Jewish school investigated over alleged mistreatment

NSW POLICE are investigating complaints that Jewish children were abused in Sydney.

Fairfax Media understands that complaints have been made against two perpetrators, both associated with the Yeshiva Centre at Bondi, one of whom has more than one alleged victim.

A police spokesman said the allegations dated back to the late 1970s and 1980s, and referred to abuse of children by adults associated with a Jewish school operating at that time.

The spokesman said eastern suburbs detectives began inquiries in February last year after getting information from Victoria Police, and had spoken to people interstate and overseas.

These are the first formal complaints about the Orthodox community in Sydney, but there have been several in Melbourne.

Rabbi Pinchas Feldman, the spiritual leader of Sydney's Yeshiva Centre, said he was shocked to hear of the allegations, and the call from Fairfax was the first he had heard of it. ''I do not recall anyone ever coming to me with such a problem. I am shocked to hear that anything of this nature has taken place here,'' he said, adding the centre would co-operate fully with any inquiry.

Victims advocate Manny Waks, himself abused at Melbourne's Yeshiva Centre as a boy, said other Sydney victims had come forward after publicity by Fairfax Media about comments by senior Chabad rabbi Manis Friedman minimising the effects of child sex abuse.

Rabbi Friedman, based in the US, compared abuse with a case of diarrhoea - embarrassing but private - and said victims learnt a valuable lesson from abuse. He later apologised, saying his intention was to help empower victims to move forward.

Mr Waks, founder of the Tzedek advocacy group for Jewish abuse survivors, said there had long been credible reports of child sex abuse victims within the ultra-Orthodox community in Sydney, as well as reports of cover-ups.

The story Jewish school investigated over alleged mistreatment first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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