Adass rabbi calls for discussion following principal’s appointment

July 5, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

A senior rabbi in Melbourne’s ultra-orthodox Adass community is calling on every member to  widen consultations on the appointment of Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant as principal of its school.

Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant

Fairfax Media reports Rabbi Avrohom Zvi Beck is “the most senior figure in the deeply hierarchical community with oversight over every element of the community including the school”.  Rabbi Beck has called for a general meeting to discuss Rabbi Kluwgant’s appointment.

Rabbi Kluwgant appeared at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse where he admitted sending a text in which he wrote Zephaniah Waks, father of three boys who were sexually abused while attending Yeshivah, including victims advocate Manny Waks, was partly responsible for the sexual abuse of his children. He wrote in the text “Zephaniah is killing us. Zephaniah is attacking Chabad. He is a lunatic on the fringe, guilty of neglect of his own children. Where was he when all this was happening?”

Rabbi Kluwgant was named at the commission from having discouraged an abuse victim reporting the offender to the police.

In 2015, following his appearance at the Royal Commission, Rabbi Kluwgant, immediate past president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV), resigned from the Executive Committee of the RCV and all other leadership positions.

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria has accepted his resignation. Rabbi Kluwgant also resigned from the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia of which he was president and from Melbourne’s Jewish Care.

But a  furore has erupted with the news of his appointment last week as principal of the Adass School in Melbourne whose former principal Malka Leifer is living in Israel where she is currently avoiding extradition to Australia where she faces 74 child sex offences following allegations .

Child sexual advocate Manny Waks said: “Child sexual abuse victims who were abused at Yeshivah and Adass have expressed concern for the welfare of students at the Adass Israel School after the appointment of disgraced Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant as Principal.”

Waks has reported that victims are urging the Minister for Education and other relevant government agencies to urgently intervene in the appointment.

A letter to the Adass staff by the Secretary of the Board Abe Weiszberger states:  “With the approval and support of the רב שליט”א, and the full support of the Board and Executive, we welcome Rabbi Kluwgant and look forward to working with him to secure excellent outcomes and further growth in תורה ויראת שמים, for our students, teachers, staff and volunteers, in a safe and vibrant environment.”

Dassi Ehrlich was awarded over $1 million in damages against the school following alleged sexual abuse she experienced when she was a student at the school.  During the court case, the judge stated the Adass school had expedited Malka Leifer’s flight to Israel in 2008.

The school has  not released any statement. Rabbi Kluwgant told J-Wire: “I was delighted to accept the invitation of the Board of Adass Israel School to succeed Dr Israel Herszberg who has been an exemplary leader.

My appointment was made with Rabbi Beck’s express approval and he has more than once expressed his full endorsement. All relevant organisations were also kept fully informed as the recruitment and appointment process progressed.

Any allegations beyond the highly regrettable text that was referred to in the Royal Commission, which led to me resigning my professional and communal positions in 2015 are utterly baseless.

Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse rightly deserve our empathy and full support.

I intend to lead the Adass Schools with integrity and with the highest standards of child protection.”

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments