of sexually abusing women and girls, and in two of these cases the victims involved close members of the perpetrators’ families.

To make matters worse, such abuse within the ultra-Orthodox community has not been confined to Israel. Similar abuse cases, in which rabbis preyed on naïve young women, have been reported in the United States and the United Kingdom, while Australia has established a royal commission to investigate why a school had concealed the abuse of its students for 20 years. We know about these cases because the authorities have managed to prosecute and punish these criminals. There are other cases where offenders have evaded punishment by exploiting the Law of Return and escaping to Israel. Sadly, there are some rabbinical miscreants who not only go unpunished – they continue to occupy their pulpits owing to the victims refusing to press charges and the communities that wish to sweep such allegations under the rug.

This shocking situation obviously does not mean that the ultra-Orthodox community is uniquely guilty of sexual abuse. A community as large and diverse as this one surely deserves the presumption that most of its adherents are decent individuals who strictly uphold religious law. Indeed, the overwhelming majority frowns upon any sexual impropriety, and barriers are set up to avoid such eventualities. Men and women are rarely on a first name basis and meetings between the sexes are always held with open doors to prevent any hint of intimacy. Children, from a young age are not placed in close confines with relatives of their extended families of the opposite sex, and religious teachers are trained to spot and report suspicious signs of child abuse.

The problem is that the community often fails to report and publicly protest crimes such as child and sexual abuse – a failure that may be traced to Haredi culture. From a young age, the Haredi child is taught that emunat hakhamim, belief in Torah sages and rabbis, is such an important principle that it renders many sages infallible in their eyes. They are also familiar with the dictum that the Torah serves as an antidote to one’s evil inclination. These combined beliefs place Haredi children in a double bind, so that not only are their teachers “incapable” of erring, they have also been “immunized” from committing evil acts.

Given such a framework, what is a Haredi child (or naive adult) with personal knowledge of sexual crimes meant to think when he knows the perpetrators are Torah scholars? How can he contemplate that his teachers or mentors are sexual deviants? And if these perpetrators are so evil, why is it only the Chief Rabbinate that reacts? The only body that counts within this community is the Council of Torah Sages; while it regularly calls for mass protests when it feels its religious lifestyle is under threat, the council has remained eerily silent on the subject of abuse. How are these children to know that such actions are intolerable and that any Torah taught by such offenders is worth very little?

Sadly, they probably won’t. A child growing up in an insular Haredi neighborhood will learn by the ever-present posters he sees, and by the demonstrations he attends, that sexual deviancy is not all that important. It certainly does not trump the issue of dead bones being exhumed to make way for a highway or hospital. It is no more important than secular Jews wishing to enjoy themselves at the cinema on a Friday night, and is probably no less evil than a Haredi traitor who dares put on an army uniform.

In such an environment, why should there be any incentive to report sexual offenses? This is especially true where reporting comes at a cost: whistleblowers and victims are keenly aware that any exposure severely harms their own and their progeny’s marriage prospects. Is it any wonder then that abuse continues as long as it does until one courageous man or woman has the guts to go to the police?

Unfortunately, this situation is not mitigated by the argument that the Haredi sector’s individual members and organizations have done much to benefit society as a whole. And yet a society that ignores its own internal problems, that refuses to rally against its own criminals at least with same roar as it rallies against other sectors of society, and that steadfastly conceals its misdeeds, is indeed doing a lot of harm to itself.

If the Haredi community in Israel and abroad is to reclaim the public’s trust it must shun all acts of sexual abuse. It must act seriously and it must act now. The time has come for the community to demonstrate to itself as well as to others that there is zero tolerance for harming the sexual integrity of anyone created in G-d’s image, especially children.

David Fachler has a Masters in Law from South Africa (LLM) and a Masters in Contemporary Jewry from Hebrew University, Jerusalem (MA). He is contactable at davidfachler@yahoo.com.

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.737652

Nechama Bendet – How Many Lies, Half-Truths and Lies of Omission Did You Tell the ARC?

Bendet

Nechama Bendet…. Lies?

Several weeks ago we were provided information regarding Nechama Bendet’s testimony before the Australian Royal Commission. It was suggested that the testimony she gave to the Royal Commission regarding child abuse, were lies, lies of omission and her half-truths. It took us some time to put the whole thing together, to compare her statements to the RC versus the realities of letters that circulated to and from Ms. Bendet within the commission. We thank our contributors for that. We think we have it all now. You can decide for yourselves.

Ms. Bendet, as she herself states was part of the Executive Committee and was privy to information, including but not limited to responses regarding child abuse. She states in 2015 that there had not been previous discussions regarding compensating victims, general meetings, etc. That is simply, based upon the information we have and have posted for your review, NOT TRUE. The top eschons of  the Executive Counsel fo Australian Jewry was well aware of abuse. It had been going on for a long time. Ms. Bendet, like others, simply referred to those who reported abuse as “Mosers” and turned a blind eye to the children, the victims.

Despite efforts by Yosef Feldman and his rantings and ravings and accusations, curses and wishes of rape upon others, despite the private email we received disclaiming statements from Feldman, which email came from someone in the top echelons of the community, we have a hard time believing that we are receiving anything more than lip service. 

For reference, we have provided PDF documents, screenshots and other information which we hope will provide you with a timeline and a sense of what was and continues to be happening, despite efforts like those of Ms. Bendet, to keep them quiet.

Lest’s take a look at what Nechama Bendet has to say and the inconsistent timeline…

 

Continue reading

Judging Chabad By Josef Feldman and Orthodox Judaism by the Wall of Shame, Is that Fair? From a Letter to LM…

THE LETTER TO LM THAT SPARKED THIS RESPONSE…

Lost Messiah, August 8, 2016

Yesterday we received a Letter to the Editor, for our eyes only. It was written by someone in a position of power within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox community who entrusted us with his words to vouchsafe for our eyes only. By that we are humbled.  Even with the accusations that we are nothing more than “bashers” he thought better of us, somehow confident that we will not betray the confidence. For that we owe our thanks. We hope he and his colleagues are reading this and will give thought to our careful consideration of that letter, its contents and what it must have taken him to write and send along.

We must express at least a modicum of respect for the things he has done to shed light on Abuse within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox community. If what he says is true, he has made a difference. Despite our skepticism, we cannot discount the possibility.  

In the interest of ‘fairness’ for lack of a better word, the letter challenged us to use our right to freedom of the press with a level of equal coverage of the good with the bad. In the views of the author, journalistic integrity demands of us to consider that perhaps there are rumblings of change going on behind the scenes. Perhaps those in power are trying to shed light on abuse, to somehow compensate the victims, help women escape abusive marriages, catch child predators and more. 

While we remain forever critical of the public persona of the ultra-Orthodox and Chabad community and what the author deems to be the need for continued secrecy,  the letter raised some salient points:

  1. Can we judge Chabad-Lubavitch by the incessant rantings of Josef Feldman and are we asking Feldman the right questions?

  2. Can we judge a family by the brothers or sisters who have committed crimes? In other words, would it be fair to judge all of ultra-Orthodox Judaism by those members of the Wall of Shame?

  3. Are we aware that there are those in high positions within the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox hierarchy who are trying to make changes?

  4. Are we willing to accept that while the attempts at change are largely secretive, the reason for that is protection of the victims and not the system that victimized?

  5. Are we aware that there are those within the highest echelons of the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles who are truly sorry for the abuse, who recognize it and who understand the depths at which it is impossible to appropriately compensate the victims?

Our belief, which we conveyed in a response to the author, is that in order to change a system of abuse and cover-ups, secrets enshrouded in the scrolls of the Torah and families silenced by the notion of “Mesira,” one must be a revolutionary. We do not believe that change will happen quietly, behind closed doors, in secret meetings and undercover investigations. We believe that the highest echelons of the Chabad and ultra-Orthodox leadership must begin screaming to their congregants and communities loudly, united in a specific cause: ending abuse and cover-ups, compensating victims and apologising to families. 

The Chabad and ultra-Orthodox leadership must be committed to telling members of their communities that not only is reporting not “Mesira” but it is demanded of by the very beliefs they hold dear.

While we can’t help but feel that the secrecy with which the letter was posted to us is emblematic of the problem at large, we also can do nothing but thank the author for his comments. He offered apologies to the victims, something we have not seen before. He conveyed a belief that there is no method of recompense for the transgressions of the community, which we must recognize represents at least some level of commitment. 

Finally, the author commented that we are asking Yosef Feldman the wrong question. 

TO YOSEF FELDMAN FROM THE AUTHOR:

Are you still involved in shluchim?

TO YOSEF FELDMAN FROM OUR READERS:

Are you still recognized to do smicha? How do you define sexual abuse?

We are reposting the JCW  Wall of Shame in honor of Josef Feldman, who seems unwilling to come to grips with the reality of sexual abuse, it’s meaning, it’s ramifications, it’s shame and the dire need to shed light on the subject. He admittedly makes it difficult to avoid judging all of Chabad-Lubavitch by his ravings. That is highlighted by the fact that by taking his critics to court, Feldman  is ultimately capitalizing on child sexual abuse. 

We have posted our opinions and questions to which Feldman promised to respond and Feldman has instead thrown fuel on the fire. We have given him ample opportunity to shed light on alleged “defamation” and he has deflected. We have given him a voice and he has used it to throw accusations rather than cold, hard facts. 

So, we have posted the facts in living color. The faces on JCW’s Wall of Shame represent only a tiny number of people who are guilty of horrifying sexual abuse. The names are familiar and many took years to be added to the list, all the while continuing to commit crimes that those around them knew they were committing.

It is but the silence that allows history to repeat itself.

THE JCW WALL OF SHAME

Our Criteria

National Sex Offender Registry

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The Hypocrisy of Defending Victims Rather than the Abusers…. Semantics

 

yc

Manny Waks, August 9, 2016

 

-Since its appearance before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse one and a half years ago, the Yeshivah leadership has tried to manufacture an image that things have changed. The reality is that very little seems to have changed. Some of the same leaders whose conduct was exposed at the Royal Commission, remain in positions of authority at Yeshivah. Despite the representations made by Yeshivah to the Royal Commission, attacks on Yeshivah’s victims and advocates continue unabated and with the implicit support of the Yeshivah leadership. Unsurprisingly, some of the attacks have come from the family members of paedophiles and those who helped protect them.

Last Friday (5 August), an e-mail from a frustrated member of the Yeshivah community was sent to around 100 other community members, complaining of the behaviour of Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, the son of the late Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner (the founder and director of the Yeshivah Centre during much of the period of the abuse and cover-ups there). Rabbi Groner was one of the trustees of Yeshivah who essentially led it to the Royal Commission. Despite the promise that all trustees would resign their leadership of Yeshivah following the Royal Commission, Rabbi Groner was recently appointed by the Trustees (i.e. including himself) to the Board of Yeshivah for life as part of the ‘new’ Yeshivah governance structure.

The email in question referred to stonewalling by Rabbi Groner and communications which the author had with various media outlets. Now, I know from personal experience, that people rarely involve the media without first trying to resolve things internally. Before I went public with my story of abuse through The Age, I repeatedly tried to engage with the Yeshivah leadership (Rabbi Groner senior) but they refused, leaving me with no alternative. Even after the initial media coverage, I repeatedly tried to engage with the Yeshivah leadership, but again they refused. Had I not gone to the media, the huge strides forward in child protection that have occurred in recent years in the Jewish community – in Australia and beyond – would not have happened. It goes without saying that the only people that really fear media exposure are those with something to hide.

And so it was no surprise when the Yeshivah leadership went on the attack in response to the email. Rabbi Yonason Johnson, Head of the Yeshivah Kollel (male adult education), responded that the email was ‘unacceptable both halachically and morally’. He reminded his community that ‘the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh (Temple) and the Golus (exile) which we still find ourselves in came about because of ‘Sinas Chinam – baseless hatred’ and urged ‘everyone to maintain civility and respect at all times’. He emphasised that this included ‘refraining from any form of Loshon Hora’ (literally the evil tongue). He called on the author to publicly apologise to Rabbi Groner, who he noted was ‘a Rov (rabbi) and the (late Lubavitcher) Rebbe’s Head Shaliach (emissary) in Melbourne.

Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Director of Chabad Youth and son in law of ex-Yeshivah Chairman Don Wolf was quick to endorse Johnson’s comments. Moments later, Nechama Bendet, the sister of ex-Yeshivah Principal Rabbi Avrohom Glick and who remains a trustee of Yeshivah despite also allegedly labelling victims as ‘moserim’ (collaborators), chimed in with her support. This was quickly followed by Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler, the Principal of Yeshivah who put on such an excellent performance at the Royal Commission and who now proudly displays the Australian Childhood Foundation’s Safeguarding Children Accreditation logo in his email signature. All felt it appropriate to support Rabbi Johnson and castigate the author of the original email for daring to criticise Rabbi Groner and communicate with the media.

Then, as so often happens at Yeshivah, they turned on victims. Belinda ‘Baila’ Cyprys, sister in law of convicted paedophile David Cyprys (who is currently serving a jail term for sexually abusing me and many others), member of the Yeshivah Synagogue Committee and involved in the running of N’shei Chabad (the Chabad Women’s group), responded to the original email, in part, as follows:

‘Threatening to go to the media is not the way to do things, that brings you down to the level of those that caused alot of this angst in the first place. And I know you are way above that.’

It is unarguable that this was a reference to the actions of victims who, like myself, engaged with the media to expose the paedophiles at Yeshivah and the disgraceful behaviour of members of the Yeshivah leadership and community.

She did make sure to conclude her email by encouraging others to pray for the coming of Moshiach (Messiah). As Chabadniks (Chabad followers) like to tell us, it is our kindness to others and good deeds which will bring about the coming of the Moshiach.

What followed was silence.

We waited and waited and waited for Rabbis Johnson, Kahn, Smukler and Mrs. Bendet – the same people who within minutes of each other (and within three hours of receiving the original email) had felt compelled to lecture everyone else that it was ‘unacceptable both halachically and morally’ to talk to the media or bad-mouth their colleague – to make it clear that it was also ‘unacceptable both halachically and morally’ to blame victims and victim advocates for the mess that is Yeshivah. Did their call for ‘civility and respect at all times’ and for ‘refraining from any form of Loshon Hara’ apply to victims/victim advocates or only to the Yeshivah leadership?

To give them every chance, we emailed and spoke to them all. Concerns were raised with Rabbis Smukler and Johnson last Friday and with Rabbi Kahn on Shabbat. We urged them to speak out strongly against this public act of victim blaming, in the same way as they came out forcefully and instinctively in calling for an apology to their colleague. But we heard nothing.

Last night I emailed all of them as well as some media organisations. I reminded them of the submission of Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission:

‘The Yeshivah Centre, the Committee of Management and Rabbi Telsner had an opportunity to unequivocally show their support for the victims of child sexual abuse, advocates and their families, but they did not. It is submitted that their omissions implicitly condoned the actions of others in the community who criticised and shunned the victims, advocates and their families.”

Then finally today, we got something:

It has come to our attention that some of the comments made in this email chain have caused offence to victims of child sexual abuse. We do not suggest that such hurt was intended, nor that the comments causing offence were necessarily directed towards victims of child sexual abuse. Notwithstanding, now that we are aware of the hurt caused, we  believe  it is important to ensure that a safe space is created for victims of child sexual abuse free from criticism for coming forward.  We therefore ask that contributors to this email chain to be mindful and show greater sensitivity towards victims, advocates and their families. Rabbis Johnson, Rabbi Smukler, Moshe Kahn, and Nechama Bendet.

Contrast this with their forceful response to the initial email, laden with religious references and justifications, and it is clear that the Yeshivah leadership do not consider public attacks on victims/victim advocates to be as serious as speaking to the media or criticising their colleagues. In my view and that of others to whom I have spoken (including other victims), the above response is completely inadequate. We continue to expect the Yeshivah leadership to clarify that the victim blaming email from Cyprys is ‘unacceptable both halachically and morally’ and also requires an apology. And at the same time, perhaps these Yeshivah leaders would like to explain to whom Cyprys may have been referring when she wrote her offensive comments.

As I and others have found out along our journey, the only way to effect change at Yeshivah is to involve the media and external parties. Had I not brought this matter to the attention of the media, it is doubtful that any response would have been forthcoming. It should be apparent to all members of the Yeshivah community that for so long as the ‘leadership’ refuses to be accountable, those seeking change have no alternative but to take their grievances outside of the organisation. This includes referring matters of concern to groups such as the Royal Commission, the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, State and Federal Governments and communal donors, all of whom are more than happy to listen.

We view this latest incident, combined with Yeshivah’s ongoing failures to deal with attacks on victims since the Royal Commission, as evidence of the continuing hypocrisy of the Yeshivah institution and its various offshoots. It shows that religion continues to be used selectively and as a tool to quieten dissent but that leaders do not practice what they preach. It shows that Yeshivah has made representations to the Royal Commission and to the broader community which are at best misleading and at worst blatant lies. It shows that Yeshivah are not serious about protecting children and atoning for their mistakes. It shows that the Australian Childhood Foundation erred in bestowing their Safeguarding Children Accreditation on Yeshivah (which I hope they will revoke given what we are seeing). It shows that Yeshivah is not deserving of financial support from Government or communal donors. And it shows that the place is incapable of reform from within – at least not in the near-term.