An Open Letter To His Community By a Supporter of Victims of Abuse at Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne

The letter below was circulated by Zephaniah Waks, father of Manny Waks, a victim of abuse by an employee of Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Mr Waks describes his actions to hold abusers accountable and the intimidation tactics of an institution that is still resisting accountability. He also describes the social shunning and the ways in which even those not complicit in the original abuse have become part of the cover-up by participating in the shunning. This letter is an important reminder about the things ordinary lay people can do to comfort and support the victim as another way of combating abuse. Alternatively it is a searing indictment of the cowardice of those who “don’t want to take sides” even if it means endangering children.

Since we moved to Melbourne over 27 years ago, or since you moved here after that, we have been family friends or acquaintances. In the last 2 years, after the start of the police inquiries into pedophilia at Yeshivah Centre, (historical as well as current, whatever misinformation you may have received), and more recently after my son Manny went public more than 1.5 years ago, I have been the butt of increasing discrimination. It started with the Board of Management, continued with highly inappropriate sermons by Telsner [Rabbi, Yeshivah Centre], progressed to not receiving aliyos [ritual honour during some synagogue services], & has more recently seen a little worm of a person wander round the Shul [synagogue] demanding that people cut off relations with me. In a few cases it has unfortunately worked, where long established chavrusos [religious study partners] stopped & some old “friends” don’t talk to me. Others almost whisper a greeting or a mazal-tov [congratulations] when they see me, apparently out of fear.

All my actions (including blogging, facebook etc) in relation to these matters are done in consultation with Rabbi Ze’ev Smason or a local Chabad rabbi . Rabbi Smason was responsible for getting David Kramer to sit in gaol in the USA, which was the catalyst for the police investigations here. He did this by acting in the complete opposite way to the leaders of YC Melbourne, ie by supporting the victim & his family during the whole process.

I am a little tired of people who say they don’t know enough to take sides, or don’t understand what’s going on etc. Since it’s a matter of pikuah nefesh [saving a person’s life], & it affects your children or grandchildren, make it your business. I very well understand the fear involved in becoming involved, as many were in that position 20 years ago, whether it be the fear of being fired if you speak up (that has been mentioned to me by current employees several times), the fear of school fees increasing (also mentioned), the fear of falling foul of the big machers [movers and shakers] here, or just the fear of being out of step with the kehila [Yeshivah community].

You may be one of those that supports me in private, or one of the very few that does something in public. In that case, thank you, but think if there is anything else you may be able to do to help the matter.

If you don’t agree with what I have been doing, then if you still think there’s a problem with me after looking at the above web site, please speak to me. We’ll either come to agree, agree to disagree, or part ways. What I’m not interested in is having friends about whom it can be said “with friends like that, who needs enemies?!”.

Yours sincerely

Hoping for good news

Zephaniah Waks


4 thoughts on “An Open Letter To His Community By a Supporter of Victims of Abuse at Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne

  1. I agree with every word you say, from my own current situation.
    Personaly I feel that we should leave these pedo’s within the kehilla, as the kehila deserve them. We should get out; that’s what i’ve done.

  2. shalom from jerusalem. i am going after the pedophiles here in my area every single day. a army of one does not get much results but i will continue to make these monsters lifes hard so that they keep on making mistakes. and there is success . some are actually going to jail.of course the probelm is the useless corrupt rabbinim protecting the perverts and telling the police and courts to close the cases down. 150 children raped, drugged,tortured and gang raped are not worth saving for our fake rabbinim may they all rot in hell.

    no i am the voice of the child and paying a heavy price for it too. including my health and my name is well you know . i am going to destroy the pedophiles here and all those who protect them. too many people will not get involved not even for their own children. i dont understand that. its so wrong. so wrong.

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