Rabbinical Council of Victoria reaffirms its stance on sexual abuse

February 15, 2013 by  
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The Rabbinical Council of Victoria has issued a statement outlining its position towards sexual abuse within the community…welcomed by Manny Waks, the founder of sexual abuse advocacy organisation Tzedek.

110627 - RCV Media Release - Victorian Rabbinate Rejects Calls to Ban ShechitahBeing conscious of the fact that there are members of our community who claim to have been subjected to inappropriate sexual behaviour by trusted officials within the community, the RCV wishes to reaffirm its strong position in relation to the matter of sexual abuse.

The RCV policy in relation to the issue of sexual abuse is as follows:

Whereas we have become increasingly aware of incidents of the sexual and physical abuse of children in our community; and

Whereas the lives and futures of many of these victims and their families are harmed in significant ways: suicide, post traumatic stress syndrome, inability to form healthy relationships, inability to develop healthy intimate relationships, etc.; and

Whereas many victims of abuse in our community still remain silent and do not come forward to accuse perpetrators or seek help for fear of stigma, personal and familial consequences, or perceived halachic concerns; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Council of Victoria condemns abuse and proclaims its censure of abusers, and affirms that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse and in fact, it is halachically obligatory to make such reports; and

Whereas reiterating this long held position can serve to provide pastoral and halachic leadership, support, direction and affirmation to abuse survivors and their families and advocates.

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria resolves that:
• It affirms its unqualified condemnation of all forms of child abuse.

• It affirms its halachic position that the prohibitions of mesirah (reporting crimes to the civil authorities) and arka’ot (adjudication in civil courts) do not apply in cases of abuse.

• It will regularly issue on its website and to the media appropriate statements of condemnation when public attention is drawn to a case in which Jews are either victims or perpetrators of abuse.

• It will regularly evaluate the competence of its members in understanding and responding to issues of child abuse and initiate training and continuing educational opportunities for all of its members in this area.

• The members of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria address the issue of child abuse in their communities in at least one sermon per year, and that it be encouraged that contact information for local abuse services be displayed in a public place in all synagogues and Jewish community institutions serviced by its members.


RCV President, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant said “It is essential that when abuse has occurred the police must be informed without delay”.

At a Special General Meeting of the Association held on 13 February 2013, the RCV reaffirmed its commitment to addressing the issue of sexual abuse within the Jewish community.

President: Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant

Vice President: Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick

Secretary: Rabbi James Kennard

Members of the RCV

Rabbi Yakov Barber

Rabbi Shamir Caplan

Rabbi Shimon Cowen

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman

Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum

Rabbi Dovid Gutnick

Rabbi Zalman Gutnick

Rabbi Avraham Jacks

Rabbi James Kennard

Rabbi M Krasnjansky

Rabbi Daniel Rabin

Rabbi Dovid Rubinfeld

Rabbi Boruch Shapiro

Rabbi Menachem Stern

Rabbi Zvi Telsner

Rabbi Aryeh Berlin

Rabbi Reuvi Cooper

Rabbi Yirmy Garfunkel

Rabbi Ian Goodhardt

Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner

Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick

Rabbi Ben Hassan

Rabbi Moshe Kahn

Rabbi A.Y. Kievman

Rabbi Faitel Levin

Rabbi Mendel Raskin

Rabbi Shlomo Sabbah

Rabbi Yakov Sprung

Rabbi Michoel Stern

Rabbi Levi Tenenbaum

Rabbi Stephen Boroda

Rabbi Chaim Cowen

Rabbi Ralph Genende

Rabbi Elozor Gorelik

Rabbi Mendel Groner

Rabbi Joseph Gutnick

Rabbi Phillip Heilbrunn

Rabbi Shmuel Karnowsky

Rabbi M.S Kluwgant

Rabbi Motty Liberow

Rabbi Yitzchok Reisenberg

Rabbi Andrew Saffer

Rabbi Yisroel Sufrin

Rabbi Mordechai Szmerling

Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz

Manny Waks said: ““I welcome the RCV statement noting the numerous allegations of child sexual abuse against some trusted officials within our community, and highlighting the fact that police must be informed immediately when abuse has occurred. It is noteworthy that all the RCV member rabbis have signed this statement.

It is important to highlight that Tzedek has been working closely with the RCV and in fact, their statement today is a result of recent information provided by Tzedek regarding child sexual abuse allegations against a leading Melbourne rabbi several decades ago. This information was provided to Tzedek by two independent and credible sources. The police are aware of these allegations.

It is my sincere hope that all congregational rabbis urge their community to share with the police any knowledge that they have about incidents of child sexual abuse – whether they themselves were a victim or whether they have any relevant information about others. Importantly, it makes no difference who the alleged perpetrator might be – whether it’s the rabbi, the bar-mitzvah teacher, the youth leader or the caretaker. Similarly, from the victim’s perspective, it is somewhat irrelevant when the abuse occurred. So it’s essential that anyone with any information contact the police so that justice may be obtained for past actions, which will also ensure the safety of our children or, at the very least, victims can have their allegations acknowledged. This is a fundamental step in the healing process for victims.

Of course, it is essential that no victim/survivor is placed under pressure to make a police statement – they just need to be made aware that they have our complete and unequivocal support, both now and for when they are ready to do so.

In the Australian context, the following is the police contact details for people with information on matters relating to Melbourne and Sydney:

Melbourne: Moorabbin Sexual Offences & Child Abuse Investigation Team – (03) 9556 6128
Sydney: Detective Michael Morrall – (02) 9365 9654 / morr3mic@police.nsw.gov.au

Of course people can feel free to contact me at info@tzedek.org.au for confidential support, advice and assistance.

We must maintain this ongoing public campaign to address this crisis plaguing our community – the wall of silence must be shattered permanently. This can be best achieved through the support and involvement of the entire community.”


One Response to “Rabbinical Council of Victoria reaffirms its stance on sexual abuse”
  1. Roy says:

    Your own article, “Rabbinical Council of Victoria
    reaffirms its stance on sexual abuse” was indeed definitely worth writing a comment on!
    Merely wanted to say you really did a tremendous work.
    Many thanks -Mikki

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