Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse :

February 13, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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Rabbi Yaakov Glasman, president of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria between 2009 and 2012 when the RCV was seeking to shape community responses to the issue of child sexual abuse.

Rabbi Yakov Glasman

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman

Rabbi Glasman agreed with Counsel assisting Commission Maria Gerace’s statement was that he understood that there might be “conflicting community attitudes to coming forward, to report  abuse or to deal with the authorities”.

When asked if he was aware of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities when educating in the area of child abuse or domestic abuse, Rabbi Glasman said their training was more in line with the teaching of jewish ethics but that he would pass on information of the Charter to the current president.

Rabbi Glasman told the Commission that he had children currently attending the Yeshiva Beth Rivkah College. He was asked if he had any concerns about the current policies or procedures in relation to Yeshivah Beth Rivkah College “would you allow your children to attend?” Rabbi Glasman responded:  “Quite the contrary. If I had concerns my kids wouldn’t be there now.”

Rabbi Yakov Glasman responding to Tom Danos that he had been advised that his appearance at the Commission was not necessary but he had volunteered to do so.

He said that he, many of his colleagues and many within the Jewish community, had been following the Commission for two weeks and “it would be an understatement to say that we are deeply disturbed by some of the comments that have been made by rabbis sitting in this very box”.

Rabbi Glasman added that “there can be no words that could in any way seek to mitigate or to reverse to the damage that they’ve caused…statements and comments which I and I know the overwhelming majority of the Rabbinate distanced themselves from emphatically, which the The Executive Council of Australian Jewry has distanced itself from emphatically and the concern that I had which prompted me to voluntarily appear here even after I was relieved from that particular duty”.

Counsel assisting the Commission Maria Gerace

Counsel assisting the Commission Maria Gerace

He went on to say: “It would  a great shame for the Commission’s enquiries in general, for the Jewish community particularly as it has been followed so closely in the media and in social media  for a perception to arise as a result of this Enquiry that all rabbis have the views that were expressed by individual rabbis here in this box.”

He said he “wanted publicly and clearly repudiate those views and to talk about the good work the rabbis had done in this community”, adding “the rabbis of the Melbourne Jewish community took the matter of child sexual abuse extremely seriously months before we knew that this stuff was going to come out”.

Responding to a question from a Commissioner that given the training across the spectrum if  there would be consistent view and approach Rabbi Glasman replied: ” I believe that the overwhelming majority of rabbis would have a consistent understanding but regretfully I would concede that there are be members of the ultra-orthodox community, What you might consider ultra-orthodox I consider ultra-ultra orthodox who don’t quite get it who perhaps are living in a previous generation in terms of their mindset  and might be extraordinary insular and might not access even the internet and might simply be ill-equipped to respond. However they would fringe and the overwhelming majority of rabbis do get it and I know that Rabbis last week  across the pulpits in Melbourne were talking about this issue well before 2011. My views are shared by many of the other rabbis.”

The Rabbinical Council of Victoria continues to run training programs in dealing with issues concerning child sexual abuse and encourages victims to come forward.

He agreed with Ms Gerace’s statement: “Do you believe that all of that process of openness, transparency, encouraging victims to come forward, perpetrators being found, perpetrators being convicted would you agree that also serves to shift the shame from the victim and their families to where it truly belongs …the perpetrators?”

Rabbi Glasman said research he understood him that  “children by definition assume that adults are infallible. They assume therefore that adults are impervious to doing wrong  and when they experience something negative, or uncomfortable with an adult they know instinctively that there’s something wrong here, something’s been violated. Because they are children who automatically assume that the adult can’t have done something wrong they automatically assign guilt  and shame  that becomes seared in their memories at a very young age and cripples their ability to develop self-esteem self-confidence   and has a myriad   of terrible impacts on their lives.  That’s why there exists shame and stigma even into adulthood.”






2 Responses to “Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse :”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Compare Rabbi Yaakov Glasman to Rabbi Telsner and you see a man who understands very well the psychology of a child insofar as how that child processes wrong-doing done to him or her by an adult, and the ensuing guilt and trauma. Who also understands the necessity for ongoing training programmes to assist in encouraging people to come forward with any issues in relation to abuse. And who recognises the insularity, and dangers associated with that, in some ultra-orthodox establishments, or, as he said, ultra ultra orthodox. The distinction must be made, Otto, because it’s the reality – there are gradations of orthodoxy. And the establishment is not going to be able to function indefinitely under its present system of operation. Same goes for Israel, too. There are some huge problems in Israel with this issue, affecting all kinds of societal behaviour, seeking to make outcasts Jews not of a ‘higher’ religiosity. It intrudes on public transport, funerals, marriage, public places, advertising on shop windows, walking in the street … Slowly, slowly people are fighting back, but it involves taking these issues to court. Even some councils have been intimidated by ultra orthodoxy to the detriment of the town or regional area they represent.

    If by fundamentals you mean refusal to add knowledge and training to better equip Rabbis to serve their communities, we might as well return to biblical times with death by stoning and sacrifice of animals. Do you yourself live a life so fully ‘fundamental’? With the knowledge you are acquainted with and the things you appear to enjoy, I wouldn’t have thought so.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    Compare this bloke to Rabbi Talsner and what do you see; a younger, more institutional ambitious chap anxious not to lose the grip on the upwards rungs… also known as “politically correct”, bugger fundamentals.

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