Above: Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klugwant
The Herald Sun has a brief article on Chabad's Rabbi Meir Shlomo Klugwant's election has head of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australia, the Orthodox rabbinic organization that has been dominated by Chabad for years.
Having a Chabad rabbi head the group is not new, and the group's decades' long failure to properly deal with child sex abuse is not being rectified because a Chabad rabbi will now lead it.
Also, the idea that whoever heads the rabbi's group is "the defacto leader of the Jewish community" is false.
Even so, the Herald Sun makes that claim and in an article that reads more like a press release than a news report. Chabad is never mentioned in the article and the child sex abuse happens at "Yeshiva College" – which happens to be Chabad's flagship institution, although you'd never know that by the Herald Sun's reporting today.
I don't mean this to attack Klugwant. For all I know, he might end up doing a good job. But "de facto leader of the Jewish community" is a position that does not come with his new title and likely never will, and the mess he reportedly wants to clean up was largely made by his own group, Chabad – which Klugwant does not head and is answerable to, facts the Herald Sun fails to report:
Melbourne’s longtime Jewish leader Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant will today be elevated to the role of president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australia at its conference in Caulfield — making him the defacto leader of the Jewish community.
This will be the first time in six years a Victorian has held the position.
Rabbi Kluwgant said modernising the faith’s awareness around the dangers of sexual abuse and family violence were his top priorities.
This comes after a damaging police investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual abuse at [Chabad's] Yeshiva College.
Numerous former college employees have been jailed for the abuse of dozens of students over several decades — but victims have accused the Executive Council of Australian Jewry of doing everything it could to downplay the scandal and abuse.
Rabbi Kluwgant admits the failure to report abuse in the past was a mistake and the Rabbinical Council is expected to back his calls for mandatory reporting of any crimes against children or in household to the police.
The rabbis are also preparing to unveil a policy that would establish individual child protection policies for every synagogue.