Code of Silence follows the parallel journeys of a fervently Orthodox Jewish father and his now-secular son, after the son Manny breaks the code of silence in Melbourne’s Orthodox community and goes public with his story of being sexually abused as a school student.
Manny Waks claims he was abused by an Orthodox Jewish security guard, who also taught boys karate, at the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne. Now Manny is demanding his abuser be brought to justice, and the rabbis and Chabad leaders who tried to cover it up, are brought to account.
His father Zephaniah joins forces with his son, but soon finds he has been virtually excommunicated for breaking an ancient Jewish law forbidding Jews from informing secular authorities about other Jews.
We see how father and son split this tightly-knit, powerful Jewish community as we open the door into their insular world of study and duty, charity and faith, power and piety.
Will Manny get justice in court? Will the rabbis be held to account? And, what price will the father and son pay for blowing the whistle?
Code of Silence from Sideways Film on Vimeo.
Breaking the Silence follows the journey of Manny Waks who was, until recently, the only survivor of child sexual abuse within Melbourne’s Orthodox Jewish community to speak publicly.
This is the dramatic follow up to the Walkley Award winning Code of Silence.
Breaking the Silence begins with Manny Waks as he gives evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, during which two ultra-Orthodox Jewish institutions are accused of covering-up and protecting perpetrators in the 1980s and 90s.
Over two explosive weeks inside Melbourne’s County Court, viewers will witness, for the first time, those rabbis and officials accused of the cover-ups take the stand and be grilled. For the first time, it is also revealed that Manny was not the only member of the family who was abused; Manny’s father Zephaniah Waks reveals two other sons were abused by a Yeshivah Centre teacher, David Kramer in the 1990’s. He had tried to have the abuse handled by community leaders but was subject to an ancient code of silence that forbids Jews from speaking about the allegations involving other Jews, to the police.
The result was that Zephaniah and his wife were virtually excommunicated and feeling isolated, they decided to relocate to Israel. Now his other son Yanky agrees to speak on camera for the first time.
After the hearings, Manny travels to the United States to confront one of the two men who he claims abused him. The film’s climax follows Manny to Los Angeles, where he meets a convicted pedophile who was given a suspended sentence for abusing AVB in Sydney in the 1980s. It’s a powerful moment between victim and abuser that delivers an unexpected conclusion.
Will Manny’s confrontation with the man he claims abused him give him peace of mind? And will his meeting with the convicted pedophile give him a crucial sense of resolution?
Breaking the Silence from Sideways Film on Vimeo.