Rabbi resigns

December 6, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz, Rabbi of Melburne’s Chabad Malvern  has resigned his membership of the Orthodox Rabbinic bodies in Australia.

Child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks writes on his blog: “This follows the release last week of damning findings by the Royal Commission into the response of the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi, Sydney to child sexual abuse, which found its leadership responsible for the horrific treatment of victims/survivors and their families.

The Royal Commission found that the Yeshivah leadership ‘did not create an environment conducive to the communication of information about child sexual abuse. If anything, the mixed messages are likely to have produced inaction’.

Manny Waks

Manny Waks

The Royal Commission was damming of the Yeshivah Cente stating ‘there was an absence of supportive leadership for survivors of child sexual abuse and their families within Yeshivah Melbourne. Halachic [Jewish Law] principles were stridently – even if incorrectly applied. Criticism of those that spoke out was forceful’.

Rabbi Yurkowicz is the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner (Yeshivah founder and its long-time director), whom the Royal Commission found that his ‘response to reported incidents of child sexual abuse was wholly inadequate’.

Rabbi Yurkowicz was a Trustee of Yeshivah and a Member of its Committee of Management. He, along with his Yeshivah colleagues, has already been forced to resign from his position there as well.

Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz YouTube

Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz YouTube

We are grateful to the new, reinvigorated Australian Orthodox Rabbinate for recently calling on those Jewish leaders who failed to protect child abuse victims/survivors to stand down from their public positions. We wholeheartedly agree with their position that ‘some Rabbis have lost their right to serve our community’ and are pleased to see these important words turn into action.

On the first day of the Royal Commission’s public hearing last year, minutes of a meeting of the Yeshivah Committee of Management were produced (below) which seemed to show Rabbi Yurkowicz had responded to news that I was intending to sue Yeshivah for the abuse which I had suffered there, by suggesting the Committee obtain advice about recouping the subsidies which had been offered to my father so that my 16 siblings and I could attend the school.

A few days later, after hearing the evidence of a number of victims, Rabbi Yurkowicz posted on his Facebook page (below) about people twisting the truth and telling lies, which was understood by victims/survivors to be a reference to them and their testimonies at the Royal Commission.

To date, Rabbi Yurkowicz has failed to personally apologise for his conduct.

Despite being disgraced by the Royal Commission and rejected by his fellow rabbis, Rabbi Yurkowicz remains the Rabbi of Chabad Malvern, which is involved in religious activities as well as childcare services.

We feel that under the current circumstances his position there is untenable. We call on Rabbi Yurkowicz to publicly acknowledge his involvement in the Yeshivah child sexual abuse scandal and to unreservedly apologise for his behaviour. He should also undertake to educate himself further on the issue of child sexual abuse. Failing this, he should consider whether it is appropriate that he continue as Rabbi of Chabad Malvern and his community should consider whether he is fit to serve them in any capacity.

We commend the Rabbinic bodies for following up their recent public statement with swift and decisive action. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Rabbinic leadership to ensure justice and accountability for the past and the safety of our community into the future.

There is no suggestion that Rabbi Yurkowicz was personally involved in any of the abuse.

Rabbi Benjamin Elton, the secretary of the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand, told J-Wire: “We received a complaint last week and acted on it.  Rabbi Yurkowicz  tendered his resignation.”


3 Responses to “Rabbi resigns”
  1. ben gershon says:

    about time to drain the swamp


  2. Avigael Cassel says:

    At best a small move to try and save face via media. Its of little consequence when chabad still control all rabbinical councils. Until that changes – nothing of significance has changed, its business as usual.

  3. Bernie Zerman says:

    The author of this article is not identified.

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