I note that it is this Board (and not the Board of Yeshivah Beth Rivkah Schools Limited) which continues to cause angst to survivors of child sexual abuse and their families by employing not only (Rabbis) Groner and Telsner to perform religious leadership roles but also a shochet [a religious person tasked with the slaughter of kosher animals] and a gabbai [a religious person tasked with running synagogue services] were directly exposed at the Royal Commission for having been involved in the bullying and harassment of child sexual abuse victims and their families. It is the CIVL Board which continues to fail to hold these individuals to account in any way, and by allowing their continued participation in religious leadership roles, undermines the interests of victims/survivors and their families, and creates an environment in which it is unsafe for victims and others to attend their services.
Yeshivah Centre letter
On Thursday 20th September, CIVL received a request from Henry Benjamin (Publisher/Managing Director of J-Wire) for a comment regarding Rabbi Groner and Rabbi Telsner’s continued employment, in spite of Manny Wak’s insistence that they should not be in their positions.
The complete and unedited response provided to J-Wire is appended below.
Wishing you all a Gut Shabbos, a Gut Yontiv, Gmar Chasima Tova and a Gut Gebentcht Yohr
CIVL Board of Directors
--- Full unedited response to J-Wire sent 21st Feb 2018 ---
For clarification purposes, Rabbi Groner and Rabbi Telsner are both employed by Chabad Institutions of Victoria Limited (CIVL).
In the case of Rabbi Groner, the Board of Directors are bound to uphold the terms of the CIVL constitution, which (like the YCL and YBRSL constitutions) mandates that Rabbi Groner hold a permanent position on the boards. For all practical purposes, the Board of Directors are beholden to the Members of CIVL, and the Members of CIVL are in turn empowered under the constitution, to propose and ratify constitutional amendments, including clauses relating to Rabbi Groner’s ongoing role within the centre.
[MW: Groner, as a member of the now-defunct Yeshivah Centre Board of Trustees, was directly responsible for the new constitution. This is how he and his former Trustees structured the new governance arrangements. They did so on the advice of a range of experts, including (Rabbi) Marcus Solomon SC, who was recently publicly outed as providing a character reference to mitigate the sentence of a convicted pedophile who sexually abused his young daughter. It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that the new governance structure not only does not consider the needs of child sexual abuse victims/survivors and the interests of justice but continues to hurt us. The structure which Groner implemented makes it virtually impossible for Members to remove him, and it is disingenuous to suggest that Members are 'empowered' to do so. Nevertheless, there is no reason that Groner cannot do the right thing by victims/survivors and Yeshivah by standing down from his lifetime appointment. There is also no reason that other Board members have to agree to sit on a Board alongside him.]
In the case of Rabbi Telsner, the Board received overwhelming support to continue to employ Rabbi Telsner, albeit in a non-Rabbinical Leadership/pulpit capacity. Whilst individual synagogue committees are free to request Rabbi Telsner to speak from time to time, in our eyes, this by no means equates to Rabbi Telsner having resumed his senior Rabbinic/pulpit position.
[MW: The fact that there is overwhelming Yeshivah community support to continue to employ Telsner is a reflection on that community, not the CIVL Board. This seems to indicate that the Yeshivah community is rotten to the core, not just the Yeshivah institution itself. There is perhaps no better example of this than the post by Merv Adler, a former Yeshivah Board Member and a current member of the CIVL community, who on Yom Kippur eve had no shame in publicly comparing me to the evil Pharoah while comparing Yeshivah to the Jews living under Pharoah from the famous biblical story (see below his Adler's unedited hate message). This type of attitude is encouraged by the failure of CIVL to identify the appalling behaviour of their representatives and to hold them to account. Further, the fact remains that Telsner has been treated like he is the Senior Rabbi since he supposedly stepped down over three years ago. He gives all the major sermons at Yeshivah, the congregation bestows unique honours on him that are usually reserved to the Senior Rabbi, his office and other benefits have apparently not changed, etc. So, while the CIVL Board may not regard him as the Senior Rabbi, for all intents and purposes he has never relinquished that role nor been replaced.]
In fact, we have made it very clear to our Members on numerous occasions, that Rabbi Telsner’s position and duties of employment, do not extend to Rabbinical Leadership/pulpit, and that furthermore, CIVL has commenced formulating the process of hiring a new senior Rabbi, to fill the desperate void currently plaguing the centre.
[MW: As noted above, Telsner has ostensibly maintained his Senior Rabbi role since he resigned over three years ago. Despite the claim that there is a 'desparate void currently plaguing the centre', there has been no appointment of a replacement Rabbi in all the time that the CIVL Board has been operating. One can only assume that this is also because there is 'overwhelming Yeshivah community support' not to appoint a replacement. And however clearly you state something, actions speak louder than words. Telsner is Senior Rabbi at Yeshivah.]
The Yeshivah Community, as well as the broader community, sought urgent governance reform. We are now bound by the frameworks implemented as part of this reform, and therefore all said and done, the decision to retain (or not) both Rabbi Groner and Rabbi Telsner, will be a matter for the CIVL Board of Directors, in direct consultation with the CIVL constituency (being the Members).
[MW: As noted above, there is nothing in the framework implemented which mandates the ongoing employment of Telsner. it's now clear that the Yeshivah community is rotten to the core.]
Having said this, and as demonstrated at our AGM (the contents of which are available for public consumption), the Board of CIVL continues to actively and openly encourage Members to speak out, to have a voice, and to leverage whatever democratic and constitutional avenues are available, to further their interests and aspirations with regard to all aspects of the administration and operation of the centre.
Wishing you a G’mar Chasima Tova and Good Yom Tov.
CIVL Board of Directors
Now that the Yeshivah has embarked on the road of embryonic democracy, is it not up to the Boards and members as to the employment or roles of Rabbis Groner and Telsner? It pains me to say this, but I think it's time Manny Waks lets go of the Yeshivah. It seems that he is as addicted to the Yeshivah as Pharoah was to his Jews. It might not be perfect, and there could well still be some soul searching left for the Yeshivah, but it's time to draw the line in the sand and say - what ever has been said, has been said. Whatever has been paid, has been paid. What ever changes were required to be made by the Yeshivah have been made. What ever group photos and apologies were necessary have been taken and given. Time for the Yeshivah and Manny Waks to recognise a complete and comprehensive divorce from each other. As a member of the Yeshivah, it is well and truly enough. Let the Yeshivah go forward from strength to strength and let Manny Waks live the life G-d intended for him. Wishing all a wonderful year and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.