It is truly extraordinary and ironic that on the same day the findings have come out, the Yeshivah leadership invited David Werdiger to host an event on its premises as part of an election process brought about by the Royal Commission and intended as a response to the horrific failures of the Yeshivah leadership to act against those who have been part of the attacks against victims and their families for seeking justice in relation to their abuse. Such attacks, from many quarters, have included the use of anonymous blogs, the spreading of vicious lies against victims and their families, and general intimidation. Werdiger is scheduled to host another similar event tonight.
Those who have read my book will be aware of the role Werdiger has played in my personal suffering. Another victim has also alleged his personal and family’s suffering as a result of Werdiger, and has even sought the court’s intervention against Werdiger in connection with his alleged conduct.
Werdiger has written the following to me:
‘Zev, on the other hand, will now be branded a pedophile for life when more likely he's just harmless & messed up [as opposed to David Cyprys]'
Zev is Velvel Serebryanski. Velvel sexually abused me several times inside the Yeshivah Centre Synagogue and at another synagogue. I was around 11-12 years old. I have also spoken directly to another one of Velvel’s alleged victims, and I understand through another victim advocate that there is at least one other alleged victim. Neither is ready at this stage to go through a court case. Velvel is also the cousin of Werdiger.
Werdiger also wrote to me that he considers me to be 'vindictive' because '[y]ou consider yourself a victim of Yeshivah as much as a victim of Cyprys' and I am apparently 'inflicting additional damage on people or organizations with links to the perpetrators'.
Indeed, I and many of the other Yeshivah victims regard ourselves as victims of both our abusers and the Yeshivah Centre. The Royal Commission report has confirmed that I am indeed a victim of Yeshivah as much as a victim of Cyprys. Yeshivah itself recently acknowledged my ongoing victimisation at their hands.
Despite requests, Werdiger refuses to apologise to me for his actions.
Earlier today, the peak Orthodox Rabbinic bodies in Australia publicly stated their belief that 'those who denigrated or undermined the victims have lost their moral right to serve as leaders in our communities'.
In my view, it is completely inappropriate and insensitive – indeed offensive – that Werdiger chairs these events on behalf of the Yeshivah leadership. Until Yeshivah starts to deal properly with those involved in the (mis-)conduct towards victims highlighted by the Royal Commission, talk of change from Yeshivah is meaningless.