The War Within and The Culture of Smear
Editor’s note: This piece has been heavily edited to remove potentially defamatory content. Galus is publishing this piece because we believe the central contention regarding a culture of smear is relevant to the current debates surrounding the abuse scandals.
Recently The Age ran an article titled “After the Whistle has blown”. The article asserted that Manny Waks and his parents, Zephania and Chaya Waks, have become the victims of a vindictive and hateful campaign to marginalise and ostracise them from the Melbourne Chabad/Yeshivah Community as a direct result of Manny having gone public with his allegations of Child Sexual Abuse. The article asserted that the bullying and intimidation had culminated in Manny’s parents’ decision to relocate to Israel.
Conflict in the Yeshivah is nothing new. In fact, a recent scan of the media highlights the following conflicts that have made it to the press – the long running battle between David Werdiger and Chaim Herzog over the CBD; the termination of Mordi Engel’s employment; and the conduct of Rabbi Telsner and Rabbi Kaminesky in a Din Torah in Sydney.
Further, the Melbourne Chabad/Yeshivah Community has dedicated blogs, including Aussie Echo, The Fifth Chelek, and Underpupick, that allow Yeshivah community members to anonymously spew their venom, and attack the institution, the Rabbi; and the Executive.
These blogs are run from [name removed: a]‘s office, together with emails circulated by [name removed: b]. [Names removed: a and b] joined forces to attack and discredit their arch enemy [name removed: c], after Rabbis Groner and Telsner backed [name removed: c] as the Rabbi of [shule name removed] some years ago. Interestingly enough, [names removed: a and b] are also known for their open hate and attacks of Manny and Zephania Waks, and as part of this process have taken to “manning the phones”, including to call/email numerous journalists around Australia in an attempt to discredit any of the assertions made by Waks.
So, why don’t the leaders act? and what are the motives of [names removed: a and b]?
In short, the leadership do not act because they are scared and intimidated, in particular of [name removed: b].
[Name removed: b] is known as a street fighter, who has no moral boundaries. Several years ago, in a dispute with another member of the Yeshivah Chabad community, [name removed: b] spread a rumour, that he had a “sex tape” of an individual involving a non-Jewish woman. The story is now part of Chabad folk lore, as is another claim that another Rabbi within the Melbourne Chabad community regularly sleeps with prostitutes. True or not, these assertions have stood the test of time, despite a lack of evidence. [Name removed: b] has succeeded in painting these individuals in a most unfortunate manner, which can never be changed, something these people and their families have to live with.
On the other hand, [name removed: a] is the son of a major donor to the Yeshivah Centre, and [further identifying information removed. It goes to evidence of a's many powerful connections].
As we know, money talks, particularly at the Yeshivah, where Richard Pratt was the patron of honour for Rabbi Groner’s 80th birthday even after his affair and fathering of a child out of wedlock became public knowledge.
To further complicate matters, immensely powerful Rabbi [name removed: d], has taken to openly criticising Manny and Zephania Waks for utilising the media and smudging the orthodox community in the process. This action by [name removed: d] makes it difficult for any Rabbi to come out in support of exposing the scourge of Child Sexual Abuse in our religious institutions, hence the silence.
What are [names removed]‘s motives for the hate of Waks? Simple. Members of their families [may] have been accused of perpetrating child sexual abuse extending as far back as the 1950s/1960s. [The author of this article believes] that Waks has furnished this information to Police, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission.
So where to from here? Well sadly nothing will change. The Waks family will probably relocate to Israel. [Names removed] will then probably hold a farewell party for the Waks famil… after they are gone. At the festive celebration, they will probably plot their next target to humiliate and denigrate all in the name of Chabad and Yeshivah. After all, [names removed] have a track record of success [examples provided; however, these are potentially defamatory]. Who can blame them for engaging and celebrating such conduct, after all, it was our Rabbis that stood idly by and let such hate dominate, which was the cause of the destruction of the second temple and our exile in galus ever since.