Controversial rabbi new principal of Adass Israel School

By MAX MARGAN and HANNAH MOORE (Daily Mail Online)
July 3, 2017

A disgraced rabbi who admitted to criticising victims of sexual abuse has been appointed principal of a school which allegedly covered up sex crimes.

Meir Shlomo Kluwgant resigned as Australia's most senior rabbi in 2015 after admitting to calling the father of a child abuse victim a 'lunatic' who 'neglected his own children'.

Kluwgant will now head Melbourne's Adass Israel School, which has been previously accused of helping a former principal flee to Israel amid allegations she sexually assaulted students, a letter allegedly distributed to staff and published online shows.

'We are pleased to advise that we have appointed Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant to assume Dr Herszberg's role. They will be working together collaboratively for the remainder of the year, to ensure a smooth transition,' the letter reads.

It tells staff the controversial Rabbi was chosen after a 'global recruitment process', and with 'the full support of the Board and Executive'.

Former principal Malka Leifer allegedly abused at least eight girls while she was principal of the Elsternwick school between 2003 and 2008.

When the allegations came to light, Leifer fled Australia with her family in the middle of the night, allegedly with the help of school officials.

She remains in Israel and has refused to return to Victoria were she would face prosecution for 74 sexual abuse offences against former students.

In 2015, former student Dassi Erlich, now 30, brought a civil case against the school – which was ordered to pay her $1,024,428 in damages.

On Sunday, Ms Erlich penned an emotional open letter urging Adass Israel to reconsider the appointment of the controversial rabbi.

'A letter I never thought I would have to write,' Ms Erlich began the letter, addressed to the members of the Adass school board.

'I implore you, please do not make the mistake of hiring Rabbi Kluwgant. When you hire a principal it is not merely an administrative matter, it is a statement of your moral code as a community.

'I was hoping my case encouraged change in your culture of silence. This new appointment tells me nothing has changed.

'Is it your intention to make it that much harder for the already terrified victims to come forward, with this additional hurdle to overcome?'

Once the president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, Kluwgant resigned just days after appearing in the witness box at the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Daily Mail Australia have contacted Adass Israel School and Rabbi Kluwgant for comment.