Top rabbi ‘cov­ered up’ child sex abuse

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY DAN GOLDBERG SYD­NEY

A SE­NIOR rabbi in Syd­ney has stepped aside from his high-pro­file post while he fights “false and defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions” that he sup­ported a cover-up of child mo­lesta­tion by not re­port­ing it to po­lice.

Amid mount­ing pres­sure, Rabbi Yosef Feld­man re­moved him­self on Mon­day as pres­i­dent of the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil of New South Wales.

His res­ig­na­tion fol­lowed a re­port in last Fri­day’s Aus­tralian Jewish News which al­leged that, ac­cord­ing to Rabbi Feld­man, rab­bis should de­ter­mine whether or not pae­dophiles should be re­ported to authorities.

Rabbi Feld­man’s al­leged com­ments were met with strong crit­i­cism from rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Rab­bis of Aus­trala­sia, the Syd­ney Beth Din and the Mel­bourne Beth Din, who all stated that there was a halachic obli­ga­tion to re­port sus­pected child abuse cases to po­lice.

The con­tro­ver­sial re­port in the AJN comes in the wake of a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion in June into rev­e­la­tions of child abuse at Mel­bourne’s Yeshivah Col­lege two decades ago.

In a state­ment on Mon­day, Rabbi Feld­man said he has “at all times pub­licly en­dorsed the unan­i­mous view of the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil of New South Wales un­der his pres­i­dency — that all acts of abuse must be re­ported to the po­lice”.

He said his al­leged com­ments were con­tained in an “in­ter­nal email ex­change among rab­bis in which there was aca­demic dis­cus­sion of a range of views held by in­ter­na­tional schol­ars on how to deal with sit­u­a­tions not sub­ject to manda­tory re­port­ing”.

The front-page head­line and blis­ter­ing editorial, which called on the rabbi to stand down and for the Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil “to not just brush off the views he ex­pressed but to pub­licly de­nounce them”, prompted Rabbi Feld­man to con­sider a legal case against the news­pa­per this week for pub­lish­ing “false and defam­a­tory al­le­ga­tions”.

The Rab­bini­cal Coun­cil ac­cepted R a b b i F e l d man’s de­ci­sion to stand aside but at­tacked t h e n e ws­pa­per’ s “reck­less and sen­sa­tion­al­ist por­trayal” of his al­leged views, while “un­re­servedly and em­phat­i­cally” con­demn­ing all forms of child abuse and the pro­tec­tion of per­pe­tra­tors.

“It is a sad day for the Jewish com­mu­nity when the largest-cir­cu­la­tion Jewish news­pa­per in Aus­tralia has stooped to the level of a cheap tabloid,” the coun­cil said in a state­ment.

But the edi­tor of the AJN, Zeddy Lawrence, who is a for­mer edi­tor of the UK Jewish News, said: “We stand by our story and we be­lieve a num­ber of se­nior rab­bis and com­mu­nity lead­ers sup­port us.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.