Tzedek severs links with Sydney Yeshiva

March 14, 2013 by Judy Singer
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Tzedek, the advocacy group for victims of child sexual abuse, has formally severed its links with the Sydney Yeshiva Centre.

Manny Waks

Manny Waks

Earlier,  Tzedek president Manny Waks had released a statement citing witness reports that Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman,  wife of the spiritual leader of the centre, had  publicly attacked the Waks family as “mossurs” (police informants) against the community.

Waks sees this as evidence of the  “ongoing harassment and intimidation that  many victims and their families are subjected to”, and part of an underlying attitude amongst many in the ultra-Orthodox world which seeks to silence victims.

Rebbetzin Feldman has denied the claim. She told J-Wire: “I unequivocally stand by the Halachic rulings that reporting child sexual abuse and in fact any form of physical violence to the relevant government authorities is not Mesirah. I have personally reported such incidents to the police in the past and have encouraged others to do so”.

She rejects the claim that her comments were made publicly, saying “I do not intend to publicly explain details of a private conversation that may embarrass or cause pain to certain individuals, including some who may have tragically been the victims of child abuse.”

Rebbetzin Feldman further rebuked Manny Waks, adding:  “Many in the community, including mental health professionals, firmly believe that constant leaking to the media in the midst of a sensitive police investigation only hinders the ability of victims to come forward with their deep personal pain for fear of publicity”.

Calling the Rebbetzin’s statement “outrageous” and “offensive”, and rejecting the notion that publicity is a hindrance, Manny Waks said Tzedek had made the decision to sever ties with the Sydney Yeshiva Centre and its representatives until a full retraction and public apology was  issued by Rebbetzin Feldman.

A spokesperson for the Yeshiva has declined to comment further to prevent what could become an endless “table-tennis match”,  saying that Rebbetzin Feldman has made her position clear in her initial public statement.

J-Wire contacted NSW Police for a comment. The officer concerned has not returned our calls.



22 Responses to “Tzedek severs links with Sydney Yeshiva”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    I am sorry I’ve come to this article and these postings so late, as I would have liked to support Dovid Cohen in what he has had to say much earlier.
    Those who accuse others of ‘community grandstanding’ and ‘self promotion’ should do so carefully, after examining themselves. I doubt there would be too many courageous enough to ‘community grandstand’ about the subject matter we’re discussing here! Also, one needs to be self-aware as to being judge and adjudicator on people with whom they have no intimate contact. Who cares how many people one might know in the ‘Jewish community’? The fact is nobody knows what goes on behind the closed doors of a Yeshiva or the closed doors of family homes (even the family homes of one’s sons or daughters).
    I am disgusted with the sneering, malicious tonality of some posts in regard to Manny Waks, as well as the offensive tonality of the posts directed at Dovid Cohen; it diminishes the J-Wire site.
    People have the option of choosing to acknowledge abuse against Jewish children and offer support to victims in an effort to protect future children from abuse, or they can continue on, putting their heads in the sand and maintaining the idea of a perfect world existing in anything administered by the ultra-orthodox and live in denial about the realities some have to bear in the Jewish communities.
    Australia is no different to anywhere else in the world insofar as bad human behaviour is concerned, so let’s no go down that track. (Or, on the other hand, if you would like some information on that that I happen to be privy to: a Danish friend of mine who was resident psychiatrist at the Bendigo Hospital for a few years was wondering at the high incidence of child sexual abuse that came to the fore during his time there, in comparison with his home country – just one little piece of statistical information, I know …)
    Try working with abused people before so sanctimoniously dismissing them and concentrating instead on some other barrow you’re interested in pushing in regard to them. And if you can’t do that, use your imagination as to what you might feel and think if you suddenly found out your own son or daughter was sexually abused as a child. And if you can’t do that … I’m out of suggestions, as it would be a lost cause due to your incapacity for empathy.
    If you really abhor ‘vile filthy paedophiles’ (which is a very strong statement), why don’t you concentrate on the sexual abuse perpetrated instead of playing community politics.

  2. Dovid Cohen says:

    To clarify I work with abuse victims in the Jewish and other communities both women , men and children and just knowing Jews Otto does not mean you know they are or are not being abused.

    I’m not Australian and would love your community to stop sending their child rapists here.

    Victims are brilliant at hiding their torture especially from judgmental , victim blaming people. This might be why you’ve never met a victim.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      To clarify, Dovid, all I asked is to clarify something that you give in absolute terms, figures. All other matters you use as “reply” are known and not denied. Numbers, however, must have real backing. Where is yours !!??? Also we are talking here about Australia. If your expertise does not relate to Australia, then your original posting is deceiving and cannot not be acceptable support for Tzedek.

  3. Dovid Cohen says:

    Fair enough. CASA website search child abuse statistics

    What’s scary is that these apply to all communities. We are not special and exempt from such atrocities. We are just as special in the way we cover it up

  4. Dovid Cohen says:

    Lastly as you would know 1 in three girls and 1 in 6 boys are molested and that means all people here know people who have been abused.

    With attitudes such as the above it’s no wonder they’d go to Tzedek before yourselves their “friends”

    Would you advise them to move on, get over it and sprout all manner of ” it wasn’t the law then” excuses to cover the enabler?

    What if it was your child or grandchild.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Hey Dovid groisse Moishe, where on earth did you get the figures that ONE inTHREE girls and ONE in SIX boys are molested, as we are talking here about the JEWISH community !!!
      I do NOT know any such case and I DO know hundreds of Jewish families in Sydney.

      As you associate Tzedek with your statement you are implying that the obscene numbers posted by you are relevant to the JEWISH community.


  5. Dovid Cohen says:

    Kush do you mean that persecution of Nazi criminals years later should not have happened?

    When is it ok that the rape of child is no longer worth prosecuting over.

    Should someone who allowed this by saying nothing be allowed protection when they afforded a child and countless others that followed none of the same protection?

    Or is this only because it’s Manny Wax?

    In which case we are back in the schoolyard

  6. Shirlee says:

    A comment of mine appears to have gone missing, so this may well be a double-up. If it is I apologise.

    It appears that at least one person has migrated here from another site which is running the same topic. Due to attacks, for no reason other than to insult people, again for no reason, the moderators have put a strict censor on what is posted.

    I hope that is not a repeat performance here. We don’t behave like that on this site. The other is appalling, I for one expect higher standards from us.

  7. Sal says:

    Excellent point David! Commentators such as otto and shirle will now start back peddling.

  8. Reuvain says:

    Manny Waks was a victim. Sadly in his quest to rectify wrongs of decades ago he strikes out against those who are attempting to act with responsibility today. I am sure Rebbitzen Feldman was shocked to read in the secular press about an alleged conversation that her husband had with an anynomous person 25 years ago. Chances are that Waks fed that story to The Age. Who remembers conversations of five years ago, much less a conversation with someone who is anonymous a quarter of a century ago

    This kind of witch hunt has gone to far. The rabbis in the Yeshiva are firmly committed to reprting to the police, they have met with the police on their initiative. We’re mistakes made decades ago, possibly. But people then were operating based on what the knew then. Understanding of the danger of abuse has evolved. Mandatory reporting became law just over a decade ago.

    Waks is attacking people today fr mistakes of the past based on today’s morality and understanding of the issue.

    • kush says:

      to add to that:

      Manny makes it appear as if the institutions attitude today is exactly as it had been 30-60 years ago. (if his submission to the royal commission he digs up a case from the late 50’s)

      There is a VERY big difference between protecting children at the present and attempting revenge and restitution for crimes of long ago.

      I would question whether the latter is indeed included in the heter of rabbonim to report to police, as this is nothing to do with protecting children, rather about justice of the past. (as manny has made VERY clear). As such the “alleged” comments of Rebbetzin Feldman would indeed have some merit.

  9. Dovid Cohen says:

    Has anyone here worked with the abused? If not for promoting the organizations and the people helping them how would you suggest victims too afraid to speak because of people like Shirlee get help?

    Beyond blue and the like promote vigorously together with Jeff Kennet who weekly uses his “self promotion” to encourage those with mental illness to seek help. Jeff Kennet has always been this way yet has produced results. According to Shirlee he should also be slammed together with beyond blue.

    Shame on you

    • Shirlee says:

      What on earth are you talking about Dovid.? You have a warped mind if you are reading into any comments what you are saying.

      Neither I, nor anyone else is suggesting in any way shape or form that an organisation shouldn’t be promoted.. I suggest you learn to read Pal.

      No one is belittling the abuse of children either physically or sexually.

      NO ONE is trying to discredit a young boy who was raped.

      Where are you coming from for G-d’s sake man? READ

      There’s a huge difference between Jeff Kennet and Manny Waks. Both do good work, no doubt there, that isn’t the issue. Give it up. Any number of people agree with me. I can post them, but there is no point

  10. Dovid Cohen says:

    Something concerns me here and that’s the
    people who are desperate to discredit a young boy who was raped. Why? Have they something to hide?

    Congratulations to Manny as well as the people ( and there are many) who work with him in their work to ensure people who believe in the rape and sodomy of boys and girls pay the price.

    Unless the above have ever been assaulted or known or worked with those who have , perhaps they should , rather than attack, visit some children who have and them decide whether hiding it is a useful solution.

    Having done just that I can only be disgusted at those of you trying so hard to promote the abuse of children because you are annoyed someone got more airtime than you would like

    • Shirlee says:

      Dovid, get over it. You should be ashamed of yourself for the comment you have just made above.

      YOU OWE everyone an apology

      NO ONE is promoting the abuse, sexual or otherwise of children. Everyone, except those vile filthy paedophiles abhor it.

      Why I have to justify this to you is beyond me. I was of this opinion of Manny Waks BEFORE he started this admirable crusade.

  11. Jeff says:

    Manny Waks has been extremely courageous in his campaign. His public statements have been balanced and considered. He is confronting a culture that has, on occasions, sort to avoid negative publicity at all costs rather than report perpetrators. The focus should be on children – not spin. The very personal comments above reflect poorly on the contributors.

    • Shirlee says:

      No one is saying that Manny Waks isn’t doing a good job.

      He is also what is called in the Community as a ‘self promoter and Community Grandstander.’

      I had reason to come to that decision before he started with his current course of action.

  12. Dave says:

    1)Numerous witnesses to the incident so no question it happened.

    2)Tzedek and Sydney Yeshivah had no ties to sever.

  13. Otto Waldmann says:

    Shirle you are right again, but let me tell you that I believe Manny Waks takes notice of ANYTHING that is said about him and loves public attention so much that adverse opinions mean as much to him as the supportive ones !!!

  14. Arthur says:

    Tzedek is Manny and Manny is Tzedek.
    Manny is SICK for publicity and by his behaviour is destroying any good that his campaign against abusers could achieve.

    • Shirlee says:

      I wonder is Manny is taking any notice of what is said here or Galus Australis?

  15. Shirlee says:

    This is an on going case of ‘community grandstanding’ and ‘self promotion’ by Manny Waks.

    From what I have read here
    Penina Feldman is not guilty and her good name is being tarnished.

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