By Shmarya Rosenberg (Failed Messiah)
June 24, 2012
Members of Melbourne's Chabad community and rabbinic leaders of that community continue to harass an alleged victim of child sexual abuse and his family that supports him.
As you read this, remember, there are 12 alleged victims of David Cyprys vetted by police and who are part of the criminal court case against Cyprys. Manny Waks is the only one who has gone public. He did so in part to encourage the other alleged victims to go to police. 11 did go to police. Many others didn't.
But Cyprys wasn't the only pedophile Chabad was harboring and knowingly protecting, and Chabad faces potentially a series of criminal trials against former (and perhaps, current) employees.
To try to prevent that, Chabad has tried to intimidate Waks and his family, apparently as a warning to the other victims. (It is clearly also meant as vengeful retribution.)
The Wakses haven't buckled, despite having their patriarch suffer a form of excommunication and having all sorts of lies spread about Manny – many of those lies probably originating with a Chabad shaliach hired by Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner.
But when that bad wasn't bad enough to force the Waks family to 'repent', Chabad's lies against the Waks family were intensified, as Manny Waks now writes:
It is somewhat unsurprising but utterly disgusting the new level of intimidation and harassment we are currently experiencing.
Malicious rumours by some Yeshivah community members are alleging (privately, publicly and anonymously) that I and my siblings have been the subject of abuse by my parents – and that somehow this is connected to the sexual abuse cases in Yeshivah.
I therefore now feel compelled to respond publicly to these spurious allegations.
Firstly, the sexual abuse that I and so many others suffered was at the hands of people either formally or informally associated with the Yeshivah Centre. It is also a fact that Yeshivah was aware of (at least some of) the abuse and attempted to cover this up.
Anything else, including in relation to my family, is completely irrelevant. Full stop.
In response to the specific allegations of abuse at the hands of my parents, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, we were raised in a strict religious environment and I vociferously disagreed with some of my parents' approaches to discipline. This, at a time (and subsequent to), when I was being sexually abused over a number of years by two perpetrators and, probably as a result, presented my parents (and teachers) with numerous challenges, including some which they never faced before (e.g. as I am the oldest boy in a family of 17 children, I would have been somewhat of an experiment in terms of what discipline works generally, and especially discipline relating to demonstrating behaviour that is counter to a religious lifestyle).
In hindsight, both I and my parents can see some of the mistakes that were made. We have had mature discussions about this. They were even kind enough to apologise for any hurt they may have inflicted as a result of their mistakes.
Similarly with other siblings. My parents have conceded that they got some things wrong. And again, they have apologised for any hurt caused. Of course this does not necessarily mean that some children do not harbour some grievances towards my parents. There are plenty of issues in every family, and ours is no exception. In fact, as our family is around seven times the size of the national (Australian) average, it is safe to assume that the politics and issues we have is proportionate.
And for the record, the memories of my childhood within my family are very fond – the many trips we took as a family (overseas, weekends and day trips), playing with my many siblings all sorts of sports, the fun festive occasions etc.
So to claim that parental mistakes (even repeated ones) is somehow defined as child abuse suggests ulterior motives by those disseminating these spurious allegations (e.g. the need to cover up sexual abuse or jealousy of a great family relationship).
Interesting that these same people have never raised such issues in the past. Apparently it was fine for them to stand idly by and allow so many innocent children in the one family to be repeatedly abused by their parents. They did not feel the need to ensure intervention – either by the communal leaders or the police. In fact, as my parents are known for their generous hospitality, it is safe to assume that some of these ungrateful people were even hosted by them for a Shabbat meal. It is also a shocking reflection on these people to allow my mother to be President and an active member over many, many years of the N'shei Chabad ('Women of Chabad') organisation. Apparently my parents were fit for these and so many other communal contributions – a trait they have evidently imparted to their children.
It is quite evident that some will never accept the facts and unfortunately I anticipate further attempts to harass and intimidate. I can assure these people that I will remain resolute in this public campaign to achieve justice and raise awareness for the benefit of past victims and to try to prevent future victims.
As some of these people disseminating these spurious allegations have tried to somehow use my brother's (Avi/Bobom) recent public address at the Mizrachi Synagogue as proof of their lies, he has today provided the following public response, which was written and posted on his own accord i.e. I was not involved in his response in any way (it was written in response to comments on an article on the Galus Australis website):
"Normally I would not respond to comments to a blog post which had nothing to do with me but someone told me that I had been brought into this public debate with this comment:
"But classmates of his, myself included know full well that he and some of his siblings were abused victims well before Cyprus was on the horizon. Were you at Mizrachi (Shavuot) when Manny's brother bared his soul and spilled his guts about family goings on? I was as were 250 others. The dominoes quickly fell into place. What we suspected, and it appears others who were closer to Manny knew, filled in the missing links."
This comment was clearly designed to build up credibility for the writer by insinuating I said something which I didn't. I actually mentioned the current sexual abuse case in my speech as an example of how the leadership/community itself was highly hypocritical in it's response to the sexual abuse cases, in my opinion.
I did not say I was sexually abused and my speech which had nothing to do with the Yeshivah sexual abuse cases, is being twisted around here to make an argument that it is the family's fault if a victim is abused.
Mendy needs to get his facts straight and be more careful about who and what he uses to make his assertions.
Galus Australis needs to be more discerning in the moderation of the comments on their posts."
I do not intend to re-visit this issue – hopefully this will now be put to rest (at least until these people can think of further lies to disseminate).
People have asked me, now that I am experiencing this level of abuse, would I still have gone public and chosen this course? My response (and my parents' response) is still an unequivocal yes. I'm proud to have exposed this scandal and the Yeshivah Centre's hypocrisies. We have achieved a great deal both within Australia and globally and unfortunately we still have a fair bit to go. But with ongoing determination and support, we as a community can achieve a whole lot more.
During the height of the Agriprocessors scandal, Chabadniks spread lies about me:
I had once lived in Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin's basement, they said, living off charity from him, driving one of his cars and eating his food. I did that for three years, never spending a penny of my own own money, relying on Rubashkin's largesse. But when i wanted to marry Rubashkin's sister, Aaron, Sholom's father, said no because I'm a ba'al teshuva. Enraged, I set out on a campaign to destroy Agriprocessors and Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.
All of that is demonstrably and unequivocably false.
What's more, the Chabad shluchim, rabbis, in the Twin Cities know it. So does my old friend Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chabad's international head. And so do many other Chabad rabbis worldwide.
But not one of them publicly said it.
Instead, these representatives of Chabad allowed the lies to stand. Many of them did that even though they were asked to intervene.
Smearing people is an old Chabad tradition. Historians can show Chabad did this to opponents as far back as the 1790s.
Truth isn't important to Chabad unless that truth supports its behvaior and desires.
But when the truth is uncomfortable or calls their behavior into question – or when truth simply frees an opponent from attack or trouble – Chabad has no use for it.
Smearing Manny and his father Zephania Waks serves Chabad's purposes.
Therefore, the lies and harassment of the Waks family will almost certainly continue.