Manny Waks, the lead victim in the Chabad child sex abuse scandal in Melbourne, Australia, writes:
The following letter was sent by a Yeshivah Centre Melbourne victim/survivor of child sexual abuse to a member of the current (interim) Committee of Management. It is being reproduced here with the express permission of the victim/survivor.Dear [REDACTED],This letter further highlights what many of us already know: Rabbi Telsner must go
I hope you are well.
It is important that I relate to you the following ‘conversation’ that transpired between Rabbi Telsner and myself yesterday.
After raising an important issue with Rabbi Telsner relating to positions of authority within the Yeshivah institution, I was shocked by his inappropriate and disgraceful response.
In addition to the fact that he did not attempt to understand or address the particular issue I raised (merely referring to it as an accusation from me alone, despite several complaints of similar nature by other individuals and victims), he proceeded to attack, in his words: “Individuals that are wanting to destroy the mosed [institution]”.
Rabbi Telsner referred to Manny Waks and particularly his father as a ‘Meshugane’ [crazy].
Rabbi Telsner referred to [REDACTED – another Yeshivah victim/survivor] as a problem – that he is intent on destroying the Yeshivah. He referred to the fact that [REDACTED – the same victim/survivor] wrote a “defamatory” article about him as recently as last week in the [REDACTED], “for no reason”.
He also stated that the individuals who reported M.S Kluwgant’s recent re-employment by the YBRLC [Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Ladies Colleges] to the media as “Mesira” [informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities].
He continued to fume on and accuse individuals of falsely reporting to the ATO [Australian Taxation Office] about the Yeshivah.
After calmly responding with my views to the Rabbi’s outrageous statements, he told me to “get out”.
As a former victim of SA [sexual abuse] within the historical ‘corporate culture of abuse’ at Yeshivah and in light of the recent RC [Royal Commission] and current review of the institution, it is shocking and hurtful to me that the Head Rabbi maintains and expresses the insulting and unjust views he expressed to me yesterday.
As the Head Rabbi, he is clearly bringing the institution into further disrepute and at this point, in light of his untenable and offensive statements yesterday and his proven lack of commendable leadership in the past in issues relating to SA, the appropriate response is that he be immediately stood down.
I accept that the current Committee of Management would prefer to await the appointment of a permanent board, which is expected to occur in the next few months, before a decision regarding Rabbi Telsner’s future is made. I can also understand the view that some may wish to await the anticipated findings of the Royal Commission (despite what we saw and heard at the public hearing).
However, it’s important to emphasise that until Rabbi Telsner is no longer at the helm of Yeshivah it will be difficult for many to move forward. And in the meantime, he is continuing to cause damage to many, including to the Yeshivah Centre itself.
It’s particularly important that the Yeshivah community share their views with its current and future leadership. Because ultimately this will continue to reflect on them.