Melbourne rabbi apologises to victims of sexual abuse
13 February 2015
THE rabbi who presided over Melbourne’s Yeshivah College while two staff members were abusing children has apologised for the first time to the victims, prompting renewed calls for his resignation.
Rabbi Abraham Glick joined Yeshivah College — part of the orthodox Chabad community — as a teacher in 1970, becoming head of Jewish studies from 1974 and principal from 1988 to 2007. He was involved in a decision to send teacher and rabbi David Kramer to Israel in 1992 when an abuse allegation was made, and also served as principal while Yeshivah worker David Cyprys was abusing boys in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Rabbi Glick told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse yesterday that he was “sickened” the abuse had occurred under his watch.
“I would like to apologise to the students,” he said.
“I see that many mistakes were made. We should have been more vigilant, we should have responded better. Anything that we could do to help them in their healing process, move forwards, I personally would like to know ... I think that would help me in my healing process.”
Rabbi Glick still works at the Yeshivah Centre and is the head of its spiritual council.
Victims and other Jewish figures, including the head of Melbourne’s largest Jewish school, have called for Yeshivah’s leaders at the time of the abuse to show sincerity by resigning.
Outside the hearing, victim and advocate Manny Waks said he did not doubt Rabbi Glick felt badly, but his apology needed to be followed with action.
“The fact that he hasn’t said or done anything until today is clearly disappointing and causes me to think about how genuine he really is,” Mr Waks said.
“I will not consider even accepting the apology unless he does resign from any leadership position.
“It’s about taking responsibility for what has happened. The only way that can happen is by some action being taken.”
Rabbi Glick told the hearing he believed being on the spiritual council and teaching at Yeshivah was his “mission”, and not all victims wanted him to resign.
The examination of how Yeshivah and its Sydney counterpart responded to child sex abuse cases has already prompted one resignation this week, with Sydney rabbi Yosef Feldman quitting his position on the board of Bondi’s Yeshiva Centre following widespread condemnation of his testimony.
Rabbi Feldman — who told the royal commission there was too much “hype” around child sex abuse and pedophiles should receive greater leniency for historical offences — yesterday said he was considering defamation action against Jewish leaders who had criticised his comments and he had only quit because of the negative publicity.
Rabbi Feldman remains the presiding rabbi at the Southern Sydney Synagogue.
Before his apology, Rabbi Glick told the royal commission he had only known “in principle, in theory” that as principal he had a responsibility to be aware of issues that might put children at risk.
Originally published at The Australian.