Media Release: Aleph Melbourne disappointed in unsatisfactory resignation letter of Rabbi Zvi Telsner




Aleph Melbourne acknowledges the overdue resignation of senior rabbi Zvi Telsner from the Yeshiva Centre in Melbourne but is disappointed with the unsatisfactory letter written in his name.

Whilst his resignation letter claims remorse for his actions, his apology falls short of addressing his claims that homosexual people can be cured of what he believes is an ailment.

To demonstrate genuine remorse for his harmful words Zvi Telsner must undertake secular education on homosexuality and strongly distance himself from any notion that homosexuality can either be cured or is abnormal.

As a senior religious leader in his community his authority combined with his ongoing intolerance of homosexuality will feed into the self-destructive outcomes that same-sex attracted people experience due to intolerance of their sexuality.

Homosexuality has not been considered an illness by mental health professionals for over 40 years and is now affirmed as a normal expression of human sexuality.  For any person to consider it curable demonstrates gross ignorance.

Victims of child sexual abuse who experience same-sex attraction will benefit by seeking support for their abuse from accredited mental health professionals, whilst avoiding any form of sexual orientation change efforts, such as reparative therapy.

The Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists can provide referrals to suitably qualified practitioners.

Contact Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541 for further comment.


Letter from Rabbi Zvi Telsner:

י”ז אלול תשע”ה
1st September, 2015

Dear Yeshivah Community Members, Friends and Supporters,

As a senior Rabbi at the Yeshivah Centre I acknowledge and endorse its values, policies and message of continued support and compassion for victims of Child Sexual Abuse, their families and all of the community. Elul is a time to reflect on ones values and behaviours as we prepare to herald in the New Year.

I recognise that my conduct towards victims and their families did not demonstrate these values or behaviour to the extent necessary of a Rabbi in my position. Accordingly, I have decided to stand down from my position as Rabbi at the Yeshivah Centre, effective immediately.

We all must be aware of how our words and actions impact on others and therefore would like to take this opportunity to apologise for my conduct and urge everyone to show compassion and support towards victims and their families throughout the moised and broader community.

I wish the community all the best for a Ksiva Vechasima Tova, and a year full of blessings.

Yours Sincerely,
Rabbi Z. Telsner

Tzedek Australia cancels “gay cure” therapy advocate Dr Norman Goldwasser

Further to Aleph Melbourne’s article (Aug 10) Tzedek Australia engages gay cure advocate Dr Norman Goldwasser as keynote speaker and hot on the heels of Sydney Morning Herald’s article (Aug 13) Doctor who tried to cure homosexuality to speak at Australian child sex abuse victim event, both exposing the connection between Dr Norman Goldwasser and his beliefs that people’s sexual orientation can be changed, Tzedek Australia has issued a statement advising they are cancelling him as a speaker at their Community Education Forum in September.


Statement Regarding Tzedek bringing Dr. Goldwasser to Australia by Josh Bornstein, President of Tzedek:

“Tzedek’s mission statement is to support and advocate for victims of sexual abuse in the Jewish community. Several months ago, a decision was made by Tzedek to invite Dr Goldwasser to speak at the Jewish Community Education Forum in Melbourne on 6 September. The decision was made because of his considerable experience dealing with the dynamics of sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

More recently, we have become aware of other matters and controversies relating to Dr Goldwasser. Amongst other things, we have taken on board concerns raised by the LGBTI community. As a result we have reviewed the matter and decided that it is no longer appropriate for Dr Goldwasser to speak at the forum.

We wish to make clear that Tzedek does not in any way endorse or condone what has been described as “reparative therapy”. Such “therapy” has been completely discredited.

Our forum will proceed on September 6th and we encourage all members of the community to attend. “

20150814 Tzedek Australia announces cancellation of Dr Norman Goldwasser

Aleph Melbourne welcomes Tzedek’s cancellation of Dr Norman Goldwasser as a speaker at their forum.  We ask they to go one step further and develop a policy to assist educate the community that sexuality cannot be changed by therapy and that attempts to do so, especially on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, may have damaging consequences.

For reference, the Australian Psychological Society has a statement on the use of therapies that attempt to change sexual orientation and the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has a position statement on sexual orientation change efforts.  Both organisations warn against the use of such therapies.

Tzedek Australia engages gay cure advocate Dr Norman Goldwasser as keynote speaker

Tzedek Australia is an organisation that assists Jewish victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.  They are currently promoting Dr Norman Goldwasser as keynote speaker for their Community Education Forum on September 6 2015:

Tzedek forum promoting Norman Goldwasser as Keynote

Dr Goldwasser has a controversial past, as outlined on Failed Messiah article “Why Is This Man On The Board Of An Organization That Claims To Fight Child Sex Abuse And Help Survivors?”.

Amongst the many concerns over Dr Goldwasser’s reputation is the persistence of his profile on Coming Out Loved listing him as practicing sexual orientation change therapies:

Norman Goldwasser on Coming Out Loved

Increasingly across the USA organisations and practitioners that claim to be able to change a person’s sexual orientation, with Exodus and JONAH being two high-profile examples, are being discredited and the use of such practices on minors are being criminalised.

An updated Failed Messiah article expresses further concerns about Dr Norman Goldwasser, including that he is still listed as practicing reparative therapy: “Why Is A Psychologist Who Supports A Dangerous And Discredited Therapy Speaking To A Jewish Group About Child Sex Abuse?”.

Of particular concern to Aleph Melbourne is Dr Norman Goldwasser’s current claim that he treats people for “unwanted bisexuality”:

Norman Goldwasser - unwanted bisexuality

Claiming to treat “unwanted bisexuality” is admission of a sexual orientation change therapy.  It is also a preposterous term he uses to avoid saying “unwanted homosexual attraction” given that bisexual people ordinarily do not have unwanted heterosexual attraction.

The Australian Psychological Society has a statement on the use of therapies that attempt to change sexual orientation.  The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has a position statement on sexual orientation change efforts.  Both organisations strongly warn against the use of such therapies.

Tzedek Australia has built a good reputation due to the rigorous standards set by its founder Manny Waks.  With Manny Waks no longer connected to the organisation this apparent lapse in judgement on the inclusion of Dr Norman Goldwasser is concerning and places its reputation at substantial risk.

To allow a keynote speaker with a less-than-exemplary reputation and a deeply questionable professional approach toward human sexuality to engage on a topic as sensitive as child sexual abuse is of significant concern.

Tzedek Australia must set the absolute highest standards for the practitioners they engage with.  If they allow Dr Norman Goldwasser to speak as advertised, whilst he still has his name listed in support of any sexual orientation change therapy, and whilst he has not issued an unambiguous public statement acknowledging the harm done by such therapies, it will be to the detriment of Tzedek Australia’s reputation and ultimately to the community they represent.

UPDATE: August 12 2015

Aleph Melbourne has just been made aware of the presence of Dr Norman Goldwasser’s signature on the document “Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality”.

This document prominently claims “Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed”:

TorahDec gay cure claimIronically Dr Norman Goldwasser’s signature is cozied up next to that of Dr Miriam Grossman, whose presence in Melbourne in 2012 similarly attracted controversy:

TorahDec Goldwasser signatureThe footnote on the TorahDec site claims:

Actively speaking up is vital in order to prevent the terrible harm and suffering to individuals who may erroneously conclude that if they have Same-Sex Attractions (SSA) there is no hope or possibility for them to change and live a Torah sanctioned life. Change is possible and mandated by the Torah.

In the words of Tzedek Australia:

Tzedek motto
Enough! No more silence.

RCA: No Position on Gay ‘Reparative Therapy’ –

RCA: No Position on Gay ‘Reparative Therapy’ –

The original RCA media release is here.

[ Note: Aleph Melbourne strongly discourages all forms of reparative therapy used for the purpose of changing a person’s sexual orientation.  For more information read the APS Position Statement on the Use of Therapies that Attempt to Change Sexual Orientation and the RANZCP Position Statement #60 on Sexual orientation change efforts. ]