How do Jewish communities respond to manifestations of institutional child sexual abuse? A case study of Malka Leifer and Adass Israel in Melbourne, Australia

Philip Mendes, Marcia Pinskier, Samone McCurdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The recent Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse provided some insight into manifestations of child sexual abuse within an ultra-orthodox Jewish community. This paper extends the analysis by the Royal Commission (RC) to another Australian ultra-orthodox community that of Adass Israel, whereby a former school headmistress allegedly abused multiple students and then fled to the State of Israel in 2008. That case is unusual given that both the perpetrator and victims were female. Attention is drawn to a number of components similar to the RC findings pertaining to the particular vulnerability of children within ultra-orthodox communities given the absence of sex education and entrenched patriarchal authority, the reluctance of such communities to report child sexual abuse (CSA) allegations to secular authorities and associated cultural and religious factors, the failure of community leaders within or beyond Australia to support or compensate CSA survivors, and the absence of formal child protection protocols. Additionally, some conclusions are drawn about the key role played by advocacy groups such as Jewish Community Watch in exposing the global travel of child sex offenders, and the problematic legal protection provided to many such offenders by the State of Israel’s Law of Return.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-944
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2019


  • child protection
  • Child sexual abuse
  • patriarchy
  • ultra-orthodox Jews

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