Australian Jewish council slams rabbi’s yahrzeit event for ‘insensitivity’ to child sex abuse victims

Executive Council of Australian Jewry says apology to victims was needed at event where British Chief Rabbi's son Danny Mirvis spoke


One of Australia’s biggest Jewish groups has criticised last Sunday's memorial event for a rabbi accused of failing to report sexual abuse incidents at a Melbourne yeshiva.

The commemoration for the tenth yahrzeit of Yitzchak David Groner, who ran the Melbourne Yeshiva Centre in the 1980s and 1990s, was billed as a “night of learning”, with the British Chief Rabbi’s son Danny Mirvis among the speakers.

But the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) said the event had “caused unnecessary distress to victims of child sexual abuse.”

Rabbi Groner was posthumously named in an Australian public inquiry as having failed to report complaints against two employees, David Kramer and Davis Cyprys, at the Melbourne Yeshiva centre in 1984.

READ MORE: Chief Rabbi’s son rapped for tribute to Australian yeshiva sex abuse scandal rabbi

The two were later jailed.

ECAJ president Anton Block said the memorial should have included an apology for victims of child sex abuse at the Melbourne yeshiva.

He said: “the evening should have also been an opportunity for our community to further learn what must be done to protect our most vulnerable, bring perpetrators to justice, and ensure that the tragic failings of the past are never repeated.

“It would also be expected that in the spirit of the National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse, which all relevant Jewish institutions in Australia are being strongly encouraged to opt into, a heartfelt apology to all survivors should have been highlighted in an Evening of Learning.”

Rabbi Danny Mirvis, a senior rabbi at the Mizrachi Organisation in Melbourne, spoke on the subject of “Models of Jewish leadership” during the yahrzeit event.

He told the JC earlier this week: “My decision to speak at the event has been met, both before and after, with overwhelming communal support in Melbourne, including from individuals impacted by the findings of the [public inquiry].”

Other community leaders, including Mizrachi President Danny Lamm, said they supported Rabbi Mirvis’s decision to participate.

But Mr Block’s statement said there were “comments made by representatives of other communal organisations that showed an insensitivity to the concerns of victims of child sexual abuse.”

“The ECAJ will continue to stand with survivors of child sexual abuse,” he added.

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