Monday, August 1, 2011

Media release from Rabbi Yosef Feldman

Hat tip - SBA list

Following on the AJN's shameful front page report last week - we have just received the following:

Media release from Rabbi Yosef Feldman

On 27 July 2011 and on 29 July 2011, a series of false and defamatory allegations were published by the Australian Jewish News concerning Rabbi Yosef Feldman .

The article, published under the byline of the AJN’s senior Sydney journalist, Joshua Levi, imputed that Rabbi Feldman was in favour of covering up acts of paedophilia by not reporting those acts to the police.

Those statements in the Australian Jewish News were false and are highly damaging to the Rabbi's high reputation. The Rabbi is presently considering the commencement of legal proceedings against the Australian Jewish News, its editor Zeddy Lawrence and Joshua Levi for defamation.

Rabbi Yosef Feldman has, at all times, publicly endorsed the unanimous view of the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales under his Presidency - that all acts of abuse must be reported to the police.

It would appear that the AJN obtained, by means unknown, an internal email exchange among Rabbis in which there was academic discussion of a range of views held by international scholars on how to deal with situations not subject to mandatory reporting. The AJN took extracts from that exchange and constructed a story and an editorial which attributed to the Rabbi views and opinions which he simply does not hold.

The Rabbi does not wish to speculate upon the AJN's motivation in publishing such a scandalously false piece of journalism. His only concern is to repair the damage done to his good name.

The true position is that Rabbi Feldman, like all other right thinking Australian citizens, believes that acts of paedophilia should and must be reported to the police for investigation and, if warranted, prosecution. It is not, and has never been, his view that criminal conduct of this kind should be covered up. The Rabbi's stance is that suspected paedophiles must face the Australian legal system.

There is no suggestion that any abuse has occurred in any Jewish establishment in New South Wales. However, the unanimous view of Rabbi Feldman and the Rabbinical Council of New South Wales is that suspected paedophiles must, if discovered, be reported to the police.



  2. B'H
    I retract my hasty comments with regard to Rabbi Feldman on FB and will delete the comment and link a post to this page.
    It is quite offensive and totally irresponsible of Zeddy Lawrence and his co-editorial team, to publish such material. But then, considering the garbage that can be published and put across as fact, it is no wonder I do not read newspapers.
    I am deeply sorry and beg Rabbi Feldman's forgiveness.

  3. Maimonides (also known as The Rambam (רמב"ם – Hebrew acronym for "Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon") rules [Mishna Torah Sanhedrin 22:7]:

    "It is forbidden for one of the judges to proclaim as he exits the court of law which side of the debate he took. It once happened that a student revealed what had transpired in the court 22 years earlier and he was ostracised."

    The underlying understanding behind this ruling can be understood after studying an enigmatic law ruled by the same author [Ibid, Sanhedrin 9:1]:

    "If the entire court unanimously urged that the person on trial be proclaimed guilty, he is immediately acquitted (from capital punishment. He can only be tried) once there exists a view which attempts to find him innocent."

    The Rambam's reasoning is founded on the Torah view that in cases of severe punishment, Jewish law mandates an extreme dose of open-mindedness (see Makkos end of chapter 1).

    In the end however, the decision is final and unanimous. It is no longer considered a collection of opinions, but rather the decision of the Court. A scholar who distances himself from the collective opinion once the ruling has been made final is considered a rebellious elder [Mamrim 1:2 ; 3:4].

    In the secular world, we find many examples of close-mindedness. One example is paedophillia or child abuse. Whereas gay and lesbian marriages were debated, entertained and finally accepted in certain parts of the world, child abuse has not been given a similar forum. Public discussion regarding the severeness of paedophillia would create room for tolerance, and child abuse must not be countenanced at all.

    The Torah views child abuse as a most serious crime. By no means would a Torah scholar consider child abuse acceptable or even pardonable. Regarding this there cannot be a debate. Debating whether or not paedophillia is punishable would remove the extreme seriousness which the transgression deserves. Debate can only concern the path taken in how to deal with the offender. Once a decision is made, the ruling is final and must be accepted by all.

    Since the average layman may not fully grasp the intricate style or nature of Rabbinic debating, nor is it his business which scholar acted as devil's advocate, publicising such details would be inaccurate, defamatory and would be lacking transparency to say the least.

  4. B'H

    FB is FaceBook. I am beginning to hate Facebook as it has a lot of minuses. Yes, as someone who does play devil's advocate quite often to test myself on the opposing viewpoints of a situation, even when I do not agree with the view that I am presenting, I should have realised instead of firing off half cocked about a Rav stating such a thing. To debate an issue properly one needs to discuss and expound on the both sides or several sides of an issue in order to understand it more fully.
    I agree totally with the view that child abuse should have zero tolerance because of the nature of the damage done and too readily is the damage minimised. From the goyishe press we have this and it is indeed horrifying.
    The damage done by child abuse, cripples children (and members of their families and spouses have to deal with it on a different level) for life and some unfortunately take that ultimate step to escape the trauma if they are not healed in some measure. At the very least we need to acknowledge the pain of the victims and assist their healing.
    I will be writing a personal apology to Rabbi Feldman as part of the tzuva I have imposed on myself.

  5. Storm over rabbi's child abuse email
    Jewel Topsfield August 5, 2011

    ONE of Australia's most prominent Jewish leaders has been slammed for questioning whether child molestation should be immediately reported to police in the wake of the Yeshivah College scandal.

    Rabbi Yosef Feldman has stood down as president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW ''to clear his name'', after his comments in an email, reported in the Australian Jewish News, provoked outrage.

    In the email, which has been obtained by The Age, Rabbi Feldman questioned a statement put out by the president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, which said child molestation should be immediately reported to police.

    ...................However, in a statement to the online Jewish news site J-Wire, Rabbi Feldman said the email exchange among rabbis was an ''academic discussion of a range of views held by international scholars on how to deal with situations not subject to mandatory reporting''.He said in the statement that he had ''at all times publicly endorsed the unanimous view of the Rabbinical Council of NSW under his presidency that all acts of abuse must be reported to the police''...... Rabbinical Council of Victoria's immediate past president, Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, said that even the mere implication that a victim should not report such a heinous crime to the police was repugnant.

    The Rabbinical Council of Victoria last year issued a statement condemning child abuse and affirming that the prohibitions of mesirah - which discourages Jews from informing on other Jews to civil authorities - did not apply in cases of abuse.

    ''The rabbinical leadership has said there is no excuse for protecting a potential paedophile,'' Rabbi Kluwgant said.

    ''It would be very unfortunate if the rabbinate was tainted on the basis of Rabbi Feldman's discussion in his emails.''


    Looks like his Melb colleagues have decided to throw Yossi Feldman to the wolves. After all, we can't allow "the rabbinate to be tainted".

    Ukedai bizayon voketzef


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