Sydney Chabad Rabbi Dismissed as Emissary Over Child Sex Abuse Scandal

Rabbi Yosef Feldman was removed after suggesting that pedophiles who had not committed sex crimes for two decades should be treated with leniency.

JTA
JTA
Rabbi Yosef Feldman (Screenshot).
Rabbi Yosef Feldman (Screenshot).
JTA
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 the child sex abuse scandal.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman, the former director of Sydney’s Yeshivah Center, which houses the headquarters of Chabad there, was dismissed last week after his controversial comments to the Royal 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 among Orthodox rabbis and mainstream Jewish leaders. He consequently resigned his post as director of the Yeshiva Center on February 11.

His dismissal came as Rabbi Avrohom Glick, who had resigned from all posts at Yeshivah College in Melbourne, where he was principal during the time of the abuse in the 1980s and 1990s, also tendered his resignation from the spiritual committee of the Yeshivah Center.

Victims were furious that he had clung to this post, which he had described as “his calling” during the hearings at the Royal Commission.

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 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. And the Yeshivah Center boards in Melbourne and Sydney need to apologize and resign, along with other leaders who’ve been implicated,” he told Fairfax Media.

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