The Jewish Chronicle has a story about the final hearing of Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse looking into Orthodox Jewish communities in Sydney and Melbourne. It was revealed that the disgraced former chief rabbi of the Yeshiva Centre in Melbourne, Rabbi Zvi Telsner, is still being paid a salary more than 18 months after he resigned over his failure to properly address child sexual abuse issues.
At the Royal Commission’s final hearing into the two communities on Thursday, Rabbi Chaim Zvi Groner, the Director of Adult Torah Education at the Yeshiva Centre, was unable to shed light on why Rabbi Telsner was still being paid a salary when his involvement these days amounts to being a congregant and giving occasional classes.
“Why does he still receive a salary?” asked counsel assisting the commission, Naomi Sharp.
Rabbi Groner: “The current board is dealing with this in regard to the financial arrangement around his resignation.”
“Does he still occupy a position of leadership?
The Royal Commission also questioned other rabbis regarding their failures.
Earlier in the hearing, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick from the Sydney Beth Din admitted that he had not heard of any abuse cases until 2011, which prompted a commissioner to ask why it took the Chabad leadership so long to appreciate the gravity of child sexual abuse, when it had been widely reported in the secular world for decades.
“We considered ourselves safe, different.”
“Was there something fundamental in the Jewish faith to be slow to respond to emerging issues?”
Rabbi Gutnick: “On the contrary. …but we were naïve. We are a very small community so examples of abuse would be small – one or two, unlike the Catholic Church.”
So Chabad, preachers of “loving our fellow Jew” didn’t think only one or two mattered?