Feldman out on a limb

February 9, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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The Executive Council of Australian Jewry had distanced the community from Rabbi Yosef Feldman, the spiritual head of the Southern Sydney Synagogue who has completed giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse  hearing in Melbourne.

Robert Goot

Robert Goot

In a statement released by the ECAJ, President Robert Goot and executive director Peter Wertheim say: “Rabbi Yossi Feldman’s reported statements to the Royal Commission have shocked and appalled his fellow rabbis, the Australian Jewish community and the wider community. Amongst his other objectionable comments, it is unacceptable for any religious leader to confess ignorance of basic law relating to the crime of child sexual abuse or to suggest that there are circumstances in which instances of such abuse should not be reported to the authorities. Nobody should take the law into their own hands, or be encouraged to do so.

Yossi Feldman’s statements are repugnant to Jewish values and to Judaism, which is centred on the sanctity and dignity of individual life, especially the life of a child.

We believe his position as a religious leader has become untenable. As painful as the Royal Commission is for us, it has performed an essential

service in exposing deeply troubling and misguided thinking by certain religious figures and raises questions about their education and training.”



82 Responses to “Feldman out on a limb”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Master Shakespeare shows the complexities of human nature and the psyche, as well as how tricky it can all be. So that’s good for starters.

    The Royal Commission is good enough for me, thanks Otto, so I’ll leave you to it with those only willing to share their bits and pieces with ‘certain people’. If their ‘stuff’ is so important and gives a different angle to things, then it seems to me they were bound to inform the Royal Commission into Sexual Abuse of Children in Institutions. If they were not willing to do this, then they should shut their mouths and stop spreading gossip. Sorry to be so strong on it, but this kind of thing is not exactly edifying.

    When I said we were discussing different things, I meant that your whole thrust, numbering by now hundreds of words, has been in whole-hearted defence of the Rabbis who have been found wanting, with a couple of general asides admitting the perniciousness of sexual abuse of children, but absolutely no acknowledgement of the wrongs perpetrated on the Waks x 2. Additionally, you have expounded at length on Judaism itself. I have attempted to focus on the issues at hand exposed by the Royal Commission. Different knowledge has nothing to do with it. We both have the same knowledge to consider. The info coming from insider gossip mongers is neither here nor there, and you should not allow it to distract you. Or perhaps that’s it, you’re using it as a tool of distraction in this discussion. Certainly you shouldn’t refer to it in this forum if you can’t cite it. (I suppose it includes information that shows all the Rabbis who have been found to be lacking, or at fault, owing to their own evidence, are in fact not so!!)

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat,

      your assumptions are extremely finely related to “known unknowns” to which I can only say that , reaching out with your investigative sensors, as I have done, will reveal new insights regarding not just the manner in which the Commission chose to function, but what what is already in the public domain deserves the attention of the seeker of comprehensive cover.
      Reliance on sources and selections thereof can be very subjective and what one may wish to dismiss some under “gossip” may show, once again, certain prearranged elective modules we call “agendas”. I will admit that I DO HAVE MINE !!!

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, as you and I keep communicating with one another while simultaneously discussing distinctly different issues, it’ not likely WRONG all along is going to apply. My focus is, and always has been, the sexual abuse of M. Waks, the defence of his son by Z. Waks, the ostracising of the family by the religious community to which they had belonged, and the poor behaviour of certain Chabad rabbis in relation to that subject matter. The Royal Commission hearings held in Melbourne have already exposed and confirmed all of that. Nothing else your inner sanctum ‘leads’ have to say is relevant. (Perhaps they should have taken the opportunity to speak at the Royal Commission?!)

    I would normally refrain from saying that you are speaking rubbish, Otto – but, what utter rubbish to say that davening in a shule regularly with someone (even for forty years) gives full knowledge of a person. Even living in a house with spouse and children doesn’t give that kind of knowledge. People end up knowing as much about you as you allow, the rest is guess work and assumption. (see Shakespeare).

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear liat

      these are not “different issues” only different type of knowledge of the same issue, stuff obviously you don’t have access to but I do.
      As such, all I know is very relevant and Master Shakespeare has nothing to do with it.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    Davening in the same shule as others hardly counts as intimacy (you could have a mass murderer standing next to you and wouldn’t know it – apparently sometimes such people can be disarmingly charming), and taking as read the comments of others, especially if they’re from the anti-Waks community clique, is not the behaviour of a ‘stickler’ for truth. You must try to resist gossip. It hides a multitude of sins, so to speak.

    There’s absolutely no room for preconceived notions of any kind, most especially in the case of Rabbi Kluwgant. There are obviously many reasons behind the stature achieved of Rabbinical kind at Chabad, not all of them as lofty as you might imagine, and hopefully reform will enable merit to preside. Who are you attributing ‘incredible openness’ to in the cases discussed – do you mean at the hearing? If so, the Rabbi’s response when asked if he sent the text under discussion was “I may have sent that, yes.”, hardly an example of incredible openness, rather a begrudging acknowledgement squeezed out of himself due to the necessity of it in the surroundings he found himself.

    What is the point, Otto, of you examining so minutely all the details and ‘defining’ definitions, if all you are really doing is taking ‘the other side’ despite everything and continuing to trust the Rabbis who have resigned, including Kluwgant? Your dislike of Z. and M. Waks is palpable, and your willingness to continue to believe blindly, and without equivocation, everyone involved with Chabad, no matter what the Royal Commission reveals, amounts to you being in a state of inner denial.

    Where does that leave us? Back to square one.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Not so fast, dear Liat, there is a lot to this than meets the eye, reverberates the ear and troubles the mind and I am quite satisfied that the “leads” I have suggested ever so discretely are so relevant that, once all revealed, I shall modestly say to you: Liat there is no need to apologise for being W R O N G all along, I understand it etc.

      Incidentally, when someone davvens for, say, 15, 20 years in the same shull as regularly as a frumm Yid does, there NOTHING people in the same minyan do not know about the poor schlemil !!! ( see Bashevis Singer ).

  4. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto, the term ‘confidential note’ is a euphemism for hysterical outburst, which is what the text was. As such not only was it offensive and destructive in nature, but also more a reflection of the PERSON who sent it than the person it purported to be about.

    As it could be deemed ‘a drastic’ text, then obviously one could expect ‘drastic effects’. Obviously a stupid act by the rabbi who sent it, and one he undoubtedly regrets. Your negative assumptions about the subject of the note and what those who knew him intimately would say to confirm it, if asked, is pure conjecture on your part fuelled by the wish to vindicate your own animosity to the person concerned.

    As to your comment regarding those who ostracised the subject of the note not wanting to ’embrace him emotionally and bring him back among their group’, do you really think he would want to return and be part of that group of people?1 No way. To use a colloquialism, if it were me, I wouldn’t go near them with a ten foot barge pole!

    The word ‘lunatic’ is not, and has never been, a mild term, never mind a ‘very, very mild term’. It is associated first and foremost with insanity, albeit also used a little less seriously to denote craziness of thought or action if one person is taken aback by another. I leave it to you to decide if the rabbi delivered it with serious intensity, or relaxed amusement. The accusation of the rabbi that followed in relation to the person and his family, and the question asked at the end of the message, which was a totally irrational one given the circumstances he was referring to, these must also be considered, Otto. And, they are of a serious nature indeed.

    As to your allusion to the rabbi’s assessment that the person concerned intended the destruction of Chabad, apart from the fact that it would be highly unlikely for one single person to bring down the whole Chabad institution, it’s a great pity said rabbi did not consider how the actions, and inaction, of rabbis and senior administrators of Chabad itself were the very things that might cause the destruction of Chabad. Instead, he is trying to destroy the reputation of the victim’s father and protect Chabad at the cost of justice, truth and pain and alienation of a Jewish family, once of the community. It is truly a disgrace and shows on his part panic, weakness, lack of dignity and a betrayal of the Jewish ethics he’s supposed to be upholding. Yes, fear is a subjective thing, however being afraid does not give one licence to lash out with impunity.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      At this stage all I say is that I feel completely confident in my assessment of this situation. Vindication on its way……

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      let’s assume that people know more than what they let out, that, outside your circle AND MINE, there are others who have encountered events more intimately, who davvened in the same shull with people we only know from snippets of “reports” etc.
      I barrack for causes only if well documented and I also rely on my power of assessment only as far as supported by evidence. I am a stickler for definitions and obsessed with “defining” definitions until there is nothing to take apart. The only preconceived notion that I would allow in this situation is that NO Rabbi who has reached a position of respect among his “tribe’ could be THAT wrong in assessing a phenomenon which has been unfolding with incredible openness as the cases we are discussing here. I trust Rabbi Kluwgant implicitly and I am happy not to trust the “other side”.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    There were other comments in my post you would not have agreed with, Otto, you just chose to ignore them. Now, what am I to make of that?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      G-d forbid, dear Liat that I should agree with any criticism of me !!!
      There are, however, certain matters which are to legally sensitive. For your information, not everything I venture on “paper” gets to see the light of day and that’s why we need to be nice to Mr. Henry, you know the geezer mit the chop !!!
      See if this one is kosher enough: OUR paper is supposed to act responsibly in all matters.
      – Revealing serious transgressions within the community….tick.
      – Canvassing opinions within the same in a balanced way….. tick with reservations
      – Abstaining from sensationalist journalism which may be used against the same community………………tick in the negative with uncomfortable frequency.
      I would not subscribe (!!!!)to a publication with just a perfunctory mission statement, one simply contained in its very title !!!
      ( believe it , though, Mr.Lawrence and I are on very goods terms … a lovely chap indeed)

  6. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, Re your comment to me on ‘a certain confidential “letter” finding its way into the public domain (although these comments don’t seem to be included in the J-Wire postings), yes, I can talk about that. Such were the comments in the rabbi’s “letter” (read ‘text’) that they deserved public exposure; they were unethical, defamatory and very nasty indeed, exposing the less than pleasant nature of his mind and also showing the panic he was experiencing at the fact that contrary to the great effort made by some in Chabad administration, some rabbis, and of course that lovely compassionate Chabad community who would shun victims, the truth will out if someone is brave enough to allow it. Anyone with access to these incriminating words would be doing an injustice to those sleighted and defamed by keeping silent. You agree with the rabbi’s words because you want to. I assume that neither you nor the rabbi were ever part of the Waks household. You’ve even commented in your posting to Harry on the subject that the rabbi’s opinion was accurate! How on earth are you equipped in any way to make that comment? And I mean you, not people you know.

    The newspaper concerned is not in the business of PROTECTING the reputation of people and institutions, nor should it be. It should be presenting news ‘uncritically’ as the facts present, with the truth in mind. The paper is not there to SUPPORT the community, although in many ways it does by promoting community activities, etc. It’s there to SERVICE the community by way of professionally adequate journalism with the NEWS.

    With your intellect and continuing studies, you should not be wallowing around in the gossip quarters, delivering dramatic generalities, Otto, e.g. “Anyone familiar with the story of said family, a story splashed in all possible forms all over the world, would agree with the Rabbi’s opinion.” What utter bunkum this is. It’s so lacking in anything specific to latch onto that you can’t do anything with it. All you’re doing is appealing to those who want to think poorly of the Waks family and whipping up a perception of support that requires emotional incentive to hate and label. It doesn’t stand up at all. ACTUALLY, I objected to the Rabbi’s comments – you’ll find my comments on the appropriate site Save your passionate indignation for a good cause, Otto.

    While we’re at it, apropos Rabbi Kluwgant’s resignation from a number of important posts, it’s a pity he didn’t take up Vivien Resofsky’s request, over the last few years, and allow her to address members of the RCV regarding the reform that has taken place in other Chabad communities – just kept saying ‘no’. Might have made a bit of difference, then again might not.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Sorry Liat but , in my view, you are wrong on all accounts.
      The “accidental”/intentional release of a confidential note had the intention of putting someone on the spot with the full knowledge that, under the critical (!!) circumstances of the Commission, the author of the note would not defend its contents in public and succumb to the pressure of NOT having a Rabbinate, which he represented,left out in the open to be criticised however UNFAIRLY, for no real reason.
      If you put the contents of the text against the drastic effects it caused you’ll see that it has been all a perfectly fitting segment of a proper witch hunt.
      Do you really expect now those who ostracised the subject of the note to embrace him emotionally and bring him back among their group with “deep regrets” etc. I doubt it very much and I am also sure that those knowing the bloke more intimately than you and I, if asked, would say the same as the note.
      “Lunatic” is a very, very mild term, so much so that I never used it and reveling one’s assessment of someone’s intentions, such as the destruction of Chabad, cannot form the basis for defamation or libel charges, I am pretty sure. Expressions of fear are very subjective and must be allowed to be expressed, whether considered realistic or not.

  7. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    Your crystal ball gazing is right about my being a non-smoker, however, wrong about the assumption I would use the notion of the health hazards of smoking for ANYTHING AT ALL. None of my business, and I’m fed up with all the pursed lipped do-gooders making people who do smoke the scourge of society. That goes for the cigar smokers too – if they want to smoke cigars let them, although if the cigars are too smelly, please keep your distance from me! There are some very smelly cigars around.

    “Pants on fire”? Adrian might not be responding simply because he’s had enough of the kind of discussion you’re having. There’s a lot of difference between associating the statements with their author and mounting a personal attack because you don’t like what he (or she) says, using derisory or contemptuous tonality. That is most certainly not perfectly in order. Not only that, it’s completely counter-productive for a discussion or argument, because it deflects the issue from the matter under discussion to the personal comments.

    As to David Marr, he was not writing to inform in matters Judaic, he was writing to inform of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse pertaining to Jewish institutions. Nobody is going to David Marr for advice on matters Jewish, they’re simply reading his article for a good summary of what took place as per the above.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      as if my head weren’t big enough… first you agree that I was right about your non-smoking, then you agree with me that someone should abandon discussions if resorting to ad hominem and, then, agreeing that David Marr ain’t an authority on matters Jewish.

      C’mon, there must be something we don’t agree on !!

      It’s like me telling my Son, Felix, “let’s have a discussion slash argument” which I always say to him prior to us having INCREDIBLE arguments, all starting with the nicest, most emotional intros. And IS HE deepin’ into ad hominem EVER; he speaks now fluent Italian and those swear words are un’altra cosa, not to mention that I HAVE NO IDEA where he picked up some infectious Romanian ones !!!

  8. harry freedman says:

    otto, that you criticize the manner in which the letter was made public, as opposed to the audacity that the letter was actually written says so much about you attitude to these horrible events

    surely your humanitarian concern for the victims should have been screaming at how outrageous it was that the father of a poor young man sexually abused was described as a lunatic rather than questioning how the letter became public, but that seems not, and a shame that it isnt

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      harry, you realise that you are mixing up two fairly distinct issues, let’s make it three

      – a confidential message is sent and it contains someone’s brief BUT accurate opinion about someone’s behaviour and fairly obvious intentions therein. You are suggesting that one may not conclude on evidence certain inevitable, logical opinions. You also imply that what is obvious, realistic to someone, IT CAN BE PROVEN, should be kept untold, just like the Rabbis accused of not revealing certain things. This is the more important considering that the opinion expressed was meant to draw the attention to a newspaper that, by promoting in its pages uncritically, as the paper has been doing, the said attacks with the said intention, the paper is failing in protecting the reputation of the people and institutions , thus affecting seriously the very reputation of the community the paper purports to represent.
      Anyone familiar with the story of said family, a story splashed in all possible forms all over the world, would agree with the Rabbi’s opinion. I have done it publicly perhaps more than anybody else. Strangely enough , I have not encountered much of the massive wrath “bestowed” upon the poor and decent Rabbi. When, by accident, I found myself on the famous son’s web page, he never addressed me and my comments which were identical and then some to the “letter” directly, denying my comments, he let others do the “dirty work”, which was reduced to basic hailing the bloke and his dad as heroes WITHOUT addressing specifically the issues I raised and, then, just like that, he cut me off, which I expected, anyway.
      When it came, however, to attacking a Rabbi and an important one for that, all lose cannons were employed.
      Have you noticed that NOBODY is objecting per se to the comments made by the Rabbi, they just use a generic indictment of objectionable behaviour by the Rabbi, asking for his resignation and even more, mass resignation…………a little detail, a necessary sweeping punishment incredibly consistent with the rabbi’s assumption of a Chabad which is wished destroyed…..

      – none of my comments would suggest in the slightest that I condone child abuse as it has been revealed at the Yeshivot in question. I am a parent myself and I can tell you that if my Son would have been touched by anyone, hell would break open. Well, my Son has been in the care of Rabbis, Chabad for that matter and all that happened has been that a cute little one is now smarter for the experience and his dad has made life long friends with the respective Rabbis, no complaints. This does not mean that the complaints by others, the horrible cases we have seen revealed did not happen.

      • harry freedman says:

        im not really sure I even know why I am replying to you Otto.

        A letter to an editor is confidential? are you kidding me?what did the rabbi think would happen to his letter?

        that the father of the victim is supposedly “a lunatic”, even if true, should be considered in the context of his son being abused by teachers/leaders in a yeshiva, the yeshiva failing to do its duty and report he incident, the family being hounded out of the community they sought comfort from and then being described, by a person who was described, as a senior rabbi on our community, as a “lunatic”.

        of course the poor man may not be acting perfectly rationally. One would expect from this community that the father and family would be embraced and comforted by it, but that seems not the case, and the community is the poorer for its behavior

        Otto, it does seem clear that nothing I, or others who have responded to you, has any effect on your thought processes and indeed, it appears to me that you simply enjoy picking on little points in a commentary and writing a diatribe on that point without dealing with the main issue raised.
        I truly suspect that you enjoy writing in your particular style and seeking some response. I have fallen into your trap im afraid

        Needless to say, nothing you have written has persuaded me to change my opinion of this very disappointing episode in our communities history, as I commented on previously, what appears to be your blind loyalty, does not carry any persuasive effect and may well explain how these deviate people got away with so much.

        the institution ought not be greater than the individual, especially when it seeks to claim some higher moral ground, yet you seek to justify and explain away the obvious misconduct as seen by so many hundreds of educated and intelligent members of our community.

        I do not believe you have added anything meaningful to this discussion. I will do my best to avoid responding further and let the incident pass into memory and hopefully see true changes within

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          harry, you are not a quitter and you know it, why else would you throw me the bait about that note from the Rabbi to the editor being a “letter to the editor”. IT WAS NOT !!! and that is not at all “picking on little points”.

          Otherwise, I feel that I am loyal to common sense, something of a bait in itself if anyone wants to pick on that MAJOR issue.

  9. Liat Nagar says:

    Sorry, Otto, but your opinion that David Marr is not equipped to write what amounts to a summary of the Chabad goings-on is only a reflection of two things: 1. the fact that you didn’t want any public knowledge of the subject matter due to your priority of protecting Chabad and your fear of bringing Judaism into disrespect, with others misusing information against it, and 2. the fact that you do not think, it seems, any non-Jew (outsider) has the ability to write about it at all. There has been some wonderful literature written about Jews and Judaism by non-Jews – Paul Johnson, Inga Clendinnen, Thomas Cahill, etc. – none of them could have done it as ‘five minute experts’.

    David Marr is much more than a journalist. But first things first. We would not have news and journalism would be a dead profession if journalists, before reporting on events, had to have virtual degrees on every subject related to their reporting before they write. That the quality of reporting generally is deteriorating, media motivation suspect and sensationalising of important subject matter rife, is a given. However, there are still some excellent journalists who provide qualitative material for our information and contemplation. And most certainly we, as a society, still need independent reporting to keep corrupt government and corporations on their toes.

    David Marr has tackled his reportage on Chabad, the victims and the Royal Commission proceedings in his usual professional way, which requires in depth research, putting together the facts from that research, then summarising them in context for the public. In order to do that effectively he does not need a ‘degree’ in Judaism. His use of the word ‘sect’ let him down, however, it’s a confusing area – if we as Jews can’t even agree that there’s a distinction to be made between Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox, what hope has a non-Jew in that regard? Truth is Judaism is pluralistic, with different gradations of observance, all coming under the same umbrella. I know you won’t agree with that, however, in reality, that’s how it exists and millions of others do. You should be more worried about the disunity caused WITHIN the Jewish world by the lack of acceptance of that by the more orthodox, than the public exposure of mistakes made within Chabad.

    David Marr is also an author, with a prize-winning biography of Patrick White to his credit and many, many essays on all sorts of topics published in prestigious journals. This dimension of his skills also contributes to his journalism, making it multi-dimensional. Doesn’t mean he’s always right! But does mean he can provide form and substance. And does mean he’s certainly not a five minute expert on anything.

  10. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    Unfortunately, you invite the name-calling you mention by instigating it in the first place yourself, with gusto. It’s your method of dealing with those whose comments you don’t agree with. If you examine all the posts you will see that those respondents we’re speaking about attempt for some time to continue discussion with you without resorting to personal opinions of you such as intellectual fraud, et al. If you are going to persist in using personal denigration and contempt as ammunition, you will push others past their tolerance limitation and end up getting back what you dish out. None of it is useful for good discussion and argument.

    That said, whether I agree with you, or disagree, you may consider me a mate, and given the right circumstances I would most certainly stick up for you. But I never stick up for someone solely because of who they are, whether Rabbi, esteemed member of whatever, even family, who I would assist until death and love unconditionally, I would not stick up for in the sense we’re speaking of if I consider them wrong.

    As to Sancho Panza, no one person’s literary analysis can be definitively correct. So, just because you have one it doesn’t accord you a higher status than anyone else. Your discussion of the contradiction in beliefs between Don Quixote and Sancho is apt, however, as with all things literary there are layers upon layers for exploration, so you cannot stop with your summary. Adrian’s reference does not show lack of knowledge of the work and does not display ignorance. He is merely using the analogy in an active way. (I remember receiving the highest mark possible from a lecturer/tutor renowned for simply not giving them, in English, third year Uni. – he wrote as comment on my work, “I don’t agree with your views, however, you have argued them so well and supported them with such acuity, that I bow to your comments.” That attitude, Otto, is the way to ongoing learning and can allow enough tolerance to provide a thin sliver of space for the thoughts of others. You’re treading on thin ice if you say there is only one correct interpretation of things literary.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat, I am quite sure that you would be a non smoker so, if I said that for the Sancho Panza defence of Adrian ” no cigar”, you’d laugh and send me a text as per the health hazards of smoking AS A RELEVANT aspect of the current anti Chabad campaign.
      Sorry, but Adrian used the analogy in the wrong, inversed way, proving that he does not know the work as such, and used the “analogy” simply because phonetically Sancho Panza sounds like ridiculing, kinda ” there goes a Sancho Panza ” , like “pants on fire”. While totally unrelated to our matters, Don Quixote fights the windmills and Sancho is trying to convince him, realistically, that the Don is nuts. No room here for literary/critical licence; right there ADRIAN’S pants are on fire !!!Maybe the very reason he’s now retracted stumm inside his shell.
      I do not resort to ad hominem per se, but, if I detect something incorrect, I say so. I also said that statements are not only of themselves, they are made by individuals and it is perfectly logical and decent to associate the statement with its “author”. The statement is a direct reflection of its “author’s” profile and suitable comments about the author cum adjectives are perfectly in order. Attacks ad hominem are precise fallacy, such as ” so and so is a complete ignoramus in matters religious because his nose is repulsive.”
      David Marr, however , I repeat, IS NOT a person known for his expert, qualified authority in matters Judaic, irrespective of his literary abilities and even his insightful mind, proven as such in fields TOTALLY unrelated to Judaism. I repeat, Judaism as a discipline is far more demanding than what a reputable journalist with NO formal introduction in the discipline at all can measure up to. Next, what, we would have David Marr doing a shiur at a Yeshiva of his choice and examine bohurim !!!! You may find it ok to go to Mr. Marr for advice on matters Jewish instead of a Chabad Rabbi, but all people that I know that they know their Jewish stuff most definitely will not. Anyway, the story in the Guardian is full of rearranged known facts to suit the author’s intentions, a badly conceived reportage, nothing more and a lot less.

  11. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, Sticking my nose into other people’s business here. In your response to Adrian Shine re Cervantes discussion, if you had made all the most pertinent and best points in the world, you would still have undone yourself with the last nasty line: ‘So, not that good at literature either …’

    Adrian, Ben, Harry, any of the other people posting comments, can certainly more than stick up for themselves. It’s just that I happen to find contemptible this sort of personal allusion which is only ever used out of malice (not a Jewish ethic at all) for another person and a wish to denigrate. I hate it for everything it implies and its intent. It diminishes you, and I would prefer not to see you diminished.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      I wish I had a mate like you to stick up for me.
      Kindly check the outright offensive references to me as : psychopathic, schizophrenic, intellectual fraud and then come back to me and define ad hominem and the rest…..

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Incidentally the analogy, totally wrong in all respects, eliciting lack of knowledge, with Sancho Panza was also in line with the same.
        If someone is displaying ignorance would you call that person right or knowledgeable or call me a snob for pointing out a crass error both in literary terms as well as attacking one’s person as such !!!

        We have on our plates right now lots of issues, ISIS the war between Russia and Ukraine etc. and the effort put by some in making the Royal Commission such an enormous Jewish issue is totally insane. Everybody wants to be a judge and executioner of Chabad. It is like, for instance imagine that I was checking someone on the internet and I saw a person photographed right in Moscow’s Red Square smiling etc. Now I know that the person in question is a proper cretin let’s say,would I willy nilly consider that the person in question is also better than me in matters Russian, history, culture, politics etc. simply because that person had a selfie in front of Minin and Pozhrasky’s monument ( the founders of Moscow) and the famous church behind !! Tis simply means that there is a lot more that first impressions or the impressions some want to create only to deceive and work on their agenda. At the same time, I would not call the person publicly any offensive names.

  12. Liat Nagar says:

    So now we do a put down job on David Marr. You’re right, Otto, he’s not an expert on Judaism. He is, however, an excellent journalist, author and thinker (it is possible to have non-Jews reach that capacity), and he does not venture ‘an opinion’, he summarises the whole terrible mess and immoral goings-on from the earlier days through to now, careful to use the facts as we know them. Very good effort indeed, and useful for those who only know bits and pieces. He does call Chabad a ‘sect’, which up until now I would have disputed/denied as you just have, however, I will say that the behaviour that has been exposed is more like behaviour you would expect from a sect rather than the institution Chabad is meant to be.

    Leave your academic snobbery in the closet and lock it away, Otto. It can be a measure of excellence in the area in which it specialises, it can inform more disciplined thinking and writing, but it is most certainly not more than that. So many other elements make up a man or woman, and there’s a host of people who are highly intelligent, even near to genius (and I don’t use that word lightly) who don’t have degrees. A retired dentist or ophtalomologist (sic) might also be highly qualified in something else due to their passion and interest in it – stop defining people so definitively by their profession. David Marr is certainly more than qualified to research the Chabad mess and summarise the events and proceedings. And he’s done it well. You know one of the reasons he’s done it well? Because he’s a professional writer who’s researched a subject, then put it together impersonally. He might have personal views on it, but they’re not showing through. That wasn’t the brief.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      please, please, we all have our opinions about “opinion makers” aka journos.
      I am with the Libs. and have very little time for those dedicated soul and pen to attacking them regardless among other topics…..
      In our case, we can only respect individuals who know what the hell they are talking about in such demanding ways that I have enoormous problems accepting views on Judaism from a huge lot of kosher vyosher Yidds, let alone an outsider five minute expert in such complex matters. Writing “well” is a totally different kettle of fish to writing competently on specific topics. Form vs substance, dear Liat…..vanity vs modesty/humbleness.

  13. Adrian Shine says:

    Dear Otto,
    I am unable to copy the article in any other way.
    I have googled it under
    “Rabbis’ absolute power” . You will see it. It is a Guardian article

  14. Otto Waldmann says:

    Adrian & the rest

    Rabbi Mirvis’ statement as per attachment is right and proper and what the Rabbi said about the gravity of the situation is 100% consistent with what I said specifically about the responsibilities of the current and past leadership of the Yeshivot in question. I never stated that the law of the land is irrelevant and , subsequently, that it should be ignored, not followed.
    Those enthusiastic about projecting a self image of hollier than thou by attacking anything/anyone who would explain the reasons for an apparent mishandling by Rabbis in charge at the time of the reprehensible events, are motivated exclusively by the desire for retribution without wanting or, indeed, having the capacity to delve beyond the immediacy of TRUNCATED statements. At the same time, there is a general disposition at the unqualified (sic) critics to completely ignore clear statements/states of regret, reconsideration of previous stances, genuine teshuva seen at ALL Rabbis appearing at the Commission, including Rabbis who had NOTHING to do with the running of the Yeshivot in question .
    Important to notice that Rabbi Mirvis does not allude AT ALL to the kind of “solutions” predicated here with such aplomb of mass resignations, the “necessity” for radical overhauling of an entire Jewish structure i.e Chabad.

    • Adrian Shine says:

      Dear Otto,
      On behalf of all, I guess,
      You just don’t get it and you never will.
      I posted a further link regarding the response from Chabad in New York.
      What will it take for you to grasp both the gravity and the reality of the situation. You remind me of Sancho Panza, but you are still fighting the windmills even though your Don Quixote realised that the game was up.
      In your zeal to defend the indefensible, you might not have noticed that no other correspondent has sided with you which leads me to believe that you are seen as an apologist for those who did more than give succour to the criminals. You have even perverted the words of the chief rabbi or simply are so set in your ways that you do not comprehend what he actually said. He specifically referred to those who helped in the cover-up when he spoke of “those in positions of trust and power”.
      We await your quirky interpretation of Chabad New York removing Y Feldman as a shaliach.
      Is it too much to expect you to stop making such a spectacle of yourself. Then again Panza’s delusional behaviour outlived his master as reality finally descended on Alonso.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Not bad , Adrian not bad at all.
        Cervantes in Don Quixote uses the antinomy between Don Quixote, the idealist and Sancho as the realist as the very conflictual dynamic of the symbolistic opus.
        Me Sancho Panza any day up and away on my buro.
        Actually, I am writing right now from my favourite Catalunia,just outside Barcelona anyway and your analogy is mui bienvinguts.
        So, not that good at literature either…..

    • Adrian Shine says:


      Some more reading material on the matter from some more rabbonim.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Dear Adrian


        you are a real mate and I thank you from the top of my dialectical guts for the attachment you provided me.

        Seldom have I accounted a more contradictory, non-sensical, what the heck, a more incongruous ( offensively absurd ) collection of phrases/statement.

        Taken seriously, look what I found logically objectionable:

        -“reforming themselves” is a non-sensical proposition. Here is the absurdity proven :” I wish this dog will be more like the cat I love.” They are both from the generic class of pets, mind you.
        Two modern Orthodox rabbis committed that absurdity.

        – “…all rabbis leading organisations to ensure that the are accountable to a body ( specific alternative not provided ) fully empowered ( define “power” in this context )to investigate their policies ( define “policies” as distinct from spiritual beliefs and you have just entered the most laughable pickle of inane suggestions )and procedures. ”
        Even if the above fallacies are predicated on the most acceptable notion that child protection must be observed by all, the alternatives to detected errors are not, in fact, alternatives at all simply because what we see here are blatant notional negations. In other words two modern Orthodox Rabbis are venting their disapproval of Chabad Rabbis which they , obviously, are NOT. This is clearly stated in the most absurd of suggestions, more of a DEMAND : ” Voices from more than one section of orthodoxy are accepted. ( here we have determination that there are more sections within Jewish observance ).
        Short and curly ; these two top blokes are venting their essential objection at the manner – exclusive as it MUST me – a distinct “section” treats another….distinct section.
        If one refers simply to aristotelian, basic, notions of ” individual vs. universal” the absurdities cited are tooooo bloody obvious, therefore incredibly unacceptable.

        With due respect I want to really , really find out how realistical is the suggestion that Chabad for instance’ would allow ANY permanent OUTSIDE “control body” to barge in their premises at will or even by warrant and take them to the task in regards of their “policies” and DO NOT try to insert the absurd notion that ” in terms of child protecton etc. such controls are possible etc. “. All “sections”, strands of spiritual observance are a WHOLE, irreducible. Here the notion of reform themselves is false, because , if a certain practice cum defining philosophical/spiritual structure is allowed to function in society, that “allowance” relies on the full contents of the said entity, meaning that it has inherently the means/tools theoretical elements capable to render it acceptable. This simply means that Chabad DOES contain all inherent elements of social acceptability, it does not require any REFORM as such and, least of all , outside intervention or institutionalised dictatorial “reforming” interference. Critical outside introspections exist simply by the virtue of the existence of alternative/COMPETING entities whose very reflex functions are to “observe and criticise”, anyway. A PERFECT SOCIETY, one in which mutual respect reigns.
        What I must accept is that the circumstances are fortuitously very much in favor of such sanctimonious stands, yet their unacceptable absurdity is far to serious to be taken seriously, acceptable, implemented at all.

        To be honest I had my initial sad smile at the ensuing text once I read the redundant truism :” The future must be different from the past.”

        • Adrian Shine says:

          Dear Otto,
          In a past life I have marked many first year undergraduate sociology essays.
          My fortuitous advice to you is to trash your copy of Sosc 101 For Dummies. It has not helped you even though you thought that it was written especially for you with a limited edition of one.
          You did give me a good chortle though.
          I see that currently you have dismissed at least two non-Chabad Rabbis, the Chief Rabbi of the British Commonweath, at least five Australian Chabad Rabbis, a QC, who heads a major community roof Organisation and the head Authority of the whole Chabad Lubavitch movement in New York. As more eminent persons come forward I am sure that they will also face your acerbic tongue.
          A dear late friend of mine was an eminent psychiatrist. I am sure that you would have been good grist for him. I can hear the echo of his voice in my memory offering a diagnosis of you. Adrian, he would be saying, classical paranoid schizophrenic with obsessive tendencies.
          I am glad to see that your style is transitioning from ad hominem attacks to high farce. That at least is slightly more amusing, although no more factual or convincing.

          • Otto Waldmann says:

            Joining the coterie of wannabe experts in matters Jewish, none other that “our” David Marr ( see if you must his piece in UK’s “Guardian” ) is now venturing his opinion on Judaism and associated issues, including serious allegations based principally on heresay.
            It is as if soemone with let’s say a paltry BA in sociology pretending that his/her academic standards afford checking other’s , or a retired ophtalmologist, a retired dentist or, would you believe, pharmacist is suddenly feeling suficiently edified in vetting matters political, religious or even psychological therof with ultimate authority.
            No person worth his salt would dignify such mediocre incursions, signs of laughable veleities, only notable for their aggressive arrogance.
            Marr draws analogies between what happened in our community, tragic as they were, with the Catholic Church, he calls Chabad a “sect” and rearanges events in farcical ways to fit his “story”.
            Agendas driven by ever so subtle ( not really if can be detected )prejudice, capable, however, to provoke thoughts, reactions not at all amiable to our fold.
            There are views which support that ignoring unworthy attacks is a valid tactic; maybe, especially considering that irrelevance has its way of being noticed….
            Since when an undegraduate, a mere BA candidate,marks essays !!!
            I have completed long time ago my Master’s, now in the middle of my own PhD and yet to do it….
            It is quite reassuring to see that NOBODY disagreeing with my views can provide tangible evidence of a current Rabbinate which would be supportive of any unwanted attitude in regards to child protection and specifically that all Chabad Rabbis at the Commission would not have agreed to introduce in all institutions under their leadership all measures necessary to provide the best protection for their education charges. Yet, the witch hunt still goes on…

            • Harry freedman says:

              Otto, I think it would be wrong to assume the silence of others in any way is an acceptance of your point of view in this conversation or a change in attitude with respect to the conduct and statements of those rabbis who have admitted their atrocious deeds or in the case of Feldman expressed those shameful points of view

              • Otto Waldmann says:

                Harry, I did not refer to silence at all, quite to the contrary, I said that nobody in that very vocal lot can provide detailed, convincing evidence as per what SPECIFIC notions, through what particular words have rendered the respective Rabbis “shameful” and also a relevant explanation for the expression you just used of “attrocities” committed by the same Rabbis.
                The resignations as such, in my view, are not an acceptance by the Rabbis in question that they are responsible for the “charges” brought up particularly AFTER the resignations. The resignations have given unrealistic impetus to the exacerbated criticism of the Rabbis. They have been charged with ever more “crimes” for the mere reason that they have resigned, the resignation being to those after them evidence of an unlimited range of “criminal charges”, an open day for Rabbi bashing.
                What I see is a campaign of demolition of Chabad by a thousands stabbings; calls for mass resignations,calls for the introduction of a whole lot of methods of supervision, intervention in the minute affairs of Chabad etc.a veritable assault on the entire edifice of Chabad. Chabad all day, Chabad all night, relentlessly and now we have David Marr hailed as a relevant player in the whole sordid anti Chabad campaign. I called for specifics and, instead I get assaulted myself in the same irrational manner, once again without any substantive, relevant cause given. Well, I am not likely to resign myself that a vocal majority disagrees with me and that would make me wrong, not at all. That majority pertains only to those who do not perceive reality the way I do, something that makes me even happier, more confident.

                • harry freedman says:

                  as the Sabbath bride approaches, I quickly respond to you otto. yosi feldman and the other rabbis who resigned admitted that their behavior and their thoughts on the issues of sexual abuse by trusting teachers on young people and leaders within the chabad society was not only wrong but unacceptable.
                  the actual wrongs and other errors have clearly been elaborated and admitted to. there is little further factual evidence required here.

                  I have not heard of any intention to criminally prosecute these men. The commission has only certain powers which at this time is primarily focused on trying to find out facts

                  i also observe that some of yosi’s comments were made voluntarily and caused more grief than would otherwise be the case. it was his own doing that the media swarm picked up on his personal opinions that some cases are made up, and leniency should be considered for other known pedophiles if they have behaved well for some time.

                  those opinions were not required nor sought and simply offered fodder to the 4th estate and reflected quite controversial thoughts that were then highly criticized

                  i know of few Jews who feel the need for a crusade against chabad. ultra orthodox groups from all religions leave themselves open to differing opinions including criticism, this is well known and doesn’t arise because of the commission.

                  as for david Marr, I have worked with him previously and have great respect for him, and based on that experience I do not accept that he has any personal agenda here. As Liat noted his work is always professional. He checks the facts, summarizes them and then makes reasonable conclusions. that is his job and he promotes thoughts and opinions across the board. Kol HaKavod to him I say. if we cant take and respond to criticism then we ought to review ourselves

                  Have a good shabbas Otto, it really is time to move on.there is a terrible cylone up north, Isis needs to be stopped, obama needs lessons in foreign affairs and the Ukraine is about to blow up

                  chabad will look after itself and hopefully learn some lessons and grow

                  our whole community is well worth praising and will only become stronger by accepting errors and trying to avoid them in future

                  • Otto Waldmann says:


                    I am in Europe and here’s just before midday, still some 5 hours to Sahbbos.

                    – Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s “depositions” were made under circumstances he was NEVER before in his life compelled (key word ) to make. Compelled foremost by his honesty, but still under the selfimposed terror of not committing hillul haShem. He admitted to errors in light of what the tenets of the Commission were and, as such, all observers should appreciate that fact. Yet , the main issue is that he submitted himself to the principles of the Commission also considering that that the conditions in their complexities were no affable in recognition of what a Rabbi of his profile could or should expose himself to. In non Jewish terms Rabbi Feldmann repented !!

                    – criminal charges deriving therefor are important in as far as the not yet known legal actions, something nit current in our strict present debate between you and I.

                    – voluntary statements are no voluntary in circumstances where a certain authority is perceived as, by various extentions, can exert unwanted retributions which are very difficult to object to from sources NOT NECESSARILY accepted as valid defence by the judicial forum empowered to impose the said penalties. This means that if a Court outside Jewish “jurisdiction” would not accept a defence emanating from a “defence emanating from a “A PRIORI ON PRINCIPLE POSITION” akin to…” akin to the “offender’s” specific spiritual configuration in moral judicial terms, the defender is damned and most likely to be convicted and punished while he remains loyal to his beliefs.

                    – the 4th estate does not retain rights or principles distinct from any as well as distinct scales of values/competence by virtue of self assumed privileges henceforth non-existent, irrelevant. A journalist is not deemed competent in specific matters by his mere job description/formal employment.

                    – personal opinion of anyone is fine, but such vast, implicit public exposure of a known author also permits appreciation from those well exposed to his/her public exploits as well as well known competence in specific fields. David Marr is as much an expert in matters Judaic as he would be in any discipline he was never been formally educated in, such as quantum physics, latinism, nuclear medicine or, why not, my expertise, Marxist ideology or Eastern European modern history.

                    have a good Shabbos


                    • Otto Waldmann says:

                      I must rewrite the paragraph in relation to the “voluntary statement” It got messed up in “translation”.

                      – Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s “voluntary” disposition cannot be seen as an easy process. It must be assumed that Rabbi Feldmann was struggling with the conflictual notions of of hillul haShem and the necessity to offer the Commission his best, most honest account not just of events but, more importantly of the rational process he was going through in explaining, indeed expressing important ethical matters. He was visibly troubled by the inner process and was under pressure to satisfy his essential spiritual condition as well as the demands of the Commission. He would necessarily felt that he was not in his element, practically he was not comfortable talking from a strict Judaic stance to a non-Judaic probing authority, not to mention the very public nature of the circumstances, including an inevitable media jumping at the chance to make the best of a Rabbi “revealing” the workings of what the outside world regards as a closed shop, a misterious, inaccessible cabala. And to a great extent that has proven, unfortunately, to be correct.
                      He did not prepare and present a written paper which would have been the result of studied wording. He presented complex issues in an extemporaneous manner and, obviously let go words which were not well filtered, not judiciously weighed. If that can be a substantive failure, a principal cause for ruining one’s life, then anything can please minds anxious to crucify a decent soul.

                      Disregard my previous text.

    • Adrian Shine says:


      A well written summary a respected journalist.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        sorry , I cannot access that page at all, so if you can copy it and send it….

  15. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    This is in response to your most peculiar comments on ‘cold’ (14/02, 7.02 p.m.), peculiar because they simply have nothing whatsoever to do with my use of the term in regard to Rabbi Feldman. I was not referring to his ethical or intellectual substance, I was referring to his disposition, his temperament, his response after exposure to the victims’ ordeals, which appeared to me ‘cold’. Thats all – no literary licence, not even much complexity in my statement. Indeed, rather than employing literary licence in my comments, I believe I’ve been succinct and even quite clinical in definition.

    I see here you have given the basis for your opinions, however, where mine strictly adhere to the Rabbi’s responses to questioning at the Royal Commission hearing and his manner in relation to such, yours relate to the difficulty he had in being able to speak due to religious restrictions (this was supposed to have been sorted out before he was even questioned so that he could in fact speak without impunity) and his superior status in important institutions. You should know, Otto, that in Australia one of the good things is not mistaking that kind of status for anything other than what it means in its own world. In other words it just doesn’t count in the terms of the Royal Commission. Nor should it. Why do you think Cardinal George Pell of the Catholic Church, its pre-eminent representative in Australia at the time, looked so uncomfortable during the same proceedings. One reason, of course, was the obscene culpability of so many in the Catholic Church over such a long period of time, and the other was that during that hearing he was viewed as anyone else and it was not assumed that due to his eminence and position and long history of whatever good deeds, he could not have been tardy or negligent in any way. He was to be assessed just like anybody else. High positions in any establishment often require more than the talent for them and sometimes nepotism or political machinations come into play. People in high positions are not to be assumed to be extraordinary people, free of poor decision-making or mistakes, or corruption. Of all things that are corrupting it is power, even more than money. These latter comments are not aimed at Rabbi Feldman, they’re aimed at your use of the premise as a basis for your support of him.

    It’s not about trust in Chabad, it’s about assessment of the hearings of the Royal Commission. I well know that Judaism is so important to you, Otto, and I appreciate that, however, that’s a very personal issue and can’t be allowed to colour the facts unfolding before us. I think your whole angry reaction of rejection to all the other posts and comments is based on this personal love and affiliation of yours, but for the sake of the truth, and for justice for those who have been hurt, it’s important you stand back and see the issues at hand instead of the Chabad entity as a whole. It will only make Chabad stronger if it operates as it should, within the intended framework of Judaism which, in my inexpert but well read opinion, always puts a life first and is not inhumane.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Sorry, dear Liat but, like it or not ( and I already said that I do not like it ) your oblique analysis of a certain person from the strict VIEWpoints of a minuscule “performance” with the visible intention of attempting at the subject’s character. Your constant surmising is not a caloric report as per centigrades of the protagonist or mechanical-movement abilities/habits, generally physionomical appearance; you go for the jugular and take the poor bloke to the ethical cleaners, condimented with some accents of pity.
      I must also explain once again that I have trust in what I know and constantly find in Judaism and find what is called – pejoratively – ultra-Orthodoxy very very reliable to the point of the indispensable. This is a critical process, itself helped by the same – not a conflict !!!

  16. Liat Nagar says:

    The strange thing now occurring is you accusing me of being too general, lacking in specifics and not backing up my statements, when in fact it is you doing just that.
    I have now asked you at least twice what it is you base your fervent and passionate opinions on when you extol the purity and excellence of Rabbi Feldman’s part in the issue to hand, as you plead for the enormous difficulties that faced him at having to speak at the hearing. It seems that you will continue to speak in your own generalities, which contain quite breath-taking assumptions, and steadfastly refuse to elaborate further.

    That you over-dramatise can be seen in your description of my judgments as being ‘drastic’. It’s hardly drastic to say that someone appears to be cold, arrogant and insular. Goodness me, if we can’t handle that as an observation we certainly need to develop a thicker skin.

    If Rabbi Feldman is as enlightened and intellectually acute as you say, we shouldn’t waste too much time worrying about a bit of discomfort he might have to experience in adapting to questions from the Commission pertinent to his world.

    Why do you find ultra-orthodox an offensive expression? It only means more orthodox than orthodox, and is used to distinguish between the two. There’s nothing offensive about that.

    As to your rather frenzied discussion of Charedi Jews and the word ‘insular’, again, you immediately generalise. You also hypothesise, and that’s hardly helpful if you want to discuss specific issues relating to Rabbi Feldman. You say ‘… our Rabbi Yossi Feldman would be ANYTHING but “insular”‘. How on earth would you even begin to know that!? You haven’t met him or had anything to do with him directly. You get information from your ‘sources’ (and let’s face it, if we humans want ammunition to back our cause we go straight to the sources who can provide that – hardly an objective exercise), then trawl it out as if it belonged to you as a truth. If anything is fanciful or less than helpful for expanding on discussion of issues, it’s that. Second or third hand always brings with it its problems, not the least of which is the agenda motivating the information given. Your sources say that the Rabbi has been known to work with the people in his pastoral care day and night, not to mention his own family. And you ask how is that insular? That does not contribute anything to the argument of insular or not insular. If true, it shows that he worked hard and with continuity within the field of his responsibilities (and I have never disputed that or even commented on it). What it doesn’t show is HOW he worked with people. Did the rigid framework of Halacha allow him to provide the most comprehensive and appropriate assistance in the circumstances that might spill outside it, did the people involved actually need a different response other than a Halachic one to in practical terms really help, or did the insularity of a rigid approach prevent that by being too restrictive in what it might offer? Who knows. Perhaps Halacha worked every time! It’s not even relevant to the discussion here to be speaking of Rabbi Feldman’s pastoral work in this way, because it’s simply not the issue.

    I fully agree with Harry’s previous comments on the strengths of the Charedi establishment and what it brings in energetic way to Jews everywhere who want to take part in or re-establish themselves within the Jewish religion or experience the Festival and High Holy Days when they’re away from other means to do so. I’ve experienced it myself when travelling. Most certainly Charedi Jews I’ve met have been friendly, expansive and hospitable. BUT YOU CAN’T PROJECT THAT ON TO THIS, and that is exactly what you’re attempting to do here with your comment about Charedi Jews not being insular at all. Insular is not in itself an offensive word, it’s merely a factual description denoting ‘to be more narrow – in mind, in scope, in environment due to the rules or restrictions that govern you. It doesn’t mean you’re bereft of good qualities, but it does mean that problems can emerge from it in other quarters that need different thought or application for good resolution. I’m not sure why you find the word so offensive. It most certainly is not a term that implies prejudice.

    You cannot assume that all dedicated Jews are not insular. There’s absolutely no logic in that at all. In fact if you’re going to make the sweeping reference of ‘all dedicated Jews’, you would hardly be able to attach anything to it for the mammoth assumptions that would entail. You would even have to define ‘dedicated’. Then everyone would argue about the extent of that, what it should be, what it is, what it used to be. You’ve got yourself in a knot with this one, Otto, all for the sake of a cause you’ve taken up with a kind of blind vengeance.

    One’s personal experience has everything to do with understanding more fully just about everything. It is not irrelevant at all. I know the concept involving ‘cold’ in its many forms, and I’ve experienced a couple of them, so I know those even better. If I perceive a person to be cold, I have both felt knowledge and conceptual knowledge informing that. It’s all the more strong as an observation. Given you think intimate knowledge of the Rabbi is a necessity before any kind of opinion can be formed, I’m surprised you have such a staunch and unshakeable opinion yourself. My opinion is not an indictment and it’s limited to what I’ve seen and heard and read. If we couldn’t form an opinion unless we were on intimate terms with the subject, we wouldn’t even be able to vote.

  17. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    I would be very surprised if you yourself cannot see the narrowness and paucity of your latest response to me. It’s so limiting as to be ridiculous. You can do better than that.

    For you to equate my use of the word COLD with its relation to climatic temperature and body heat only is a game and a waste of everybody’s time. You are being obtuse. You may not be a linguistic expert, but you’re smart enough to know that words have many definitions and are used for many different purposes. The way I have used the word COLD in relation to Rabbi Feldman is very common usage and anybody reading it will know exactly what I meant, including you. (I have had the misfortune in my life to have been involved with two ‘cold’ men and I’m certainly not referring to their body temperatures; the experiences were ultimately not happy ones.) Perhaps check up on the science that involves studies of tonality of speech and body language; once you’ve read it and observed for yourself afterwards, it should open a new world of receptivity and observation for you.

    I’ll give you a little exercise: Use the words ‘I don’t know’ with three different tonalities: 1. simple, even tone in answer to a question, denoting the mere fact one doesn’t know, 2. stubborn tone, with a degree of finality stressed in sound, denoting you actually might know but you’re not telling, and 3. angry, hysterical or shouting tone, denoting anxiety, stress – could be true or not.

    We understand people through the tonality of the words expressed, orally or written. It’s the tonality that determines the meaning.

    INSULAR has a great deal to do with the context of our issues. It was even used by the questioner to another Rabbi (Rabbi Gutnick, I think) in regard to whether or not Ultra-Orthodoxy was more insular to Orthodoxy, to which he answered ‘yes, it is’. Insular is of extreme importance due to the fact that the insularity of the environment within which Rabbi Y Feldman lives and works affects his ability to function more broadly in society. It will also affect how he thinks and makes judgements due to its restrictions, so psychologically it is of extreme importance.

    Even though I am not compelled to (you say I ‘must explain’), I shall discuss my use of the word ARROGANT. Again, this word can be applied for a multitude of reasons. One of them relates to ‘extremely proud’, as in a superior sense of pride in your being and station in life due to your beliefs, achievements or personal sense of self. This then can get in the way of empathy or the capacity to tolerate difference. If taken to extreme, one does not feel answerable to anyone or anything other than what constitutes their own belief, and that feeds fundamentalism. I was using it in this context.

    Again I have directly responded to your comments and questions. And again you have ignored mine. Did you see film of Rabbi Y Feldman being questioned during the Royal Commission in Melbourne or not? And are the other Rabbis who spoke at the hearing correct in saying that there are no impediments Halachically to speaking out fully about this subject and these issues, nor is there any impediment in reporting matters relating to it or involving outsiders to assist with it? What are your own firmly and passionately stated opinions based on?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      the most important thing is that you publish drastic judgements on a person based on incredibly poor sources, call it data, call it competent personal information about the person, all based on a certain film.
      I will repeat. Consider that the circumstances of incredible pressure under which our “subject” behaved were UNIQUE to the subject in as far as he was NEVER subjected to the kind of probing of the said Commission.
      Since you mentioned the discipline of psychology, are you sure that the snippets of the circumstances mentioned are sufficient for you or even for a professional person in the discipline to arrive with such confidence at the conclusions heralded publicly while justifying decisions in regards to the very fate of the “subject” !!!I would cal;l it at least audacious, but , what the heck, it is outright unacceptably irrational.
      The suggestion under pressure by a Commission member not at all properly versed in matter Judaic, that “ultra-Orthodox” ( an offensive expression) Jews would be “insular” still has no substantive value even if a certain Rabbi expeditiously agreed with it.
      Charedi Jews are not at all “insular”, more so our Rabbi Yossi Feldmann would be ANYTHING but “insular” even within the acceptance of your erroneous use of the word. Rbbi Yossi feldman has been seriously involved in the lives of learnig institutions as well as an entire kehilat numbering not a few souls. From my sources, as a Rabbi, he has been known to work with the people in his pastoral care day and night, not to mention his own family. How is that insular !!!
      How is insular a Jewish practice which works hardest at attracting as many “uninvolved” Jews back into dedicated observance; I see regularly Yeshiva bocherim all over my Bondi Junction and not only on Friday before Sahabbos putting tfilim, promoting Judaism etc.
      “Insular” is tendentious, prejudiced, completely untrue, obviously another expression of lack of knowledge about the substance and practices of reliably dedicated Jews.
      Back to cold, one’s personal experience is totally irrelevant to the necessity of intimate knowledge of the Rabbi in question, regardless of what some type of succint information may be presented in relation to what causes certain people to express themselves in variable vocal tones/temperatures.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      “cold” is what is called in sociological scales of measurement a “nominal measurement” which cannot be ranked, pure and simple and, as such, has no relevance at all in terms of Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s ethical or intellectual substance. Literary licence is as useful here as a Stradivarius violin would be during heart or even prostate surgery.
      Further, my opinions are based on the circumstances of Rabbi Feldmann’s deposition at the Commission as well as on the FACT that, if for a very lengthy time he has been accepted at the top of very important institutions, for HIS OWN colleagues of the same time length to come out ON ACCOUNT OF A ONE HOUR or thereabouts presence in total unfamiliar circumstances and pressures and treat him like a leper it is beyond the unconscionable. I have stated my position about the quality of appraisal from other sources, people who have NEVER seen, worked etc. with the Rabbi and use some utube source to hang the legitimacy of their authority on the poor bugger, particularly in such decisive terms.
      I also happen to have a lot more trust than you and your friends in what Chabad and associated entities happen to do for something so important to me.

      • Adrian Shine says:

        Dear Otto,
        I really think that you should take your bat and ball and go home.
        The rot that has been shown to run through the upper echelons of Chabad in Australia is palpable. As my rabbi, part of the movement , said from the pulpit on both Friday night and Saturday, those who defended the perpetrators had brought embarrassment and shame on all of them and all of us.
        It is time for you to stop trying to defend the indefensible. They closed ranks to protect their friends and attacked and ostracized the victims and their families. They have treated the Yeshiva and its organs as a personal fiefdom, whilst taking an arrogant attitude of superiority over the rest of us mere Jews.
        They have abused their power and at the same time have shown that they do not even understand the essence of our religion.
        They have no place in any communal position and deserve no respect or recognition or title. The Organisation needs to enter into a great deal of introspection and it needs to clean up its act.
        You would do better to act as an advocate for the victims rather than as an apologist for those who facilitated this whole shameful affair.
        Enough already.Time for truth, atonement, rebuilding. The guilty have no part in the rebuilding part. They have long ago foregone that right.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Dear Adrian
          the story with “my Rabbi” reminds me of a scene in Woody Allen’s “Love and Death” where Allen, a Russian aristocrat, takes a walk with his private priest and asks him what is the difference between Russian and German Jews and the priest says that Russian Jews wear clothes with vertical stripes and the German Jews with horizontal stripes.”
          That how I see your “complex” considerate intervention and kind invitation to no longer upset your frame ( see the determined dimensions of a frame !!!)of mind. Sorry , mate, but not only you missed my emphatic efforts to CONDEMN the horrible acts in all their complexities, including the notion of cover up, but, if you read carefully by batting in for whoever, I also condemned the manner in which concerted ( seemingly ) efforts have been at foot to smoke out ONE singular scapegoat for what has also been bloody evident that COLLECTIVE appraisals AND decisions have been made. At the same time I also alluded to something you also missed, that Chabad does NOT function of principles they invented, they have, however, allowed valuable dynamics of democratic procedures to work within their vast structure. There is more to it and I will not repeat myself.
          Fact is that Rabbi Feldmann has acted AT ALL TIMES – and has been a very long time – in very good faith ( !!!!), but, it seems you missed that detail completely.
          Otherwise, I never played that sport involving bats, pretty good at tennis, skiing and in my youth a damn good boxer…
          Incidentally, how does YOUR contribution to Judaism compare to Chabad’s !!!

          • Adrian Shine says:

            Dear Otto,
            Your cinematographic analogy is as good as your sociologic one. To carry on your theme, a scene from the film Sudden Impact comes to mind. I’ll take the part of Dirty Harry when I quote him: “you’re a legend in your own mind”.
            You are obviously never going to quite understand the concepts of shocked and appalled which were mentioned and subsequently taken up by Mister Feldman’s ex colleagues. You might like to check out the You Tube clip made by a number of them.
            I have not seen a flood of support for your mini-crusade to defend the indefensible which appears to indicate to me that thank goodness, there is overwhelming condemnation of the events themselves and the corollary whereby the perpetrators were protected and the victims and their families marginalised at best. No matter how hard you try, your position in trying to mitigate the wrong that was done by the inner circle of Chabad, is untenable. No amount of patronising smarmy comments and jibes from you to the correspondents here will alter the facts. Thank goodness the process has begun and the community as a whole will be better as justice for the victims is finally done and seen to be done.
            You asked me about my contribution to our religion Otto. For your edification, I will give you one that puts me on a higher moral plane than those whom you appear to be an apologist for. I am an advocate for the victims and have never sought to protect the perpetrators. Those who did, and this is what you are oblivious to, in that lack of humanity and religiosity negated any claim to have made a positive contribution to our religion.
            Your continued insensitivity to that only serves to attenuate any otherwise sympathy that might be expressed for the position of those who are being forced to do what honour would have dictated them to do of their own accord.
            They will be remembered and judged by the community in line with the pain and suffering they caused.
            The fact that you do not comprehend that and persist in attacking those who express that sentiment has just served to give the impression that you are supercilious and plain bothersome.
            I feel sure that you will have some more pithy comments and barbs, but to further carry on your analogy,I am sure no reference is needed when I say that quite frankly I don’t give a damn.

            • harry freedman says:

              i have always felt that these forums should be used to express and share opinions between members of the chat group and others in the community rather than to start disparaging those that might disagree with ones own thoughts.

              this is what Otto is doing, for what reason, I cannot say? in no comment has he accepted that yossi feldmans statements and feelings, expressed to the royal commission were extremely inappropriate and demonstrated real concerns about the understanding and obligations of his previous role within the community, and simple moral expectations of the community.

              Having discussed these issues with friends and colleagues, I do acknowledge that I suspect yossi’s comments were quite genuine, as opposed to many of the other “rabbis”mentioned or who gave evidence, yet nevertheless, they remain totally unacceptable to the vast majority of the community and also many of our communities other rabbis and the community at large I suspect.

              Otto’s lambasting of others who do not share his views, I do not think takes these matters any further. He seems mostly keen on demonstrating his blind loyalty to yossi feldman. this seems apparent from many of the comments he makes against the other writers in this series of comments.

              blind loyalty often seems like an admirable virtue, but when one thinks about it, it often allows ill conceived thoughts and behaviour from being corrected.

              it seems to me , from this tragic moment in our communities history, that the community has allowed a fairly small group of Rabbi’s to take control of parts of the community and gain strength so as to avoid criticism and proper consultation.

              the fact that out Jewish newspaper raised the issues which were before the Commission some years ago, and were shouted down by the present group of perpetrators I think is a strong example of the point I am making

              before Otto springs into action , and accuses me of being anti Chabad or orthodoxy, I take the opportunity of denying that I am. I certainly see many flaws in their philosophies, but also accept many of the real contributions they make to our community and our religion. they are the “movers and shakers” with respect to keeping large portions of our religious life continuing and adding zest to our impressive religion.

              it is for these reasons that we need to go through the pain of acknowledging the terrible errors made by those in charge and use this opportunity to consider how to avoid these problems occurring in the future.

              Ok Otto, your turn

              • Adrian Shine says:

                Hi Harry,
                Well articulated.
                Another nail in the coffin for the apologists, as the guilty are forced out, dragging and kicking. Any honour has been dispelled as witnessed by their reluctance to accept the truth, and the fact that the game is finally up.
                It has just been announced that Mister Kluwgant has resigned. Gradually the cleanup is taking shape.
                I wonder if a certain Rabbetzin will be called to account. Let’s call her Lil, for convenience sake. Her pernicious part in the saga still has to be dealt with. It serves to signpost just how wide and deep the rot was, and how much bullying took place to try to wear down the victims.
                As my rabbi, a Chabad man whom I have already quoted, said from the pulpit, it is a shunda. It is all the more so because of the way those implicated and those who have not yet been placed under public scrutiny, have brazened it out.
                I also await the next ad hominem attack from someone who does not understand the concept of shunda.

                • Otto Waldmann says:

                  It bwopuld be a waste of a valuable term to say that I witness here a KABALA of rhetorical torrents from a coterie of empty vessels.
                  I was looking in earnest to find ONE scintilla of REAL evidence in terms of Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s statement. I am still waiting for those enchanted with an outcome perfectly in sync with their prejudices. Long soups of gurnischt, not one single word brought forward on which farcical accusations could be pinned on. Speeches as if it were the “barmitzvah” of a family pet or the wedding of two Porsches, nothing makes sense, guys. You might have noticed that I am not lost for words, but what I see from yourse Adrian and Harry are hollow speech practices in front of a mirror before some aimless “symcha”, like the installation of a brand new kitchen, Carrara marble bench top included.
                  Let me tell you, I know what Carrara marble looks like and your verbose installation is lucky to Mount Druit mudstone !
                  Yours talk endlessly about me and my dialectical habits and gloat at the resignation of a fine man practically publicly butchered with hacks of hatred , once again because you and your pen mates have constantly failed to mention not only those bloody words which merited Rabbis hanging, but the SPECIFICS in ethical terms of his mortal sins.
                  His resignation and the one followed by the other Rabbi are not the result of any of you being right, but, as you have correctly out it, the result of a majority best defined as MOB which prevailed by sheer numbers and respective pressure, motivated by as much substance as what you two presented here.
                  You are right because you reckon that I support a lost cause !!!! The cause is lost because two importnat people have abandoned the public encounter for reasons completely unrelated to YOUR “reasons”, a post factum, a ” the outcome is as I wanted it to be, therefore I must be right “. One may be blind but also capable to see inside the issues and, as such I would be blinded by the fury of seeing that injustice falsely claims prevalence by the sheer force of destructive rage.
                  People who cannot restrain their hatred, who unleash cries of destructive hatred and hysterical happiness at the sight of ruins cannot possibly last in their vindictive quest.
                  I will not repeat my arguments for believing that both Rabbis who tendered their resignations have been right in essence in their dedication to Judaism and that the words for which they are made to pay such unfair prices do not reflect their moral fibre, let alone the respectable reputation of Chabad itself. And, for your information, I do not belong to any Chabad “houses”, while I hold them as one of the pillars of Jewish identity and continuity. To mine, I have ran into Chabad places all over the world and have seen the magnificent work they are doing and, to be honest, with due respect, I never ran into any of you guys in all my forty five years of involvement in Australian Jewish life, except for now and you know already what I think, don’t yourse now !!
                  I will not say much more about the serious damage caused to the general image of our community by what irresponsible statements, such as yours have been causing, but just checked the other day a classical hobo site and, guess what, all that stuff you are peddling about “justice and its failure by Rabbis” is right up there in drastically different lingo and other nazi-chromatic modes. Happy now !!!
                  Read carefully everything I say about the abhorrent history of child abuse within certain places within our community, just in case you still believe that my mission is to cover up such horrible crimes and /or the actual perpetrators.

                  • Adrian Shine says:

                    Dear Otto ,
                    So let me get this right. In order to prove your undying loyalty and to justify the unjustifiable and excuse the inexcusable, your point is blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
                    I think you forgot to take your meds.
                    You do not come across as intelligent just foolish. Did your near and dear ever get irritated by your puerile habit of having to have the last word even though you had nothing of sense to say?

                    • Otto Waldmann says:

                      as expected and constantly referred, dear Adrian, you understood nothing and, I must admit, long sentences not quite your favourites, too much to ask for. Anyways, when one comes out in a public domain all readers are considered, meaning that you are not the ACTUAL solitary target audience. Mind you, it is the same domain now privy to the extent of your comprehension of “stuff”. Do I care……..!!

                    • Adrian Shine says:

                      Dear Otto,even though you are replying to a letter to Harry,
                      Don’t flatter yourself. You are just not that important.
                      You have tried to big note yourself whilst simultaneously attacking several correspondents on this topic, all of whom have written on the topic,by the way, disagree with you.
                      You have used inane non-arguments which amount to nothing more than piffle and waffle.
                      You think that you are so immersed in the community that you have the ability to sit in judgement on others’ knowledge of and participation in the Jewish community by virtue of your acquaintance with them.
                      For your edification, I am a member of one shul and attend others regularly as well as participating in many communal activities. I did post graduate research in a topic concerned with Jewish identity and survival. I am well known in my circles, and no I have never laid eyes on you, nor do I feel that I am lacking because of it, nor do I wish to. That however does not make me a gunse macher as you portray yourself to be. As I said in an answer to some of your previous drivel, you are a legend in your own mind.
                      I find you bothersome, without being amusing, and nothing in your insults to the other correspondents exudes intellect.
                      Regarding the subject matter, the community has now practically universally condemned the criminal actions that took place and their perpetrators. Ditto those who protected the criminals and attacked the victims so vindictively. They have been forced to resign because of this near universal condemnation, not by a sense of honour. The feeling is also widespread that their actions negated their right to hold a position in the community. You might like to view the video affirming this made by a number of Chabad rabbonim.
                      I was out to dinner last night, with my former rabbi, who is no Chabad. When discussing this situation, he was of the opinion that any contributions made by those we are discussing count for naught. I would hazard a guess that there is a general consensus in this regard. At another table was another person whom I know. He is also Chabad and said that because of those involved on this cover up, etc, he no longer wears his black hat.
                      Anyway we will await your next installment of bile and invective with trepidation.
                      Personally I can’t be bothered to try to make any sense of it, and you might at some stage have mercy on us when it finally sinks in to you that the jury is not out on this one.

                    • Adrian Shine says:


                      Here is the URL for Chie Rabbi Mirvis’s comments on the situation including those who aided the cover up

  18. Liat Nagar says:

    Thank you for your comments on my posting, Harry. I really appreciate it.

  19. Liat Nagar says:

    I meant to include in my response to you that as a woman I obviously don’t have the power to ‘destroy’ Rabbi Feldman with my contributions, so your fears in that quarter are groundless. The one assumption in all of this I will make is that he wouldn’t care what I think.

    My contributions are independently made, so I’d be pleased if you would desist referring to ‘my cohorts’. That so many women have contributed similar views could well be that as prime carers of children, past or present, they are more concerned with the protection and health of young people than they are for protecting the spirituality and ethical code of men who are supposed to be caring for them. I don’t know these women and have not seen their names before.

    • harry freedman says:

      since this conversation is still on going, may I add that my comments are certainly not an attack on the orthodox section of our community, since I consider myself to be a member of that community and regularly do work for and on behalf of its members. My comments and I assume, without actual knowledge, that the comments of the others are based on what has been disclosed in the evidence of the community and relates to those individuals who have been reported on.

      One does wonder why Otto seeks to convert fair, independent comments by others as some kind of conspiracy against all of orthodox Judaism.

      it is quite ironic that he questions Robert Goots knowledge and understanding of evidence when Robert is a highly respected and experienced senior counsel of many years standing and would probably have a better understanding of evidence than most of the population.

      Moshe Feldman has resigned, as has Rabbi Glick, their conduct has left many wounds, everyone has had the opportunity to vent their opinions, anger and frustration on the topic, perhaps now may be the time to move along?

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        harry ( you like small captions, why upset you )your lengthier comments this time are at best hollow. I do not see anything of substance to specific issues raised by the depositions of the Rabbi in question, I do not detect the slightest attempt to address issues beyond the superficial aspects which do not reveal anything about the very specific actions of a Rabbi now practically rendered destitute mostly precisely due to the way YOU approach such complex matters, one again, sententious on generalities, totally devoid of any specificity.
        I have known Robert Goot and have been involved on the NSWJBD in his presence for over THIRTY BLOODY YEARS and do not need you to tell me anything I don’ t know.
        Delve into the issues as I , so persistently try to have cleared, only to be replied with utter non-sensical generalities. To mine, all those “replying” have not come out with ANYTHING, not one ounce of meat on the bone about WHAT on earth had Rabbi Yossi Feldmann committed to deserve the atrocious, lynching type reaction from within his own community. You want to leave the debates, that’s fine with me, you were, actually never into it with anything relevant on issues, anyway, just meaningless vituperations.
        I get “cold” voice, physical appearance and movement of arms, back,eyeballs behind the glasses, bloody impression of this or that, “feelings” of what MUST have been on his mind while stating something “obviously” insincere etc. Nothing of substance and you also wonder, very relevant, what my “relationship” is with Rabbi Feldmann. Deep, mate, very deep and frightfully probing !!!

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Sorry, dear Liat, but all I see, once again, are some kind of “explanations” of manner and nothing of substance, references to stuff completely irrelevant to the core issues and, worst of all, an attempt to extricate yourself from the obvious efforts of attacking an individual you don’t know from Adam, a Rabbi who, thanks to these kind of merciless and unfounded attacks is now a destitute, his entire life ruined. I am still waiting to see SPECIFICS in relation to what a Rabbi of good repute and dedication has really done to deserve this from ALL those lining up to destroy him to make him the scapegoat, the fall guy. That includes all those individuals and institutions which until now NEVER MENTIONED RABBI YOSSI FELDMANN AS SUCH AS AN IMPORTANT PROTAGONIST IN THOSE HORRIBLE CRIMES !!! I AM TALKING OF THOSE WHO HAVE KNOWN AND WORKED WITH HIM FOR DECADES. Suddenly you people have found a Rabbi to kick, bash, destroy and , in the process ,give you all the desired satisfactions.

  20. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,

    My original wording as to my perception of Rabbi Y. Feldman after viewing him during questions put to him at the Royal Commission were as follows: HE APPEARED COLD, INSULAR AND ARROGANT. I prefaced that by saying I was repulsed by what he had to say and the manner in which he said it. I stand by that. I used the same elements you would have used yourself to form an opinion, the same elements a jury in a court of law uses. Although you have not answered my question as to what you base your very different opinion on. I don’t consider my comments vicious (they’re far removed from that) and I don’t consider them to be grave conclusions (they’re not as important as that). If in fact Rabbi Feldman is a warm, broad-minded person with a degree of humility, then I have misjudged him. However, I put it to you that he himself is responsible for the impression he creates, and I would be surprised if anybody seeing and hearing him on that day would or could describe him very differently. I am indeed sorry for him if he is the opposite to the impression he creates.

    What you are doing is venting your spleen on me and in the course of that directing accusations and assertions at me that simply don’t apply. A barrage of sharp arrows falling all around me, yet never hitting the core. That is not going to be conducive to anything that even resembles constructive debate or conversation. You continue to attack me after my efforts to engage with your comments, but completely ignore questions I ask you, such as the one posed above, and the query as to whether you have actually seen film of Feldman testifying. If you haven’t, then you’re without the further dimensions that provides for a better informed opinion.

    As to those non-Jews involved with the Royal Commission who made attempts to understand the background and framework of the Rabbis who were to be questioned, nobody is suggesting they become fully-informed in that process. They can only touch on those aspects of Judaism that might impinge on, impede or affect the hearing. That they bothered to do so is a plus and not something to be snorted at.

    You keep mentioning hillul HaShem and matters of religious conduct in regard to the situation the Rabbi found himself in, and the plain fact is, Otto, that that does not, and cannot, be accorded more authority than the obligation to speak out truthfully and fully in a hearing such as this, or a court of law, in Australia, or indeed even in Israel. Unless you want the country to be a religious state where religious law presides, as is the case in many Arab countries with their Islamic fundamentalism. Many other Rabbis spoke at this hearing and said that there were no impediments to speaking out fully about this subject or in involving outsiders to assist with it or report it to – are they speaking untruthfully?

    Rabbi Feldman lives in Australia and there are going to be occasions where he most certainly does have to accede to other and different commitments that are outside his spiritual world. This becomes one of the major problems with ultra orthodoxy, doesn’t it, the spiritual world they choose to live in which dictates a very different way of life, a more insular life insofar as other influences are concerned. Indeed they think that there is nothing other than Torah they need to read, study and live. In Rabbi Feldman’s case it seems that did not equip him to deal adequately with sexual abuse problems presenting at the time. How could it? What someone does with their life while living in a democratic state is up to them, however they should not ever live so fully ensconced within their own constructed life that the outside world around them is of no concern and no interest. They cannot live so separately that they are not answerable to the laws of the country and without due regard to other citizens in that country. This applies to Israel as well, where ultra orthodoxy is breeding contempt for every person on the street who is not of their kind, where other human beings are ignored, disregarded and considered less as people. In saying this, before you shoot your big arrow accusation of prejudice, I know it doesn’t apply to every single person practising ultra orthodoxy, however it does apply to very many, enough for it to be a real and developing problem to society. Is your concern for the Judaic ethics you subscribe to so extreme that you have no interest in or tolerance for anyone else or anything else? I would have thought not after much previous discussion with you. In this discussion, however, there appears no room for anything else.

    You absolutely cannot put your personal ethics and Rabbi Feldman’s forward as those that ‘all honest and courageous Jews’ should subscribe to. How can you, as a man who respects and works with the rational even contemplate such an edict? Rabbi Feldman was not courageous insofar as the plight of the victims of abuse were concerned, and was not respectful of those involved in questioning him at the Royal Commission. He needs to understand that one does not have to be a Jewish Rabbi of ultra orthodox persuasion to deserve respect. I’ll say it again, he appeared ‘disdainful’. If you only read his words and you have not witnessed film of the questions and answers, then you are not equipped at all to dismiss my opinions as fanciful, vicious et al.

    If you sit back and objectively read your words to me and mine to you, you will find a difference in tonality that says a lot about our states of mind, albeit not everything. Yes, tonality matters – it is not a superficiality, just as body language and other personal behaviour are not. They all combine to produce rudeness, negation, openness or inclusiveness, warmth or coldness. You see hate in my words where there is none, you see prejudice where there is none. It’s your anger projecting that on to me – it’s nothing to do with me. It’s time to put aside the anger or direct it appropriately, Otto.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      – COLD is a physical state relating to temperature. A living human cannot talk, be alive under the temperature of minimum 33 degrees Celsius and that is not actually cold in physical terms. Rabbi Feldmann had to be in excess of 36 degrees. You had no means of determining his temperature. If you refer once again to the tone of his voice, I will remind you once again that it is fair to assume that you haven’t got the slightest about how Rabbi Feldmann behaves under specific circumstance, how his vocal deliveries alternate.

      – INSULAR has absolutely no meaning whatsoever in the context of our issues. NONE of the definitions in the English langues of the word “insular” could possibly attract the type of calls and ultimate dismissals, practically the destruction of a person’s life. SHOW me any legal indictment in any books where being “insular” is synonymous with any degree of being undesirable, not to mention “shocking and detestable

      – ARROGANT is, by far the most objectionable adjective that could be used against Rabbi Yossi Feldmann. You must explain the call with direct and relevant examples in the manner of verbal as well as notional terms used by Rabbi Feldmann during his presence at the Commission not to mention, if you have access to any other “arrogant” type of behaviour of the Rabbi in other circumstances.
      Lengthy theoretical presentations of terms and a variety of categories do not replace clear, direct evidence.

      • harry freedman says:

        otto, your unconditional and unqualified support of moshe feldman in the present circumstances where not only has he resigned and apologised for the error of his ways, but has been roundly criticised by most others of the community who have expressed their thoughts in these forums, makes me curious as to the nature of your relationship with him.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          harry, read the stuff you criticise. What “unconditional” and “unqualified” are you talking about! This is symptomatic of your obvious inability or unwillingness to check the actual contents of the stuff you are so anxious to attack. I am only replying to your nonsense because you are not the only one working like this on this matters and that makes all of you shamefully irrelevant, accent on “shame”.

  21. Liat Nagar says:

    Frankly you do yourself a disservice to generalise in such a way and accuse people with whom you disagree of prejudice against Orthodox Judaism per se, most especially when it is one Rabbi, who is ultra-orthodox, that we are discussing.

    I am not ignorant of the difficulty involved for Orthodox Jews to make public statements in a non-Jewish forum. I am not sure how fully acquainted you are with this Royal Commission and its procedures – earlier articles posted showed the great lengths non-Jews involved with the administration of the Commission went to insofar as getting full and pertinent information beforehand regarding Jewish issues of this kind. They asked many questions to acquaint themselves as best they could for a fuller understanding before proceeding. That said, if religious Jews are going to live outside of Israel, obviously they are going to have to be involved in a world that is not Jewish, and work should immediately commence within Jewish Orthodoxy to remove any barriers that might ‘make it difficult’, or preclude, public statements by them in a non-Jewish forum if they become necessary.

    It is interesting, Otto, that you are prepared to assume or judge all kinds of negative things about Z. and M. Waks, however when it comes to Rabbi Y. Feldman you disallow it. I am not actually ‘assuming’ anything. I am doing what you or I or anybody else does, I am forming an opinion after seeing and hearing Y. Feldman and reading his comments. I have absolutely no idea what his state of mind is, and not having his brain have no idea what’s going on in his head. I do not ASSUME his sincerity is questionable; I am of the opinion that he is insincere. Tone of voice, body language and words spoken or written are all we have to go on. If we can’t make a judgement on the strength of that, then we can never make a judgement. It’s always possible that judgement is incorrect. (Makes you wonder if we should have a jury system, with your reasoning, Otto, although juries have been known to be wrong.)
    I did feel actual repugnance at the performance of Rabbi Y. Feldman at this hearing. I didn’t look for it; I felt it. For you to say the disgust I feel is utterly unjust is simply not appropriate in any way. A feeling is a feeling and a fact to the person afflicted with it.

    Have a look at the first statement Feldman makes prior to his apology to victims: “I have followed the evidence of sexual abuse at this hearing and I have read their statements. I have been affected by that evidence.”
    To my eyes that’s a pretty minimalist response, quite unusual in its lack of eloquence after exposure to details of the abuse of the victims. You don’t have to cry, or dramatise, or gush, but surely “I have been affected” is worth a ponder due to its paucity. When considering it myself I even took into account that the man might just be limited emotionally due to his particular personality or have problems in that regard – whatever, it’s not good enough in the circumstances; if he can’t empathise and express that empathy adequately, then his performance as a Rabbi is limited – his role needs more than knowledge of halacha.

    I am not looking for a reason to criticise Rabbi Feldman. I’m criticising him due to the opinion I’ve formed by way of observation, intellect and gut. Fanciful? No. Do you not think it’s fanciful that you cling to the rights and positive possibilities of Y. Feldman because he’s a Rabbi and almost will his sincerity in the process? That’s how it appears. Must you attack others who demur? Otto, you are not responsible for the whole caboodle that Orthodox Judaism comprises and cannot speak for such a behemoth. I would be more than pleased to be found to be wrong, because ideally I prefer people to be good and do good, whatever their colour, creed or religion.

    Did you actually see Rabbi Feldman on film responding to the Royal Commission questions? Or is all you have to go by the words posted on J-Wire?

    • Harry freedman says:

      What a wonderfully eloquent response liat.
      Gentle,respectful and all encompassing

    • Otto Waldmann says:


      if you read your previous comments on which I posted mine and also my references to it you will see at once that I am strictly referring to the words you used and I shall consider their most common meaning. All you and, in addition, some other ladies did was base extremely grave conclusions in regards to Rabbi Feldmann’s character on impressions of the most superficial kind. From the tome of his voice and general demeanor you arrived at some incredible conclusions as per the content of his character. If you now recant your “method” of character appraisal then that is good as long as you do observe a modicum of faiirness, but what I see repeated now is the same gratuitous indictments based on irrelevant “analogies” and references to matters completely farcical. To be more precise, the idea that those on the Commission “acquainted” themselves with matters Judaic prior to engaging in judging ….Judaic matters is like accepting that Rabbinical “diplomas” can be obtained on an “online” crush course of a comfy fortnight and you don’t even need to be Jewish and, if you subscribe in the next two hours you also throw in a sewing kit and a knife set !!!!”.
      Anyone worth his/her salt in commenting on matters of Jewish religious conduct would have realised that Rabbi Yossi Feldmann was confronted by a clear circumstance whereby hillul haShem was bound to be committed and, on impeccable advise, I am told that he somehow was forced to do it.
      Rabbi Feldmann does not have to accede to the way people outside the his spiritual world reckon he should and that includes all those here and anywhere else scream forward their “shock and disgust”. Rabbi Feldmann’s vocation has been and still is to serve the teachings of Torah and all those anxious to destroy him should remember that he did not commit any crime by any legal standards nor did he attempt to protect any crime. His non-existent fault has been that he expressed himself in a manner NOT EVERYBODY can fathom in ethical terms, ethics to which he subscribes, I do and so should all honest and courageous Jews.
      Liat, you are contributing to the destroying of a kosher and yosher Jew, surely not the one you and your cohorts consider spiritually relevant to you, yet a Jew whose guilt cannot by forensically articulated but, by surely looks like he has been left out there by his own brothers as the fall guy and so many seem to love clubbing him to a pulp. Pegging your “reasons” to a phrase which in no way reveals anything objectionable whichever way you turn and twist it is symptomatic of the deep seeded prejudice which is taking the lead in all these unpardonable visceral hateful lines.

  22. Malvina Malinek says:

    Congratulations to the ECAJ for distancing itself and our community from such an appallingly ignorant supposed teacher (rabbi) in the Jewish community. Why any parent in this day and age would entrust the education of their sons to such people, beats me.

  23. Lizzie Moore says:

    Liat: “He gave the impression he was answerable to nobody. Perhaps he thinks he’s only answerable to G-d within the cocoon the Yeshiva provides for him, within that world.”

    Yes, this perfectly described what I felt, when I saw Rav Feldman in action from 4 pm to 5.15 pm yesterday, sad to say. I felt there was a juvenile defiance, when he squeaked out at one stage: “are you going to put him in gaol too?!” It was all, as the English say…very unfortunate…

  24. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, I am really not one to get stuck into a person for the sake of it, or to ignore the complexities that all sorts of situations can present. However, as I intimated in another posting on this site in regard to Rabbi Yossi Feldman, his statements and apology in regard to the victims were as lacking in warmth, good intent and sincerity, as Cardinal George Pell’s when he was speaking in the same sort of situation. I used the word ‘shocked’. I said I was shocked, both by Pell and Feldman, insofar as their apparent disregard for the humanity of what they were talking about – cold, disdainful and arrogant, both of them. It might have been better to say ‘disgusted. Because that’s how I feel: disgusted. Not only in relation to Feldman’s attempted apology and recognition by way of a string of statements of what should be done in cases of sexual abuse (all of it patently insincere), but more by all the comments he has made during the Enquiry in response to questions asked. Comments that show either how wilfully ignorant he is, or how unwilling he is to answer with true clarity how Judaism should really be practised and what the criminal laws in Australia might be, because to do so would implicitly involve him. Better to cry ignorance.

    He gave the impression he was answerable to nobody. Perhaps he thinks he’s only answerable to G-d within the cocoon the Yeshiva provides for him, within that world. Well, he is answerable to the people he’s supposed to serve and he is most certainly answerable to Australian law. And there should have been a Jewish authority to whom he was also answerable over the years he’s been practising. It’s not good enough that anybody in the community can lodge a complaint against a Rabbi,as the sole means of possible investigation, because they’re just not going to even think of doing that. The work of a Rabbi needs to be monitored and developed on an ongoing basis professionally within a Jewish framework.

    Let Yossi Feldman use his knowledge of Judaism in some other occupation, because he certainly shouldn’t be a Rabbi. There are plenty of fine Rabbis, but he’s not one of them.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      with deep regret I must say that you as well as a whole coterie of people anxious to have a “reason” and a platform to vent obvious prejudices against Orthodox Judaism fail to either accept or ,simply, have no idea what it means to make public statements to a non Jewish forum in regards to Judaism.
      In this instance Rabbi Yossi Feldmann is obviously the fall guy and, regrettably I must say that in relation to the manner in which his own fellow Rabbis reacted.
      You may NOT indulge in assuming that you know what state of mind the Rabbi was during his appearance. You may NOT assume that his sincerity was questionable. The “evidence” to all those completely fanciful assessments have been the tone of his voice or his demeanor in general terms. Can you or anyone else who does not know well the person assume with such conviction if the man was honest or not without having the slightest about how the person behaves under any circumstance, how his voice alternates, his body assumes certain “moves”, positions etc !!!!
      The most important matter which informed and decent people must consider is that, a Jew of certain beliefs WILL NOT ALLOW MATTERS OF JUDAISM BE DEBATED IN A PLACE, TO CERTAIN PEOPLE BY WHICH HILLUL HASHEM MAY BE COMMITTED. I am myself shocked at the reaction of Orthodox Rabbis for not taking into consideration this extremely important factor. I am not, however, at all surprised that Progerssive Judaism people, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and , indeed ECAJ have all jumped at this “golden” opportunity to get stuck into a Rabbi who has only done, in fact, what a honest, sincere, fully repentant person was expected to do, MOST IMPORTANTLY considering the hillul HaShem principle.
      The statements Rabbi Yossi Feldmann has specifically made in relation to a complete range of issue under scrutiny at the Commission is sincerely clear and does not carry any evidence of being anything else that what one reads. Only one who does not take them “sine ira et studio” without anger and prejudice, would react the way all these people responding to me have done so far, considering that I do not see here, at least, anyone else to have the guts to say that the Rabbi, hitherto without a blame in his long services to the community, deserves to be listened to not just with the benefit of doubt, but with the elementary decency of not assuming without any reasonable evidence that he does not mean what he says. Once again I am dealing with horribly tendentious extrapolations, vicious, farcical dismissals of character and content of statements and utterly unjust outcries of “disgust”.

  25. Otto Waldmann says:

    I must admit now that I was wrong in assuming that the Orthodox Rabbinate of Australia or the NSW one would have had a stance on Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s statement at the Commission somehow different to what the ECAJ had stated.

    I am not, however, satisfied that there is a fair appraisal of Rabbi Feldmann’s complete and complex statement at the Commission.

    I still hold it that Rabbi Feldmann has shown repentance and ultimate understanding of the gravity of the whole situation in terms similar to what other quarters have stated. This is of major importance, particularly in view of the fact that, after his sincere and overzealous explaining of the soul serching process the Rabbi went through, he is now treated by most as the man had molested children himself, as if the bloke is a bloody criminal.

    Any man can make honest mistakes, a term we must look at with compassion and fundamental understanding of mankind. Rabbi Feldmann acceded to the fact that, after all considerations, he arrived at the sincere conclusion that he erred. His sincerity in perusing the whole soul searching process is to be appreciated. I am surprised at those closer to him eager to abandon , but not at all surprised at those anxious and happy to have a go at anything associated with Jewish Orthodoxy, happy that they have something, but especially someone to bash mercilessly and irrationally. To this extent I am still not completely happy with the entire wording of the ECAJ statement, their understanding of the tribulations a spiritual leader would go through in his sincere desire to serve his people. This also concerns Mssrs. Perfect Freedman, gershon and Herzog, no doubt better Rabbis than Yossi Feldmann.

    • Harry freedman says:

      You don’t get the point Otto,their title of rabbi has lost all validity as demonstrated by their disgraceful conduct, morality and total lack of compassion
      Their so called apology was made when the evidence was so clearly in the open it lost all sincerity
      The refusal of these men to stand down, further evidencing their lack of remorse

    • Henry Herzog says:

      What a shame Mr Waldmann doesn’t have the same compassion for the victims of child abuse as he does for those who tried to cover it up.

  26. Otto Waldmann says:

    Really, Mr. Robert Goot, if you have any idea of what EVIDENCE looks like in support of heavy laden statements such as unqualified ” shock and appalled fellow Rabbis” of Rabbi Yossi Feldman would you kindly present them or distance YOURSELF altogether from our Jewish community.

    • Harry freedman says:

      I’m shocked and appalled, and if there is any rabbi in our community who isn’t shocked and appalled and the outrageous statements made by Feldman ( I refuse to refer to him as a rabbi) then I am further shocked and appalled

    • Henry Herzog says:

      And even if Robert Goot has no recorded statements, that could be used in evidence from fellow rabbis to say they are appalled and shocked, I’m sure they are, as all decent people would be. This is not a legal argument, but a moral one.

    • Adrian Shine says:

      I side with Robert Goot. Shocked and appalled is a mild descriptor. I believe that this is the majority view of the community and that the Yeshiva needs to look carefully at itself. It needs to atone. It needs to clean up its backyard. We, members of the Jewish community, do not need people like you Mr Waldmann giving solace to the criminals and those who sheltered them. N

  27. ben gershon says:

    one should check that any rabbi got his smicha from his management is sent back to a proper training


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