Tzedek makes up with Rabbi Friedman

February 6, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Advocacy group Tzedek has withdrawn its application to bring Rabbi Manis Friedman to task for trivialising incidents of sexual abuse experienced by children.

From a nasty beginning comes a calm end with the adversaries now working together to ease the pain of those who had been the victims of sexual abuse.

Tzedek founder, Melbourne-based Manny Waks was prepared to bring Minnesota-based Rabbi Manis Friedman to task for statements he had made such as comparing sexual abuse to diarroea.

Waks issued the following statement today…
“Earlier today I welcomed the opportunity to discuss with Rabbi Friedman his deeply offensive remarks. I commenced the phone conversation by sharing with Rabbi Friedman my personal story—that I was sexually abused over a period of several years by two paedophiles within the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, more specifically the Yeshivah community, in Melbourne. I also informed him of the ongoing cover-ups within Yeshivah, and the intimidation and harassment that me, my family and some of our supporters have been subjected to.

I explained to Rabbi Friedman the deep hurt many have felt by his remarks and the damage that it has caused. I also noted that we have turned this negative incident into a positive one, especially in the area of community awareness on the issue of child sexual abuse. In particular, one of the most positive developments has been that a number of new victims have come forward over the past week as a direct result of the publicity. One of these victims has already made a police statement.

I made it clear to Rabbi Friedman that I represent many other victims, their families and many within the community, and that my views should be seen in that context.

In response, Rabbi Friedman acknowledged the great work that is currently being undertaken in this area within the ultra-Orthodox community globally. He also congratulated us on some of our achievements (e.g. the fact that there are now three major court-cases within the Jewish community in Melbourne).

Rabbi Friedman also referred to his apology and reiterated some of its content. He was also committed to continue to address the issue of child sexual abuse. Due to the individual needs of the victims, Rabbi Friedman is reluctant to deal with this issue in a public forum but rather to address it privately with victims themselves. He rightly noted that there could not be a “one size fits all” approach to this and he therefore prefers to deal with this complex and sensitive issue privately.

Rabbi Friedman has agreed for me to provide his personal email address to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community. He will happily respond to their emails.

As a result of today’s development, Tzedek would like to advise that it is withdrawing its application for legal action through the Battei Din of Sydney and Crown Heights.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their ongoing support—especially those who publicly supported Tzedek on this issue. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the three leading Orthodox rabbis within Australia, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant and Rabbi Yoram Ulman for issuing their strong public statement. It is essential that each and every one of us stands up in the face of injustice and ignorance. I am delighted with the positive response by so many within our community.

We look forward to continue to advocate for victims of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community. ”


2 Responses to “Tzedek makes up with Rabbi Friedman”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    A pretty well deviced stunt, all that palaver about a Beit Din “case” and how an Australian, noch, offended party was discharging justice in the (Jewish) World. But all has been resolved due to the infinite generosity of the President of Tzedek, let’s call him Manny the Magnanimous !!

    Don’t get me wrong, that Rabbi Friedman was incredibly obscene and offensive and klal Israel said so !!

  2. Barry says:

    How can (halachik) legal action be taken in two jurisdictions?As far as I am aware, the defendant has the choice of juresdiction, in one Beth Din. How can one case be presided by two authorities?

    Next query, how does Tzedek quantify damages?

    Thirdly, is that a class action or individual?

    Whilst it all sounds very nice I would be most surprised if in halacha this course could be sustained.

    Reading between the lines of what’s been written, it would appear the rabbi wished to avoid damaging ensuing negative publicity by contacting Tzedek and apologising, Good PR by Tzedek but a farce as far as threatening legal action as was reported in the papers. That, in halacha would have been a no brainer. I may be wrong, but I would be most interested to have a knowledgeable rabbinical authority to spell out the process should Tzedek have continued down it’s path had the rabbi been recalcitrant. My question is theoretical as the matter has now been amicably resolved.

    As a result of today’s development, Tzedek would like to advise that it is withdrawing its application for legal action through the Battei Din of Sydney and Crown Heights.

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