London Beth Din’s Mizrachi/Gutnick decision

August 23, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
Read on for article
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick does not have life-long security of tenure at Sydney’s Mizrachi Synagogue…but can leave the cash-strapped congregation $800,000 richer.

The London Beth Din has handed down its long-awaited decision stating that the synagogue must not be sold to satisfy a redundancy claim by its rabbi who has served the congregation for 21 years.

moshegutnick70-008

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick

In doing so, the Beth Din found that had Rabbi Gutnick retired at the age of 65 he would have been entitled to $800,000 and has ordered the synagogue to pay him compensation on either his resignation or dismissal. However, the Beth Din’s decision allows for the time frame as to how the Rabbi would have received these funds had he remained in the position.

Working on the figures given to it by the synagogue as to a managable amount which would ensure the continuation of the kehillah, the Beth Din has ordered the payment of $200,000 when the Rabbi officially leaves the congregation. The balance is to be paid in $4000 monthly payments starting in March 2012.

The dispute was heard by the London Beth Din after a civil court action in Australia failed to produce a result. The Beth Din ordered the Bondi Mizrachi Synagogue to pay Rabbi Gutnick’s Sydney Supreme Court costs although the matter of these costs was not part of the issues to be determined by the Beth Din. There was no costs order made against either party with regard to the Beth Din hearing itself.

Rabbi Gutnick has served the Bondi Mizrachi synagogue since December, 1987. His initial employmernt contract was for three years and contained a condition disallowing either side for claiming the rights of Chazaka…tenure for life.

In 1990, the Rabbi’s contract was renegotiated. In his claim, Rabbi Gutnick states that it was negotiated on the basis that wanted Chazaka and that there was a note mentioning that the “Board understood his position”. However Minutes of the meeting do not state that the Board accepted Rabbi Gutnick’s position.

Mizrachi President Marc Schneider

Mizrachi President Marc Schneider

The Beth Din examined the records of an Extraordinary General Meeting in September 1990, at which the tenure for life issue was discussed. It stated it would have expected to have been able to have seen a signed agreement but  “in the absence of any incontrovertible evidence as to what transpired at the EGM, we make no finding as to whether or not it was resolved at the EGM that the Rabbi should be granted Chazaka or life tenure”.

The Beth Din stated that no signed contracts or a letter have appointment had been presented to it.

In 2007, the Bondi Mizrachi Synagogue declining membership was giving its Board of Management great concern compounded by the need to renovate the building. An approved loan was not taken up by the synagogue Board which had started negotiations to merge its congregation with the CBD-based Great Synagogue. At this point, Rabbi Gutnick submitted a legal opinion as to how much he should be paid out on relinquishing his life tenure contract. He had also suggested he be made Rabbi Emeritus of the proposed merged congregation.

The Beth Din found that the discussion between the two synagogues “appeared to have been predicated on the Rabbi having a life tenure contract”. The two synagogues agreed that should the merger take place, Rabbi Gutnick would be paid $1,050,000…but the merger plans fell through.

Mark Schneider became President of the distressed congregation in December 2008 and immediately set to work on solving the Mizrachi’s financial crisis including seeking advice as to Rabbi Gutnick’s entitlements should his contact be terminated.

Schneider told J-Wire earlier this year that if the synagogue was forced to keep the Rabbi then they would have had to sell the Sefer Torahs.

In March this year, an EGM was called at which a resolution was proposed to terminate the Rabbi’s employment on the grounds of redundancy. The EGM did not take place as Rabbi Gutnick successfully obtained an injunction in Sydney’s Supreme Court.

The Beth Din also reports in its judgement that it had received statements from a number of members who had left the synagogue   “because of the failure of the Rabbi to cater to their pastoral needs at times of celebration or distress”.

In his evidence, Rabbi Gutnick maintained that “he constantly performed his duties to the best of his ability”. He presented testimonials to that effect.

In their decision, the Beth Din states that they found Rabbi’s insistence for security of tenure “an unusual request for a young part-time official”.  They pointed out that in the absence of a contract Halachic Law states that “the party claiming a benefit is at a disadvantage if the benefit is not clearly defined”.  However, the Beth Din concluded that Rabbi Gutnick was entitled to be paid until the age of 65.

In a further explanation, the Beth Din made it clear that Chazaka serves only to protect a Rabbi from having his position usurped. It does not give a Rabbi rights of remuneration.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick was therefore awarded $80,000 per year until his 65th birthday.

The total would have been $1.2 million but was discounted to $800,000 on the basis that the Rabbi may not have been able or may have been unwilling to serve the full duration. The discount also takes into consideration that the Rabbi could mitigate his loss by taking up another position.

The Beth Din rejected a claim for a 3% annual rise in salary to be factored in.

In dealing with the claims that Rabbi Gutnick had performed poorly, the Beth Din states that “at no time has either a formal or informal disciplary process been invoked” and point out that the Synagogue had never failed to pay a 3% annual salary increase.

In a major finding, the Beth Din explains that under normal cicumstances, it is acceptable to liquidate a synagogue’s assets to pay a debt. The Beth Din rejected a request from Rabbi Gutnick that the synagogue should take out a mortgage to pay its debt to the Rabbi preferring to accept from the Board and its advisors that the maximum loan the synagogue could service would be $200,000.

A caveat has been added to the decision allowing for Rabbi Gutnick to receive whatever balance is due to him if and when the synagogue should ever sell its assets. But the amount is subject to discount on the basis that it will have been paid before its due time and that that discount is to be agreed between the parties. Failure to do so would bring the matter before the Beth Din once again.

Synagogue president Marc Schneider told J-Wire: “We will be convening a meeting of our members as soon as possible to report on the judgement and to map out the future of the Shule now that we have achievd the certainty we have sought.

In the meantime, long-standing Mizrachi member Dr Ron Weiser told J-Wire: “The Board made the decision to proceed in the way it did without seeking or receiving the approval of the membership – and lost.

It is now the Board members themselves who should pay out of their own pockets for their poor judgement.

They have not only suffered a humiliating loss at the London Beth Din, but split the remaining shul membership in the process and in the most acrimonious way.

The London Beth Din in its judgement ruled that it was the shul that had “bluntly refused” to attend a Din Torah initially and that that resulted in civil action being taken by the Rabbi with yet additional costs to be borne by the shul.

As a result the shul is now left with a much greater debt than was necessary, one that will take nearly 2 decades to pay off and with less members to pay for it.”

J-Wire is waiting for Rabbi Gutnick to study the judgement before asking for his comments.

Comments

40 Responses to “London Beth Din’s Mizrachi/Gutnick decision”
  1. mizrachi says:

    And yet you continue to post your worthless immature comments.

    Are you proud that you can cowardly defame people on the internet???

    You were wasting your time long before you directed petty remarks in my direction.

    Your cynicism and slander won’t get you anywhere in life.

    Shame on you!!!

  2. typical says:

    mizrachi

    you have been outed. i now know who you are. sorry for even engaging you in comment or conversation. (what a waste of time – eyeball roll). i am truly wasting my time engaging you in comment or conversation (its like talking to wall) an irellevant wall at that

    typical

  3. typical says:

    mizrachi … what about these words of mine

    mizrachi now has costs to pay
    shule still cant get a normal minyan going …….
    members are fighting
    community is laughing stock

    clearly everyone is a loser in this sorry story …… oh and mizrachi grow up …….. your whinging sounds like my kids

  4. MIzrachi says:

    To “typical”:

    Your comments trully are “directed to both parties”

    “especially the greedy rabbis always fighting for money and kovod”
    “rabbi looks like a bozo ”
    “perhaps he can go to blackman”

    With such attitudes you will go far in life.

  5. typical says:

    mizrachi

    i am not a baord member at mizrachi …. the last time i davened there was 3-4 years ago for a rare simcha in the shule … not that you could tell.

    i stay (live and daven) far away from the place.

    my comments were directed to both parties ie rabbi … who i dont feel sorry for at all really could not care less about and board who i dont care about either. i thought i was clear saying they are both losers in this whole affair.

    mizrachi …. loose the chip on your shoulder

  6. MIzrachi says:

    To the “typical” board member,

    You can use whatever pseudonymn you want for your slander campaign.

    You still remain a coward.

    Your vicious attack on Rabbis is synonymous with your actions over the last 10 months.

    The only “bozo” in this situation is a board who refused Rabbi Gutnick’s offer of a $500,000 settlement (much less than what we now know he is legally and halachically owed).

    And is now left with a debt until 2024.

    The rabbi doesn’t need your sympathy.

    How ironic!

  7. typical says:

    typical typical sydney – everyone especially the greedy rabbis always fighting for money and kovod. cant you see the irony ……

    no one has won …… mizrachi now has costs to pay ….. rabbi looks like a bozo …… shule still cant get a normal minyan going ……. members are fighting ….. rabbi no has no local place to daven (perhaps he can go to blackman …. speaking of irony that WOULD BE IRONIC) ……. community is laughing stock

    i guess well all know better for next time (thats what we all said last time ….lawrence etc)

    typical sydney no one will ever learn

  8. Non Member “ Observer “ says:

    It is clear like day & night – that Board had one agenda to get rid of Rabbi – no matter what the cost is .
    Congratulation you succeeded , I guess everyone is happy now – Rabbi got money , – The Shoul got rid of Gudntik , – Lawyers & Barrister got paid . Now shoul members will have to dig in their pockets to pay for it all .
    It may come is a news to some Mezrachi members , but during the dispute – The Mezrachi board has been offered a merger with Chabad House .
    “ The offered consisted of:
    1. paying Rabbi Gudntik claim
    2. injecting additional $500, 000.00 in to the shouls account for renovation
    3. additional $1 000,000.00 over 10 years for maintain & activities
    Condition:
    Appointment of New Rabbi , ( no wages needed )
    The Shoul membership will accept new members to its Board .”
    Well some people wish to have power & control , but at what cost ? – & who is going to pay for it ?

  9. Non Member “ Observer “ says:

    I am confused, who won the case ?
    I think a Rabbi has won .
    The London Berth Din has recognise , that Mezrahi has to pay Rabbi Gudnik a pay out .
    Now Mezrahi is without a Rabbi, & still has to pay his wages .
    So you got read of the Rav at the cost of $800.000.00 Plus your legal cost so it cost Mezrahi around $1 000.000.00 . Where is the Hohma ?
    He was willing to except $500.000.00 before the Berth Din . Now it cost Mezrahi double that .
    “Very Smart” negotiators .

  10. MIzrachi says:

    Of course this is your last post.

    You have been proven wrong again and again.

    You simply havent the wherewithal to defend this immoral and irresponsible board.

    Lies about the rabbi and his family were neve going to get you anywhere with people who already know the truth.

    Good riddance.

  11. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    Very Old Member,

    I apologise. I said in my last post your view was balanced. You have proved this wrong. It would appear that you are another example of the problem. Try looking for and promoting the positive!

    You are so fixed on board that you are blinded from the opportunity.

    You reverted to sledging the board and quoting incorrect figures. Statistically less members have resigned their seats this year than annually in each of the past couple of years. Why do you think this is?

    You quote 45 new members as if it were some immoral act. The Rabbi’s daughter was present at the kitchen tea when the membership drive was announced. How many new members did she bring in? Was your wife there? Do you know who the new members are? Do you know how many of them have maintained there membership through all of this? Do you know how many ex-members have come back to support the Kehila through all of this? A majority of these new members are keeping there membership. Hopefully our next membership drive will bring in 50 more. Will you be assisting to bring in new members or continue turning them away?

    Yes, we may have lost the Rabbi and his family and perhaps a few of their close friends but we have gained so much more. Our self respect! Our dignity! Our Sefreh Torah! Our Shule. These can never be taken away.

    Don’t forget what $500k plus interest would cost us over 15 years. I am not sure where you got the $1.1million from but this would be a whole lot more.

    If you were at the last Kiddish you would know that there were over 50 people there and from all reports everybody felt at home and enjoyed the company. If you did not talk to people, I feel sorry for you. Even a Good Shabbos without meaning can lead to a life long friendship. Try it…….

    With all of the work the new board has done you come back with “some tiles are lifting on the floor”, How petty. I think those tiles were lifting back in the 1990’s. There is more positive in the past 9 months than I can remember in the past 9 years.

    The board has been in 100% agreement with every stage of this. Who are you singling out? Do you have some other agenda? Did you stand for the board? Did you help in the working bees?

    Get over your bias and move forward!
    If you have something to add, do so, professionally, without abuse your voice will be heard. Abuse will be filed where it belongs.
    The board does not set the atmosphere the members do!

    This is my last post as I am only going to look to the future. If these posts can not get over the past, again I feel sorry for you.

  12. Very Old Member says:

    I wonder if the majority includes over 45 “members” who were enlisted just so the Board had a majority at the last EGM.

    I do not understand were the 10 women come into this discussion, in respect of the rest I must admit I give up.

    You gave 8 things that you stated were reasons why the Board should be supported, I was simply explaining that the majority of them either did not exist or worse the situation was the reverse of what you inferred. It’s fine to see the positive but it is not fine to delude yourself into thinking everything is fine, or even acceptable when the situation is clearly very bad.

    We must learn from the last 9 months that the current Board are not capable of running a chook raffle let alone a Synagogue. They successfully have increased the cost of the Rabbi leaving from some $500k to well over $1.1m. They have successfully reduced the congregation. For these “successes” you want the congregation to get behind them !

    Over the last 9 months many members try to get involved but if their involvement was in any way to disagree with the Boards actions they were told in no uncertain terms to shut up and then not talked to again. The issue is not whether you say good shabos without meaning it to someone, the issue was and is are you prepared to listen to someone, understand that there may be merit in their advice and even if you do not go with it, give them the understanding that they were heard and there was a reason for not going with their advice. The current Board have proved numerous times to numerous people they are not capable to doing this and in my view they should go.

    I can only see a positive future without the current Board and I can only hope (which I doubt) they have the intelligence to see that themselves.

  13. Perturbed! says:

    Member of 25 years:

    Over the course of your five commments on this site, you have constantly deflected from the real issues at hand.

    Few care for the new (old) foyer or the equipped kitchen of MIzrachi Synagogue.

    They care for the irresponsible and gross mistreatment of the rabbi by the current board.

    You reason their actions “Success does not come from being nice. It comes from taking the tough decisions and living with them.”

    How true you are. You now live with a debt for 15 years.

    Right up until the year 2024!

  14. Leone Hersh says:

    Hi Everyone!:)

    My name is LEONE HERSH.

    I really wanted to get my name out there in the open right up front!!! I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. And if I write anything that offends you please call me at home so I can apologise in person.

    Preferably before Tishrei 1st!

    My friend and cousin Ari Schneider (wife of our president) has my number!

    I think it is WONDERFUL that so many of you are willing to share how you feel about the very sad situation that is defining our poor old shule at the moment.

    PLEASE DON’T ASSUME to know what I am going to write and therefore write me off even before I begin. I just may surprise you!! 🙂

    I am not sure how many of you know me (I am having trouble deciphering the pseudonyms)so let me tell you that I have been a paying Bondi Mizrachi member for the last 28 years. My attendance would average out at around 30 times a year over the last 30 years since i first stepped foot in Mizery (as she was fondly refered to even back then!) I have seen Rabbi’s come and I have seen Rabbi’s go. I have seen members come and I have seen member’s go. I have made many friends and shared many good times and tears (mainly of joy, thank G-d) with those dear friends.I have also seen some of those friends go. 🙁

    It saddens me terribly to bear witness to all this bickering. Someone (with a pseudonym) wrote something very important and I thank them for it and would like to expand the idea further FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SHULE.

    I hope that all the members of Mizrachi, as well as everyone who has contributed to this forum, no matter how many years standing we are, care about the future of the shule, and care about each other! We need to care about ALL THE MEMBERS, not just the board and not just the building but ABOUT EACH OTHER. HOW? I hear you ask!

    Well, earlier this month I was lucky enough, thank G-d, and thanks to the generosity of my husband, to be in San Francisco recently to celebrate at a friend’s simcha. (A friend who was once a Miz member but moved too far away to make it her regular shule OK!) While there I attended a lovely warm friendly welcoming shule in a town called Berkeley, California.

    At the end of the service I witnessed the most amazing thing…..The President of the shule there invited the members to feel free to stand, identify themselves and greet someone whom they hadn’t seen for a while, or welcome back someone who had been sick or abroad, or wish a mazaltov to another attendee (they didn’t have to be a member) or invite someone to lunch if they were a visitor to the shule etc.

    Anyhow, I am sure you get the idea. Or maybe you are thinking “But the president or Rabbi already does that” and this is where TWO BIG DIFFERENCES LIE.

    By inviting the kehilla to extend greetings to each other we each (men and women, board members and non-board members) have the opportunity of fulfilling the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim and gemilut chassidim.

    And as Rabbi Yishmael says in Pirkei Avot 16 “Be submissive to an elder, and courteous to the young. Receive every man with good cheer.”

    I apologise if I have offended anyone by using my limited Torah learning to make the point but I do believe it is valid here.

    Also, by lots of people sharing the duty of welcoming and greeting and honouring others in the shule, there is less chance of the Rabbi or President offending anyone by forgetting to wish people n’siyah tovah or welcome back or mazaltov or (G-d forbid) long life or getting their names wrong or who knows what other heinous offences they may commit that have in the past apparently caused so much hurt and anger.

    So let’s give it a go – no matter how many years standing we all are! I really don’t want to be judged and I have no time to bicker or judge others.
    We are in Elul – it is time to smell the roses (stay positive) and see the writing on the wall (get real) and take responsibility (do real teshuva) – each one of us – and work towards turning Bondi Mizrachi Synagogue from Misery to Metzuyanchi!(I am open to any improvements on this one!!)

    So, dear fellow forum friends, A final confession – pseudonyms make me nervous – if someone finds themself writing something they don’t feel proud of or not confident is true and makes them feel they need to hide behind a pseudonym then maybe they oughtn’t write it in the first place or better still write something they are proud of and don’t feel the need to hide – and rather hold their head up high and proudly own their words!

    Shana Tova Everyone!!

  15. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    In relation to the board, Your opinion not that of the majority. You’re welcome to your opinion.

    Out of 150 members 10 women is a great turn out. Does your wife join in?

    In relation to the courtyard. The steps have been cleaned. Perhaps you would like to volunteer to assist and remove the remaining weeds.

    In relation to the hall, Take a look at other synagogues in the area,

    Most members talk perhaps you should try. Members do talk to each other, again try!

    It is to easy to see fault. The future is in each step, Try taking that step and move forward.

    Think about the problems, It is up to all of us to fix them. It is to easy to blame others and not get involved.

    This is not the forum for this. Be positive for our future. It is your future to. It is what you make of it.

    Say hello and good shabos to a stranger in the shule this shabos. I am sure they will wish you a good shabos back….

  16. Very Old Member says:

    Your views on the achievements are viewed with rose coloured glasses:

    -The Hall is for the first time in years inviting and rentable.
    ****It looks much better but the floor is coming up due to rain damage and in that state could not be rented to anyone outside the congregation and the proof is it has not been.
    – The Kitchen is fully equipped.
    ****and clean for the first time in years
    – The Ladies Auxiliary is functioning and catering wonderfully.
    ***But to a very small group of people
    – The Entrance foyer is presentable.
    ***I would question that
    – The Court yard is clean.
    ***You have not been around for a while, the garden in overgrown and the yard anything but presentable
    – We have regular Kiddushim.
    ***Agreed, but as below half the members do not talk to the other half, and everyone is quick to leave
    – Members have been smiling in shule.
    ***I do not understand that comment at all. There are some people laughing at what is happening because otherwise they would just cry. Half the 20 odd that come each week do not talk to the other half and the Board are the main problem. Each week there are less people than the week before and main topic of conversation at least with the half of the members who I talk to is were are going when the Shul closes due to lack of numbers. Most of the twenty odd that are coming each week have been to other Synagogues to try them out in the last 2 months.
    – Perhaps regular Shacharit services soon.
    ***You need ten men for that and we are lucky to get that on Shabbat

    You need to understand the problems to fix them and from your comments you clearly do not.

    To answer your question to replace the Board, at least most of them, would give the Synagogue a clean start, it could then put the past 8 months behind us and try and rebuild. They should call a meeting of members for the week starting the 21 of September; those on the Board who are responsible should resign and NOT stand for re-election and a few young members with ethics and energy should take over the management of the Synagogue.

    In my view, without that I cannot see the Synagogue lasting long after Yom Kippur.

  17. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    Very Old Member

    Thank you for your balanced words. Your support is appreciated.

    I believe the current board did state their objectives and I support them based on that objective. If you think back to the AGM the reason they stood unopposed was due to the previous board giving up. They were unopposed because nobody could nor would deal with the current situation. Almost none of the previous board stood.

    We have a board of strong successful people, Business people, Doctors, Entrepreneurs etc. All successful in their own right. Success does not come from being nice. It comes from taking the tough decisions and living with them. I agree not all of the members supported their methods but I believe almost all agreed with their objective. As you state you are “happy that that the Synagogue and the Rabbi have parted”. Unfortunately previous boards have had similar objectives and now 21 years later the issue remained. Perhaps in the 1990’s a strong stance would have been much easier. The London Beth Din commented on the lack disciplinary action etc. But that is the past lets move forward.

    Look at the achievements of this Board:
    – The Hall is for the first time in years inviting and rentable.
    – The Kitchen is fully equipped.
    – The Ladies Auxiliary is functioning and catering wonderfully.
    – The Entrance foyer is presentable.
    – The Court yard is clean.
    – We have regular Kiddushim.
    – Members have been smiling in shule.
    – Perhaps regular Shacharit services soon.

    What will replacing the board achieve? A step backward!

    Let’s keep on track and build on our strengths. Maybe we can build the Kehila and pay off our debt quickly. Personally I am very excited and enthusiastic about our future. Lets all do it together. Bring back the disenfranchised. Welcome those who are searching for a spiritual home. Let’s be the home of Modern Orthodox Zionist Judaism in Sydney. It is up to the members and it is all in front of us……

    5770 will be a wonderful year for Mizrachi together…..

  18. Very Old Member says:

    Member of 25 years standing – your words appear on their face to be a request to put the past behind us, but I have two issues with your comments.

    1) You say “Most of your comments on this site have been personal attacks and derogatory. There is no room in our future for the public sledging that is being demonstrated on this site.” but direct the comment only to “mizrachi” why are the same comments not applicable to “member of 50 years”.

    2)You state that “Are you willing to unite behind the board who were given a mandate last year to take drastic actions to turn around the fortunes of Mizrachi ” You receive a mandate if you publicly announce what you are going to do. No such action was taken by this Board. They were elected because no-one stood against them and they did NOT make their intentions known. All they told anyone was they were going to save money, which they have clearly failed to do.
    I and most members both past and present are happy that the Synagogue and the Rabbi have parted ways, the issue all along is how it was done. It is really a bit much to ask us to support the current Board who we feel have acted immorally, recklessly and without regard to the views of at least some of its members. These people should now have the decency to resign, but their actions to date indicate that they do not.

  19. mizrachi says:

    To “member for 25 years”:

    Your diplomatic approach is awfully surprising. You speak of winners, losers, opinions and ‘real’ questions.

    Yet you fail to quantify the magnitude of the actions of the board over the last 10 months.

    You bemoan, “The kehilla has no rabbi” yet the board tried making him redundant, with the famous catchcry, “We dont need a rabbi”!

    You bemoan, “The Kehila will be out of pocket some $800k+” yet you fail to mention that Rabbi Gutnick SIGNED A DOCUMENT to settle for $500k, only for the board to back out (whichever way you spin it).

    You celebrate “we dont need to pay $1.7m ($1.8m in your previous entry)” but the most rabbi gutnick ever claimed was $1.4m, AFTER the board refused to settle for the significantly less $500k.

    Misinformation seems to be your greatest ally, the truth, your greatest enemy.

    The truth is this, the board has acted immorally and irresponsibly over their ten month duration. Don’t veil the hard truth behind sympathetic moralistic pleas.

    Unfortunately, your ‘real’ questions have already been answered by the board.

    They have destroyed the “future” of this shul.
    They have “drained” this shul.
    They have created irreparable “division” within the shul.

    There is no future to commit to with the current board.

  20. disgusted says:

    Conveniently it seems, We are forgetting what started this whole issue.

    A Shul board without TALKING to their Rabbi decided to call a meeting to have the Congregation vote to make the position of Rabbi redundant!!!

    They then accepted 50 “new members” at a pittance of the normal cost just to stack the vote and then claim “Rabbi Gutnick knew how the vote would go so he went to court to stop them.”

    The Rabbi went to court, to get this Orthodox Board of management to have the dispute settled in a Din Torah!

    You want to make comments about how a Rabbi who has served his community for over 21 years should behave? What about a president who claims to be Orthodox who on behalf of the congregation refuses to go to a Din Torah??? on the grounds “there is no dispute” Say what you want, this Board of management brought this situation upon the Synagogue.

    Shame on an Orthodox Synagogue Board that decides on behalf of the whole community they don’t need a Rabbi and they don’t need to go to a Din Torah! To then further slander the Rabbi in all of their press releases by saying the Rabbi refuses to go to a Din Torah just shows the calibre of the people involved!

    Shame on the lot of you!

  21. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    Mizrachi,
    This is not a football match after the final siren.

    THERE IS NO WINNER!!
    The Kehila has no Rabbi.
    The Kehila will be out of pocket some $800k+
    The Rabbi has no Kehila.

    THERE IS NO LOSER!!!
    We don’t need to sell the building or assets
    We don’t need to pay $1.7 million
    We have removed an ongoing issue within the Shule.
    The Rabbi has time to put into his other interests.

    WE ALL HAVE OUR OPINIONS!
    – I believe the board did the right thing and has given space to move forward. You believe the board did the wrong thing and has given us a debt which will not be easy to remove.
    – I believe the Rabbi did not support the Kehila the way he should. You believe he support the Kehila.
    – You believe the Rabbi deserves our respect. I believe we deserve his respect.
    We could go on like this forever…….

    The real question at this point is….
    Are you part of the future or are you stuck in the past.
    Are you willing to put into the Kehila or be part of the drain on it.
    Are you willing to unite behind the board who were given a mandate last year to take drastic actions to turn around the fortunes of Mizrachi or are you going to continue making divisions.

    Most of your comments on this site have been personal attacks and derogatory. There is no room in our future for the public sledging that is being demonstrated on this site.

    I am willing to put the past behind and unite with you, Are you willing to do the same?

    NOW IS THE TIME TO COMMIT TO THE FUTURE.

  22. mizrachi says:

    To the person who titled himself “idiots”:

    HAVE YOU READ THE PSAK??????

    I didn’t think so.

    So eagre to slander Rabbi Gutnick!!!

    Had you read the psak,The LBD arranged his rightfully awarded compensation, as Dr Weiser correctly put it, “over the course of nearly two decades”!!!

    This was to ensure that the shul would not go bankrupt

    The initial payment of $200,000 was determined by the shul board themselves as within their means!!!

    Then again, you would know all this if you had only read the psak before cowardly defaming rabbi gutnick annonymously.

    Go get a job.

  23. Chaim says:

    As an outsider to the situation, there are a number of salient points that perhaps the commentators here have failed to consider:

    1. All rabbis deserve to be treated with dignity, despite the opinions of their congregants. A rabbi no longer meets the needs of his kehillah? Then work with him to come to a mutually acceptable situation where the rabbi is not forced to take legal action to secure his entitlements and the board of management is not seen to be too heavy-handed or bombastic. Witness the amicable departure of ministers from the Great Synagogue in recent years. They were treated with dignity and received their entitlements.

    2. Mizrachi will not survive without a rabbi. Otherwise there will be no activities and too few congregants to give the shul the stability and viability it deserves.

    3. Stop your incessant bickering all of you. Accept the situation and look at the future. Attacking each other does not bode well for the future of your shul.

  24. Member of 150 years!!! says:

    Back in my day people looked up to Rabbis and respected them.

    How people have changed!

    Board members should focus on whats left of their shul and the over $900,000 debt to the rabbi plus their own supreme court costs, rather than going on slander campaigns on the internet (and i agree with ‘mizrachi’ – writing poems?!)

    Go deal with the real issues.

  25. spectator! says:

    your all a bunch of…. Get a life !!!!
    rabbi G was owed money n he got it …. get over it !!
    the rabbi won n mozrachi lost ….
    btw im very confused how some of u morons think that the shul won …. you owe him over $900,000 , thats not a vry good win if u ask me
    bless rabbi gutniks!!

  26. Idiots! says:

    To Mirachi who said “Rabbi Gutnick won hands down”… wake up to yourself.
    No one won here.

    A Rabbi will be paid out $800,000 and the congregation he SHOULD care about because of his 21 years is on the brink of bankrupcy.

    If this is a peronal battle between a board member, of the board, and the Rabbi then let it be. But shame on the Rabbi for cleaning up the money while a community is struggling.

    I actually don’t care about who ‘won’ the case or what sort of money he would have accepted or wouldn’t have.

    What i stuggle to understand is how a Rabbi can take that sort of money knowing the synagogue is struggling.

    I wouldn’t want that Rabbi anywhere near my synagogue in the future and I hope most synagogue presidents in Sydney, and around Australia, agree.

  27. mizrachi says:

    Contrary to what the sore losing board of mizrachi and a few general members would like to think, i am not ron weiser. Though i can see through the slandererous comments made cowardly by others just the same.

    member of 25 years (I wonder who you are???):
    “I am one of the 95% of members who were going to vote to make the Rabbi’s position redundant”
    >Not to mention the 50 new members the board secured for pennies to enable the vote to swing their way!!!
    ” I am sure that would have been a more honourable way for him to leave”
    >Very honourable, a person is a rabbi for 21 years and you want to kick him out with a lousy 150k, you must be very appreciative!!!

    member of 50 years (whats your name???):
    Who are you to speculate what Rabbi gutnick earns!!! He could have been a billionaire, that gives no one an excuse to steal what is rightfully owed to him, whether a person or shul.

    It is simple. Instead of all the bitter and sour board and few general members writing falsehoods on the internet – GO READ THE PSAK!!!!

    1)Contrary to the shul’s arguments – (paragraph 34) “We have decide Rabbi gutnick is entitled to compensation of $800,000 because of his employment on llife tenure!!!

    2)Contrary to the boards insistence that rabbi gutnick refused to go to LBD – (paragraph 39) “on the basis of correspondance between parties dated 12th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 23rd March 2009, the rabbi made repeated requests for a din torah and the synagogue BLUNTLY REFUSED to attend. We therefore find that the rabbi is entiled to recover the costs of the court proceedings, from the synagogue.”

    That means that a total of at least $900,000 is owed to the Rabbi.

    Spin it whichever way you want. At least $900,000 is nowhere near 500k.

    Rabbi Guntick won hands down.

    If the board members of MIzrachi are so eagre to rebuild the shul, don’t you think writing poems on the internet are a little of course???

  28. Member of 50 years says:

    The Rabbi refuced to accept being paid off over 5 years. He and Ron are very good at turning the truth around and that has been their problem. The Board did not refues to go too the London Beth Din but the Rabbi had to be forced to do so even by the civil court. So the Rabbi still comes out with less. The Board now has to speak to ;those who left because of Ron’s harrasment of members which left a very difficult atmosphere.

  29. Very Old Member says:

    I too am a member of Mizrachi and have been one for over 50 years.

    Do the previous writers really think people are that silly, that they can not read? Before anyone takes a view on the Boards actions they should just read the Judgement of the London Beth Din (LBD).

    The Board went to the LBD claiming that the Rabbi did not have Chazaka or Life Tenure – the LBD held that Chazaka was irrelevant to the question of payments and that The Rabbi did have life tenure and awarded him $800,000.

    The Board and its supporters above, argue that they always wanted to go to the LBD, the LBD held that “the Synagogue bluntly refused” and awarded the Rabbi the cost of the civil case.

    Many members argued before the EGM that what should happen is a negotiated settlement with the Rabbi. The Board took the advice of others and thought by making the Rabbi redundant the payout would be very small. Some of those members had already had informal discussions with the Rabbi and are aware that he would have accepted somewhere between $400k and $500k with timed payments at the time. The Board refused to even enter into negotiations with him, and yes they were aware of the discussions.

    They then lost the civil action which to remind everyone was an action by the Rabbi to require the Board to go to a Rabbinic Court for a ruling. The Rabbi’s preference at the time was a Zabo, because he said it was a cheaper option to the LBD. In case you do not believe me read that judgment it’s on the web.

    That case must have cost the Synagogue $50k to $100k and the Rabbi the equivalent – At least $200k wasted by the Board.

    Now for what happens in the future. That’s up to the Board. To date their actions have been consistent if you disagree with them you are ostracised. If they actually do want to go forward they need to look around them – for some that may means coming to the Synagogue and looking at the results of their actions. Last Shabbat there were 18 men and one women at the Synagogue.

    For a start they could ring those members who are no longer coming, talk to them and find out why not. It will be enlightening to them. They will find that rather than being a solution to the problem they have been the problem.

    Once they have done that they could speak, in a civil way, to existing members who disagree with them and work out a way forward that involves all the members.

  30. Member of 50 years says:

    I am not a Board member. But thing we have to understand is that a Rabbi who earns at least half a million dollars tax free(not including what his wife earns) and also claims welfare wanted to bankrupt a community. All he wanted was the money. ‘Mizrachi says’ (and we know who this is) forgets that we do not have to pay all legal costs. The Din Torah costs have to be paid by the Rabbi on his side and that would be more than the $200.000. So if he would have accepted the shules paying him off he could have pocketed the $200.000. But the most limportant part of the Din Torah is that we have been expressly told we cannot sell the shule or down size just to pay the Rabbi what exacatly does that mean?
    So lets get on with life. We have won we are free from him.

  31. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    To Dr. Weiser. your paranoia engulfs you! Is every member of the Kehila who disagrees with you a board member. I am not a board member. It is time to move on and stop the public slanging.

    I am one of the 95% of members who were going to vote to make the Rabbi’s position redundant. I am sure that would have been a more honourable way for him to leave than the public ugliness which has ensued. Face it, to the Rabbi this was all about the money and not the Kehila.

    To Mizrachi Member, Facts are interesting when only half are given. Yes it is public knowledge that the Rabbi offered to sign off on $500,000. He also told the London Beth Din $1.8 million. What you failed to mention is that the $500k was payable in one lump sum and within 2 weeks of acceptance. When the Board offered to pay this over 5 years which was affordable they were told it was an insult! I am sure you were one of the members who offered to donate towards this payment. The shule could not raise $500K. Not from donations nor borrowings. Even if we could borrow that much, do the maths, $500K borrowed at 8%, paying interest only over 15 years equals $40k per year or $600K interest, That gives us $1.1 million payable over 15 years and still owe the original $500K. I think this is not an arrangement which could be sustained.

    This is a good outcome for Mizrachi!
    It would have been better if the Rabbi had simply stood down but…
    Again, well done to the board. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions. Mazel Tov for caring enough to follow through. You do have the support of the vast majority of the members. Keep it up.

    To all of the Kehila
    Begin the rebuilding,
    Be part of the rebuilding,
    Publicly support our future,
    Mizrachi has a lot to offer,
    Lets welcome new members,
    We have a bright future,
    Lets make Mizrachi what it could and should be,

  32. mizrachi says:

    wow!! “facts”…I think u forgot to mention that the rabbi signed off on a settlement for $500000 before the din torah only to have the board back out at the last minute. I think $800000 + court costs is a little more than that. Perhaps this is what mr weiser was referring to?

  33. Ron says:

    Board members masquerading under pseudonymns is indicative of the Mizrachi Board – cowards with no guts to use their own names.

    The LBD ruled against the board and particularly its refusal to go to a Din Torah from the beginning. And penalised the shul accordingly.

    Put your own names on your own opinions and then we will see who has lied and who has not.

    Until then no-one can take your anonymous comments as anything other than foolish people who took the shul down a very bad road withoiut the agreement of the membership and are now slinging as much mud as possible to attempt to divert lesser informed people of the Board’s mistakes that the shul members will have to pay for over almost the next 20 years.

  34. A true Rabbi says:

    Congratulations… you are a true Rabbi.

    You have won the right to a $800,000 payment form a congregation at the point of collapse.

    You should be very proud of yourself.

    What is your surname again?

  35. member of 50 years says:

    I am a member of over 50 years and I thank member of 25 years for having put the correct information out. Ron has a great deal to answer for. His and the Rabbies continuous lies have created a great deal of friction in the shule. The Board did try to go to the members through an EGM. The Rabbi knew how the vote would go so he tried to stop the members from having their say at an EGM which would have been virtually a landside against him. His only interest has been the money and not the congregation and he didn’t get the amount he wanted. Now the shule is rid of him. So ‘Let there be peace’.

  36. Member of 25 Years Standing! says:

    A long standing member? I was a member for almost 18 years before Dr. Weiser joined.

    I am not sure if Dr. Weiser is trying to prove his ignorance, trying to insight division, trying to big note himself or trying to stir up hatred. Which ever it is he should crawl back into the gutter where his comments belong or better yet help the Kehila rebuild!

    Lets look at some facts. These are documented and irrefutable!
    1. The board at the request of members called an EGM so the members could decide. If the members voted against the redundancy all of this would have been unnecessary.
    2. The Rabbi by seeking and obtaining the injunction prevented the members from having there say. (It should be noted that according to both parties the redundancy would have been passed by a landslide.) At the EGM there was no discussion about payments. The Board maintained that the remuneration based on redundancy would be resolved by the London Beth Din.
    3. The Board asked for the London Beth Din not the Rabbi.
    4. The London Beth Din stated that the financial viability of the Kehila is the most important thing.
    5. The upfront payment is within the synagogues means.

    It is now time to rebuild and stop the division. Is this bizarro world? What next is the Rabbi going to decide not to leave? At the London Beth Din he stated he did not want to stay. He also stated that he hated Mizrachi from day one. Perhaps we can maintain hostilities for another year or two and really kill the Kehila.

    The London Beth Din has given us a chance to move forward. Let’s take that opportunity and together build Shalom Beit!

    I would have thought a true Zionist would understand the importance of peace.

    IT IS NOW TIME FOR PEACE!!!!!!!!

  37. Paying Member says:

    Yes, Ron we all know that you are best friends with the Rabbi as you stated in your blog several weeks ago.

    Too often in the past you have stated falsehoods to try and destroy the Kehillah. This time I don’t think you are going to destroy it. The London Beth Din gave us the right to exist and told the Rabbi in no uncertain terms that his payout should not be at the cost of the Kehillah. 1.7 million was even not acceptable to them – so probably the legal fees were worth it!!!!!

    Our Kehillah values are strong, and despite your statements we will survive, and now we will grow and we will flourish – mainly thanks to the current board who took on the fight that no one else in the Kehillah over 20 years was prepared to.

    Kol Hakavod to the current board for their vision and their action. Please stay on and lead us through the next years. Maybe even Ron Weiser, Member & Rabbi Gutnicks’s best friend, will pitch in and lend a hand.

  38. ben gershon says:

    a rabbi can only be compensated for leaving his work to do rabbinic duties(Talmud)

    it is obvious that that the rabbi did teach his community how to sign a proper halachic contract .

    therefor he is not a competed rabbi

    ben

  39. Whoa says:

    Always interesting one members take – who lost? The Kehilla doesn’t have to sell the shule and its Sefer Torahs to pay the Rabbi? Who lost – the Kehilla has one its freedom. Sorry where is the loss????

    The board is voted in by its members and should be supported by its members. The Rabbi appears to have wanted more than the amount in the judgement so how is it the boards poor judgement. Mr Weiser if every Board was told to pay for decisions made that a member or shareholder didn’t like then we would be in the dark ages!

    I still don’t understand this quote “As a result the shul is now left with a much greater debt than was necessary, one that will take nearly 2 decades to pay off and with less members to pay for it.” If we are paying the Rabbi less than the amount he claimed over a longer period how is the Kehilla worse off?? Please can you explain this because the figures appear much better under the Beth Din proposal than what the Rabbi had claimed???? Even though it appears to be a very high payout! When the rest of us are made redundant we don’t get payment to 65! We get 1 month per year of service!

    This appears a generous settlement in our country! Many of us made redundant would like these terms rather than the Australian Law.

    So you know what its time to put in the past and move on otherwise the Shule won’t surive and those that are so determined to split the shule – its time to move on! Mizrachi has been around a long time and way before Rabbi Gutnick, so it will be in the future.

  40. Ecstatic Member says:

    To the board of Mizrachi Synagogue, Well done!!!

    A settlement well below the $1.8 million the Rabbi told the London Beth Din he expected. We did not have to sell the building as the Rabbi told the London Beth Din that he expected.

    The London Beth Din also stated it is imperative not to sell the building or any assets to pay out a private Rabbi. This is a Halachic issue which for some reason during all of the previous discussions was never mentioned.

    Let us all (the members) now work together to rebuild the Kehila. The past is history.

    Again well done Mark and the Board. It takes guts and commitment to stand for your beliefs.

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