Departing student was related by marriage

February 6, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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The Rabbinical Administrator of Yeshiva Gedolah,Bondi,  Rabbi Yosef Feldman, present at a July 2002 meeting with  name protected AVL and his father, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, admitted that AVL, a student at the Yeshiva accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour, was a relative by marriage.

abbi Yossef Feldman

Rabbi Yosef Feldman

Yeshiva Gedolah is a tertiary education centre for young men training to become rabbis. AVL returned home to New York very soon after his meeting with the two rabbis.

At the meeting, AVL was told he would not be ordained. When AVL asked what would happen if he left Australia, Rabbi Pinchus told him words to the effect that it was not their decision what AVL wanted to do with his life. However if AVL left Australia, he would not be ordained.

During a separate conversation to the meeting, AVL told Rabbi Yosef that he lay down with the child and had just been massaging him.  Rabbi Yosef didn’t think in legal terms about what might be a crime and should be reported to police.

“From a Jewish law perspective, this was highly improper” said Rabbi Yosef.

However, he didn’t see the lying down and massaging a child as necessarily being sexual.

Questioned repeatedly as to whether this action counted as child sexual abuse, Rabbi Yosef said he did not know that at the time.

He considered AVL’s actions “highly inappropriate”  and admitted that he did not take notes at the meeting as this was not his style and that he relied on his memory.

Rabbi Yosef was questioned about being a director of the Yeshiva school and whether he had been aware of his responsibilities as a director. Despite being a director of a school, he has not had any secular or formal training in responding to allegations, or noticing conduct that would amount to, child sexual abuse.  Since 2012 he has read a bit about it or but has yet to take a formal course.

He said he is very busy. What he knows about child sexual abuse is “common sense” and he had relied on his father to tell him what his duties were as a director

He understands that both legally and from a Jewish perspective, child sexual abuse is considered very serious.  He knows it is against the law for an adult to touch the genitals of a child.

Questioning Rabbi Yosef, Maria Gerace asked him  if he thought he was fit (in 2002) to hold positions as a director of institutions involving children when he had some doubt as to what his reporting obligations were regarding  child sexual abuse.

He said that he did not believe child sexual abuse was very common, even now.  She asked him on what he based “uncommon”. He replied that it “was not regular”.

He was asked him he thought he was fit to hold positions as director. Maria Gerace told him that he was unfit to be a director in 2002 if he did not know what his obligations were.

Rabbi Yosef is not aware if rabbinical students who are working with boys preparing for their bar mitzvah have had child abuse training. Students are given a handbook which deals with appropriate behaviour.

“I assume the right thing is being done” he said.


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