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Kol v'Oz Jewish, Israel & Europe Media                                                        View this email in your browser
Dear <<First Name>>,
Conclusion of the UK Government's Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in religious communities

Today, the UK Government's Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), concluded its public hearings into Child Protection in Religious Organisations and Settings. As previously noted, after writing to IICSA in 2016 urging them to launch an investigation into the Jewish community, Kol v'Oz received core participant status.

Our legal representatives in the UK, AO Advocates (represented by Honza Cervenka), today delivered our closing statement. I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank them for their outstanding work!

I would like to share with you the following submissions we made to the Inquiry:

Kol v'Oz opening statement
Kol v'Oz written submission
Kol v'Oz closing statement

Below I have shared today's Facebook post by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth) regarding the conclusion of the IICSA hearings into religious institutions. My strong response to the post is included.

May the truth and justice prevail!

As always, please feel free to contact me via email or phone/WhatsApp on +972 (0)53 338 1392. 

Stay safe,

Manny Waks
Chief Executive Officer
My response to the Facebook post by Chief Rabbi Mirvis:

A big part of the problem globally has been the failure of Rabbis to hold their colleagues to account. Using a term like ‘unwittingly’ to describe deliberate actions, minimises the (mis)conduct of Rabbis, the Rabbinate and their institutions. It highlights how much more progress is needed; when even the Chief Rabbi Mirvis gets it so wrong, at the conclusion of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse hearings into the Jewish community (of which Kol v'Oz was a core participant).

Adults have known since the beginning of time that it is wrong to sexually abuse children. If they haven’t appreciated the full long-term impact, that is only because of their choice to remain ignorant. It certainly does not make their conduct ‘unwitting’. Moreover, supporting sex offenders, both before and after their conviction, publicly lauding them, and then refusing to criticise such action, is as deliberate as can be.

Nor is it appropriate to think of abuse within a community as a ‘blight’ on that community. Child sexual abuse is a fact in every community, notwithstanding that there is an enormous amount we can do to minimise risk if we take it seriously enough. The ‘blight’ on the community comes from the community’s response - to ostracise victims as though they are bringing the community into disrepute by speaking up, to support perpetrators, to celebrate them once they’re released from jail if they make big donations and to fail to hold to account those who are in positions of responsibility for the safety of children and fail.

It is not just a time for ‘humility and sensitivity to the needs of those who have been abused’ but a time for accountability for those who stood by and allowed it to happen, covered up abuse and worsened the suffering of victims. Only then will the necessary cultural change have occurred to ensure the safety of children from this scourge.

The UK Jewish community has a very long way to go in addressing the scourge of child sexual abuse in their community. We’ll certainly continue to do what we can to ensure further progress is made.
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manny@kolvoz.org

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