Yahoo news.com.au, March 23, 2017
Anyone shunning Jewish child sex abuse survivors and their families is committing a sin and is complicit in the abuse, Australia’s Jewish community leaders say.
The leaders say there is no role for Jewish religious laws or halachic principles when it comes to dealing with child sexual abuse, which must be reported to the authorities.
It is absolutely unacceptable to shun victims for coming forward, they told the child abuse royal commission on Thursday.
“In my view to shun is to be complicit in the abuse that has been perpetrated on the victim and there is no place for that in our society whatsoever,” Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block said.
The royal commission has found that because of the way Jewish law concepts were applied, some members of the Yeshiva Bondi and Yeshivah Melbourne communities were discouraged from reporting abuse.
Child abuse survivors were treated as outcasts and in some cases victims and their families experienced such severe ostracism that they felt unable to remain in the community, it said.
Sydney’s The Great Synagogue chief minister Rabbi Benjamin Elton said there was no justification for shunning victims and their families for coming forward.
“In doing so they’re committing a grievous sin in the context of the Jewish faith which would mandate us not to shun, but on the contrary to support those who have suffered and those who’ve taken the very brave step to go to the authorities to make sure that others don’t suffer and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Rabbi Elton said Jewish law mandated that suspected child sexual abuse must be reported to secular authorities as quickly as possible to protect children.
Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said the principle of mesirah – a prohibition upon a Jew informing on or handing over another Jew to a secular authority – does not apply in any way to the reporting of child abuse allegations.
Sydney Beth Den senior dayan or judge Rabbi Moshe Gutnick said the royal commission has helped change perceptions in Jewish communities in Australia and around the world.
He said 320 ultra-orthodox rabbis from around the world have backed a proclamation underlining the principles raised during the inquiry.
“It’s that sort of thing – hammering home again and again and again that there is no place for cover-ups, that there’s no place for using terminology like moser (informer), that we have to adopt our victims.”
The commission found leaders of Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi, which are both part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of orthodox Judaism, failed to act on reports of abuse.