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!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • 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.