An open letter to the Board of Trustees and Committee of Management of the Yeshivah Centre
(Reposted here by kind permission of Mr Manny Waks. Original posting here)
TO: 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 Merv Adler
Mr Michael Goldhirsch
Mr Jeremy Loebenstein
Mr Chaim New
Mr Chaim Raitman
Mrs Sue Susskind
Mr Shlomo Werdiger
It has now been almost four weeks since the conclusion of the Royal Commission public hearing into the Yeshivah Centre. While submissions by interested parties are yet to be made and findings are yet to be announced, based on the evidence presented, and indeed the repeated public acknowledgements of significant wrongdoing by some of the Yeshivah leadership and stewardship, it would seem appropriate that swift and appropriate action would have been taken.
Many in the community are horrified at the evidence that was given by Yeshivah representatives at the public hearing. It is worth highlighting some of these points:
* the standard responses to difficult questions were “I don’t recall”
* former Yeshivah College Principal could not recall his own student (in a relatively small school where out-of-towners were rare)
* no documents were ever kept
* apparent failure to fully comply with mandatory reporting laws
* senior officials had questionable positions regarding our criminal laws
* perpetrators were supported and assisted while victims and their families were ignored, intimidated and re-victimised
We would like to note that this short list is only what was revealed at the public hearing. Moreover, there was more devastating material that could have been disclosed but for a range of reasons were not disclosed at the time. Of course there is also the probability that a much larger unknown body of evidence has not come to light at all.
It is astounding and a further indictment on the Yeshivah Centre that no genuine public action has been taken to date by your institution in response to the Royal Commission public hearing. Rather, Yeshivah has merely issued a carefully crafted public statement, which in our firm view is the continuation of a public relations strategy designed to deflect responsibility, and to refuse to confront the significant failures of leadership at Yeshivah.
As those who have suffered most at your institution’s hands, we would like to once again register our shock and pain at the Yeshivah Centre’s continued mishandling of this ongoing scandal. It seems to us that at least some of the Yeshivah leadership continue to place Yeshivah’s reputation well above any other consideration.
We strongly believe that the removal of yourselves, as well as key staff and volunteers from the Yeshivah Centre who have been implicated in any way in this ongoing scandal, is now required. We believe that some of the major failures at Yeshivah seem to have been the result of failures by the leadership, rather than an express policy or process issue (although clearly these too played a role). Accordingly it is essential for you all to step down immediately in recognition of these failures – whether you were in a leadership position at Yeshivah during the period of sexual abuse, the subsequent cover-ups or, more recently, the intimidation directed at victims and their families. We feel that so long as you remain in a position of authority or power at Yeshivah, the institution remains tainted by its association with yourselves (as the current leadership – although not necessarily the ones individually responsible for all that has transpired there in the context of child sexual abuse), and remains susceptible to repetition of these unspeakable acts in the future.
Further, your ongoing presence as Trustees or members of the Committee of Management prolongs the pain and suffering of us as past victims, whose loss, including our ongoing pain and suffering, you are unable to restore. The notion that you might somehow play a role in repairing the institution is deeply troubling.
We believe implementing new policies and procedures are, in themselves, insufficient to ensure the ongoing protection of children whilst you remain Trustees or members of the Committee of Management, as we feel that the administration, governance and oversight of any such new policies and procedures may be compromised by the presence of the current Trustees and Committee of Management.
We urge you to immediately (and belatedly) do the right thing – for yourselves, for the Yeshivah community, indeed for the entire community, and for us; the innocent and defenceless children whom your institution repeatedly hurt so much and in so many ways, and continues to hurt by your refusal to step down and take responsibility for the significant failures at the Yeshivah Centre.
1984-1988 & 2011-2015 victim/survivor – AVB (Royal Commission public hearing witness)
1986 victim/survivor – AVA (Royal Commission public hearing witness)
1987-1990 & 2011-2015 victim/survivor – Manny Waks (Royal Commission public hearing witness)
1991 victim/survivor – AVR (Royal Commission public hearing witness)