By Jewel Topsfield (The Age)
September 22, 2014
A grassroots Jewish group will this week call for the resignation of the two most senior members of the Yeshivah Centre and Chabad movement in Melbourne over the child sex abuse scandal in the 1980s and '90s.
The group will launch a petition to coincide with the Jewish high holidays calling for Yeshivah Centre spiritual committee chairman Rabbi Avrohom Glick and Yeshivah Centre chairman Don Wolf to personally apologise to the victims and resign from all positions of leadership in the community.
David Cyprys, a former security guard and karate teacher at Yeshivah, was jailed last year for raping a 15-year-old boy in 1991 and sexually abusing eight other boys.
Cyprys was employed in the security role, as well as appointed to youth group leadership positions, within the Yeshivah Centre, despite him pleading guilty in 1992 to a charge of indecent assault over an incident at St Kilda in 1991.
Former Yeshivah College teacher David Kramer was also jailed for molesting four boys while teaching at the school between 1989 and 1992.
During his plea hearing, the court heard that in 1992, once Kramer's offending became known, the management of Yeshivah College offered to pay for the teacher's passage to Israel if he left immediately. He did and police were never contacted.
Kramer reoffended and served four and a half years in jail for sodomising a 12-year-old boy.
The petition, which is being distributed by the group Jews for Justice for Yeshivah's Victims, says the abuse occurred when Rabbi Glick, a former principal of Yeshivah College, and Mr Wolf were responsible for the children's safety and protection.
"We are appalled by your mishandling of the matter, both at the time and to this day," the petition says.
"We are outraged that you have not personally apologised or been held to account for your involvement in what amounts to the most shameful episode in the history of the Melbourne Jewish community."
Rabbi Glick was the principal of Yeshivah College from 1986 to 2007.
In a witness statement Rabbi Glick said he had only recently become aware of accusations that Cyprys had molested children. But in 2012 he changed his evidence under oath in the Melbourne Magistrates Court and admitted he had heard rumours in the early 2000s.
But the magistrate said it was "unfathomable" he was unaware at the time.
Mr Wolf served on the board of the Yeshivah Centre at the time children were sexually abused.
A spokesman for Jews for Justice for Yeshivah's Victims said the petition had already been circulated in the Jewish community and had the blessing of some senior Australian rabbis who had contributed to its wording.
"I believe that it strongly reflects the overwhelming attitude of the Jewish community regardless of where they sit in terms of religious observance," he said.
"There is a build-up of frustration within the community that all of us are being made to look bad on account of some people who refuse to do the right thing.
"The argument that board members and the principal were somehow not responsible for the safety of children at the school beggars belief."
The Yeshivah Centre did not respond to queries from The Age.
Manny Waks, who was one of the victims, welcomed the petition. He said anyone who held a leadership position at the Yeshivah Centre at the time of the abuse and cover-ups should stand down immediately. "Certainly Rabbi Glick and Don Wolf should set an example by taking the lead," Mr Waks said.
"Once this happens, our community will be able to move forward in a much more constructive manner. But the onus continues to be on Yeshivah. They have no one else to blame but themselves."
In 2012 the St Kilda Yeshivah Centre apologised "unreservedly" to victims of child sexual abuse.