Both Adass and Kluwgant have horrific histories when it comes to mishandling matters relating to child sexual abuse. Kluwgant’s appointment was a slap in the face to the Yeshivah victims who worked so hard to expose his true character and to the Adass victims who continue to suffer terribly as a result of the lack of education and poor decision-making of the Adass School Board. The appointment also needlessly brought the entire Adass community into disrepute and the community is entitled to question whether this Board can be trusted with ensuring the safety of their children and whether it is appropriate for them to continue in their current roles.
There were many parties who worked behind the scenes to ensure the right outcome was achieved and it was particularly heartening for many to see Rabbi Beck (long-standing head Rabbi of Adass), members of the Adass staff, members of the Adass community and the broader community standing up for victims on this occasion, something for which we have been crying out for too long.
Yet it is disappointing to note that not a single ‘leader’ of our Jewish communal organisations or Rabbinic bodies spoke out in support of victims against this ridiculous and offensive appointment. Once again, it fell to victims of sexual abuse to expose this matter and to lead the campaign against Kluwgant’s appointment. This role cannot be continuously imposed upon victims and survivors while the communal and Rabbinic leadership remain silent.
Now that this is over, we call on Adass to ensure that it addresses its past, including through offering unequivocal apologies and communal support to the institution’s numerous victims, taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety of their students today and doing everything possible to assist in having Malka Leifer returned to Australia to face justice for her alleged crimes.
In recent months, we have seen Kluwgant and others who were responsible for the horrific failures which led Yeshivah/Chabad to a Royal Commission, attempting to quietly find their way into other Jewish institutions. They must understand that until such time as they acknowledge their conduct and do genuine teshuvah (repentance), there will be no place for them in any Jewish institution in any capacity, especially institutions which are responsible for the safety of children. When these people are ready, I (and others) will be willing to engage with them.