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Now is the Time to Come Forward

June 19, 2013 – 5:06 pm19 Comments

no more silenceBy Manny Waks
The Commonwealth Royal Commission Inquiry into child sexual abuse within organisations has now commenced.  Tzedek, an Australian-based advocacy group for Jewish victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, is uniquely positioned to provide evidence to the Royal Commission about the nature and extent of past and present child sexual abuse within Jewish organisations.

Tzedek has already gathered significant evidence of sexual abuse against children and young people in organisational settings.  Now, as the Royal Commission prepares to hear evidence of the extent of abuse across Australia, an opportunity exists to help piece together our community’s proper understanding of this issue that has historically, and tragically, been enveloped in silence.

How many Jewish children and young people have suffered alone in the agony of sexual abuse?  In which organisations has this occurred, and with whose knowledge? Who are the perpetrators, who are the handmaidens, and who are the conspirators? What has happened to the discarded allegations and suspicions that have fallen into labyrinths of obfuscating bureaucracies and worse? Who has shown the courage to raise their hands to investigate allegations, and who has conspired to ensure that a torment burrows ever deeper within our community? What can we do to aid the healing of victims and change the consciousness of some segments of our community? What can now be done to put an end to this scourge?

These are questions that our community must now answer. Tzedek has already been in contact with around 100 Jewish victims/survivors from around Australia. We will maintain an ongoing communications with these individuals, and in some cases with their families. Now is the time for others who have experienced past abuse (or their family members) to come forward and share their stories. Clearly this is a confronting message for some members of our community. How do victims/survivors end years – sometimes decades – of silence? In Tzedek’s experience, victims experience enormous relief when they share their stories within a supportive and confidential environment. This not only brings healing, but also opens the possibility to report perpetrators to the appropriate authorities. Apart from the opportunities to bring closure to fractured lives, it also helps ensure that those perpetrators cannot re-offend. Now, with the establishment of the Royal Commission, there is a unique opportunity to document past wrongs and ensure that the precedent of silence is replaced with a commitment to prevention and transparency. Victims can share their stories with Tzedek, which will be relayed to the Royal Commission, or Tzedek can support victims to contact the Royal Commission directly.

We are aware of the pain and discomfort to those who value the reputation of our community. Nevertheless, the answer to this unease is not to further obscure an issue whose time has come, but rather to stand together in pride that we are secure and compassionate enough to endure challenges to belief systems that condemn some of our fellow Jews to a lifetime of hiding. The protection of Jewish children and young people against the risk of child sexual abuse is paramount and the past practice of silence and denial has made the problem worse, not better. Enough! No more silence.

The Royal Commission will investigate how all Australian community-based organisations protect the children and young people in their care. This includes Jewish organisations, whether they be schools, synagogues, youth groups, sporting clubs or the like. It is already clear from the short history of Tzedek that our community has its share of sexual predators. The Royal Commission is a unique opportunity for the Jewish community to establish the full extent of this scourge and to prevent its reoccurrence. You can help build a stronger and better Jewish community by coming forward to share your story. Tzedek can assist victims/survivors and their families within a safe and supportive environment. We can also provide victims/survivors and their families with comprehensive information about the role of the Royal Commission and the range of ways to share information that ensures your privacy, if that is your wish.

Please visit the Tzedek website at www.tzedek.org.au or contact us at info AT tzedek.org.au

Manny Waks is the Founder and CEO of Tzedek. 

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19 Comments »

  • letters in the age says:

    Youre a true mensch Manny.

    Best of luck with your amazing work and advocacy.

    I only hope we see fine people like you in politics in the foreseeable future!!

    cheers,

    ;)

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Ethical matters concern all. Nobody has a monopoly on asserting and defending them. Judaic ethical principles have survived thousands of years of societal testing. All Jews are involved by virtue of their own spiritual observance in upholding them. This responsibility is fundamental to our survival as people, the survival of our identity.
    There is no “unique” organisation within our community charged with these functions. Thus, Tzedek may not claim exclusive authority on any ethical or any other issue.
    Recent legal enquiries outside our community, the mentioned Commission, has heard a large number of testimonies from a huge variety of organisations and even private individuals. Our community has been represented by a number of legitimate organisations, specifically religious and also umbrella organisations. In addtion, Tzedek and alongside it private individuals have also addressed the Commission. Two Waks family members have appeared. Transcripts of their depositions are now comprehensively public.
    It must be said that certain statements left with the Commission by Messrs. Waks have dealt with descriptions of the function of traditional Jewish institutions, Yeshivot and specifically Mikvot.
    The extent to which descriptions parted by the Messrs. Waks with the Commission regarding the running of Yeshivot and Mikvot would be of serious concern. The depositions were formulated in a generalised form in a spirit of acute criticism of suggested malfunctions of the institutions, conducive to serious concerns about their fundamental ethical observances.
    Serious generalised distortions were observed at the said depositions. One could conclude that ill spirited motivations could have been at play. These are not fair and constructive testimonial contributions, but seriusly damaging abuses.
    It must be refuted that Tzedek are the “unique” structure within our community dealing with the scurge of child abuse.
    Our traditional sources of ethical education and communal support are most reliable institutions and they must be defended and encouraged to function as such, not unfairly attacked. We all strive to attain perfection, Tzedek, however, appear to believe that they have reached unassailable perfection and that nobody else could possibly be trusted to address the problem of possible child abuse in our Community.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Good luck Manny.

  • Carn the Blues says:

    Politics? Background checks about Israeli army events is all he needs when the spotlight will focus on him. Stay out of politics Manny. It’s a dirty dog eat dog business. Skeletons are best left in the cupboard. ‘Carn the mighty Blues.

  • letters in the age says:

    Thats not nice…??

    I hope Carlton get thrashed with that comment…

    ;)

  • R B says:

    You are very brave, good luck.

    Looking forward to your lecture at my Shule, a few weeks from now.

  • letters in the age says:

    Otto…

    You have a very weird outlook on various matters..

    Thats all.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Lettres

    thanks and that’s not all………….

  • Shirlee says:

    Otto is far from alone in his thoughts. That’s all I am at liberty to say.

  • Benseon says:

    Manny – you are a true hero. You are performing a crucial role in helping to bring this blight on our community to light.

    May G-d bless you in your efforts.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    ….something fishy about all these sudden short “herogrammes”, except for Lettres who is a “known” shark.
    Why are they so identically brief and do not engage in specifics !!! Could it be a well orchestrated support cheer Leader’s ( see Tzedek !!) parade !?

  • Alex Fein says:

    Otto, the non specific comments are spam.

    Spammers write nonsense or general comments and include a link in the comment or on their name in the hope readers will click through to their site.

    These comments are deleted as soon as the editors see them.

  • letters in the age says:

    Thanks Otto and Shirlee…

    Have a lovely weekend guys

    ;)

    Shalom

  • letters in the age says:

    http://mayaangelou.com/

    The above lady is a prominent American iconoclast and a survivor of sexual abuse herself.

    She has also conducted similar advocacy groups with abuse victims and workshops along with her amazing litreature and body of work.

    Maybe Tzedek could adopt a similar model and incorporate her inspiring poetry with the wonderful work they are currently doing.

    She is very well respected by all political affiliations in the U.S.A

    Bless.

  • wasthere says:

    Kol hakavod Manny….Keep up the great work and please ingore the trolls and apologists as child abuse has no place in our community or any community for that matter….

  • Shirlee says:

    wasthere

    There are no “the trolls and apologists” the issue is not with the situation at hand, it started way before. You can go way back on J Wire and see it.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Shirlee

    “was there”, like his own short quip mates was, in fact, anywhere BUT “there”. If anything, he is all over the place………….

  • wasthere says:

    It’s unfortunate Shirlee that trolls and apologists do exist….

    [Eds: Some content removed. Please don’t provoke other people who leave comments. No good can come of it. If you have a complaint about another commenter, please email the editors.].

  • Reallity Check says:

    What don’t people get. There is no justification for anyone preying on children for their own sexual gratification. It’s abhorrent and the the penetrators must be brought to justice. And anyone harbouring these people must also answer for their actions.

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