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