One of Australia's most senior Rabbis resigns after furore over claims he called Jewish victims of sexual abuse inside centres 'crazy'
1 September 2015
- Senior Australian Rabbi announced he will immediately be stepping down
- Rabbi Zvi Telsner was the head of the Yeshiva Centre in Melbourne
- He announced resignation in a letter to the Jewish community on Tuesday
- It has been claimed Rabbi Telsner called victims of sexual abuse 'crazy'
One of Australia's most senior rabbis has been forced to resign after it emerged he allegedly attacked sex abuse victims, calling them 'crazy'.
The head of Melbourne's Yeshiva Centre, Rabbi Zvi Telsner, announced he is immediately stepping down in a letter distributed to the Jewish community on Tuesday night.
The Yeshiva Centre manages Yeshiva College, which was investigated in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses over how Jewish schools in Sydney and Melbourne responded to sexual abuse claims since the 1980s.
In his letter, Rabbi Telsner said he endorses the Yeshiva Centre's values, policy and message of support and compassion for child sexual abuse victims and their families, according to AAP.
'I recognise that my conduct towards victims and their families did not demonstrate these values or behaviour to the extent necessary of a rabbi in my position,' he said in the letter.
'Accordingly, I have decided to stand down from my position as rabbi at the Yeshiva Centre, effective immediately.
'We must all be aware of how our words and actions impact on others and therefore would like to apologise for my conduct and urge everyone to show compassion and support towards victims and their families.'
Rabbi Telsner told the royal commission he believes paedophiles could be cured over time.
'I'm saying through therapy, and through counselling, and if you see that over the last 20 odd years, the person has been able to control themselves being amongst children, the possibility (is) that he is in control of himself,' Rabbi Telsner said.
'I would say the same thing could happen to someone who was gay, I would suspect.'
The royal commission uncovered a culture of ignoring issues within the Yeshiva Centre, a lack of knowledge about child abuse and of sympathy for victims assaulted between the 1980s and 2010.
It also revealed a teacher and other men linked with the school who were known to be or suspected of being child abusers were allowed to make contact with children.
The Rabbi's resignation comes after other community members renewed calls for his sacking this week.
Manny Waks, a prominent member of the Melbourne Jewish community who protested against the abuse that went on inside Yeshivah centres, said Rabbi Telsner needed to be removed.
'It's important to emphasise that until Rabbi Telsner is no longer at the helm of Yeshivah it will be difficult for many to move forward,' he said, according to the Herald Sun.
'And in the meantime, he is continuing to cause damage to many, including to the Yeshivah Centre itself.'
Originally published at Mail Online.