In the first decade of the century, Malka Leifer was molesting girls in Adaas Israel, the Haredi girls high school in Melbourne where she was the principal. When police investigations were closing in, the Adaas school board flew her out of the country on less than a day’s notice in 2008. In July of 2013 Australia indicted Leifer on 74 counts and asked Israel to extradite Leifer back to Australia for trial. Now, seven and half years later and after 74 court sessions, and a final ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court and a signoff by the Justice Minister, the extradition is set to happen. Thankfully, we can count on the Australian government to act with dispatch and finally bring her back and commence trial proceedings. The scandal is that a gentile government is doing a much better job of protecting Jewish children than the Jewish state.
Compounding the scandal is the fact that it was haredim who were the main culprits in Leifer’s evasion of justice by fabricating the lie that she was too mentally ill to participate in the legal process. This fakery depended on consultants, lawers, and even an acting health minister who leaned on mental health experts to falsely certify her as incompetent to the courts. This went on for years.
But for the inventive intervention of Shana Aaronson, then with JCW, and now head of Magen, this scam would have continued indefinitely. Aaronson hired a Private Investigator, who surreptitiously videoed Leifer leading an active and thoroughly competent social and communal life. This forced the hand of the Israeli police who then conducted their own surveillance operation which confirmed Leifer’s competence. In the aftermath of those findings Leifer was arrested, charged with fraud and imprisoned pending the completion of extradition proceedings. Acting Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman was also investigated for his role in subborning fraudulent mental health diagnoses. The court than went through an inexcusably long process of revisiting the mental health determination before finally finding her fit and then proceeding to the extradition hearing itself which was fairly cut and dry.
So now at last, we can expect Leifer to be brought back to Australia over the next 60 days. Now at last we can watch an Australian justice process which we can expect to be fair and timely. This is so different from the feeling many of us had watching the Israeli process where we always expected delays, fraud, and deception.
Enormous thanks must be extended to the three sisters, survivors of Leifer’s abuse, Dassi Erlich, Nicole Meyer, and Elly Sapper, who brought the charges and persisted throughout this process to bring Leifer to justice. They are also functioning as proxies for other Haredi girls who were victimized by Leifer but have been intimidated into silence by their Haredi community. And once again, shame, shame on the Israeli government and the Haredi community in Israel and Australia.