‘Vindication’: Abuse victim welcomes resignation of Melbourne rabbi


A former Yeshiva student who was sexually abused as child and shunned by his community when he went public has welcomed the resignation of one of Australia's most senior rabbis.

Abuse victim and former Yeshiva student Manny Waks has welcomed the resignation of a senior Australian Rabbi.

Rabbi Zvi Telsner yesterday announced he would step down as head of Melbourne's Yeshiva Centre, which manages schools including Yeshiva College.

In a letter to the Jewish community on Tuesday evening, Rabbi Telsner apologised for the way he dealt with child sex abuse victims and their families.

"We must all be aware of how our words and actions impact on others and therefore would like to apologise for my conduct and urge everyone to show compassion and support towards victims and their families," he said.

Speaking with SBS from France this morning, Mr Waks said the decision was necessary.

“Today is another watershed moment for the Jewish community and it’s something many of us have been calling for quite some time,” he said.

“We feel a great sense of vindication and a belated sense of justice.”

Mr Waks was sexually abused by staff at the Yeshiva Centre at the age of 11.  He went public with his story in 2011 and faced significant backlash, which he said led his family to relocate to France.

Mr Waks said Rabbi Telsner‘s resignation had personal significance for him.

“We are in exile here in France, away from Australia, mainly because of his actions and inaction as a leader at the Yeshiva,” he said.

He said it would also help other abuse victims.

“It will now help many of us to move forward in a much more constructive manner."

Yeshiva College was among the Jewish schools in Melbourne and Sydney examined by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse concerning their response to sex abuse.

The hearings exposed a culture of turning a blind eye, a lack of knowledge about child abuse and reporting requirements, and a dearth of sympathy for victims between the 1980s and 2010.

“This is something that’s going on everywhere in the Jewish world and beyond of course, in the Catholic Church and elsewhere," Mr Waks said.

“So for me this is about changing the culture.”

With AAP.

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