Groner event causes distress

June 24, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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An event to commemorate the 10th yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzhak Groner has caused distress to victims of child sexual abuse according to The Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Rabbi Groner had a monumental presence within Melbourne’s Jewish community…but his name became sullied when the 2015 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse exposed the failure of the Yeshivah’s administrators in reporting incidents of sexual abuse.

Rabbi Groner headed the Melbourne Yeshivah community where in 1984 he received a report of child sexual abuse  according to the 2015 Royal Commission.

The Royal Commission was told there were two child sex offenders at Melbourne’s Yeshivah College.

Anton Block, the president of the The Executive Council of Australian Jewry issued a statement stating that the ECAJ is concerned that an event to honour the memory of the late Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner has caused unnecessary distress to victims of child sexual abuse.

He said: “Rabbi Groner was director of the Melbourne Yeshiva Centre at a time when several students of that centre were being sexually abused.

While the event in memory of Rabbi Groner was characterised as a “night of learning” in recognition of the Rabbi’s intellectual and spiritual standing among his supporters, the evening should have also been an opportunity for our community to further learn what must be done to protect our most vulnerable, bring perpetrators to justice, and ensure that the tragic failings of the past are never repeated

It would also be expected that in the spirit of the National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual Abuse, which all relevant Jewish institutions in Australia are being strongly encouraged to opt into, a heartfelt apology to all survivors should  have been highlighted in an Evening of Learning.

We are also disappointed by comments made by representatives of other communal organisations that showed an insensitivity to the concerns of victims of child sexual abuse. The ECAJ will continue to stand with survivors of child sexual abuse.

Speaking at the event were Chaya Cowen and Beruria Tenenboim of the Beth Rivkah College, Rabbi Marcus Solomon of Perth’s Dianella Shul, Rabbi Yossi Chazan of the Holy Law Synagogue in Manchester and Rabbi Danny Mirvis of Melbourne’s Mizrachi Shule.

Rabbi Mirvis said: “My decision to speak at the event has been met, both before and after, with overwhelming communal support in Melbourne, including from individuals impacted by the findings of the Royal Commission.”

Dr Danny Lamm added: “I’m Mizrachi President and totally support Rabbi Mirvis’s participation in the 10th Yahrzeit of the late Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner

I myself attended the event honouring the memory of one of Melbourne Jewry’s greatest leaders .”

Child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks commented : “Thank you so much to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) for standing with victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and their families. Your support in speaking up about the recent ill-conceived ‘event to honour the memory of the late Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner’ and criticism of those ‘representatives of other communal organisations’ who continue to hurt victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and their families means an enormous amount to many of us.

Our community must not tolerate the continued honouring of people responsible for child sexual abuse or those who have attacked child sexual abuse victims/survivors and their families, while turning a blind eye to the unnecessary distress this causes to victims.

Well done ECAJ. This is what genuine Jewish leadership looks like.”

Comments

3 Responses to “Groner event causes distress”
  1. Danny Levine says:

    Something is very wrong here. Would the ECAJ have preferred that the Groner family quietly say Kaddish & privately learn Mishnayos on Rabbi Groner’s 10th Yohrtzeit? One cannot alleviate the suffering of the survivors of abuse by denigrating the memory of the departed. That is most certainly not Jewish leadership.

  2. Ephraim Benyitzhok says:

    So the ECAJ “… is concerned that an event to honour the memory of the late Rabbi Yitzchak David Groner has caused unnecessary distress to victims of child sexual abuse”. Really? Where is the ECAJ’s evidence? Have complaints from the abused been pouring in? To me it sounds like the ECAJ is looking for an opportunity to score some cheap points (and some relevance as an organisation) at the expense of a man who dedicated his life to the Australian Jewish community.

    I personally accept that in the light of today’s standards, Rabbi Groner made a misjudgement in dealing with sexual abusers at the Yeshivah Centre. I also accept that all Australians should stand up against all abuse, sexual and otherwise. Yes, ask questions whether the Yeshivah Centre (as well as all other Australian institutions) have put measures in place to prevent and deal with abuse. However is an evening of learning commemorating Rabbi Groner’s yahrzeit the appropriate venue for this? I don’t think so; ECAJ, you really got it wrong this time.

    Finally, I believe a response is necessary to Manny Waks’ ugly comment, “Our community must not tolerate the continued honouring of people responsible for child sexual abuse or those who have attacked child sexual abuse victims/survivors and their families, while turning a blind eye to the unnecessary distress this causes to victims.”

    Does Waks really regard Rabbi Groner as “… responsible for child sexual abuse or … [a person who has] attacked child sexual abuse victims”. These are very strong and possibly defamatory accusations. I ask again, where is the evidence?

    • Yitzhok Benephraim says:

      Does Waks really regard Rabbi Groner as “… responsible for child sexual abuse or … [a person who has] attacked child sexual abuse victims”. These are very strong and possibly defamatory accusations. I ask again, where is the evidence?

      Not sure if you are aware but there was a Royal Commission which found Groner was responsible for child sexual abuse. It found Groner knew children were being abused, was in a position to stop it, did nothing, and children continued to be abused. Hopefully that’s enough evidence.

      The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made the following findings about (Rabbi) Groner:
      – his ‘response to reported incidents of child sexual abuse, including those involving [David] Cyprys, was wholly inadequate.’
      – ‘the nature and frequency of reports to (Rabbi) Groner strongly suggested a pattern of total inaction.’
      – ‘(Rabbi) Groner failed in his obligation to the students of Yeshivah College Melbourne.’

      The reference to ‘those who have attacked child sexual abuse victims/survivors and their families’ is clearly not to Groner himself but to Telsner and others who continue to be honoured each week at Yeshivah. Again, refer to the Royal Commission for evidence of their attacks against child sexual abuse victims/survivors and their families.

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