SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – The wife of the chief Chabad rabbi in Sydney apologized for offending a child sex abuse victim on the eve of Yom Kippur.
On Monday, Pnina Feldman said she regretted the email she had sent three days earlier to Manny Waks, who went public with his story of child sex abuse in the Jewish community, stressing she had written a “private” email to Waks.
Waks, an advocate for child sex abuse victims, released Feldman’s email to the media.
Feldman sent the email after receiving a request to support a petition calling on two senior Chabad leaders in Melbourne to resign from their positions over the child sex abuse scandal that embroiled Chabad’s Yeshivah College in the 1980s and 1990s.
“In my robust and emotional email I employed offensive language which I remorsefully regret and unreservedly apologize for,” she wrote. “I agree with all efforts to prosecute pedophiles but take issue with some aspects of Manny’s crusade against Melbourne Yeshivah.”
Feldman added, “I also want to apologize for any perceived trivialization of the impact of child abuse on victims.”
In her email, Feldman wrote of Waks, “I haven’t met a person yet with one nice word to say about you. Most people consider you a lowlife.”
Feldman, whose Brooklyn-born husband, Pinchus, was sent as an emissary to Sydney by the Lubavitcher rebbe in the 1960s, also accused Waks in the email of waging a “malicious blame game” against Yeshivah that is “unjust, unwarranted, undeserved and wicked.”
Last year, former Yeshivah College security guard David Cyprys was convicted and jailed for molesting Waks and eight other boys. David Kramer, an American and a former teacher at the college, also was jailed for molesting four boys.
In response to Feldman’s email, Waks wrote, “I’m truly shocked and horrified that Rebbetzin Feldman has deliberately chosen the eve of Yom Kippur … to launch an unprovoked, vile and offensive tirade against me.”.
In 2012, Yeshivah in Melbourne apologized “unreservedly” to victims of child sexual abuse, but the scandal continues to smolder within the Jewish community.
Senior rabbis will be called to testify before the ongoing Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, the Melbourne Age newspaper recently revealed.