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This Week: What do You Think? And Yaron’s Friday Thought

July 18, 2013 – 8:04 pm22 Comments

From the editor:

friday2Jeffrey Wolf provides analysis of the vicious battle for Chief Rabbi currently under way in Israel. Does the Rabbinate need to be reformed or is the current situation working? If you don’t believe it is, do you feel that moderate rabbis are the answer or do you feel that religion and state should be completely separated?

Meanwhile, state money will now go to pluralist Jewish learning in Israel, breaking the current Orthodox monopoly on state funded batei midrash. What role do you think the state should play in funding Jewish learning?

Poland bans ritual slaughter. Under what circumstances do you think state imposition of societal norms onto religious minorities is acceptable?

Tzedek, an advocacy group for Jewish Australian survivors of sexual abuse has been passed over for government funding, despite enjoying support from other advocacy groups and federal Labor MP, Laurie Ferguson. The organisation will now rely even more heavily on the community for funding. Do you think our community has the correct funding priorities? Do you think communal money is spent effectively? If not, what changes would you make? Please note, any personal attack against Manny Waks will be deleted and will constitute a violation of our commenting policy.

The Jewish Daily Forward lists artists who do, don’t, and kinda/sort of/don’t really boycott Israel, and provides a brief history. Do you think boycotts endanger Israel or are they nothing more than vanity projects for ethical show ponies?

Temimah Zucker writes about the challenges of fasting for someone who has suffered an eating disorder. Do you believe there is a problematic relationship between Jews and food? Is there a particular problem for Jewish women?


And a Friday thought from Yaron Gottlieb:

This Shabbat in the Jewish calendar is called Shabbat Nachamu, for the first words in the haftorah, nachamu nachamu ami (be comforted my nation), and it has always had a strange significance for me.

It is after all a point of re-birth and possibilities.
The three Shabbatot prior to the fast of the 9th of Av are building up with God warning us of what will happen if we do not follow his law. This culminates with Shabbat Chazon immediately prior to the 9th of Av where the dread of the oncoming fast creates some moments of terror.
On the physical level the question of how I will survive for 25 hours arises (even though I thankfully fast comfortably each year), and how I will respond to the rather gruesome imagery that surrounds this day.
But then the fast passes, and we arrive at the great communal sigh of relief, and the words of comfort that are read the very next Shabbat. It is a re-birth, a potential turning point.
And yet how many turning points are squandered by people every year – Yom Kippur, where we are cleansed through abstinence, Pesach where we can use the cleaning of bread as a reflection of our own spiritual cleansing?
This community was set up by those who were willing to build great structures, but it is now feels like it is meandering, it needs a re-birth to once again become dynamic and relevant.
I have no doubt that I will not fully grasp this turning point again this year, but one of these years I hope to grab the opportunity with both hands and make something of it.

Disclosure: Yaron Gottlieb is the editor’s husband

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  • kush says:

    I don’t think “tzedek” is deserving of community funds as they have yet to show what the money is being used for. There is also no transparency of the spending. Being that the “organizations” entire “board” is made up of volunteers, it seems that all (or at least most) of the money coming in is to pay for the “CEO”‘s salary.

  • Lulu says:

    “Tzedek” as you call it, is very open about its expenses and which projects require funding. Isn’t it fantastic that there is a group of volunteers willing to give up their time for such an honourable cause?

  • kush says:

    a volunteer based organization needs minimal funding.

  • frank says:

    tzedek has claimed that they are the best organization for this thing. Obviously the royal commission (which is the government body set up specifically for this) feels differently. The royal commission feels that tzedek is not worthy of support and their work is not vital to victims or to the community. Why then should the community support them. Especially in light of all the controversy surrounding them.

  • Vivien Resofsky says:

    Kush I strongly disagree with your opinion that Tzedek is not deserving of community funds. The shame of it all is that there are many Jewish organizations in Melbourne that assert to protect children – The JCCV, The JCCV Reference Group, Rabbinical Council of Victoria, Jewish Care and Tzedek. All these organizations require funding. But what a shame that each organization asks Government and community members for funding for exactly the same thing to protect children. Why is this not a united response? Why are so many organizations involved that require funding? Are children being abused while the politics is taking place? I believe that certain organizations promote certain agendas, not all of them in the best interests of children. If I was in the position of allocating funding I would allocate it to two organisations. Firstly Jewish Care because we need professionally qualified people to oversee a community response to child sexual abuse. Our community is still not receiving all the information required as well as correct information to prevent more children from being abused. I believe our community is not yet being guided to confront the cultural factors that allow child sexual abuse to occur and continue. That is why Tzedek is the other organization I would support financially. I believe history has shown (both in Australia and world-wide) that organizations are not prepared to reform by themselves. It takes pressure for change to occur. That us why I would fund Tzedek.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Kush – it is very common for board members of not for profits not to be paid.

    Ideally boards don’t do the day to day work of the organisation but set strategy and direction, and provide governance and oversight of the work of the paid executive/s.

    In the Jewish community, most board positions are not paid and a key use of of funding is for staffing costs without which programs/ education/ more fundraising can’t happen.

    That’s is the case for all shules, Jewish Care, UJEB etc as well as the community roof bodies.

  • frank says:

    Vivien and Mandy,

    My point is that the royal commission themselves (the very body set up to tackle this issue) don’t feel that tzedek is the organization meant to deal with this. Hence zero funding.

    If you wish to give them your money, then go ahead. The question in the article was what was peoples opinion regarding this. My opinion is that they don’t deserve support as even the royal commission doesn’t feel they need support.

  • frank says:


    Kush was pointing out that the bulk of money donated to tzedek goes directly to line Manny Waks’s pockets. If people want to fund his salary is totally up to them.

    The question in this article (as I read it) is whether or not this is a “community” organization deserving of “community” funds. I believe it’s not based on the response of the “royal commission”.

    Which also calls to attention the “real” agenda of the organization, whether it is a “communal agenda” or a “personal agenda”.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    And my point Frank is that you could say that about any organisation – shule memberships fund rabbis’ salaries. Welfare organisations fund social workers. UIA, JNF,the JCCV all of them employ executive directors funded by donations. And that is proper and necessary.

    If you or Kush or anyone else has a specific concern that Manny is not acting in good faith, is not acting in the best interests of victims and is not acting to advance the goals of Tzedek but is motivated instead by securing himself a job as CEO of Tzedek, I suggest you provide some evidence for that.

    Neither of you has done that.

    Kush’s argument depends on the fact that the board is voluntary and the CEO is paid – silly argument – as a matter of principle or structure that is not problematic.

    Your argument turns on the fact of no funding from the commission body. That is disappointing to Tzedek – but it doesn’t mean that the organisation is not doing worthwhile work. If you have ever tried to get government funding for any organisation/community venture you will know that there are lot obstacles – there is no basis to assume that it is because they do not believe Tzedek is worthwhile.

    Of course you are entitled not to support Tzedek and you are entitled to encourage others not to do so – but so far your argument is extremely weak. To be kind.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Frank, your comments are skating very close to the line and could be construed as personal slights against Manny.

    You have also completely misunderstood the question. It was not asking whether Tzedek was worthy. It was a broader question about the way our institutions are funded.

    This is not a discussion about whether Tzedek or Manny are legitimate actors. Move on.

  • Manny Waks says:

    Just to clarify, there were many other organisations that applied who also didn’t receive any funding. For example, the Centre Against Sexual Assault (http://www.casa.org.au/) applied and also didn’t receive any funding. Similarly Family Life (http://www.familylife.com.au/ ). Does this mean that the Royal Commission believes that they are ‘not worthy of support and their work is not vital to victims or to the community’?

    I think that those “courageous” anonymous individuals attempting to discredit Tzedek by stating that Tzedek did not receive any funding due to the lack of confidence by the Royal Commission are merely demonstrating their ignorance and/or personal agenda. The fact is, we don’t yet know of the reason(s). It could have been a technical one (e.g. something in the application was missing). It may have been because of the relatively low number of victims/survivors (at least statistically). It may have been because we are a very new organisation (and have not yet received any government grants). Essentially those who have rushed to judgement are merely demonstrating their misguided motives.

    Regarding the issue of transparency, Tzedek has got a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors (http://www.tzedek.org.au/about/our-people/). We have strong governance and we take this issue very seriously. The money raised goes to overheads and programmes – just as they do in every organisation. A number of major philanthropists have already contributed financially (some of the list is available at http://www.tzedek.org.au/supporters/) – I can assure you that the major donors required significant material (including funding proposals/budgets). Their support is in fact an indication of their confidence in Tzedek and the desperate need for our work. And just in case you are wondering, I have not yet been paid a cent for salary since I commenced in early April (i.e. no salary for well over three months) – so I’ve put my career (for that matter, my life) on the line for Tzedek and our work. Again, the critics here are merely highlighting their ignorance and/or personal agenda.

    As I’ve previously stated, I will not engage in any exchanges with anonymous individuals. The above was simply to set the record straight. That’s now been done. And I’ll conclude as I often do when I reluctantly engage with anonymous critics; what have you done to obtain justice for past victims and to ensure the safety of our children in the future?

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Manny Waks
    Founder & CEO

  • kush says:

    Mandy’s quote: If you or Kush or anyone else has a specific concern that Manny is not acting in good faith, is not acting in the best interests of victims and is not acting to advance the goals of Tzedek but is motivated instead by securing himself a job as CEO of Tzedek, I suggest you provide some evidence for that.

    evidence? Just look at the facts! That is in itself evidence!

  • Alex Fein says:

    Kush, provide concrete, genuine evidence, or cease commenting on this topic. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of commenting policy.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Commenting more broadly – it’s interesting how some people assume that people working in the not for profit sector are motivated by the salary they get doing that work.

    The logic used here is akin to saying rabbis pretend to believe so they can get a job in a shule. And teachers pretend to be committed to education so they can get jobs as teachers. And nurses pretend to care about people etc. (Because those jobs are so well paid and just oozing with perks… )

    It’s almost always the other way around – people choose to work in the not for profit sector because they believe in the work – and do so in spite of the fact that they could usually earn more in the commercial sector. I have also observed that often when an organisation is getting off the ground, people work for very little or for nothing until funding is established.

  • kush says:

    Alex Fein,

    I have been commenting on facts and common sense. The editor asked for public opinion on this and I gave it.

    Is a sensible person to believe that Manny is not being paid? Is being a critic considered violating “commenting policy”? Is that the policy of anyone who puts a negative comment against tzedek? Is there a policy in place of “either you are with me or against me”?

    My point which I still stick to is that there is no public transparency. The same was claimed against the Yeshivah Centre. For that it was ok to comment against them for no transparency, but not here?

    two standards?

  • Alex Fein says:

    Kush – to clarify:

    . I’m the editor and I did not ask for comment on whether Tzedek is above board. Go back and re-read the post.

    . You have provided no facts, only personal attacks against Manny, about which you have been warned.

    . This is your final warning. Further attempts to smear Manny Waks will result in suspension of your account.

  • kush says:

    Editor: Please do not debate moderation policy in thread. Email the editor with any concerns. Any further attempt to debate this matter in thread will result in suspension of your account.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Kush I have no involvement in Tzedek but I find your comments to be ridiculous.

    What specifically do you want transparency on that you are unable to find on Tzedek’s website? And have you written a civil email to its CEO or any of its directors or advisers seeking more transparency on that issue, whatever is may be?

    I had a look at Tzedek’s website – its president is a principal of a Melbourne law firm and its board of advisers includes a sitting judge – I am pretty confident that if you write a polite note to the CEO setting out your specific query, ask that your query remain confidential and copy in either of those two people, you will get a full and proper response and the confidentiality will be respected.

    But I suspect that’s not what you really want. What you want is to hide behind anonymity whole casting generalised aspersions about a lack of transparency. Ridiculous.

  • Zephaniah Waks says:

    Kush and Co: Very telling that the only comments on the editorial are about MW. The agenda really is transparent…

  • TheSadducee says:

    re. Poland and ritual slaughter ban.

    I think societal norms can be imposed on religious minorities to the point where they inhibit the individuals’ right/ability to fundamentally practice their religion.

    In the case of the ritual slaughter – this would be acceptable, though unpleasant, because Jews can function without kosher red meat – i.e. vegeterian, dairy, fish, eggs, poultry/fowl would all still be viable options.

    Hadassah managed to thrive in similar circumstances. so today’s Jews can do similarly if need be. Alternatively, migrate to a more Jewish friendly nation if it is a concern.

    re. artists boycott.

    Really it is their personal choice, however I would suggest that anything more than a boycott on the West Bank/Gaza/Golan, would be unjust due to the complexity of the conflict.

    I think alot of the artists are intimidated by the threatened bad press/PR and/or are misled by their associates/information and/or occasionally actually believe their own advertising agents’ hype and think they can make a difference with gestures.

    Nonetheless, you’ll always be able to find someone in the biz who’ll play for pay i.e. JLo has a great track record for playing for characters with dubious backgrounds for hard cash.

  • Reallity Check says:

    Who cares about the financies of Tzesek. They will have to answer to the authorities if there are problems. The main thing is that Manny is doing a lot of good for victims of child abuse and bringing those responsible and those who hid them to justice.

  • letters in the age says:

    Just heard Manny on 3aw with Tom Elliot .

    Great stuff!


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