Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Update from Zephaniah Waks: Major rabbi refuses to protect children against known pedophile

I recently received a call from Zephaniah Waks to discuss his experiences in trying to get a senior Chabad rabbi in Israel to protect communities against child molesters. He just sent me an email requesting that I post these links to his Facebook account where he describes  what happened. 
Last week, in Israel, I got a high-level toxic dose of reality. I can now share the story publicly because former Melbourne Yeshivah teacher and repeat convicted paedophile David Kramer's plans have changed: in court at his sentencing hearing in Melbourne a few months ago, for numerous child sexual abuse (CSA) charges committed against several children to which he pleaded guilty and is now sitting in jail, he announced that he would return to Israel upon release. Apparently now that is not the case – it seems that he will be returned to the US from where he was extradited, so this is what transpired in Israel last week:

Before coming to Australia around 20 years ago, apparently Kramer offended in the US. As far as I know, he was not apprehended, the matter was not reported, and Australia, where he came next, was not warned. He offended in Australia, with vastly more than the four victims for whom he was jailed (estimates range from 30 to over 80), and actually include rape (a rape victim many community members know is still too traumatised to press charges – it has also been alleged that his rabbi has prohibited him from reporting the rape to police). Yeshivah Centre Melbourne sent Kramer off to Israel, neglecting to notify authorities in Melbourne, forbidding others from going to the police themselves, and neglecting to notify anyone in Emanuel, Israel, where Kramer became a respected member of the local Chabad community, and was very active, among other things, with...youth. As he was a dual Israeli/US citizen, after several years in Israel, he returned to the US. Kramer was jailed for sodomy there, where Rabbi Ze'ev Smason, on the International Advisory Board of Tzedek, of which my son Manny is CEO, went against the normal and widely accepted trend and helped the victim and his family (as opposed to the actions of Yeshivah). Upon release on parole in the US, he was re-arrested and extradited to Australia, where he is currently in jail.

Since he had said in court that he wished to return to Israel, I took it upon myself to warn the leaders in Emanuel that he was coming (based on past experience, I didn't rely on others to do this). My reasons were two-fold: so the country could be warned that a monster was returning and hence protect themselves, and that past victims could be encouraged to go to the police, hence ensuring that Kramer would not be able to offend for quite a few more years. As is par for the course in many ultra-Orthodox communities all over the world, the leaders were having none of this: they became deaf-blind-mutes - nobody claimed to know anything regarding Kramer’s past. The father of an alleged rape victim claimed he didn't even know Kramer, falsely claiming that he had arrived in Emanuel only after Kramer had already left for the US.

So I approached one of the most senior Chabad rabbis in Israel for help. He is in fact one of the most senior and well-known rabbis in Israel in general. I told him the public facts above, as well as the fact that I knew of a rape victim in Israel. I pointed out to him that he was convicted and jailed for CSA in two countries, and that it was almost inconceivable that he had not offended in Israel where he resided for a few years between those two other countries. The rabbi became very angry with me, saying he was not going to "bury" someone without having two (kosher) witnesses coming to testify in his Beth Din (religious court). I reiterated that Kramer was not an innocent person whose unblemished character he was coming to besmirch, but he was currently in jail etc. Still angry with me, he asked what I wanted from him. I said that since nobody in Emanuel was taking it seriously, all I asked was that he would speak to the leaders there, that they should warn their congregants and encourage them to go to the police with any information, that he had the religious duty of "al ta'amod al dam re’acho...", not to stand idly by where others would be injured. He again fumed at me that he would do nothing without two (kosher) witnesses testifying before his Beth Din. He was explicit that the fact that Kramer had been convicted in two western democratic countries with well-functioning legal systems meant nothing to him, and that was the end of the conversation.

People that know me may think I spoke harshly or not clearly with the rabbi, but my wife was next to me and heard the entire conversation, and confirmed that I was calm but firm, and explained the matter very clearly. I was so stunned by the conversation that I rang Rabbi Yosef Blau in NY, and spoke to other rabbis and people active in confronting CSA in Israel, and the reaction of all of them was the same: no surprise, but some expressed disappointment that this particular senior rabbi went that far, since this would have been an easy case for him to be less demanding than usual, based on the background, and the fact that all that was being asked was warning about obvious danger, and a request for people to cooperate with the police.

Very depressing, and this story clearly demonstrates how dangerously CSA is still being mismanaged in many quarters within the ultra-orthodox world: any protestations to the contrary, this attitude and (in)action is the norm, where even a repeatedly convicted perpetrator's well-being trumps any consideration at all for past or possible future victims. The ultra-Orthodox world has a major problem, and I will be putting this very strongly to the Royal Commission when I appear before them next week. Just as Australia led the way in the past
"Women are also granted the right to stand for parliament, making South Australia the first in the world to do so", maybe "with a little help from our friends" (the Royal Commission) we will push this matter along also.

Enough is well and truly enough.


  1. > the fact that Kramer had been convicted in two western democratic countries with well-functioning legal systems meant nothing to him

    Actually it probably meant a great deal. For some folks the more guilty those nassssty goyim find you the more innocent you really are to them.

  2. Who is this Waks fellow?

  3. He says...

    "one of the most senior Chabad rabbis in Israel for help. He is in fact one of the most senior and well-known rabbis in Israel in general"

    What's his name??

    Don't we have a classic "ממה נפשך" (regardless of his thinking it should be fine).

    If this Rabbi feels that his position is correct: then he should be eager to publicize that he's acting in the correct way.

    However, if This Rabbi feels that his position is wrong and embarrassing, and he's still acting that way at the expense of children's safety: we shouldn't be protecting him with anonymity!!

  4. This was also posted as a Public post on the Facebook page of Tzedek at

    Here is what Mr. Waks wrote in response to a comment requesting that he identify the rabbi. He has posted this in at least one other place where his posting appears. In addition, Manny Waks sent this to me with a note that I should feel free to share it as appropriate:

    "The reason I have chosen not to name the rabbi is simply because I have suffered a range of consequences since speaking out publicly on this issue. This has now culminated with plans to leave Australia, at least temporarily – as a result of the ongoing intimidation, harassment and discrimination, we have planned to spend a significant amount of the year in Israel.

    "So naming the rabbi publicly will essentially make me a target in Israel as well.

    "Importantly, I have chosen to at least share this incident publicly. Also, it’s less an issue of which specific rabbi in Israel actually said it – from what I know, this attitude is particularly prevalent among the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel. We saw this recently even within the Modern Orthodox movement.

    "This answers Avi's question, but partly addresses Sherree as well: the attitude I encountered is very widespread and is undoubtedly known to the Rabbinate. The Rabbinate themselves have not done brilliantly in other cases which they do know about, which are in the headlines in Israel, eg Motti Elon, who is still teaching under Druckman's patronage."

  5. Why isnt't this "senior Rabbi" from Chabad being named? Why protect him through anonymity? This is so incredibly inexplicable- and it repeats itself time and time again! If a Rabbinic figure of prominence is bold enough to state an opinion- even if it is an outrageous one- then tell us the guy's name! In this case, the safety of many innocent children may be at stake.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.