Home » Community Life, Manny Waks, Recent Posts

Yeshiva Centre Still Mistreating Family of Abuse Victims

September 14, 2012 – 9:51 am14 Comments

In response to today’s birth of a grandson to my father, the Yeshivah Centre has now clearly demonstrated that nothing at all has changed. The discrimination, intimidation and harassment has continued.

My father has just had the most unpleasant conversation with the head of the Yeshivah Centre (YC) Shule (Synagogue) Committee, Mr Herschl Herbst (HH).

Knowing that his daughter was going to give birth around this time, over a week ago my father initiated correspondence with HH about the YC policy regarding Aliyot (the ritual honour of getting called up to the Torah on the Sabbath) for the birth of grandchildren in the synagogue. My father (and anyone else who goes to the YC) knew what the custom is: Aliyot are always given on these occasions, even though it is not obligatory (rather it is a custom). However, after what happened on my father’s birthday, where the custom is exactly the same and he did not get an Aliyah, he wanted to clarify in good time what will transpire in this instance. Two days ago, my father received an email response that “it’s at the discretion of the Gabbai (the person who assists in the running of a synagogue)”.

Today, after his grandson was born, my father called HH and asked him who the Gabbai was so he could enquire whether he’ll indeed receive an Aliyah. HH said there is no Gabbai at the moment at the YC. My father then tried to understand why he received a response from HH stating that it’s at the discretion of the Gabbai if no such person even existed. After my father persisted in trying to find out if he will get an Aliyah on the Sabbath, after much obfuscation, HH finally clearly and unequivocally divulged the true reason: My father will most probably not get an Aliyah this Sabbath because his perceived actions in relation to certain unspecified matters, have polarised the YC community, and some unspecified people within the YC will feel uncomfortable if he gets an Aliyah when he does not have an obligation to receive one (as it’s only customary in this case).

So all other members of the YC community are eligible to receive an Aliyah under such circumstances….except for my father! Is that not discrimination, intimidation or harassment?

I would like to emphasise that throughout this process over the past year (since this Yeshivah child sexual abuse scandal became public) my father has acted in accordance with Rabbinical direction (i.e. he sought Rabbinical advice for all his actions, which is standard practice within the ultra-Orthodox community). So while there may be “faceless” individuals who may feel “uncomfortable” with what he is doing (i.e. supporting his son who was sexually abused due to this institution’s inactions, facilitation etc.), there is no legitimate reason for them to have any grievances as he has maintained strict adherence to their processes – and of course, being that they are anonymous, he anyway can’t speak to anyone to determine their issues. HH had no answer as to how my father can remedy the situation.

Many of us remember what transpired last time – despite it being customary to receive an Aliyah for a birthday, my father was refused one on his, due to what the YC Rabbi Telsner told J-Wire: “To give Mr Waks an Aliyah was not deemed appropriate.” No explanation, no opportunity to appeal the decision. Nothing. Just a decision by the YC leadership that my father should be the only person from the YC excluded from receiving such an Aliyah (although he did receive one when it was obligatory due to his father’s Yahrzeit (annual commemoration)).

Whether or not it is only a custom and not obligatory, the fact is that my father has been singled out for this treatment. This is what I call discrimination, intimidation and harassment!

On the positive side, next week’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) will be followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It would seem to me that the YC leadership has much to ask forgiveness for!

My father is willing to go to a Din Torah (a Religious Court, which is customary within the ultra-Orthodox community) with the Gabbai or any other YC representative about this. In previous cases, YC has consistently refused to go to a Din Torah when offered in the past (he has this in writing).

Shame on you Yeshivah Centre!

Manny Waks

Print Friendly


  • This letter conveniently ignores a very long and at times acrimonious history between the Waks family and the Yeshivah Centre that predates and goes far beyond the sexual abuse cases. To point to this “near-incident” (we won’t know until tomorrow if Mr Waks will get an aliyah) as being only and entirely because of his and Manny’s activism is a half-truth, and as the yiddish proverb says: “a fool listens to half a story”.
    I’ve yet to speak to anyone at Yeshivah who does not want to see the people who abused Manny and others brought to justice.
    As an aside, at 3.08pm yesterday afternoon, the Yeshivah Centre sent out a mazel tov e-mail to the Gueta and Waks families on the birth of a daughter.

  • PM123 says:

    Besides the main story, I am sick to my stomach with HH’s bs lie to fob of ZW by telling him to ask the Gabbai on the day (if that’s what happened).

  • PM123 – there is indeed no current gabbai at the Yeshivah shul. Strangely enough, that’s because of another dispute *sigh* that has made its way to The Age last Saturday.

  • PM123 says:

    David, are you saying when HH said to ZW ‘go ask the Gabbai’, there was a Gabbai then?

  • Did HH tell him to “go ask the gabbai”? All I’m saying is that HH’s apparently evasive comments about the gabbai were not another part of this “campaign of harassment”. I can only assume he meant that Mr Waks should go ask the person who ends up standing up on the bima tomorrow performing the role of gabbai.

  • der ruv says:


    David, Number 1 Yeshivah apologist (perhaps because of family interests?), I’m not entirely sure what any previous dispute between Mr Waks & Yeshivah has anything to do with this outrageous behaviour. Has Mr Waks previously been prevented from receiving an aliyah? Has anyone else been denied one under such circumstances (ie when there is a birth etc)? If the answer is yes to either of these, please provide the relevant information. If not, I’d suggest Yeshivah’s recent action is directly as a result of his support for his son (who no doubt is a great annoyance to Yeshivah). And it would probably be better for everyone (Yeshivah, the Waks’, the Jewish community & especially for you) if you limit your contribution to this discussion to your shabbat table….

    In respect to what transpires tomorrow, as Manny Waks himself commented on his FB page this morning, “This is no longer just about an Aliyah but about their ongoing attitude and actions.” The fact that Mr Waks has this much uncertainty as to whether or not he’ll be awarded a customary ritual prior to each celebration is outrageous. But at least Yeshivah is consistent!

    But of course you probably wouldn’t know what he posted on FB because he got rid of you from his account some time ago because apparently you called him “vindictive”….David, your true colours have been exposed long ago!

    Shana Tova!

    P.S. It is quite clear from Manny’s post what HH was doing with the “gabbai” story, especially when he blurted out the punch-line of why no aliya. My version of your Yiddish proverb says: “a fool manipulates the story”, and you’d sure know about malicious fools and manipulation.

  • PM123 says:

     @davidwerdigerAt this point in time, it’s extremely obvious from the above that ZW will not get an aliyah no matter who the Gabbai will be and HH should have simply told ZW why, instead of his absolute bs story about the ‘Clayton’s’ Gabbai.
    It would have been extremely messy had ZW not asked before and was rejected for an Aliyah on Shabbos.

  • whoops – on the birth of a son/grandson!

  • der ruv says:

    davidwerdiger, You write : “As an aside, at 3.08pm yesterday afternoon, the Yeshivah Centre sent out a mazel tov e-mail to the Gueta and Waks families”.

    Oh, that’s good, so there’s no problem. I’m relieved.

  • danlevy says:

     [Editors: Comment removed. Please refrain from personal insults, particularly those relating to personal appearance].

  • zephaniah_waks says:

    Thank G-d I got an aliyah (called up to the torah in the synagogue) today. Peace is breaking out! Full story will follow in the next few hours, preferably via a joint statement with Yeshivah Shul (Synagogue).

  • zephaniah_waks says:

    Unfortunately I was mistaken. After being told “you probably won’t get an aliya”, ultimately I got one, but nothing else has changed. There is now a new set of complaints against me, coming out of nowhere, never mentioned before, probably to deflect from the pedophilia issue. I have requested to go with YC Shul (Synagogue), amicably & by agreement, to a Rabbi, or a series of Rabbis (zablo), or a Jewish Court (Bes Din) to rule on these complaints which are bothering YC, in a way that will be binding on both parties. HH just wants me to do what they want (which is yet to be explained to me), or we will have the same problem again. I believe the only reason I received the aliya yesterday was because of the overwhelming internet coverage this matter received, which made YC uncomfortable (the word “shame” was liberally used about them).   A good, sweet New Year to all.

  • PM123 says:

     @zephaniah_waks As Emmanuel said in his New Year wishes email “and most importantly, Menuchat Hanefesh – tranquillity, serenity  and peace of mind.” Spot on.

  • hhhhhhhh says:

    Shule Commitee
    It’s time for a Shule Commitee Election, let’s not get into the old pattern where there aren’t regular elections every two years.

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.