Manny Waks memoir launch

September 25, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Manny Waks, child sexual abuse survivor and campaigner for justice, will launch his memoir at a special ‘Shalom | Sydney Jewish Writers Festival’ event on 6 October at the Bondi Pavilion.

mayaThe book will be officially launched by George Newhouse, human rights lawyer and activist, after which Waks will be in conversation with co-author Michael Visontay. They will share the full story behind the media headlines: about a man who shattered a powerful code of silence, the vindication he finally earned, and the cost of following his conscience.

“Manny’s story is so important for our community to hear and heed,” festival director Michael Misrachi said, “although it may be confronting and controversial for some.”

Waks is well known as one of the catalysts for the sexual abuse scandal that erupted in the Ultra- Orthodox communities in Melbourne and Sydney in 2012. The scandal led to the arrest and jailing of several men for sexually assaulting boys during the 1980s and 1990s, the resignation of several senior Chabad rabbis, and helped paved the way for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The book title, Who Gave You Permission?, comes from a sermon by Rabbi Telsner, leader of the Yeshivah Centre, in which he castigated Waks’s father in synagogue after Waks went public with his accusations of sexual abuse and its cover-up within the centre.

Waks was raised in an Ultra-Orthodox family, the second oldest of 17 children, in Melbourne. As an adolescent, he was sexually abused at the Yeshiva Centre. Betrayed by those he trusted, Manny rebelled against his way of life, though he later went on to become a prominent leader in the community, including being Vice-President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Waks went public about his experiences in 2011, in an effort to bring justice to the abusers, and those who covered up their crimes. For his courage in speaking out, Waks and his family were intimidated and shunned by the community. Soon after, Waks established Tzedek, a support and advocacy group for Jewish victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

After being forced to leave Australia, Waks founded Kol v’Oz in 2016 to campaign against and prevent child sexual abuse in Jewish communities globally. He currently serves as its CEO, advocating for survivors and hold those in power to account.

Waks’ story was featured in the Walkley Award winning ABC documentary, Code of Silence, and its sequel, Breaking the Silence.

Who Gave You Permission is a searingly honest, no-holds-barred memoir about the battles Waks has fought and the extraordinary toll it has taken on his personal life and that of his loved ones.

It is also the raw self-portrait of a man on a mission, trying to live his life. Waks’ journey reminds us of the difference one person can make.

Tickets are available for purchase at

The book will be launched in Melbourne by David Marr on October 13 at the Reading Book Shop in Acland St, St Kilda.


7 Responses to “Manny Waks memoir launch”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Attending a COIN forum sometime ago where Manny gave his testimony I couldn’t help casting my mind back to the unhealthy alliances between the sex-abuse in the Catholic Church and years ealier high profile Jewish professionals unwittingly and in good faith coming to their aid.
    Especially one I unsuspectingly encouraged clients to assist their claims against the Franciscan Order who took advantage of him later suffering humilation before his peers.
    It’s all a dirty busines.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Lynne, your second phrase starting with ” Especially etc. …” does not make sense at all. Please explain (sic) !!!
      The 1st one is also unclear…what’s the connection between Manny, the Franciscans, the unwitting Jews- why being JEWISH professionals is relevant here – and, to cap it all……….all a dirty business, that implying the “unwitting Jews ” as well !!!

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Who or what forced him to leave Australia and, by the way, how come Manny, mature enough to become President of the ACT Jewish community and, implicitly, ECAJ Vice President, did not reveal all his trauma BEFORE occupying all those high communal posts !!!

    • Lynne Newington says:

      And I would’ve thought this valid comment warranted a reply; maybe you could state what you’re implying here just for clarity…….

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