Feldman resigns

February 11, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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In light of recent statements and views expressed by Rabbi Yosef Feldman, The Yeshiva Centre has accepted his resignation as a Director on the Board of Management of The Yeshiva Centre, which includes his administrative responsibilities.

The Yeshiva Centre thanks Rabbi Yosef Feldman for his years of selfless dedication to the Centre.

Rabbi Yossef Feldman

Rabbi Yosef Feldman

The Yeshiva Centre reiterates its staunch commitment to protect victims of abuse including full compliance with authorities and legal procedures.

As part of a commitment to the highest standards of care for children, Yeshiva has comprehensive child protection policies in place, which are constantly being reviewed and updated to ensure maximum safety and protection for all children in our care.

In conjunction with professional support services, Yeshiva offers assistance and support to any victim of abuse. Requests for support can be emailed confidentially tosupport@yeshiva.org.au.

Philip Cohen is president of the Southern Sydney Synagogue of which Rabbi Yosef Feldman is currently the spiritual leader. He told J-Wire: “We are holding a special meeting tomorrow night to discuss the current situation.”


“As of today I am resigning from my position as a Director on the Board of Management of The Yeshiva Centre, which includes my administrative responsibilities.

“I apologise to anyone in the Rabbinate, the Jewish community and the wider Australian community who may have been embarrassed or ashamed by my views, words, understandings, recordings or emails about child sexual abuse or any other matter.

“I have dedicated my life to doing whatever I can to protect and assist all people in need including those who have suffered from any form of abuse, especially children, and it pains me greatly that words that I have expressed have upset victims and their families.

“In the future I will be more careful with my words, so that they are only a source of pride to the Jewish and General community.”

“I commit to undertake formal training and education on how to identify, handle and report abuse allegations.”

A spokesman for the Sydney Yeshiva Centre told J-Wire: “Following his resignation, Rabbi Yosef Feldman no longer works at or represents the Yeshiva Centre and its affiliated Chabad institutions in any capacity, administrative or teaching, paid or voluntary.”



24 Responses to “Feldman resigns”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Re my comment on practising psychiatry, when I said you would not be equipped to do it if following Jewish law rigidly, I meant that in order to do it you actually had to think differently and come to decisions by way of that process that Jewish law might disallow, in order to treat your patient properly.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    We are discussing here ethical issues, Otto, however not only those articulated by Jewish law. We are also discussing the morality of individuals in the Yeshiva and in the religious community insofar as the behaviour associated with the handling of the abuse of the victims, and that is a separate issue.

    I will say it again, it is not enough for a Rabbi to have superb Judaic knowledge and a ‘fine intellect’. If it were every Rabbi of that ilk could be considered to be exactly the same in merit, capacity and person. What a ridiculous concept. It’s a cop out and head in the sand attitude to say Rabbi Feldman is a most reliable intellect and leave it at that. A reliable intellect in regard to what? Your answer would come back as ‘all things Jewish’. Round and round in circles we go. It’s very nice that you have complete confidence in him, however it can be seen already that that confidence is not warranted in the case we are talking about. What’s to prevent a mass murderer having a fine intellect? Absolutely nothing. It’s what you do with a fine intellect as well as other attributes you have that determines the whole.

    Perhaps you should consider with as much imagination and gravity that you apply to Rabbi Feldman’s situation, the situation of a young person forced to experience (something he was NEVER subjected to before) as he was abused in a synagogue. If committing hillul haShem is such a big problem in situations such as this, well obviously it’s outmoded and needs to be changed within Jewish law itself. Or do you want to change our civil laws to Jewish laws? It appears this is all you care about and actual obscenities committed and the results for those abused can be done and dusted, buried. “Oh, I do feel for the victims. Such a shame. But doesn’t happen often at all. ONLY A FEW CASES.” – so, let’s forget it and get on with full faith in the Jewish laws that not every person who should be is actually performing adequately and with their own moral strength.

    As to Rabbis and exposure to literature, again you’re bringing it back to the essence of Jewish ethics, and again that is too limited. I myself know two Orthodox Rabbis in Melbourne who have other degrees not pertaining to Judaism, one in Literature, and the difference that makes in the possibilities in discourse is large indeed. We are not reading Tolstoy, Joyce and Kafka, listening to Beethoven or seeing Chagall to understand Jewish ethics. We are doing so to understand from a different perspective, to broaden the input in a different way. And that is only to the good. If one wanted to be a psychiatrist, for instance, it would not be possible to practise that profession adequately if making judgements by keeping rigidly to Judaic law. You would simply not be equipped to do it.

    Your last comment where you expect my ‘sophisticated’ retorts to your own narrow discussion of the issue is snide, Otto, as is your accusation of being noble. I also do not need a sarcastic pat on the back from you for admitting the difficulty posed for a man to resign his position. It seems the only people you find ‘relevant’ are those who agree with you.

  3. Oliver Colman says:

    A Rabbi just like any other citizen has recourse to the courts to obtain justice.
    In matters of a Rabbinic nature, and to do with religious institutions, sometimes it is better to have a secular court determine an outcome.
    This is because in a Beth Din or rabbinic court some might fear that the Rabbis will not want to find that another Rabbi is at fault, for a whole host of complex reasons, not the least being a desire to keep within the fold.
    Such may be the case where a Rabbi is being defamed or accused of other improprieties.
    Best to clear the air, or at least let it be seen that due process and natural justice are accorded to all.

  4. Oliver Colman says:

    Rabbis sometimes have to resort to secular courts to obtain justice, because the Beth Din or Rabbinic courts are often accused of protecting their own and not being impartial on matters dealing with Rabbis and religious institutions. I honestly hope that Rav Yosef Feldman can achieve a fair judgement and silence the hysteria and knee jerk reactions from some sectors of this community.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    Despite everything that has occurred, Rabbi Yosef Feldman has had to bring himself to do a most difficult thing in resigning and publicly exposing that resignation. He is responsible for his mistakes and will be responsible for his future. I really do hope that with formal training of the type he mentions and the perspectives of others that he has now had to take into account, he can bring himself to positive change that allows different behaviour. It is a sad and sorry affair.

    I do think teaching and/or administering to young people in a yeshiva requires more than knowledge of Judaism and child protection education. Wider education at a tertiary level, perhaps in the humanities, would be a valuable addition, as well as ongoing mentors for continuing development. The educational scope has to be wider to make different perspectives possible and decision-making constructive instead of destructive. It won’t change much to have Rabbi Feldman resign his higher status duties but go on teaching without the support of different programmes within the structure of the yeshiva itself.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Sorry Liat, but right here you got it incredibly wrong.
      We are discussing here ONLY ethical issues. Rabbi Feldmann may not be immersed in the kind of literature, classical music, wider intellectual history which is contained in the kind of curriculum “improvements” you are suggesting bu, by G-d, he would be much better introduced into Judaic knowledge than you and your friends right here anxious to see him gone and destroyed and, let me tell you, a lot better, higher educated in matters Jewish than myself, something I am very humbled about. To this extent, I have complete confidence that, in matters ethical, Rabbi Yossi Feldmann is a most reliable intellect. A very disturbing number of people are chastising, actually out to destroy the Rabbi for the manner in which he expressed certain views, the words he chose under circumstances he was NEVER subjected before and under the MOST important burden of avoiding in his verbal delivery the mere possibility of denying his fundamental beliefs, of not committing hillul haShem.
      It is unacceptable that his own Rabbinate is so oblivious to these facts, while I am not at surprised that those outside the intellectual confines of higher Jewish observance haven’t got a bloody clue of the same.
      Briefly, Messrs. Tolstoy, James Joyce, even Kafka, Beethoven or Chagall , not to mention a Chomsky and his lot are not needed in order to understand the essence of Jewish ethics; I know what I am talking about because I know all those blokes and they have not contributed AT ALL to my forays and process of comprehending Jewish values. I do keep them in high regards, G-d and all his children know it , but not at all related to those distinct tenets. My process of intellectual maturity has benefited a lot by my even scant introduction into Judaic ethics and those notion have helped understanding the “others”, NOT the other way around. This is precisely where your noble thoughts don’t quite fit in. I cannot wait the torrents of “sophisticated” retorts telling me off…..

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Very commendable, Liat , to offer Rabbi Yossi Feldmann some kind of post-blow verbal anesthetic. What one has been seen here since Rabbi Feldmann appeared at the Commission has been a rhetorical lynching of a honest person. NOBODY has related the clubbing of the Rabbi to ANY specific acts or actual words deemed “shocking and repugnant”. Nobody has brought to the fore WHAT specifically deserved all the horrible adjectives and invectives which, in the end, determined a Rabbi to render himself a destitute.
        Lots of people and organisations within the Jewish community have a lot to answer for, but, as the entire Rabbi bashing was done under the auspices of cowardice, I do not expect anyone relevant to reply in earnest. “Theories” generalities about behaviour of a Rabbi etc. are totally fictitious and generated by prejudice and the strategy of nominating a scapegoat, hiding behind institutional moral failure. Most fellow Rabbis have failed Rabbi Yossi Feldmann big and shameful time !!!

  6. Oliver Colman says:

    The religious organisations have been forced to hunker down and become more cloistered.
    This is a pity because the men and women involved are well meaning and good people ,who
    Naively at times trust too much in the people in power and who hold wealth.
    We all need to go back to first principles.
    The strong protect the weak, and the weak speak out, and demand protection.
    The cynicism has to stop!
    Community entails support from those who can give it, and trust which is well placed.
    It’s up to our leaders to determine where the rights of the individual end and where the rsponsibilities of the community begins.
    It’s not good enough to be “religious” we need to be just ,honest, decent and dare I say “God fearing”.

  7. Mal heimfeld says:

    Haters crawling out from under the rocks

  8. Otto Waldmann says:

    A good Jew, a dedicated Rabbi is made to suffer by a mob mentality driven people who would not have the slight idea what respect for Judaic beliefs means, what hillul haShem means, what Rabbi Feldmann had to endure while being genuinely open on all issues in front of the Commission. For all those blind and vicious mostly “ladies” plus a ben, Rabbi Feldmann repeatedly stated that he admitted all principles on which the Commission was functioning. Those blind with prejudice cannot read plain words of repentance because all they want to do is to destroy Jewish Orthodoxy.

  9. Shirlee Finn says:

    This surely is some kind for a joke.

    This vile excuse for a human being should be kicked out on his ‘back side’ and totally removed from society at large.

    Shame we don’t excommunicate because this is what is needed here.

    “As to the future the Yeshiva Centre is considering its options.”

    What’s to consider?

  10. ben gershon says:

    how about a retraining program well away from Sydney or chabbad. carpenter.plumber .garbage removal .cleaner etc


  11. Mal heimfeld says:

    I wonder if these critics have done even a hundredth in helping individuals and families in any way as did rabbi yossi Feldman and his extended family

    It’s obvious that being 100 percent honest doesn’t sit well these days

    People seem to prefer politically correct statements eg rabbi Moshe gutnicks
    Though it will be interesting to see how “holier than thou ” his response will be to the KA report

    • Lauren Gabriel says:

      What a ridiculous thing to say

      Manny Waks for one has done more for Jewish children than this man and his bad behaviour

    • Anash says:

      It looks like ‘Rabbi’ Yosef Feldman has written this email himself. He needs to be examined by a mental health professional.

      • George Berger says:

        I doubt that he feels the pain that he has caused. It looks like he is apologizing for merely being caught.

    • Anash says:

      We all know what he means by ‘recordings’.

  12. Jenny Green says:

    This is the resignation you make when you;re not making a resignation.
    He’s resigned form the things he absolutely has to, made some comments about doing courses to cover himself legally and made it clear that next time he’ll keep his mouth shut, not apologised for doing anything wrong.

    And as it says, he’ll still be teaching there. Teaching Torah. FGS.

  13. Ariane Schneider says:

    Oh, so he is removed from his administrative duties – but the duties where he gets to stand in front of a class room of children and teach Torah – those are ok???? Can they not see how hypocritical that stance is…. the man claimed ignorance as to what constitutes child abuse and then said we should be lenient on the perpetrators. He should not be ANYWHERE near children. He should resign and if he wont then he should be fired. Shame on him. Shame on Yeshiva Centre

    • Greg Fisher says:

      Hi Ari,
      Rabbi Yossi Feldman has only taught Yeshiva Gedolah bocharim for many years. He has not been employed as a teacher nor taught any classes in the school for many years. The school complies fully with the working with children legislation and has in place protocols and policies relating to child abuse and other related issues.
      Since Rabbi Doctor Dovid Slavin has been in charge of Yeshiva College Bondi Limited, the focus of management and teachers has been on stability for the school and in particular the children within it, whose care is of paramount importance and feelings at this difficult time the primary concern. The numbers in the school increased this year and the school opened with a far more positive atmosphere than in many past years – something very pleasing to see.
      Rabbi Yossi Feldman resigned his positions from the Centre and the Centre accepted his resignation.
      The comments made by Rabbi Y Feldman were his personal ones and not reflective of the school or any entity within the Centre.
      With respect, the Yeshiva Centre must remain very focused on the interests of the children and not allow them to feel any shame relating to comments made by Rabbi Feldman, who has taken the appropriate step of resigning.
      Greg Fisher
      GM Yeshiva

      • rachel yadin says:

        He did not resign from all his duties. He has not apologized in a meaningful way. He has conducted an interview on ABC AM show stating that this resignation was only for PR and that he intends to sue for def of character. (as apposed to a bet din?)
        I ask all who want the full scope to download the transcripts from the commission web site and to draw their own conclusions.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          do tell us what “meaningful way” means in your interpretation, but, more importantly, what he should apologise for !!!

  14. Michael Barnett says:

    A genuine apology would go along the lines of “I apologise for the hurt and suffering I caused, for the failure to execute my responsibilities professionally and for not having resigned sooner.”

  15. Michael Barnett says:

    “The Yeshiva Centre thanks Rabbi Yosef Feldman for his years of selfless dedication to the Centre.”

    More selfish than selfless. Seriously.

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