A Melbourne rabbi has resigned from one of the most senior Jewish bodies in Australia in the wake of the child abuse royal commission.
Rabbi Shimshon Yurkowicz was a trustee of Yeshivah Centre, which was strongly criticised by the commission for its failure to stop paedophiles preying on children.
The Rabbinic Council of Australia and New Zealand confirmed Rabbi Yurkowicz’s resignation.
The commission found many of the lead rabbis at Yeshiva Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi, as well as synagogues and schools in Sydney and Melbourne followed “a pattern of total inaction” that was wholly inadequate.
Commissioners also found a “marked absence of supportive leadership for survivors of abuse” and the incorrect application of Jewish law left those who spoke out criticised and isolated.
There is no suggestion Rabbi Yurkowicz was personally involved in any of the abuse.
Victim advocate Manny Waks welcomed the news, saying it indicated the Orthodox leadership was trying to make amends.
“Rabbi Yurkowicz in this case had the opportunity to apologise, to correct past wrongs and really didn’t take those opportunities,” he said.
“There’s a sense that the religious leadership is finally taking responsibility for poor handling of this issue.”
Rabbi Yurkowicz also resigned from the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, he added.
Mr Waks, 40, was the first person to publicly raise allegations of child abuse in the Jewish community in Melbourne and gave evidence at the royal commission into child sexual abuse.
He was sexually abused by a security guard at the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne in the 1990s and received a formal apology this year.