That Constitution is clearly untenable and needs to be changed for several reasons.
It is tarnished by being the legacy of the disgraced former Trustees, it fails to hold to account those responsible for the events revealed at the Royal Commission by enshrining life tenure for Groner, and it denies members basic rights which they should have.
That Constitution needs to be changed.
Chabad Institutions Victoria Limited (CIVL) has announced this morning that a CIVL Constitutional Review Taskforce has been formed by certain members to undertake that task. All three members of the CIVL Constitutional Review Taskforce are individuals who have caused immeasurable pain and suffering to Yeshivah victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. Their involvement is inappropriate for several reasons, not least of which is that it causes ongoing pain and suffering to victims and survivors, ironically given the only reason for the 'new' governance structure was Yeshivah's disgrace before the Royal Commission.
The members of the CIVL Constitutional Review Taskforce are David Werdiger, Herschel Herbst and Ari Schachter.
David Werdiger has previously written to me complaining that my pursuit of his cousin, serial sexual abuser Velvel Serebryanski, would result in him being ‘branded a pedophile for life’ and describing him as ‘harmless’. Last month, it was reported that Victoria Police are expected to issue a warrant for the arrest of Serebryanski (who is now living in New York) and that police have two victim statements, as well as video evidence from my confrontation with him in 2017, where he admitted to having been ‘infatuated’ with me and that he had ‘only wanted to do what (I) wanted’ when he sexually abused me on multiple occasions when he was in his mid 20s and I was 11 or 12 years old. Several other Yeshivah victims also hold Werdiger responsible for some of the re-victimisation which they have suffered.
Herbst was the Gabai of the Yeshivah synagogue and used that position to deny synagogue honours to my father after I publicly disclosed my sexual abuse within Yeshivah. The punitive refusal of synagogue honours was highlighted by the Royal Commission in the context of the mistreatment and shunning of abuse victims and their families.
Shachter launched a petition in solidarity with (Rabbi) Zvi Hircsh Telsner after he supposedly stood down as Head Rabbi of Yeshivah following yet another altercation with a victim of child sexual abuse in which he attacked victims (and after the Royal Commission adverse findings against him). This was in September 2015, only several months after the Royal Commission public hearing into Yeshivah. The petition which Shachter authored stated: 'We stand behind Rabbi Telsner in solidarity of both him as an individual as well as the position of Rabbi as a representative of the wider community'.
It is unclear whether the Board of Yeshivah has once again deliberately set out to trigger and hurt victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and their families, whether they don’t care about the detrimental impact of their actions on them or whether they are just ignorant. I suspect it is a combination of all three.
But whatever the case, it is clearly inappropriate for these three individuals to be leading a review of a Constitution, which was implemented in order to address the inadequacies that resulted in children being sexually abused, the cover-up of their abuse and the persecution of victims/survivors who came forward.
Werdiger, Herbst and Schachter have called a meeting of CIVL members to be held at Yeshivah at 8pm on Wednesday 7 November. The agenda includes an allocation of two minutes to formally ratify their appointment as representatives of members to undertake the task of reviewing the Constitution.
CIVL members should be concerned that a Constitutional Review undertaken by the above individuals will not result in the protections and rights which the Constitution ought to provide. Indeed, it ought to provide the most vulnerable members with protections against the very behaviours which Werdiger, Herbst and Schachter have exhibited. Members should also be concerned that the process will cause additional pain and suffering to victims/survivors and their families, and will result in a Constitution which remains tarnished by their involvement and again, denies Yeshivah and victims/survivors and their families the opportunity to move forward from Yeshivah's sordid history which continues to plague it.
Werdiger, Herbst and Schachter should not be involved in this process. If they can't see the inappropriateness of their involvements themselves, then the community should ensure that it has appropriate representation. Surely there are others within Yeshivah who are not tarnished by their past and who are capable of fulfilling the task of Constitutional review on behalf of members. Aren't there?