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.”