Manny Waks public statement:
It’s outrageous that once again, we have the unseemly spectacle of Chabad rabbis going out of their way to use their titles and community roles to assist a paedophile. In doing so, they continue to prioritise the interests of the perpetrator over his victim who has suffered unnecessary distress as a result. It comes only months after Rabbi David Grossman walked into a Jerusalem court and offered to help Malka Leifer by arguing for her to be released into his custody, which sparked global outrage within the Jewish community and beyond. These rabbis need to understand that the community expects them to be standing up for child sexual abuse victims, not their abusers.
In the wake of the Royal Commission findings, where the response of rabbis was found horribly wanting, this behaviour by Rabbis Solomon and White is untenable and raises questions about claims that efforts are being made to change the culture within the Rabbinate. It also raises questions regarding the suitability of these two rabbis to remain in their positions.
I would expect the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ) and the congregations which these two rabbis lead to publicly and strongly condemn their behaviour. Clearly the newly-formed RCANZ still has a great deal of work ahead of it.
It’s also upsetting that it is left to victims and their advocates to pursue these matters. In this case, Rabbi Solomon and the Chairman of his Synagogue Board, Mr Darryl Zulberg, both chose to ignore my repeated enquiries on this matter. This arrogant resistance of community leaders towards transparency and accountability is dangerous – it is this type of attitude that has allowed inappropriate behaviour by religious leaders in our community to thrive in the past. In our post-Royal Commission world, we must have full accountability and transparency.
A sibling of the courageous victim has issued the following powerful statement:
I grew up a part of the Perth Jewish community, was affiliated with several synagogues and was brought up in a religious home. I was taught that I could trust my family, my Jewish friends and our community leaders, and it was impressed upon me that these were the people who I could confide in and would come through for me, and speak up and speak out against injustices and crimes that occurred within my community.
I was wrong.
I found out not that long ago, that sexual abuse was perpetrated on one of my siblings while growing up in our family home.
I not only lost many family members and friends through this ordeal but the leaders of our community remained silent throughout. Not one community leader contacted myself or the victim to show their support or offer help during this time. They did however provide a perpetrator of sexual abuse with character references that would aid him during sentencing.
I am shocked at the lack of support within the Jewish community, for its victims. I expected more from our leaders. We can and we need to, change the way we deal with injustices so we can change the future for victims who are yet to speak out. We need to realise and acknowledge that our people are not perfect and we need to have systems in place to assist victims of crime. We need to show victims and others affected by crime that there is support, we do care and it’s safe to speak up; this means loudly condemning offenders actions and actively supporting victims and there families.