"…I approached one of the most senior Chabad rabbis in Israel for help.…I told him…the fact that I knew of a rape victim in Israel. I pointed out to him that [the rapist] was convicted and jailed for [child sexual abuse] in two countries, and that it was almost inconceivable that he had not offended in Israel where he resided for a few years …The rabbi became very angry with me, saying he was not going to "bury" someone without having two (kosher) witnesses coming to testify in his Beth Din (religious court). I reiterated that Kramer was not an innocent person whose unblemished character he was coming to besmirch, but he was currently in jail etc. Still angry with me, he asked what I wanted from him. I said…all I asked was that he would speak to the [Chabad rabbinic] leaders [so] they [would] warn their congregants and encourage them to go to the police with any information, that he had the religious duty of "al ta'amod al dam re’acho...", not to stand idly by where others would be injured." He refused to so.
Zephania Waks, the father of the lead victim in the main Chabad child sexual abuse case in Melbourne, Australia, writes:
Last week, in Israel, I got a high-level toxic dose of reality. I can now share the story publicly because former Melbourne Yeshivah teacher and repeat convicted paedophile David Kramer's plans have changed: in court at his sentencing hearing in Melbourne a few months ago, for numerous child sexual abuse (CSA) charges committed against several children to which he pleaded guilty and is now sitting in jail, he announced that he would return to Israel upon release. Apparently now that is not the case – it seems that he will be returned to the US from where he was extradited, so this is what transpired in Israel last week:
Before coming to Australia around 20 years ago, apparently Kramer offended in the US. As far as I know, he was not apprehended, the matter was not reported, and Australia, where he came next, was not warned. He offended in Australia, with vastly more than the four victims for whom he was jailed (estimates range from 30 to over 80), and actually include rape (a rape victim many community members know is still too traumatised to press charges – it has also been alleged that his rabbi has prohibited him from reporting the rape to police). Yeshivah Centre Melbourne sent Kramer off to Israel, neglecting to notify authorities in Melbourne, forbidding others from going to the police themselves, and neglecting to notify anyone in Emanuel, Israel, where Kramer became a respected member of the local Chabad community, and was very active, among other things, with...youth. As he was a dual Israeli/US citizen, after several years in Israel, he returned to the US. Kramer was jailed for sodomy there, where Rabbi Ze'ev Smason, on the International Advisory Board of Tzedek, of which my son Manny is CEO, went against the normal and widely accepted trend and helped the victim and his family (as opposed to the actions of Yeshivah). Upon release on parole in the US, he was re-arrested and extradited to Australia, where he is currently in jail.
Since he had said in court that he wished to return to Israel, I took it upon myself to warn the leaders in Emanuel that he was coming (based on past experience, I didn't rely on others to do this). My reasons were two-fold: so the country could be warned that a monster was returning and hence protect themselves, and that past victims could be encouraged to go to the police, hence ensuring that Kramer would not be able to offend for quite a few more years. As is par for the course in many ultra-Orthodox communities all over the world, the leaders were having none of this: they became deaf-blind-mutes - nobody claimed to know anything regarding Kramer’s past. The father of an alleged rape victim claimed he didn't even know Kramer, falsely claiming that he had arrived in Emanuel only after Kramer had already left for the US.
So I approached one of the most senior Chabad rabbis in Israel for help. He is in fact one of the most senior and well-known rabbis in Israel in general. I told him the public facts above, as well as the fact that I knew of a rape victim in Israel. I pointed out to him that he was convicted and jailed for CSA in two countries, and that it was almost inconceivable that he had not offended in Israel where he resided for a few years between those two other countries. The rabbi became very angry with me, saying he was not going to "bury" someone without having two (kosher) witnesses coming to testify in his Beth Din (religious court). I reiterated that Kramer was not an innocent person whose unblemished character he was coming to besmirch, but he was currently in jail etc. Still angry with me, he asked what I wanted from him. I said that since nobody in Emanuel was taking it seriously, all I asked was that he would speak to the leaders there, that they should warn their congregants and encourage them to go to the police with any information, that he had the religious duty of "al ta'amod al dam re’acho...", not to stand idly by where others would be injured. He again fumed at me that he would do nothing without two (kosher) witnesses testifying before his Beth Din. He was explicit that the fact that Kramer had been convicted in two western democratic countries with well-functioning legal systems meant nothing to him, and that was the end of the conversation.
People that know me may think I spoke harshly or not clearly with the rabbi, but my wife was next to me and heard the entire conversation, and confirmed that I was calm but firm, and explained the matter very clearly. I was so stunned by the conversation that I rang Rabbi Yosef Blau in NY, and spoke to other rabbis and people active in confronting CSA in Israel, and the reaction of all of them was the same: no surprise, but some expressed disappointment that this particular senior rabbi went that far, since this would have been an easy case for him to be less demanding than usual, based on the background, and the fact that all that was being asked was warning about obvious danger, and a request for people to cooperate with the police.
Very depressing, and this story clearly demonstrates how dangerously CSA is still being mismanaged in many quarters within the ultra-orthodox world: any protestations to the contrary, this attitude and (in)action is the norm, where even a repeatedly convicted perpetrator's well-being trumps any consideration at all for past or possible future victims. The ultra-Orthodox world has a major problem, and I will be putting this very strongly to the Royal Commission when I appear before them next week. Just as Australia led the way in the past
"Women are also granted the right to stand for parliament, making South Australia the first in the world to do so", maybe "with a little help from our friends" (the Royal Commission) we will push this matter along also.
Enough is well and truly enough.