Australia Abuse Victim's Brother Tussles With Chabad Rabbi in Synagogue

Simmering Feud Erupts in Violence Over Shavuot


By JTA

Published May 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A senior Australian Orthodox rabbi had his glasses ripped from his face during a synagogue altercation with a relative of a prominent advocate for sex abuse victims.

Rabbi Zvi Telsner, the spiritual leader of the Yeshivah Center, which houses the city’s Chabad headquarters, offered festive greetings to Chaim Waks at the end of the Shavuot holiday service on Tuesday night inside Chabad’s main synagogue in Melbourne..

But Waks, 24, whose brother, Manny, has been at loggerheads with Chabad since he first went public in 2011 with claims he was sexually abused when he was at the Chabad-run school in the 1980s, admitted to asking the rabbi: “How dare you f***ing wish me a good Yom Tov?”

Manny Waks confirmed his brother also admitted throwing Telsner’s glasses on the floor.

Telsner, who was born in New York, declined to comment but confirmed to JTA that the incident happened.

Manny Waks said in a statement: “I have informed Chaim that this type of behavior is completely unacceptable. It makes no difference what an individual has done – in this case the ongoing attacks by Rabbi Telsner and some within his community against my family. The use of violence is never an option and needs to be unequivocally condemned.”

Waks also accuses senior Chabad rabbis of covering up complaints by parents of sexual abuse and even helping alleged perpetrators flee the country, sparking a bitter feud between the family and Chabad officials. He also claims his complaints to Chabad’s then-chief rabbi were ignored.

His father, Zephaniah Waks, claims he has been shunned by his own community and denied rites at Chabad’s main synagogue since the furor erupted in 2011. Chabad officials deny those claims.

Zephaniah Waks claimed he was harassed by another congregant inside the sanctuary the day after the incident between his son and Telsner. He has reported the matter to police.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.