It has been a frustrating and disappointing period since the Royal Commission public hearing into the Yeshiva Centre – there have been some positive developments, although very slowly and in some cases seemingly imposed by external parties like myself and others.
Now that the Committee of Management has finally resigned, it’s well overdue for Yeshivah’s Rabbi Telsner to also resign or be stood down. As those ultimately responsible for the leadership at the Yeshivah Centre, it is crucial that the entire Board of Trustees also resigns.
There needs to be a new and transparent governance structure at Yeshivah – one that is in no way implicated with the child sexual abuse scandal that has tarnished this important communal institution. Also, the new leadership cannot be in a real or perceived conflict of interest – ideally, some in this new leadership group should be from outside the Chabad Yeshivah community.
The current Board of Trustees must accept that it no longer has the legitimacy to lead. Therefore, their ongoing involvement will merely continue to undermine any positive changes that are being made. An interim leadership board should be installed immediately.
It is worth noting the recent letter that was disseminated by the newly-established Parents & Friends of Yeshivah Melbourne highlighting some of the ongoing concerns: ‘We are concerned that at this point in time, the process of appointment for positions on a new board may be being compromised by conflicts of interest. This may preclude the best outcomes for our community.’
The Yeshivah Centre needs to send out a clear and unequivocal message: that they are taking these issues seriously and addressing them appropriately. Only then will they regain the trust, respect and support of the community. Once this happens, the victims/survivors, the Yeshivah community and indeed the broader community will be able to move forward in a positive and constructive manner.