Child Sex Abuse Case In Australia Comes To America

Two thoughts:

* This story illustrates why the Forward is the premiere Jewish news publication in the diaspora.

* Consider the eery parallels to the sexual molestation situation at Beis Midrash Toras HaShem in North Hollywood.

Email: The following note comes from someone close to the case:

A number of brief points about the link below to one of the most respected/influential global Jewish publications (Forward):

1. It further demonstrates the scandalous behaviour of the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne (not that this is a revelation to many if us).

2. I would like to acknowledge the courage of Yaakov Wolf for publicly identifying himself as one of the many former victims. For those who may not be aware, Yaakov is the son of prominent Rabbi/philosopher etc Laibl Wolf. Importantly, he is also the nephew of Don Wolf, the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Yeshivah.

3. Some of you may not be aware of who Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant is. His father and numerous other relatives are and have been on the Yeshivah Executive, or hold/have held other senior leadership positions there, for many years. This may explain his odd comments at the end of the article.

THE FORWARD REPORTS:

A child sex abuse scandal in Australia’s Jewish community has spilled into America, as a pending extradition, arrests in Australia and a slew of cover-up allegations put that community’s response to molestation under scrutiny.

Australian police are seeking to extradite convicted child molester David Kramer, currently in jail in Farmington, Mo., on suspicion of having abused children at a Chabad school in Melbourne during the 1990s.
Kramer, who was reportedly spirited out of Australia by one of Melbourne’s Chabad leaders following abuse allegations, is halfway through a seven-year prison sentence for sodomizing a 12-year-old boy in St. Louis.
According to members of the Australian community, he is not the only molester to end up in the United States after Australian community leaders failed to report them to legal authorities. Other molesters fled the country more recently as suspicion of abuse fell on them, community members say.
The Forward has learned that at least two suspected molesters from the Australian Jewish community are living in the United States while they are under investigation in Australia.
Meanwhile, Manny Waks, a former vice president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, accused an Australian living in New York of molesting him when he was a boy.
Waks, 35, who has been the catalyst for revelations about the Melbourne abuse scandal, told the Forward he was molested by Velvel Serebryanski, son of a prominent Chabad rabbi, at two Melbourne synagogues during the late 1980s.
…Australian police are currently investigating more than a dozen Orthodox individuals suspected of child abuse in Australia, according to Joel Berman, a Los Angeles activist who has been in touch with detectives on aspects of the cases in the United States.
…Sexual abuse is difficult enough for many victims to report, but Orthodox Jewish survivors and their families often find it much harder, because of the tight-knit nature of their communities and because of concerns that they are violating religious laws such as mesirah, which prohibits reporting on a fellow Jew to secular authorities. Many are also worried about committing a chilul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.
Some Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, organizations, such as Agudath Israel of America, still instruct people that unless one has direct knowledge of abuse, such as being a victim himself or herself or personally witnessing such an incident, that person must consult a rabbi before reporting suspicions to the authorities.
Chabad institutions have taken a more liberal approach. A beit din, or religious court, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn issued a ruling around the time that the Melbourne scandal broke, telling followers who suspect abuse that they are not violating religious laws by reporting their suspicions to the police.
Nevertheless, many survivors and their families fear being kicked out of synagogues and schools, or ruining marriage opportunities because of the taint of an abuse allegation.
Smason said people are often reticent to report because they don’t want to sully Judaism’s name, “not realizing that the ultimate chilul Hashem is that these things are kept quiet — and in the process, individuals bounce from community to community.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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