Leifer again, sigh

[Hat tip NB]

Adass Yisroel “unaware” of Leifer funding

by Henry Benjamin

A member of Melbourne’s Adass Yisroel community has told J-Wire that no-one is aware of anyone within the community funding Malka Leifer who lives in Israel but is wanted by authorities in Australia to face 74 charges of child sexual abuse.

The offences took place when Leifer was employed by the Adass Yisroel school as its principal . She fled Melbourne in 2008 when allegations were surfacing and has avoided extradition on ten occasions to Australia failing to appear in court on psychiatric grounds.

Melbourne’s “The Herald Sun” has reported that it “can reveal a bank account linked to Mrs Leifer is being topped up by Adass community members here”.

The report stated that “deposits are being made over the counter at a bank in Elsternwick”. Elsternwick borders the suburb of Ripponlea, home to the Adass community.

Leifer has been ordered to undergo psychiatric assessment in Israel…a process which could take up to ten years. The court has ordered assessments to be produced every six months.

Malka Leifer
Shlomo Abelesz, featured in the recent SBS documentary on Melbourne’s Adass community Untold Story – Strictly Jewish.

He told J-Wire: “No-one I have spoken to within Adass is aware of this and we are as shocked as the rest of the community. If someone is doing it privately, it is possible. We would be surprised if it is true.”

Ablest said that if it were true someone, somewhere “had broken privacy laws”. He added: “I haven’t heard of one person within Adass who has heard of this account. Mrs Leifer was not very popular. There would be very people who would be wanting to support her within Adass. The story sounds to me like fabrication and until I see proof of it I would say it’s a beat-up. Everyone is disgusted with her. No-one in any official position in Adass has ever heard of this account.”

It’s interesting to see secular privacy laws of the country allegedly being mentioned. Torah Law may say something else. Check with your own Rabbi.

Prayers for Malka Leifer

If you haven’t read ‘she’s free to go’ in Israel until she gets better.

I’m waiting for the Adass Israel community to call for a day of prayer, so that Leifer, accused of 72 accounts of pedophilia gets better sooner so that her continued existence in this sick mental state subsides and the daily profanation of God’s name doesn’t continue to recur.

Does anybody want to take betting odds that this prayer day won’t occur and that it didn’t occur on the last prayer-filled event last week at the Hungarian Ultra Orthodox Haredi establishment in Melbourne? 

I will bet her name wasn’t even mentioned in a prayer for a Refuah Shelema.

Let justice take its path.

If she God forbids, lures a victim, now that she is free to roam, I’d be applying to have her institutionalised in an asylum with appropriate mental care.

The Israeli court system is to blame for Malka Leifer?

Watch this. I do not understand how the Israeli secular court system has done anything wrong except uphold the law of Israel. In this case it has conflicting evidence of Leifer’s alleged mental condition and is now seeking a court-based independent assessment before extradition. Is that not proper? Will the psychiatrist be considered biased if he/she concludes that Leifer is some sort of unfit mental maniac?

Video below from the ABC. It took a long time till victims came forward, and it takes a long bow to allege that Israel is dragging its feet on this and to say so on television. The case is proceeding as it should, and my expectation is that she will be found to be fit and extradited for trial. If it wasn’t a  Jew who made this claim about the Israeli Court System, some might call the comments anti-semitic. There are processes, and they must be followed. Prime Ministers and Presidents are put in prison in Israel.

It takes time.

The law isn’t the fastest runner on the block and these are weighty issues.

People need to choose their words more carefully.

 

The sordid affair(s) of Malka Leifer

Removed immediately at the request of the poor girl who had to suffer this HELL

I was SO incensed by the lies revealed by the judge from so called frum yidden, that I initially just cut and pasted. That was a mistake; poor judgement due to my disgust at the “Klei Kodesh” and the “Askonim” and then forgetting there was a name in there as well. If Rabbi Telsner resigned, there are PLENTY at Adass/Beis HaTalmud who should also resign immediately. They won’t, is my bet. To think there are schools who have “teachers” who aren’t registered with VIT is outrageous. This is not the 1700’s and neither are the kids from that era. Get your qualifications and THEN teach. There is more to it than translating Chumash and Rashi. If you don’t like it, go to Israel, the country you love to hate. And how do they get around דינא דמלכותא דינא here in Australia? Through lies and games?

Thanks to those who noted what I had missed in my haste and alerting me.

I’m not getting into the latest abomination any further

It’s become a horribly repetitive and deflating refrain. Children abused, abused unfairly treated and often ostracised, all sorts of Askonim and Rabonim are accused and shown to have done the wrong thing. Papers such as the AJN have a field day.

Some get away with it, others are punished accordingly. Psychologically, the Chillul Hashem is all too heavy to carry at the minute. I feel embarrassed to be a Jew in רשות הרבים when it’s pasted all over the Sun and AJN.

One thing though: if anyone even remotely tries to pressure the courageous girl who came forward and lifted the lid on probably the most closed community in Melbourne, they should be sent לעזאזל with due legislated gusto.

I’m not taking comments on this post. The matter is before the courts and will be decided appropriately.

Where are you Immanuel, Israel?

We will now have daily descriptions of a Chillul Hashem, but what is Leifer doing and has she been doing since then. לא תעמד על דם רעך. She is clearly a danger to society. This is so depressing to read, both from the victims side and the obvious  חילול ה. No institution is above these low lives lurking in their midst or taking advantage of their then lack of protocol, but there is no excuse for any institution religious or otherwise to adopt worlds best practice (which includes reporting directly to Police). Will we hear Rabbi Beck announce such?

Today’s Herald Sun, read

GIRLS from an ultra orthodox Jewish school were routinely sexually abused by their headmistress who told them she was preparing them for marriage, a court has heard.

Explosive allegations against former Adass Israel School principal Malka Leifer were aired publicly for the first time today in a lawsuit brought against her and the school by a former student.

The student alleges she and two of her sisters were abused by Mrs Leifer who “ruled the school with an iron rod” while she was principal between 2002 and 2008.

She told the Supreme Court today she was too fearful to complain about the abuse because of the power the former principal wielded in the ultra-orthodox community.

“She was seen as the head of the school and the whole community looked up to her and basically idolised her,” she said.

“She was seen as someone who was holier than holy,” she said.

The plaintiff, now 27, said she had complete trust in Ms Leifer and had felt “special” after the principal took a liking to her and offered to give her private tuition.

She said she was told not to disclose the tuition to other students and said Mrs Leifer would take her out of class to abuse her at her home.

“I remember her being very scared her husband would come home and find us there. I remember her locking the doors.

“She I remember wondering if she realised what she was doing.

“She would tell me that she loved me and that she really cared for me.

“She would tell me it was her way of telling me she loved me.”

The Supreme Court heard that in line with strict orthodox beliefs the girl had never watched TV, listened to the radio, used the internet or read a newspaper.

She was segregated from males outside of her immediate family and had no sex education.

The girl said she was abused in Mrs Leifer’s office, her home and on school camps.

She said she believed other teachers knew about the abuse.

“She liked to hug me like a baby, and rock me,” she said.

“She said I should consider her like a mother who loved me, and that I was special.”

It is also alleged school officials failed to report allegations of abuse to police but instead allowed Ms Leifer to flee to Israel with her family just days after allegations were levelled at her in 2008.

She is currently under house arrest in Israel where extradition proceedings at the request of Victoria Police have started in an attempt to have her returned to Melbourne to face criminal charges.

It is understood Ms Leifer could face dozens of charges of indecent assault and rape.

The trial continues.

This article from the age concerning Malka Leifer upset me

I can’t say how low I felt about reading this article. All I can pray is that people wake up finally that this is an area where there can be no compromise and where someone even appears to have offended, we don’t cover up. Go straight to the police and let them sort out guilt or otherwise.

This is most upsetting to read. Again, I wonder if Mrs Leifer teaches at all at Immanuel in Israel or has contact with kids. Even if it’s not proven (yet) can someone please assure me that this is not the case and the community leaves her in the kitchen baking challahs

Another Shande and Charpe.

My Whys over Pesach?

The AJN target Yeshivah and are not at all even handed.

[UPDATED: I was not aware that my post (in good faith, by a friend) was published on Facebook. I don’t use Facebook except in a private professional capacity to stay in touch with my 450+ postgraduate alumni of nearly 3 decades as it is a most convenient forum.

I understand some people had nice, not nice, and some scathing comments to make about my “Whys”. It’s only a relatively a free country, however, and as author of my thoughts I reserve the right to publish and/or respond to anyone reacting to these. Accordingly, if you feel like it (and frankly it is not my aim to attract comments) and are ready to put a real name to your comment (unless you are, of course a victim of crime) I will moderate your comment according to my understanding of Halacha and common law. If such an arrangement does not suit you, go ahead and write a critique. I won’t be engaging in debate, as this is not why I write. If I want my blood pressure to rise, I have a myriad of better techniques at my disposal 🙂 ]

Onto the article, which I will now proof-read in anticipation of a wider audience than I would normally expect.

Both before and during Pesach I found myself full of pitputim that I needed to express. I held myself back for reasons that aren’t worth recording. One of these was that I didn’t think it was permitted on Chol Hamoed. Maybe I was the proverbial תם (simpleton) of the Hagadda and should have fired thoughts as soon as they occupied my neurones, but, for various reasons, I held back and wrote them immediately after Pesach (when I undoubtedly should have helped my wife). Undoubtedly that was not the right timing, but let’s not go there (thanks CBN).

Some of the responses to these questions need people to retrospect through new glasses; as such I was reticent. This is a hard job, Accordingly, I’m going to frame some of my thoughts as a series of why’s as opposed to proffering cheap advice.

  1. Why has the disgraceful Australian Jewish News continued to remain the mouthpiece of few, as opposed to a faithful unbiased reporter of Jewish news allowing for a wider range of reporting of fact. To give but one example, anyone on Facebook (and I am not on Facebook except with my University alumni although I have an account I originally set up to see pics of my grandchildren) can look up Avi Yemini and find most serious accusations which he apparently alleges will now be formalised via the police against his father Steven (aka Tzefania) Waks. Why Steve? Well, he has clearly shown a preference to a centrist orthodox way of life, dispensing with charedi garb and beard. For the record, I am often regarded as centrist and my name is Isaac. Some persist in calling me יצחק and from my perspective both are quite ok. Indeed, halachically speaking one cannot will away a name that one was called formally even if done via deed but lets not go to that area of Halacha. More to the point:Why is the Australian Jewish News seemingly ignorant of Avi Yemini and his siblings and their views of the father of Manny Waks? I met his siblings in Miami and it wasn’t a pretty description, and backed up Avi. Indeed, they don’t like to talk about it. Guess what AJN? That (comparative silence) in of itself is news, and should be reported. Why didn’t you do that? There is more, but I won’t write it.
  2. Why is Tzedek “off the map?” I did see an advertisement this week, which is good but there is no denying the demise of Tzedek and it worries me. At best, it served as an important encouragement to those who have been abused (earlier in their lives) to give voice to that abuse; and encourage others to give voice. This is critical to unveiling the mask of perpetrators and ensuring educational programs become de jure in organisations to recognise and prevent such perverts. We don’t hear comparatively less from Tzedek since their controversial CEO resigned, although I have absolutely nothing against those running it now and I am sure they are as committed to the cause as those who preceded them; irrespective of whether some were victims. I am not a victim of abuse, but I pursued Cyprys until his veil was lifted. I believe Kramer was after my time, and I certainly didn’t experience any abuse from any of my teachers, be they religious or secular in my 12 years in the School and neither did my siblings.
  3. Why are victims creating websites? The manifestation of private websites authored by professed victims serves good in my eyes only if it’s cathartic for them and not investigative. I’m not a psychiatrist but I’d hope their psychiatric advice would be to pursue such channels only if it was part of their healing. There are existing channels. I’m not sure why they aren’t apparently being used. Shouldn’t they channel their life long challenges to established professionals and professional organisations? I don’t think personabused.com.au is the best idea on the planet and furthermore many will see it as self-serving gold-digging. There are formal community and private bodies to help deal with these life long issues and give aid using the best professional methods, as they are developed. At worst it may give the impression that those abused seek to make a career from being abused and I doubt that this is their intention. Well, I hope not. If it indeed is their sublime intention, then I suggest they need even more professional help than they realise.
  4. Why is it that The Australian Jewish News seems to only report one school and institution-the Yeshivah Centre. We all know that the Yeshivah Centre and Chabad in general have done more than arguably any group for Torah observance, Kiruv, and the welfare of those in need. They are not judgemental. Their mantra is love albeit played through the love strings of their Rebbe’s violin. This is their great strength. They do, in the main follow, a system which was typified by their late and great Rebbe. They have rotten apples. No group is immune from that reality. The last Lubavitcher Rebbe (and his father in law) didn’t join groups (e.g. Aguda) and felt they could achieve their aims through an independent well-structured agenda: bringing Jews and Judaism to Torah and Mitzvos through spreading Chassidus Chabad. He rarely (to my knowledge) interfered with the nitty-gritty of problems in his myriad of institutions but was surely bombarded by such (indeed I once did so). He expected that same independence and intellectual purity to be demonstrated by his trained and faithful emissaries. Sure, they asked his advice, but he wasn’t aware of cleaners and locksmiths and groomers of kids in Mikvaos irrespective of the stories you hear of his greatness and vision.Now, it is clear to all, that the SCHOOLS, (Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah) which are really the raison d’être of the entire organisation are employing best practice, to the extent that they are perhaps overly strict. It is known that they are allegedly being sued by some employees who step out of a very strict line and who don’t allegedly practice world’s best standards. This was instituted before the Royal Commission and as soon as word of the criminals Cyprys and Kramer became love children for the reporters of “the Age”. The other love children of “the Age” are Israel and the “Palestinians”. I know some of the reporters from the Age. They hunkered for Jewish stories and used to call me (and read my blog) as I am straight on these matters and always tried to be. Indeed Mr Waks senior rang me almost daily in my pursuit of Cyprys. As a board member of Elwood Shule, I felt an extreme responsibility to stop this pariah from parading in the way he did.
  5. Why is Yeshivah singled out for its particular mode of governance, when all Chabad Houses still function in a similar way and have not been abandoned in any way. Few complain, because they trust the Rabbi and his advisors and they all benefit. Are some going to conduct an audit of a Rabbi Raskin/Engel/You-name-them and their specialised Chabad Houses, or, say Rabbi Lieder who works tirelessly for Israeli back packers (and ironically leave Melbourne with more knowledge of Judaism than what they learned when in Tel Aviv?) No. I don’t hear any call from the Jewish News or the holier than thou’s asking for a different form of transparent governance. Why not? Is it a matter of amount or principle? Don’t get me wrong here. I think they should all, without exception, including Adass’s offshoot extreme school, subscribe to the strictest codes especially given the Chillul Hashem we have endured. I also happen to disagree with the mode of governance but having grown up witnessing the hopeless squalor that Rabbi Groner lived in, I never considered him to have anything other than the institution in his mind. Indeed, when my father gave him some money before Pesach, the next day there was a receipt from the Yeshivah Centre.
  6. [Please note] The information about Heichal Hatorah (Rabbi Donnenbaum) was miscommunicated. It isn’t based on video surveillance. There is a policy, as I understand it being developed by professionals which as I am informed will be an approved policy that can stand up to accepted standards.  We apologise for that previous innacuracy.
  7. Why only Chabad? It’s not just Chabad. Rabbi Kohn, a controversial figure himself, runs what is effectively the identical model of a Chabad house, except that his is a private business like Meir Gershon Rabi. Will anyone ever know the finances? Cyprys went to Kohn’s minyan! I heard Rabbi Kohn say he learnt his craft from R’ Nochum Zalman Gurevich, who we all knew and loved. Well he learned some of it, the bits that garnered donations. Yes, Kohn’s bent could be described as non Hasidic or anti Hasidic, but who audits his books? What real governance exists? What standards do they use there? Is there a community list—even a Shomer Shabbos list—of every single place that has an acceptable verifiable standard. Let’s not forget, people like Cyprys would try to hire a Shule Hall or a Youth Hall and use that as their modus operandi. He worked for the CSG no less and they had no clue.2015 is not 1985 or 1995 or earlier. The world has changed we must completely eradicate this scourge of scum. It is in fact far worse overseas, if you can believe it because they are so much “holier” and use cattle prongs to elicit a gett as long as you pay through your teeth.
  8. Why are Adass Israel ignored? Peyos don’t make the man. Malka Leifer, has strangely not been a constant focus of those affected by Cyprys and/or Kramer and she runs free allegedly in Immanuel in Israel. Credible rumors abound that she is seeking to avoid extradition to face serious charges on the grounds that the “West Bank” where she resides is not Israel! and Australia has no extradition treaty. Can you believe such a Chutzpah? If true, this is a clever but grossly offensive defence by smart attorneys. I ask why the silence from the Adass Congregation that provides us with so many products and producers. Is it only about food and profit? You cannot get Adass to do anything until you hit their hip pocket. The rest of us are unwanted pimples of the Sitra Achra. Don’t be mistaken. This is what they are taught. I have heard it from the number 2 in the Rabbinic side of the organisation. The youth of Adass are not the old generation. They have little love and are taught thatAhavasYisroel only exists for aShomer Shabbos.There are some wealthy people in Adass. Why isn’t Leifer’s picture in the local Immanuel paper weekly saying “Beware of this person. There are serious allegations of lesbian pedophilia against her”. Should she be teaching or ever left alone even with her own children? Has she even admitted she was wrong, short of fleeing the next day. I asked arguably the third most senior Rabbi at Adass and he shrugged his shoulders saying “What can we do”. I urge you to ask them when you bump into them at various establishments. Ask at the bakeries, ask at the fish shops, ask at the next function you attend. You can do plenty Adass but you thumb your nose at the non charedi community and now also deny that many of your own are “off the derech” something you prided yourself with and now send away so “nobody will notice”.
  9. Why aren’t other schools in the frame? I was informed reliably by someone at the Royal Commission that there were n students of Mt Scopus abused some time ago and a then headmaster was approached and said “Shoosh” it will cause a Chillul Hashem. Sound familiar? I know the AJN were at the Royal Commission. Was there an order barring the names of other schools affected by the despicable reprehensible pedophiles to be reported. I had wondered about the timing of a later letter by Rabbi Kennard (who reads my blog). He didn’t reply. Why? Rabbi Kennards letter was correct and proper but should have been written at least 6 months earlier.
  10. Why don’t people re-internalise that Yeshivah was a one man band. An incredibly wonderful one-man band with more success than people could ever imagine. It was the late and great Rabbi Groner, who whilst consulting with professionals, would not today remotely repeat his approach if he had his time again. Is there anyone game enough to say he would? There was always a committee, but they were and are toothless tigers who took ultimate direction from Rabbi Groner. If he said “no” the committee could proverbially jump. He told them what he thought they needed to know. I have no doubt there were many private things he took his grave. Tonight is his birthday as I just saw from an email.Much was in his head and certainly never on paper. He was the Shaliach. People were only too happy to call him their friend and get his calls in hospital while he was in hospital himself, and come to functions in his honour and he is on the record as vociferously castigating some of the parents whose children became victims (and they ignored him on occasion). Is there a real need to destroy the man after his passing, together with his significant life work, now, while the place has initiated a process to modernise its governance when ill-timed votes threaten its existence financially? Sure, if their new governance is a façade, go for it, but for crying out loud, give them a chance to go through a process. It doesn’t happen over night.
  11. I know of another very well-known (real) clergy (not charedi) who the Jewish News chose NOT to name over allegations of past pedophilia. The name would shock. He was by no means “ultra” orthodox. In that case the AJN (correctly) did not name the person because he couldn’t defend himself against the odious claims. Why only Yeshivah? Because some Rabbis showed themselves to be second-rate and/or clever by half?
  12. Why are there so many (self-proclaimed) counsellors permitted to discuss all manner of most serious topics to congregations and groups “as if” they are experts. If you are a counsellor, then register with the Australian Counselling Association and/or other similar bodies. Your commerce degree isn’t enough. There are enough complaints about counsellors themselves but if, unlike psychologists, some can get away with a load of ill-advised counselling, and more, without being answerable to a formal board, then no Jewish organisation should let them into their four walls to speak and nobody should seek them for any advice except which chewing gum to buy. Some maybe okay, but others are straight out charlatans, Register! Did victims go to a psychiatrist and spill their guts out and get medication where indicated or did they run rings around the counselling option of people who don’t answer to a board of counsellors.
  13. Why are people skeptical about those who sit on Yeshiva’s board or sat on that board? I have emails from about a decade ago where (it now turns out) some victims and others were looking to change things while Rabbi Groner was alive. One hears all types of stories of “this board member” being stubborn, “that one” being nepotistic etc. Some of it is true especially in a vacuüm. I know three former board members and I don’t think they aligned with any of the above. I know they gave thousands of hours of their lives to keep the institutions above water and growing in a way that no Jewish child was ever turned away. Remember, I happen NOT to be a card-carrying member of the “Chabad only” approach to Judaism, although members of my family happen do. We live in peace and in harmony. It’s not hard.There is a review of governance allegedly taking place. It doesn’t and can’t take 5 minutes. Instead, I hear people saying “it’s a PR trick”. How do they know that? I know a serious person who is looking at the structure and they are definitely not looking at it from a PR point of view. Yeshivah is in transition. It had to happen after Rabbi Groner’s passing following that of his mentor. It’s a shock and terrible that the spectre of pedophilia needed to be the back-breaking catalyst, but in the words of a good friend “it is what it is”. So people why don’t you sit back and see what comes forth. By all means if it isn’t transparent and in keeping with the law, bleat and bleat and bleat. Until then, surely wait a little while.
  14. Why do people feel that beating Rabbi Telsner or Rabbi Glick is the answer? It isn’t. It’s 2015. I especially rang Rabbi Telsner because I wanted to know exactly what he said that got the Jewish news positively apoplectic on their front page and what was said to him. How the AJN could then say “tell us it’s not so Rabbi Telsner” is beyond me. Rabbi Telsner and I have a love/less love relationship. He doesn’t like it when I raise Chabad issues with him (halachic) and he’s not my Posek but he doesn’t deserve to be manipulated.
  15. Why isn’t the Association of Jewish Psychologists being used more. They respond. They don’t go looking for work. I went to a talk and was very impressed with Dr Dan Gordon. He is someone who every School should use for an in-service for their teachers. Why was this a well attended event by Rabbis and religious people and yet so poorly attended by others including headmasters and/or vice-principals? I have a feeling my wife may have been the only senior teacher there. These are specialist psychologists, with PhDs and experience; they have authority and wisdom and aren’t running shonky practices. Listen to their professional wisdom.
  16. Why is the AJN becoming more of a left-wing “Age” newspaper seemingly only haranguing religious institutions (except Adass who don’t buy their paper and buy Hamodia). Religious groups certainly deserve it in some cases, but as I’ve pointed out the AJN are transparently biased. I dislike Hamodia with a passion because it is such a fake fairy tale “feel good” paper full of omissions. I saw a new paper emerge over the break. I hope it takes form. To be honest, I wouldn’t be unhappy if the AJN disappeared if it didn’t seriously reform to become a properly neutral paper instead of a harbinger of an agenda together with pictures of who attended what. I’m tempted to cancel my subscription and my advertising. If it’s possible and the AJN is listening, let me know and I will cancel. Call me tomorrow. My blood pressure will be healthier without your articles and the predictable Henry Herzog et al propaganda that we all skip and are sick to death of.

I wish they put as much effort into protecting innocent children

[Hat tip BA]

From Yeshiva World News.

After Israel’s Supreme Court declared mehadrin buses illegal, we are introduced to mehadrin
elevators. The חן ארמונות simcha hall in Givat Shaul, Yerushalayim, has set up a mehadrin
elevator divided by a curtain that separates men and women in the elevator. The elevator is
optional, for guests who wish to offer this new mehadrin service. A nylon curtain is placed in
the elevator, permitting men and women to ride without seeking one another, in theory at
least.
Hall owner Yosef Cohen told Walla News that on the day of one’s chupah, many wish to be
especially careful regarding shmiras einayim and this is just another way of assisting them,
nothing more. Cohen adds that one hall in Bnei Brak has two elevators, one for men and a
second for women but he purchased the hall, which only has one elevator so this is the
solution for those wishing it.
When asked what he has to say to the critics, Cohen questions why anyone finds this
bothersome since it is only used upon request of a bal simcha.
It seems to me that some of them need Shmiras Yodayim and other Eyvorim, and as Rodfim, should be chemically castrated if they have a confirmed illness. I know I’ve jumped from one Chumra to another issue, but frankly the latter issue of disgraceful pedophiles worries me a whole lot more than someone who can’t stand in a lift looking straight ahead. The owner should have told them to use the stairs, and reminded them that they have to walk in front of women, not behind. Groise Tzaddikim. Not.
By the way, where is Malka Leifer? Still walking the streets or “educating” with impunity?
(Pic from Scientific American)

Can there be a positive outcome from Malka Leifer’s “innocent escape”?

On the issue of child abuse, I recently read an excerpt from notes formally approved by Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch of the Eida Charedis in Jerusalem.Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch

One frequently encountered problem is when there is clear evidence of child abuse and yet the rabbi consulted says not to go to the police. He might say that the molester promised never to do it again or that the molester’s family or community or yeshiva might suffer significant financial losses or embarrassment. In other words if the rabbi is saying to sacrifice children for the sake of money or embarrassment or the disgrace to the community, it is clear however that this view has no basis in Jewish law. We don’t sacrifice innocent people for the sake of negative consequences to others. Rav Moshe Sternbuch commented that any rav who would say such a thing is not practicing as a rav. A rabbi has an obligation to provide protection to the victim. By definition it seems it is an unjust ruling. Any rabbi who makes such a ruling may be ignorant of either the halacha or he doesn’t understand what the molesting or wife abuse causes. Therefore if there is time – another rabbi should be consulted.

However an alternative reason that a rabbi might say not to report the molester is that he feels he can guarantee protection for children against the molester. For example he might threaten the molester with a severe beating or provides supervision or he claims the molester has repented and won’t abuse again. He might also claim he can provide therapy equal or better to a psychologist. While these seem to be logically equivalent to the police, the likelihood that they will be effective is not very high. Therefore one should find a competent rabbi who agrees that the police should be informed in the case of actual abuse. Rav Sternbuch commented that only a known talmid chachom posek can posken these problems.

After reading these comments, (with which some Rabonim disagree and consider too lenient) my mind wandered back to the unresolved case of Malka Leifer

Malka Leifer

and the Adass Israel School in Melbourne. For those who are not acquainted with the case see the forward article and the age report.

In short, there were strong allegations that Mrs Malka Leifer, a then principal of the Charedi Adass Israel School, sexually molested her female pupils. It was further alleged that two Charedi communal Rabbis knew about the allegations for some time.

Molestation and Pedophilia know no boundaries and are not restricted to Charedi circles, although it would appear that Charedim are more likely to cover up such incidents. In my opinion, the reason Charedim may be more likely to suppress such incidents has little to do with the laws of Mesira and Halacha. Rather, the process of washing one’s linen behind sealed doors is more likely to be a syndrome of a closed society, where everyone lives in each other’s proverbial pocket and nobody wants any remote smell of “a stain” (פגם) to waft from their house (even if they are an actual victim). There would be concerns that knowledge of any allegation will diminish the dignity of a family in the eyes of Shadchonim and the community.

We noted that in the Leifer case, strong indications are that two Melbourne Charedi Rabbis are alleged to have known about the allegations for quite some time. In the well-known YU Lanner case, the Beis Din that had protected Lanner initially, finally apologised and announced that they were wrong. Rabbi Blau, in particular, has been so profoundly affected by the Lanner error that he is now an active campaigner against Rabbinic cover-ups and a profound supporter of alleged victims.

Has anyone in Melbourne ever apologised in respect of the Leifer case? Is anyone seriously still pretending that “nothing happened?” Even if Leifer cannot be prosecuted, given that two well known Rabbis were allegedly privy to complaints for some time (almost a year according to some sources), and now know, in retrospect, that they ought to have acted promptly, why do they not admit their error of judgement in the same way that the Beth Din in the Lanner case did? Yes, Lanner was convicted and Leifer ran away, but whose fault is that?

Where is Leifer now? Do people around her know the allegations against her? I shudder to think if she is involved in Chinuch in any way.

Thankfully, the Rabbinic Council in Victoria and others, notably the Jewish Taskforce against Family Violence, have taken on the general issue in a serious and responsible way, liaising with the Melbourne Rabbinate including the Charedi Rabbinate, schools, victims and authorities respectively, with education being a critical focus.

One can only pray that any Rabbis who were allegedly “in the know” in respect of the Leifer case, have attained the wisdom to realise that they are decidedly not experts and that the authorities are the correct point of contact when an allegation of molestation arises and the victim, or their parent/s, come forth.

ה ‘  ירחם