The Yeshivah Centre, which runs schools, religious and community programs for Melbourne’s orthodox Jewish community was criticised by the royal commission, which found: “At least until the 2000s, those in leadership positions did not report allegations of child sexual abuse to police or other civil authorities”.
“In some cases, the failure of those in positions of authority to act after receiving allegations of child sexual abuse allowed perpetrators to continue to sexually abuse children.”
Mrs Bendet was not named in the final report and it did not suggest she personally failed to notify authorities. She has previously denied she was aware of abuse but did not report it to police.
When Mrs Bendet left the Yeshivah Centre for unspecified reasons in 2017 she apologised “for the pain and suffering that victims of child sex abuse have experienced”, telling the Australian Jewish News she hoped the reform steps Yeshivah had taken would offer comfort and recognition.
In a document filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria on September 2, Mrs Bendet asks the court to uphold what she says is a right written into her contract to have any disputes resolved according to the customs of the Chabad sect of Judaism.
Mrs Bendet’s lawyers say she has been trying to have the Beth Din resolve the dispute since 2018. A Beth Din is comprised of three judges called borer, one chosen by each party and a third selected by the first two.
Mrs Bendet’s representatives allege the Chabad Institutions first disagreed with her choice of borer on “spurious grounds”, then reneged on an agreement to use the Israeli Beth Din, then nominated a borer who would not come to Melbourne. Finally, Mrs Bendet claims, the Institutions have not co-operated on scheduling the process since September last year.
Yossi Gestetner, a member of the Chabad Institutions board, said: “We have not been served with any court documents and consequently it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”
Mrs Bendet’s lawyers were repeatedly contacted for comment by email and phone but did not respond.