Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Jewish News at it again - This time it's Rabbi Yossi Feldman

Long-time readers will remember that the straw that broke the camel's back and the catalyst for creation of this blog was the following front page in the AJN:
(Although all charges against Rabbi Engel were later dropped, we cannot recall reading an apology from the newspaper for their despicable sensationalist reporting.)

Two years on - nothing has changed. Both editions last week plastered their front pages with an assault on another rabbi - not just any rabbi, but the "top" rabbi - in their estimation.
A Sydney reader has informed us that Rabbi Feldman's lawyers view the Jewish News' reporting as actionable under Australia's libel laws. If indeed so, we look forward to Rabbi Feldman extracting a substantial payout למען ישמעו ויראו.

Maybe Rabbi Engel can also get some advice about the way his case was portrayed.

If anyone can supply the documents and any further details please contact us at

Meanwhile we look forward to Australia's rabbis and rabbinical organisations to offer more support to Rabbi Feldman than they did to Rabbi Engel. After all, who knows who the next קרבן if the Jewish News is?

The Sydney Sunday Sun-Herald has now latched on to this story:
A SENIOR Sydney rabbi is refusing to resign from the state's Jewish religious authority over comments he made suggesting that sexual abuse cases should be handled within the community and not by police, claiming they did not represent his ''official'' view.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman, the president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW, has been under pressure to resign after making the comments in a series of emails to fellow rabbis last week.

Last night, his brother, Rabbi Eli Feldman, said that, while he does not deny sending the emails, which were leaked to The Australian Jewish News, the contents ''do not reflect his official position'' and he ''is a strong advocate of police intervention in cases of paedophilia''.

 ''He was just conjecturing,'' Rabbi Eli Feldman told The Sun-Herald.

The comments by Rabbi Feldman echo an edict given by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s that reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy be handled in Rome by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Rabbi Feldman wrote: ''I really don't understand why as soon as something of serious loshon horo [evil talk] is heard about someone of even child molestation should we immediately go to the secular authorities. One must go to a Rov [rabbi] who should firstly investigate the veracity of the complaint and if thought to be serious, warn the culprit etc. and act in a way that could scare him by threatening him with publicity by internet to the whole community.''

He added: ''I personally feel that if we as a Jewish leadership can't deal with this and other issues bifnim [internally] we are showing ourselves to be impotent …''

Rabbi Feldman also suggested that because paedophiles were raped in prison, the people who reported them to the police could be held responsible.

Several rabbis told The Australian Jewish News that Rabbi Feldman's comments did not represent the broader view of the rabbinate and that he should resign from the honorary position.

As of last night, Rabbi Feldman was clinging to his post but a decision had not been made about his future, his brother said.

Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence said that he did not believe there was anyone in his congregation who was sympathetic to the views ascribed to Rabbi Feldman.

He said the rabbi's comments were alien to their understanding of Jewish values and of the responsibility of the rabbinate leadership.

Rabbi Lawrence himself resigned from the council following friction between himself and Rabbi Feldman. Asked if he felt Rabbi Feldman should step down he said that it would remove pressure from other rabbis who felt they were unable to be taken seriously within their communities while the council was enmeshed in controversy.

He stressed that there was no suggestion that there had been any abuse in Sydney or that there had been abuse in Sydney that had been concealed.

Rabbi Eli Feldman said his brother was determined to clear his name and that they were considering taking legal action against The Australian Jewish News.


  1. If Rabbi Feldman is against going to the non-Jewish authorities he surely wouldn't dream to go himself just because he feels he was libelled??

  2. Sorry AJNWatch but you just lost all credibility. funny how this time you not only disagree with the Jewish News, but with every other sydney rabbi, as they are also calling for feldman's resignation, along with feldman's shul constituents.
    Wake up AJN, sometimes the Jewish News does get it right.

  3. I presume that now that the Herald and Telegraph has published the AJNs accusations, the amount Rabbi Feldman can claim - if successful - goes up a fair bit.

    Doesn't matter, Robert Magid can afford it

  4. You can be sure that no rabbi is going to make a stand for Y Feldman. Unless it will be a brother or a non-pulpit one.

    Teh Chabad and other 'brothers' are pulling their heads in waiting for this to pass

  5. Anon 12.07

    You think the other rabbis REALLY accept the AJN story?

    They have no choice - otherwise they'll be on the front page next week.

    I have full confidence in RYF that he didn't say exactly what the paper reported.

    I also look forward to him getting a big payout for the pain

  6. Official statement sent out by mass email from Yosef Feldman:


    I would like to put on the record that from my perspective the Australian Jewish News coverage in issue dated 29/7/11 misquoted, misconstrued and misrepresented my comments from an in internal Halachic debate amongst the Rabbinate of Australia relating to the serious and reprehensible issues of Child abuse and the appropriate response. I reserve all of my Halachic and Legal rights in relation to this matter which constitutes in my opinion no less than character assassination at the highest level. Today I will be consulting with a senior defamation Lawyer in relation to what I believe is an outrageous travesty, and exploring all available options including Beth Din or court proceedings to remedy the matter.

    I quote the beginning of the article which says that, "Among his assertions were that anyone who reported a paedophile would be responsible if the paedophile was raped in prison." I never made such an unqualified assertion in relation to a convicted paedophile. This and other serious matters arising from the coverage will be pursued vigorously.

    I would also like to make abundantly clear that the Rabbinate of NSW under my Presidency and encouragement has unequivocally and unanimously endorsed a resolution condemning all forms of child abuse and recommends the reporting of such to the relevant secular authorities.

    I also emphatically endorse the joint statement on this matter publicised by ORA (The Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia) the Melbourne Beth Din and the Sydney Beth Din, which states that there is no Halachic impediment to conveying all credible information regarding such matters to the police or relevant authorities, but to the contrary, it is Halachically obligatory to do so. The obligation applies not only to mandatory reporters but to all who become aware that abuse is taking place.

    The Jewish News has called for my resignation as President of RCNSW.

    My response is that as a result of what I and others believe to be their unprofessional recklessness, in my personal capacity I call for the immediate resignations of both AJN National Editor Zeddy Lawrence and article author Josh Levi, before they cause further damage to myself, the Sydney Rabbinate and the Jewish community.

    Rabbi Yosef Feldman

  7. If the Rabbi does believe in having rabbonim handle child abuse claims, he has made a real balls-up by allowing his views to become known to the public. His position is ludicrous and out of sync with community opinion and the position of the majority of rabbonim (including the Beis Din of Crown Heights, whose recent ruling requires one to report allegations of abuse directly to the police - as a Chabad rabbi, it is hard to understand why he would adopt a position that does not accord with the beis din.) He may have intended his views to remain among the rabbonim of the community, but if you send an email to several dozen rabbis and expect it not to be leaked to the press, then he is obviously not in touch with the real world. The publicity surrounding the alleged comments are a real shande and lead to a further diminishing of the kehillah's respect for its rabbis.

  8. I am by now thoroughly confused. I am prepared to believ whatever RY Feldman says, but I'd like to know what it really is.

    The Jewish News has absolutely no credibility they are @#!%stirring trying to seel a few more papers - as they die on their feet.

    That is why I hope that Feldman can explain it all and also sue their pants off

  9. "Feldman Friend" you are a naive person. "Believer" you are hopeful and confused.
    Let me explain it to you all.

    For 30 odd years the Feldmans have been running a dictatorship. Many injustices have been done during this period of time. Many people have tried to intervene and to speak to the Feldmans about their attitudes, but these people have all been ignored. Eventually all of these people left the Yeshiva and davened elsewhere.

    Meanwhile we are in a situation where so many have left yiddishkeit due to certain actions on the part of certain people, and it is a travesty. Nevermind the abuse issues, that is a book in itself, how many victims have been kicked to the curb> how many pedophiles and other kinds of abusers have been allowed to get off scott free? Of course I cannot mention names and dates although I would like to, I will not subject this blog to a defamation suit.

    When people don't listen to good advice and continue on their merry way doing the wrong thing which unfortunately affected so many people, then eventually Gd has to send louder and louder messages to get their attention. This latest "message" in the form of humuliating publicity in the AJN and elsewhere is indeed a loud message. Will they listen? Doesn't look like it so far, they are just threatening to sue. Go ahead and sue if you want to Yosef Feldman but it won't get you anywhere except to destroy whatever credibility you have left.
    Best thing to do is T_E_S_H_U_V_A - remember that word? That's all you need to do - tell the truth, stop talking nonsense and listen to others who know better.

    Written by a person who cares.
    You can call me Nechama.

  10. to the last comment:

    Wow!! That's a lot of Loshon Horoh (with clearly no real substance at all in your comment) to be saying about a family of Rabbonim who have dedicated their lives to Am Yisrael, brought thousands back to Yiddishkeit and done an unbelievable amount of Chessed for so many people!

  11. There are times when loshon hora MUST be spoken, when others are in DANGER. You must speak up if you know something about a person, to save others from the same fate. So I reject your loshon hora accusation although its been presented for a long time now by Feldman followers in order to shut people up. How many people have they brought back to yiddishkeit and how many have they turned off it, that is the real question. Do a survey, come back and let us all know.

  12. Anonymous, you want substance? I can give you substance but not on a public website where too many names would be revealed. I probably know you and you probably know me - we could even be related! I can give you all the substance you need in the form of documentation but my hands are tied as I have just pointed out.
    I will set up an Anonymous email address:
    You may email me, and I will then know who you are and if you are connected to the Feldmans, I will send you all the documentation and substance you require. However I should point out that this has already been done but I was ignored by the Feldmans.
    And just by the bye what about the loshon hora spoken against the VICTIMS OF ABUSE by the Feldmans? Anything to say on that point?
    Go ahead, email me, make my day.

  13. Third and last comment: I would like to say one more thing. For many years the victims have been ignored. Now that this issue has been brought into the public arena, we are finally getting some feedback.
    Do the Feldmans understand that victims are people? They are children, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives. They need to be heard. They need to be acknowledged. Ignoring them doesn't make the issue go away.
    If things had been handled differently, these people like myself would not be writing this stuff on the internt but we have no other option until now.
    Please take me seriously becuase I am a victim and I want you to understand how it feels. Maybe now this has gone global you will realize the impact it has had on all of us.

  14. I can't think of a single person who has done as much as Rabbi Pinchos feldman for the spreading of Torah and chasidus in Sydney.

    Think about it, just about every important institution was founded eithe rby him or his talmidim (some who later distanced themselves from him)

    Yes he made some mistakes, but then as Rabbi Groner ztl used to famously say, about those that do nothing - no one has taanos.

    I could list 25 rabbis in Sydney famous and less famous - who you woul dbe struggling to find ONE thing that they ever did for teh klall.

    And have a look at the younger Feldmans. They too are mostly working on behalf of the community.

    And what do they get for this? Public attacks and humiliation by those who haven't done 1/100th of the Feldmans.

    Yossi feldman NEVER defended pedophiles and has made that quite clear. But that doesn't stop the Feldman-bashers. Nothing will

  15. Eileh hadevarim - you aver that "I can't think of a single person who has done as much as Rabbi Pinchos feldman for the spreading of Torah... in Sydney". That is entirely unfair!

    What about Rabbi Davey Blackman who heads an institution that boasts three rabbonim, a kollel, many shiurim for all ages, and a vibrant shule?

    Also, what about Rabbi Michoel Gourarie, whose Bina institution employs three learned rabbonim, runs two shules catering to frum and unaffiliated Jews, as well as many, many shiurim at all levels?

    There are many other examples. Your point about Rabbi P Feldman doing much for Yiddishkeit does not need to be made while denigrating the immense work of other rabbonim in Sydney in promoting Torah and mitzvos and doing kiruv rechokim!

  16. Feldman was doing his job in the beginning, he fell off the tracks sometime further ahead.
    Name other rabbis in Sydney doing a FANTASTIC job: Benzion Milecki who has a full shul every Shabbos, same goes for Aron Moss at Nefesh... there's more of course.... and the best thing about those two is that they stick to the rules. No scandals and no court cases. B"H

  17. Of course I agree that rabbi Blackman has done an outstanding job since arriving here. He has indeed shown what a person with talent and dedication to a cause can achieve.
    Similarly Rabbis Milecki and Moss are doing great things.

    But nothing is o the scale of what Rabbi P Feldman has done for decades.
    Besides building Sydney's Jewish infrastructure in so many ways - he can be proud of turning Sydney into a Chabad stronghold. Before his arrival we had a few older Chabadniks - very chashuv people, mind you - but they weren't into building. Today, nearly every important rabbinical position in Sydney is filled by a Chanadnik. The only person who can be credited with this is Rabbi Feldman

    So, sure the feldman's made some mistakes along the way, and no doubt will make more - as they continue their good works.

    I could list 20 Sydney rabbinical names - easily - of those who lived and worked in Sydney, but together they didn't achieve 1/10th of what Rabbi Feldman has.

  18. To the aptly named Eileh HaDevarim: Your words are just words.

    I can also write 20 Sydney rabbinical names of those who lived and worked in Sydney, who together did not achieve 1/10 of the chillul Hashem of that of the Rabbi Feldmans - senior and junior.

    Yet more court cases to anticipate in such a climate of anti-semitism that we live in - and in the near future you can again expect to pick up a copy of the Sydney morning Herald or the Age or the Daily Telgraph and see their smiling faces on the front page as they race to the courts to sue the pants off Meir Moss and Kesser Torah College.
    It just never ends.

  19. hopefully we can read more in the new domain coming soon


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