Four members of Melbourne, Australia's Chabad’s Yeshivah Centre’s committee of management (COM) have just resigned under pressure as Chabad's out of control child sex abuse scandal continues to take its toll on the men and women who enabled it.
Four More Members Of Chabad’s Melbourne Leadership Resign Under Pressure
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Four members of Melbourne Chabad’s Yeshivah Centre’s committee of management (COM) have resigned under pressure, the Australian Jewish News reported.
Yeshivah Centre made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Former COM chairman Don Wolf, Chaim New, Jeremy "Yirmiyahu" “Yirmi” Loebenstein and Sue Susskind resigned effective immediately. Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowitz will “transition off the committee in the near future to take care of his community.”
The resignations came one month after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began to hear testimony about child sex abuse at Chabad institutions in the country. The Royal Commission heard that students and parents complained about child sex abuse to Yeshivah Centre authorities who failed to take action to protect children or call police.
Instead, Yeshivah Centre rabbis and officials worked to silence victims and their families and protect child sex abusers, including convicted child rapist Samuel David Cyprys and Rabbi David Kramer.
Former principle of Chabad’s Yeshivah College located at Yeshivah Centre, Rabbi Avrohom Glick, resigned from from his teaching position at the Yeshivah Centre last month after his embarrassing testimony drew wide approbation. Glick tried to maintain his role as head of Chabad’s over-arching Va’ad HaRuchni, the spiritual advisory committee put in place by Chabad’s late local leader Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner to run Chabad shortly before his death. Groner has been implicated in many of the child sex abuse coverups at Yeshivah Centre. Glick later resigned from his Va’ad HaRuchni role. But many observers believe the Va’ad HaRuchni will continue to function with the same members, including the purportedly resigned Glick, and as it did before, but will lurk in the shadows for some time in an attempt to avoid further controversy.
“We (the COM) regret that we find ourselves in a position where the good name of the Centre is under threat and confidence has been diminished. We wish it were otherwise. We want to reassure everyone that we are committed to making the Centre and our school better, stronger, and more transparent,” the COM said in a letter to the Chabad Yeshivah Centre community. “As we focus on the ongoing operational performance of the school, we are committed to the initiatives above and will communicate regularly on progress. Together these actions provide the basis for continued success.”
Yeshivah Centre says it will establish an independent committee to develop and implement a scheme to respond to the needs of victims of abuse in the coming weeks.
But an email chain posted by FailedMessiah.com shows that when Yeshivah Centre was presented with a plea about a victim in need of immediate help, 12 days passed before the COM even bothered to respond and that response offered no assistance – again calling into question the sincerity of Yeshivah Centre’s desire to change for the better.
Yeshivah Centre also says it will consult with parents and others in the community about the operation and performance of the school, and will also start an independent review of the governance arrangements of Yeshivah Centre and of the transparency of the COM.
Merv Adler, Michael Goldhirsch, Chaim Raitman, Shlomo Werdiger and Rabbi Yurkowitz remain on the COM.
No new chairman has reportedly been selected to replace Wolf – whose testimony at the Royal Commission also drew wide approbation.
A victim of Cyprys who testified at the Royal Commission, identified only as "AVB," called for the entire COM to resign.
“All remaining members of the committee of management must now also resign from their roles to allow the healing to begin and for the community to undertake the soul-searching which is yet to but needs to happen. The trustees of the Yeshivah Centre who appointed and were ultimately responsible for the committee of management throughout the period must also resign,” AVB reportedly said.
There is widespread distrust and displeasure with Chabad leadership in the wider Melbourne community and in Chabad’s local community, as well, with many members arguing that the men and women who turned blind eyes to abuse, or helped protect child rapists and abusers or harassed victims and their families (or did all of those things)must be permanently removed from any position of authority or leadership in the wider Jewish community and in Chabad.
Chabad Yeshivah Centre Melbourne Trustees and Management Committee Members:
Board of Trustees
Mr Binyomin Althaus
Mrs Nechama Bendet
Rabbi Binyomin Cohen
Mr Harry Cooper
Mr Michael Goldhirsch
Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner
Mr Samuel Gurewicz
Rabbi Shimshon Jurkowicz
Rabbi Sholom Mendel Kluwgant
Mr Jeremy Lobenstein
Mr Chaim New
Mr Max New
Rabbi Laibel Raskin
Committee of Management
Mr. Don Wolf
Mr Merv Adler
Mr Michael Goldhirsch
Mr Jeremy Loebenstein
Mr Chaim New
Mr Chaim Raitman
Mrs Sue Susskind
Mr Shlomo Werdiger