by Jesse Phillips (The Sunday Telegraph)
July 31, 2011
A high-profile Jewish leader is fighting calls for his resignation after he urged rabbis to deal with allegations of child abuse themselves rather than report it to police.
Rabbi Yosef Feldman, president of the Rabbinical Council of NSW and based at the Southern Sydney Synagogue, has sparked outrage after emailing other rabbis to say it should be up to them to decide whether a paedophile should be reported.
The rabbi also said that, where possible, allegations of abuse should be dealt with outside the legal system.
Rabbis could "threaten" the child abuser with publicity instead of reporting them.
"I really don't understand why as soon as something of serious lashon hara (evil talk) is heard about someone of even child molestation should we immediately go to the secular authorities (sic)," Rabbi Feldman wrote.
"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."I 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's brother, Rabbi Eli Feldman, had sought legal action over the attack, claiming the comments, which appeared in the Jewish News, did not represent his brother's personal views.
The newspaper, he said, "acted sinfully and committed the worst crime according to the Jewish tradition and that is publicly humiliating on the basis of falseness".
The Rabbinical Council of NSW, which Rabbi Yosef Feldman presides over, has also rejected his view.