The Rabbinical Counsel of New South Wales – following the blog of Manny Waks


The farcical Rabbinical Council of NSW



On 13 December 2016, I lodged a formal complaint with the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) regarding one of its members, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, the long-time Head Chabad Emissary in NSW. As the matter has still not been resolved (around a year and eight months later), and after countless attempts on my part to try to have the matter resolved, below I share the correspondence between the RCNSW and myself. It seems the Mashiach (Messiah) will arrive before the RCNSW belatedly does the right thing. Important to remember that the RCNSW is the peak Orthodox Rabbinic body in NSW….

Manny Waks email to Rabbi Eli Cohen, President of the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) – 13 December 2016:

Rabbi Cohen,

I wish to lodge a formal complaint in respect of Rabbi Pinchas Feldman, and ask that he be removed as a member of the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales (RCNSW).

In making this complaint, I refer to the recent formal statement by the Rabbinic Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ), Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) and RCNSW in response to the findings of the public hearing into Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

As you are aware, the RCANZ, RCV and RCNSW publicly stated:

“[T]hat those who did not fulfil their legal responsibility to protect children should step down from public positions, and that those who denigrated victims have lost their moral right to serve.”

I refer to the following findings by the Royal Commission in respect of Rabbi Pinchas Feldman, including but not limited to:

  1. As dean of Yeshiva Bondi – Rabbi Pinchas Feldman failed to ensure that the Yeshiva Bondi had a formal written policy in respect of complaints of child sexual abuse, despite mandatory reporting being introduced in 1988 and there being an express requirement that Rabbi Feldman have such policies.
  2. As dean of Yeshiva Bondi – Rabbi Pinchas Feldman failed to ensure that the Yeshiva Bondi recorded complaints of child sexual abuse, despite mandatory reporting being introduced in 1988 and there being an express requirement that Rabbi Feldman ensure such complaints were properly recorded.
  3. As dean of Yeshiva Bondi – Rabbi Pinchas Feldman failed to undertake any formal training in respect of child sexual abuse, despite the requirement that he do so.
  4. Rabbi Pinchas Feldman did not take any steps to inform anyone that AVL [alleged perpetrator of child sexual abuse and relative of Rabbi Pinchas Feldman] was contemplating leaving Australia.
  5. Rabbi Yosef Feldman [son of Rabbi Pinchas Feldman] was appointed to his roles at Yeshiva Bondi, including those as director and dean of the Yeshivah Gedolah Rabbinical College by Rabbi Pinchas Feldman. Rabbi Yosef Feldman advised the Royal Commission, and the Royal Commission accepted, that Rabbi Yosef Feldman relied heavily on Rabbi Pinchas Feldman for guidance and advice in respect of governance and legal requirements. Accordingly, failures of Rabbi Yosef Feldman, are attributable to Rabbi Pinchas Feldman, as he failed in his duty to provide proper oversight and guidance to Rabbi Yosef Feldman, who acted under his direction, and expressly relied on Rabbi Pinchas Feldman to “bring all matter of importance to his attention”.
  6. Rabbi Pinchas Feldman was a party to several emails which are a matter of public record, that denigrated victims who had reported Hayman to Police. These emails included assertions that:
  • the reporting of Hayman was an act of mesirah;
  • Hayman had no recollection of the incident and we are relying on a 12-year-old’s memory;
  • that the truth could not be found as Hayman had ‘cut a deal’;
  • that Hayman was innocent and the allegations were similar to the ‘orchestrated testimony’ against Rabbi Glick; and
  • that a man in his fifties should not be punished for allegations made about his youth.

Rabbi Pinchas Feldman made no statements to counter the views expressed in the emails. In doing so, Rabbi Feldman was a party to conduct that denigrated victims.

Based on the above, it seems that Rabbi Pinchas Feldman did not fulfil his moral, religious and legal responsibility to protect children, and was a party to conduct that denigrated victims. Accordingly, consistent with the statement of the RCANZ, RCV and RCNSW, it seems clear that Rabbi Pinchas Feldman has lost his moral right to serve the community and should step down from all his public positions, including as a member of the RCNSW. Alternatively, the RCNSW should act swiftly and decisively to stand Rabbi Feldman down.

Finally, I would like to raise a conflict of interest concern. I understand that as Head Chabad Shliach (Emissary) in NSW, Rabbi Pinchas Feldman is effectively your superior, and has a range of powers over you, including the ability to stand you down from your position. If this is indeed accurate, or if you have any other similar relationship with Rabbi Feldman, your involvement in dealing with his matter puts you in a serious conflict of interest. Therefore, your request of another victim to lodge formal complaints regarding Rabbi Feldman directly with you are, in my opinion, and based on any robust governance principles, highly inappropriate.

I look forward to your response in due course.

Manny Waks

To read the responses click here.

Manny Waks – New Wall of Shame – Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission

The Re-appointment of Zvi Hirsch Telsner and the Insensitivity to Sexual Abuse Victims and Families Apparent


Meir Shlomo Kluwgant (Rabbi) – His Lies and Hypocrisy

2nd Nissan 5774 2 April 2014
The RCV welcomes the recent apology and retraction issued by Mr Manny Waks for posting false and inaccurate statements about an individual in our community on the Tzedek website and in the social media. Mr Waks has admitted that he believes that this individual was completely innocent of these allegations at all times. The RCV notes with concern that the publication of the defamatory matters over which he has apologised, has true capacity to cause untold harm to individuals, their family members, and to the whole of the community. The RCV would urge Mr Waks and the Board of Tzedek to give serious consideration to his position, as well as the practises that led to the publication of those damaging and defamatory comments. The RCV reiterates its long-held position that victims and individuals with credible information about child sexual abuse should take these matters to the police and other relevant authorities. END Queries to be directed to the Executive Director of the RCV at Postal Address: C/o 619 St Kilda Rd Melbourne VIC 3004 T: 0425 808 789 E: W:  Rabbinical Council of Victoria Inc. Reg. No. A0042905Y

The following is taken from the blogpost of Manny Waks. Unfortunately, we were unable to include some of the official documents included in that post. Regardless, we recommend that you read the blog in its original format:

Evil in Oz – Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner – Chabad Flippant Response

The Australian Federal Police – Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner

Media Release: Australian Federal Police asked to investigate Yeshivah’s Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner over evidence to Royal Commission

Manny Waks
19 April 2017

PictureRabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner

The Australian Federal Police have received a complaint by victims of child sexual abuse at the Yeshivah Centre in East St. Kilda that alleges Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner, a Member of the Yeshivah Board, knowingly provided false or misleading evidence to the Royal Commission last month.

Rabbi Groner told the Royal Commission that disgraced Rabbi Zvi Telsner did not ‘still occupy a position of leadership within the Yeshivah Centre’

Rabbi Groner was called to appear before the Royal Commission’s Case Study 53 last month, which followed an investigation into the Chabad run Jewish school by the Royal Commission in early 2015 which heard that Rabbi Zvi Telsner, as Head Rabbi of Yeshivah, had delivered sermons attacking child sexual abuse victims and their families, encouraging other members of the community to ostracise them and discouraging victims from reporting their abuse to the police or media.

Rabbi Telsner, who is the brother in law of Rabbi Groner, supposedly resigned his position as Head Rabbi in September 2015 after another attack on a victim of child sexual abuse and released a statement acknowledging that his ‘conduct towards victims and their families did not demonstrate the values or behavior…necessary of a Rabbi in my position’.

Giving evidence last month, Rabbi Groner told the Royal Commission that presently, ‘the full extent of [Rabbi Telsner’s] involvement in the Yeshivah Centre Melbourne’ is as a ‘congregant’ who ‘gives a few classes in the Synagogue’ and that Rabbi Telsner did not ‘still occupy a position of leadership within the Yeshivah Centre Melbourne’.

According to victims, Rabbi Telsner continues in the position of Head Rabbi despite ‘resignation’

In a complaint made to the Australian Federal Police and the Royal Commission last week, victims of abuse said that Rabbi Telsner remained extensively involved in the Yeshivah Centre Melbourne and continued to occupy its most senior leadership position. 

In particular, Rabbi Telsner:

  • officiates at life cycle events of congregants – for example on 4 April 2017 Rabbi Telsner officiated at a wedding ceremony in which he was introduced by Rabbi Moshe Kahn (Director of Chabad Youth) as the Moreh D’atra (Head Rabbi and most senior halachic decision maker of the Yeshivah Centre);
  • together with Rabbi Groner, is the co-head of the Chabad Kashrut Committee in which they are responsible for determining the kosher status of food eaten by the Yeshivah community;
  • is seated in front of the congregation in the Head Rabbi’s seat during Synagogue services;
  • continues to be paid his regular salary as Head Rabbi;
  • maintains an office within the synagogue building; 
  • delivers sermons from the pulpit during weekly and festival prayer services;
  • is waited on by congregants and prayer leaders before prayers commence as a congregation does for its Head Rabbi.

Victims allege Rabbi Groner knowingly gave false or misleading evidence to the Royal Commission

Victims have asked the Australian Federal Police to investigate whether Rabbi Groner’s evidence breached Section 6H of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) which makes it an offence to knowingly provide false or misleading evidence at a hearing before a Royal Commission. The Act provides:

(1)    A person shall not, at a hearing before a Commission, intentionally give evidence that the person knows to be false or misleading with respect to any matter being a matter that is material to the inquiry being made by the Commission
(2)    An offence against subsection (1) is an indictable offence and subject to this section is punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period not exceeding 5 years or by a fine not exceeding $20,000.

Continuing involvement of Rabbis Telsner and Groner with Yeshivah a source of ongoing trauma for victims

Victims who were sexually abused as children within Yeshivah cite the continuing involvement of Rabbis Telsner and Groner with Yeshivah as a source of ongoing trauma which makes it difficult for them to move on with their lives. They are disappointed that the Jewish community, donors and the Government continue to support and provide funding to Yeshivah despite its failure to hold these individuals to account over their roles in the child sexual abuse scandal.
Rabbi Groner was a Trustee of Yeshivah during the period in which victims were bullied and ostracised for speaking out. He is one of only two members of the old guard who did not resign in the wake of the Royal Commission’s revelations and instead, implemented a new governance structure in which he was given a permanent seat on the Board. Rabbi Groner is the son of the late Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, the long-time leader of Yeshivah, who was found by the Royal Commission to have ‘failed in his obligation to the students of Yeshivah’ by not acting upon complaints of child sexual abuse.

UPDATE: The AFP has responded – in part it reads:

I would like to advise you that further discussion has occurred between the AFP and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) regarding your allegations about false evidence provided to the Royal Commission by Rabbi Chaim Tsvi Groner. As a result of these discussions your information has been sent to the relevant area for assessment.

Please see:

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



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.