Rabbis Resign Amid Abuse Scandal, Merkos Issues Statement

A statement from the board of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch was released in light of the shocking and troubling testimony that was presented to the ongoing Royal Commission on child abuse in Australia. “We are appalled and deeply pained to learn of the allegations,” reads the statement, which comes on the heels of local rabbis issuing a video statement expressing solidarity with the victims and a third rabbi stepping down.

This statement comes after shocking testimony that has been given before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by a number of victims, as well as by Chabad rabbis serving in communal and educational roles.

Some of the testimony can only be described as shocking – both by the scope as well as the by gravity of the accusations – only to be compounded by alleged inaction by community leaders.

The commission was appointed in 2013, and is tasked with leading an inquiry into abuse across the country and in institutes of all faiths and backgrounds. Over the past week, the commission heard from members of the Chabad community in Sydney and in Melbourne.

Last week, five rabbis in Sydney released a short video message, apologizing and pledging to do more to combat CSA.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant has stepped down from his position as the president of the Organization of Rabbis of Australasia, and was dismissed from his position on Victoria Police’s Multi-Faith Advisory Committee. He is the third rabbi to have stepped down from a position of authority, following Rabbi Yosef Feldman – who stepped down from the board of the Yeshiva Centre in Sydney – and Rabbi Avrohom Glick – who proactively resigned a number of years ago from his position at the helm of the Yeshiva College in Melbourne.

Full text of the Merkos statement:

The Board of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, has been following Australia’s Royal Commission proceedings into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse. While we appreciate the need for patience as the process takes its due course, some of the testimony which was shared with the Commission is extremely alarming, and we feel compelled to comment even before the Commission issues its findings and recommendations.

We are appalled and deeply pained to learn of the allegations against individuals associated with some of the Chabad institutions in Australia. The information that has emerged is utterly disturbing, a profound violation of the non-negotiable principles implicit– and explicit–in any and every situation where the wellbeing of a child is entrusted to the care of an educational institution.

The first, foremost and overriding concern of every one of our educational institutions, and of each individual affiliated in any way with those institutions, is the protection—physical, emotional and psychological—of any and every child entrusted to it.

We are confident that the reports emanating from Australia are the rare and unfortunate exception to our institutions; however in light of the allegations now under investigation, we are reviewing procedures and protocol to see how these can be improved and enhanced for better implementation and enforcement. Indeed, given the devastating and long-lasting effects of child sex abuse now well known, teachers, administrative and other school personnel who become aware of any incidents of such abuse, must act responsibly and report them to authorities without delay.

The unfortunate incidents alleged to have occurred in Australia may have well been avoided if the institutions in question would have adhered to the Child Safety Code guidelines of the Merkos Educational Office. We will therefore take additional steps to ensure strict adherence of these codes by all Chabad-Lubavitch educational institutions, and we will continue to explore additional measures to raise awareness among school personnel, about the dangers, risks and indications of offenses of sexual abuse and misconduct.

We commend the efforts of the Royal Commission, and trust that their involvement in this matter will not only address the immediate situation, but that they will provide broader recommendations as well that will be instrumental in ensuring a safe, sound and positive environment within all schools. We welcome and value their insight.

The decision on the part of the victims to come forward cannot have been an easy one. But it was the courageous and correct one. For in their willingness to do so, they have contributed to a heightened awareness that will prevent other children from falling victim. The suffering and consequences of such abuses are often life-long, and as such, every instance of prevention is a life saved.

In our ethos, every life is a world. Every child represents a world, worthy and deserving of our greatest investment towards their safety and nurture. The victims who have stepped forward to report abuse have surely saved many, many lives, each of them a world unto itself. For this, we applaud them. We pray that they will find healing and the strength to move on. G-d bless them with goodness and kindness.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Rabbi Avrohom Glick recently resigned amid the commission hearings. He in fact proactively stepped down from his position two years ago, and the article has been corrected to reflect that.

49 Comments

  • 1. This is good wrote:

    It needed to be said. It might be somewhat late, but it is very clear & unequivocal. As for these people who resigned – their stupid comments have not only added terrible pain to the victims, but have discredited all the Chabad educators who are sensitive, pro-active & professional. I was horrified at what these idiots said to the Commission. They should never be given any position in Chinuch again, not even janitor. Shove them in a corner somewhere.

  • 2. Have they actually resigned? wrote:

    Please can you confirm whether the three Rabbis in question have actually resigned from ALL their positions of authority and responsibility in ALL Chabad institutions?

    I was under the impression that they only resigned from some teaching positions but still remain on the board and wield significant influence.

    If this is the case, it simply isn’t good enough.

  • 3. Factually wrong wrote:

    Rabbi Glick did not resign from principal or teacher as a result of Royal Commission. He has not been associated with the school for over two years.

    Rabbi Yosef Feldman should not only resign from directorship, but should be banned from any Rabbinical and teaching posts. He breached all Chabad ethos and does not deserve to represent Chabad in any form.

    Rabbi Pinchus Feldman should also be relieved of all Head Shliach duties for continuously perpetuating a Chilul Ha’shem in Sydney and hiding behind the incompetence of his son.

    • 4. Sydney Mum wrote:

      I agree with factually wrong. We trusted our children’s very lives in their hands. What horrifies me is that they couldn’t fix the problem there they send these evil perpetrators off to another country so they can continue these heinous acts. They should not represent Chabad in anyway shape or form and should be relieved of their duties including the so called head schliach. They should not have the title Rabbi so people are not misled.

    • 5. Anonymous wrote:

      If you followed the commission, rabbi Feldman did call the authorities regarding AVL. The police were aware and he was reported before he left Australia. I think that should be commended as its completely different to Melbourne where the Authorities were not called.

  • 6. question wrote:

    was this all really about abuse? or was this about taking out and shaming chabad?

    Which people and which blogs are behind all this?

    people like FM who were trying to take down chabad for years have finally found something they can use against chabad so do we stand up fix the problem yes still stand proud with chabad or do we join the anti chabad movement and bring it all down

    • 7. answer wrote:

      Is your comment trying to yet again degrade what took place down under.. and pretend there is an alter motive?

      Or is it you are trying to create a distraction from the truth that your the same good for nothing low life person who is cool to justify this type of behavior?

      Or is it both?

  • 8. great wrote:

    time to do the same in CH Montreal South africa
    London and of course Israel

    Time for the schools and leaders to be closed down and start fresh

  • 9. dan wrote:

    Whilst it may be just and right – we should be careful not to rejoice in another person’s downfall. Remember how and why we pour out wine whilst reading out the ten plagues on passover?

  • 11. Ruth Pinsky Krevsky wrote:

    Look! It’s happening! Change is coming!! May Hashem bentch Meyer Seewald and every other person who is helping to bring about this change. yes we still have a long way to go, but change is finally coming! Baruch Hashem!

    • 12. dan wrote:

      true but change must come from within not from people who hate chabad and want to see it all closed down and are using this as a way to bring down chabad worldwide

    • 13. to dan wrote:

      Your 100 percent right, the change needs to come from within if not it will be done from help on the outside.

      How ever I don’t understand who it is that your referencing?

      at the moment we have a lot to thank Meyer and Manny for… How many years have we had to address these issues from ‘within’?

      It’s only to their credit we are actually thinking about doing anything..

      Meanwhile “talk is cheap” they are the ones doing your simply talking.

      And I don’t believe that they hate chabad, just the actions of a few.. of which frankly, if I was in their shoes I’d tooo.

    • 14. Court wrote:

      Dan if it could be done without the exposure, it’s good. But if the exposure is what it takes, then so be it. No persons name is more important than a child’s life

  • 15. unfortunately wrote:

    It is very sad that this has turned into a “bash Chabad” issue,
    rather than “protect our kids” issue.

    It’s a shameful distraction on the part of victim advocates.

    • 16. its a shame wrote:

      That you haven’t done any research into your comment.

      Like the fact that this all started with the way Manny and his dad were treated from the get go..

      Time to wake up and address the issues and stop blaming the ‘distraction’ as a… distraction.

  • 17. Names of perps PLEASE wrote:

    We absolutely need, ASAP, the names of the perpetrators of the abuse! (If I’m understanding right, I only see names of leaders who swept the abuse problems under the rug or denied or minimized that there were abuse problems at all, or defended perps.)

    PLEASE!!!!! Before the perps relocate to some other continent, as way too many have, only to repeat their horrific acts!!!!!!

    • 18. steven wrote:

      one of the names might be your father do you still want it published?

      or would you rathe

    • 20. I'm a BT, so it's not my Tatty wrote:

      But even if I was not a BT, it would be even more important that I find out the perps’ names, if it were a relative. Relatives have more contact with my kids, so I surely need to know, as painful as it would be.

  • 23. 4heAd wrote:

    Until the leadership is replaced it is only a matter of time until more embracement emerges from Australia.
    This has nothing to do with CSA and everything to do with incompetence.
    Had their been sound leadership, these issues would have been addressed and gone away.
    If the reports are accurate, one of the above resigned rabbis has already blamed “Jewish Leaders” and is threatening to sue.

  • 24. Chabad wrote:

    All I can say is that this is a blood libel against the most elite people of Lubavitch. They are great talmidei chachomim and amazing people. I’m sure there is another side of the story and we have to be don lechaf zechus. I wish all of u the strength to get through this.

  • 25. Nothing wrote:

    What does the statement from Merkos actually say?

    Would love to know where these guidelines are published….

    ” the institutions in question would have adhered to the Child Safety Code guidelines of the Merkos Educational Office. “

  • 26. Calm down people wrote:

    FM blog might indeed have an agenda against Chabad, ok and you probably shouldn’t be reading blogs you don’t like. But this scandal has nothing to do with him, this is a major scandal that has been brewing for decades and is way overdue for exposure and the serious action we have seen take place over the past few days and weeks. The victim who is behind this scandal and exposing the filth is a courageous young man who is sticking up for himself and hundreds of other innocent victims. He actually carries a dollar he received from the Rebbe in his wallet were ever he goes, and has high respect for everything to do with Chabad and the Rebbe, excluding the shameful actions of some in the Chabad community in Australia. I’m from Australia and have been following this for a while and know some if the victims personally.

  • 27. insensitive wrote:

    this is very insensitive to these rabbis to put their pictures up like that

    • 28. Insensitive wrote:

      It is very insensitive to the victims not to acknowledge what these Rabbis have done. If they didn’t want their pictures and names appearing on blogs like these, they should have taken more care of the Neshomos they were supposed to be protecting.

      Why are you interesting in protecting the abusers more than the victims?

    • 29. where are the standards? wrote:

      Why are you treating administrators like the perpetrators?
      The perps have veen identified and dealt with.
      The Yeshivah has now become a model of how schools should be run compared to other local institutions.
      The admins have taken responsibilty and are no longer in their positions.

  • 30. Concerned in MA wrote:

    Dear #24…
    Insensitive to the Rabbi’s????
    Considering the insensitivity of the Rabbi’s to the victims, I’d say they got off easy.
    It doesn’t matter how learned a person is, or how important the family, or what the relationship is between the people….. there should be zero tolerance for sexual abuse…….against anyone…..male or female!

  • 31. Questions still to be answered wrote:

    I still have two problems with most of what I am hearing and most of the comments that I am reading.
    We all agree that the system needs a total overhaul, from the teachers and Rabbis involved, to the Board of Management who sat idly by and watched it all happen.

    1) I am being told from what I believe to be reliable sources that The Yeshivah put 17 Waks children right through School for no fees or almost no fees whatsoever. That doesn’t mean that those children are not entitled to 100% safety like all other children, but when something goes badly wrong as it did here, does that mean that their family have to be intent on burying the whole moisod ? Furthermore, is this all a prelude for some massive financial payout from Yeshivah ?

    2) Why is Manny only angry at The Yeshivah for not going to the Police.
    Why isn’t he angry at his own parents for not informing the authorities ?
    I assure you, that if anybody had done that to any of my children whilst they were in the School, I would have gone to the Police immediately.

  • 33. management is responsible..... wrote:

    this chilul hashem would never have occurred had management confronted and dealt with the issues. the victims deserve acknowledgment.

  • 34. Melbourne Australia Responds wrote:

    Whilst not Chas V’sholom minimizing the scourge that is Child Sex Abuse, it is critically important to remember a few points:

    1) The events in Melbourne happened 20, 30 years ago and the person in charge has passed on.
    2) The perpetrators were few – 2 or 3, and they are either dead or in prison.
    3) The reality is that the Yeshiva did not react properly at the time and clearly this was not intentional but rather a result of the culture at the time where people did not appreciate properly the gravity of the issue and how to deal with it. There was never malicious intent.
    4) The Yeshiva has radically upgraded and modernized the way they run the organization, and in the area of child protection etc., they are the most progressive in Australia.

    Let us all not jump on the bandwagon of those who are using this opportunity to destroy the Rebbe’s Mosdos in Melbourne.

  • 35. Sensitive wrote:

    What’s really insensitive is covering up abuse and protecting child molestors for decades

  • 36. Mendel wrote:

    Rabbi Glicks testimony bought tears to many of us.
    He is one that did not deserve to be shamed and questioned.
    Everyone who knows how the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne operated knows that Rabbi Glick was not responsible at all. He was the “Principal” but he was an employee following the school policy then.
    Rabbi Glick please stay an active part of our community, you have some much to offer, and you are one of our gems and assets.
    Your words at the Royal comission were genuine and real and demonstrated how much pain you have been through.
    You showed how you are a real Chosid and Mekusher to the Rebbe.
    You have been the victim of people trying to take revenge on you.
    Anyone who knows you knows you haven’t even thought to harm anyone at all.
    May you not know of any more suffering.

    A former student at Yeshivah College.

  • 37. This is SO unfair! wrote:

    Those poor rabbis, victims themselves! Why, oh why do they have to bear any price for their damaging behavior? Life is so unfair!
    These people using their pain and suffering to libel against these noble Talumdei Chachomim! Just because these wonderful rabbis treated them like garbage, stomped on them and poured salt in their wounds? GET OVER IT!!
    Dan lchaf zechus, like the other poster said! The rabbis probably had some really good reason for letting child molestors continue molesting.
    Those idiots at Merkos don’t know anything! If they did they NEVER would have turned against our elite! Merkos has GOT to stop paying attention to the facts here and Chabad bashing! Our honor is at stake!
    Hear it loud and clear: It doesn’t matter what choices they make, how they treat other people or how they behave; as long as they’ve come from good stock and have a good title. Everything else is narishkeit.

  • 38. Letter wrote:

    Nice letter from merkos though confusing as a very forceful member of its Vaad hapoel is involved in ongoing matters of a similar nature within his own school of which merkos is aware. The chinuch office is led with great bluster and their paper policies and subsequent letters are to be applauded.

  • 40. I agree with 24 Insensitive wrote:

    When I first saw the pictures it appeared as though they are the ones who comitted these crimes. Some responsibility from this website would be appreciated. Have some respect to us the readers. We are not dumb.

  • 41. did nothing wrote:

    These rabbis didn’t even do anything wrong, most of them resigned due to bad PR, like sending a badly worded text that was “insensitive” – for that one is forced to resign?! Disgrace! At least mention that in the article so no one mistakes them for the perps or even the coverup’ers…..

  • 42. good for you wrote:

    we need more of this — light has a wonderful effect on shmutz. The Baal Shem Tov liked light. It doesn’t get better.

  • 43. Melbourne Australia Responds wrote:

    To Rabbi Glick:
    את דכא ושפל רוח אשכון
    The pain of what you went through will
    bring you to the העכסטע מדריגות!
    To Meir Shlomo:
    אין איתנו יודע עד מה
    There is no question that Hashem will Bentch you
    with tremendous Brochos as the Tzemach Tzedek in
    Derech Mitzvosecho writes after the גבורה comes
    חסד!!!!

  • 44. Chani wrote:

    Unfortunately paedophiles will be in every organisation where the care of children is concerned. They are very clever, manipulative (mostly) men and in an organisation like Merkos, the leaders might not be as quick on the uptake as they should be. If the perpetrators are known, they need to be named and shamed and as has happened, the senior rabbis have to resign but more importantly, mechanisms have to be put in place to make sure it cannot happen again in any Chabad institution. Again, sad to say, but the Rebbe’s words that one should automatically assume that a Jew is a good person doesn’t always apply, no matter how much we might want it to.

  • 45. Rabbi Kagan wrote:

    To # 25: All the schools which have had and have a connection with the Chinuch Office of Merkos are aware of this code which was put out under Rabbi Nochum Kaplan after consultation with Rabonim/Poskim and Professionals. Yes, adherence to the code would have avoided the problems.
    Rabbi Chaim D. Kagan, Menahel, Monsey Beis Chaya Mushka

  • 46. Enlightened wrote:

    Apparently, a lot of you have missed the point. The main motive of the Federal Commission was to investigate how the institution responded to the victims NOW. Not 30 years ago. It is pretty self-understood that the culture then was vastly different to where we are holding today. Had the ‘management’ come forward and apologized as well as acknowledged what took place, like honest and decent people, the commission would not have taken place. Instead, they chose to ignore (and ignore some more) the victims, then intimidate and bully them until it reached a boiling point. Kudos to the ‘management’ for dragging the Chabad mosdos and it’s name through the dirt, as well as manipulating the witnesses to lie (under oath) in order to fit their story.

  • 47. chabad-haters wrote:

    this is not about dealing with molesters its about being angry at the world and trying to get revenge.

    chaval that such good people had to step down

  • 48. mr merkos wrote:

    Please publically post the safety protocol that was in effect quarter century ago so we can see what it is that made you feel qualified to publically stand as judge and jury. transparency is in order here mr merkos.

  • 49. CSA Code is online wrote:

    It was written in 2002 btw, not sure why some people think otherwise…
    It’s available on the chinuchoffice website run by Merkos. Click on “generic forms and policies” where any school is free to take and adapt. Click on “child safety code”

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