SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A senior Chabad rabbi was delisted as an emissary from the New York-based organization as the fallout continues from Australia’s Royal Commission into a child sex abuse scandal.
Rabbi Yosef Feldman, a former director of Sydney’s Yeshivah Center, which houses Chabad headquarters there, was delisted last week after making controversial comments to the commission, including his suggestion that pedophiles who had not committed sex crimes for two decades should be treated with leniency.
Feldman, a son of Chabad’s chief rabbi in Sydney, sparked a storm of protest by Orthodox rabbis and mainstream Jewish leaders.
His delisting came as Rabbi Avrohom Glick, who had resigned from all his posts at Yeshivah College in Melbourne, where he was principal during the time of the abuse in the 1980s and ‘90s, also tendered his resignation from the spiritual committee of the Yeshivah Center. Victims were outraged that he had kept the post, which Glick had described as “his calling” during the commission hearings.
The resignations come in the wake of the two-week hearing into the child sex abuse scandals at Chabad headquarters in Sydney and Melbourne.
A third rabbi, Shlomo Kluwgant, resigned as president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia after it was revealed at the hearing that he had sent a text message describing Zephaniah Waks, one of the whistleblowers, as a “lunatic” who was “killing us.” His son, Manny Waks, the only Jewish victim in Australia to go public, is still demanding more resignations.
“Every rabbi and every leader of peak Jewish bodies should publicly acknowledge what happened and apologize for their silence about intimidation shown towards myself, my family and other victims,” Manny Waks told Fairfax Media. “And the Yeshivah Center boards in Melbourne and Sydney need to apologize and resign, along with other leaders who’ve been implicated.”