Tzedek severs links with Sydney Yeshiva
Tzedek, the advocacy group for victims of child sexual abuse, has formally severed its links with the Sydney Yeshiva Centre.
Earlier, Tzedek president Manny Waks had released a statement citing witness reports that Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman, wife of the spiritual leader of the centre, had publicly attacked the Waks family as “mossurs” (police informants) against the community.
Waks sees this as evidence of the “ongoing harassment and intimidation that many victims and their families are subjected to”, and part of an underlying attitude amongst many in the ultra-Orthodox world which seeks to silence victims.
Rebbetzin Feldman has denied the claim. She told J-Wire: “I unequivocally stand by the Halachic rulings that reporting child sexual abuse and in fact any form of physical violence to the relevant government authorities is not Mesirah. I have personally reported such incidents to the police in the past and have encouraged others to do so”.
She rejects the claim that her comments were made publicly, saying “I do not intend to publicly explain details of a private conversation that may embarrass or cause pain to certain individuals, including some who may have tragically been the victims of child abuse.”
Rebbetzin Feldman further rebuked Manny Waks, adding: “Many in the community, including mental health professionals, firmly believe that constant leaking to the media in the midst of a sensitive police investigation only hinders the ability of victims to come forward with their deep personal pain for fear of publicity”.
Calling the Rebbetzin’s statement “outrageous” and “offensive”, and rejecting the notion that publicity is a hindrance, Manny Waks said Tzedek had made the decision to sever ties with the Sydney Yeshiva Centre and its representatives until a full retraction and public apology was issued by Rebbetzin Feldman.
A spokesperson for the Yeshiva has declined to comment further to prevent what could become an endless “table-tennis match”, saying that Rebbetzin Feldman has made her position clear in her initial public statement.
J-Wire contacted NSW Police for a comment. The officer concerned has not returned our calls.