Rabbi Kenneth Brander
Tzedek has issued the following statement in response to the statement that was issued by the Council of Orthodox Synagogues of Victoria (COSV) President Romy Leibler (5 August 2013):
In issuing our statement criticising the Melbourne invitation that was extended to Rabbi Kenneth Brander (3 August 2013), Tzedek undertook a significant process of research and consultation. In fact, we relied upon a wide network of US-based experienced and knowledgeable people in this area, most of whom are on our esteemed Board of Advisors. Our initial statement was based on widely reported facts:
- To date Rabbi Brander’s employer, Yeshiva University, has not properly addressed its own child sexual abuse scandal.
- Rabbi Brander has been accused of hushing up serious sexual abuse allegations in his previous employment.
Moreover, our extensive and highly reputable network has access to additional evidence to substantiate some of the reported allegations.
Tzedek undertakes rigorous research, conducts due diligence and consults widely before issuing statements of potential consequences. In this case we are proud to emphasise that this high standard was met. Tzedek fully stands by its initial statement.
We find the criticism emanating from the COSV to be somewhat disingenuous. It is ironic that this reputable organisation has accused Tzedek of not undertaking a rigorous level of research – had the COSV undertaken their own research, they probably would not have appointed accused serial paedophile David Cyprys as a member of the COSV over a period of a number of years starting in 2006. It should be noted that current COSV President, Romy Leibler, in fact sat on the same Board as Mr Cyprys for a number of years. Mr Cyprys only recently stepped down from his Board position. Mr Cyprys is currently facing 40 charges (including five of rape) allegedly perpetrated against 12 victims and is due to stand on trial next week (12 August).
Another public critic, publisher of the ultra-Orthodox Pitputim blog Isaac Balbin, has made similar accusations towards Tzedek. Clearly Dr Balbin does not hold himself to the same standard to which he holds others – had he undertaken his own rigorous level of research, he probably would not have served on the Elwood Synagogue Board of Management together with Mr Cyprys.
Tzedek once again emphasises that it fully stands behind its initial statement. We question the motivation behind the misguided criticisms of Tzedek and Manny Waks by some within the Orthodox community.
Tzedek acknowledges and values the great work of the COSV but is still dismayed and disappointed at its decision to host Rabbi Kenneth Brander. The Jewish community is blessed with leading experts in many fields whose reputations are indisputable. The COSV should have invited a more appropriate speaker.