“They’re not playing the victim they are just pushing for change.” David Graber, friend
“They have been shunned by their school, their community, their own family.” Ted Bailleau, former Premier of Victoria
Dassi Erlich and her two sisters are a formidable force.
Their ongoing battle to extradite former headmistress Malka Leifer from Israel to face sexual abuse charges here has made headlines across the globe.
But despite the public attention, the personal stories of the three sisters have remained largely private, until now.
In this two-part special Nicole Meyer and Elly Sapper give their first Australian interviews and together with Dassi, speak candidly about their childhood experiences.
Ellie Sapper, the youngest of the sisters, says her former headmistress exploited their naivety, “We were all hearing, ‘this is good for you…what I am doing is helping you’."
Nicole Meyer agrees: “She would manipulate girls and play games with them, mental games. She just liked the power.”
For Dassi, who is spearheading the sisters’ campaign, the last few years have been remarkable.
Reflecting on her insular childhood within the ultra-orthodox Adass Jewish community in Melbourne she says: “Growing up we really had no interaction with the outside world. And even if I imagined a different life, lobbying for justice was never a part of it.”
The program also features undercover surveillance footage of Malka Leifer in Israel and extracts from Dassi Erlich’s teenage diary which provide a haunting account of her traumatic childhood.