Yeshivah Centre's leadership dissolved in wake of abuse revelations
16 June 2015
The embattled board of the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne has been dissolved, after shocking child abuse revelations at the Royal Commission.
All board members stepped down in recent days under pressure from the Parents and Friends Yeshivah Melbourne group, which was set up after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Board members have steadily stepped down since the Royal Commission, with some leaving after a decades-long tenure.
The Centre's board has oversight of the Yeshivah's college and synagogue.
A two-week hearing of the Royal Commission revealed a cover-up at the ultra-Orthodox Yeshivah Centre, which employed convicted sex offenders David Cyprys and David Kramer.
Fairfax Media does not suggest any individual board members were involved in the concealment of any abuse.
In a statement to stakeholders released on Tuesday, Yeshivah Centre announced an interim board would be appointed under the guidance of "governance experts" and a new constitution drawn up by December this year.
"All agree that we must implement the changes with vigour and immediacy to enable our schools and community to continue to thrive," it read.
The Centre's Parents and Friends Yeshivah Melbourne group, which is lobbying for positions on the board, wrote in a letter to constituents they were concerned the process of appointing new members would be "compromised by conflicts of interest".
Some community members are demanding the Centre's Board of Trustees – an overarching entity presiding over the Centre's board – also relinquish its authority.
The leadership changes comes after a vocal community campaign for change.
Eleven victims of abuse at the Centre wrote an open letter in March, demanding the resignation of the Yeshivah board.
The victims said it was an "indictment" on the Centre that "no genuine action has been taken" in light of evidence of a cover-up at the Royal Commission.
An online petition signed by members of Melbourne's Jewish community called for the committee of management to resign, saying it did "not have the confidence of the community".
Labor upper house MP Philip Dalidakis, who previously called for the centre's funding to be dependent on the resignations of board members, said it was time for renewal at the Centre.
"I'm not suggesting there was a cover up. But by default of their position on the board, these members were aware of the child abuse, and the subsequent cover up, and were complicit. Or, they were not aware of it and need to go."
Former student at the Yeshivah College and victim advocate Manny Waks welcomed the developments, but said it comes after a "frustrating period" of inaction.
"Some positive developments are indeed happening, although very slowly and in some cases seemingly imposed by external parties like myself and others."
Rabbi Abraham Glick, who was the principal of Yeshivah College when Cyprys and Kramer were abusing students, resigned from all leadership positions at the Centre earlier this year.
Originally published at The Age.