Haaretz Australia correspondent Dan Goldberg has won his country's most prestigious journalism prize for a documentary on sexual abuse at a Melbourne yeshiva.
Goldberg and his collaborator Danny Ben-Moshe were awarded the Walkley Documentary Award for their film "Code of Silence" in a ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday night.
"Code of Silence" follows the struggle of a former Melbourne Yeshiva student to bring to light the sexual abuse that he and other students suffered. Manny Waks, the former student who blew the whistle on the rabbis he claimed covered up the abuse, left his religion as a result of his experience and his Orthodox father was shunned by his community.
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Goldberg and Ben-Moshe followed the story for a year from July 2013 and were the only TV crew to gain access to the courtrooms. The case continues to make news.
Articles by Goldberg relating to the case were published regularly by Haaretz.
Waks’ abuser was jailed, but the rabbis he alleged covered up the abuse were not brought to account.
“'Code of Silence' is a documentary exposure of an Orthodox Jewish family’s distressing struggle to tell the truth about child sexual abuse within a well-known Melbourne boys’ school," the judges wrote in choosing the film. "The work is exceptional because of the access negotiated with key players as the drama unfolded.
"It contributes to public understanding of the magnitude of the failure across institutions, both religious and secular, to protect children because of a more dominant reputational defensiveness. Through actuality and interview, the documentary effectively breaks the 'code of silence' which had prevailed to cover up abuse in this close-knit community.”
“It’s a little bittersweet to win this prestigious award; we wish we never had to tell this story," Dan Goldberg told the Jewish website J-Wire. "Credit to the ABC, who backed us from the jump, and to Manny and Zephaniah Waks, who had the courage to blow the whistle despite the consequences.”