On Wednesday 26 June the UPJ was advised by the CEO of Tzedek (the Australian advocacy group for Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse), Mr. Manny Waks, that allegations of child sexual abuse by persons employed in a Progressive congregation had been brought to his attention. He told us that the allegations would be posted on Tzedek's Facebook page on June 27 and he invited us to make a statement, which would also be included on the Facebook page. This is the Statement provided by the UPJ.
It is with horror and great sadness that we have learned of allegations that acts of child sexual abuse were carried out by people employed within one of our congregations several decades ago. Our Movement has a zero tolerance with regard to such matters and we welcome and support any investigation into these allegations.
Any person who did suffer such abuse as a child will have carried the emotional and psychological burden of it throughout much of their lives. We can only hope that in sharing these experiences they will be able to receive support and assistance from the Tzedek group and that this will enable them to move forward with some sense of resolution and closure.
It is an unfortunate fact that no part of society is exempt from having some people who abuse their position of power and influence in order to achieve personal gain or, in such cases, to abuse young and vulnerable people. Without being able to comment on these particular incidents or the individuals involved we can only express the hope that a thorough investigation will be carried out and that if anyone is found to be guilty of such acts they should be appropriately punished.
If any good at all can come from such news it can only be as a reminder to all communal organisations that they must be totally vigilant in their efforts to protect those people trusted to their care, whether it is for a long period of time or for a few hours. Although we know that our member congregations and organisations are aware of their need to fulfill their duty of care we will be encouraging each of them to regularly review their policies and procedures and to ensure that they are rigorously enforced.
We take this opportunity to repeat our support for the work of Manny Waks and Tzedek in reaching out and helping victims of sexual abuse of children in the Jewish community and our commitment to work with them in partnership.