The Jerusalem Beth Din serves an injunction to protect South Head Synagogue

July 13, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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An order has been made by a special Beth Din court  in Jerusalem to block any action which “could lead to the destruction” of Sydney’s South Head Synagogue.

 

A meeting of creditors is scheduled to take place in Sydney on Friday.

The ruling was made following a letter to the Beth Din in Jerusalem written by the spiritual head of the South Head Synagogue Rabbi Benzion Milecki on Monday July 10th in which he wrote:

“Because the Synagogue Board and President acted and are acting in a manner that endangers the continued functioning of the Synagogue through the defendants taking unilateral actions, that include boycotting and requesting members of the community to pray in another venue (in order to force the resignation of Rabbi Milecki),  liquidating the Holy Congregation Ahavat Shalom, selling the land and Synagogue building in all of its parts – including the Synagogue, the Beth HaMidrash, the Library, the Mikveh etc – G-d forbid (which is possible because the President of the Synagogue released the bank and replaced it with himself as mortgagee together with two other Board members);].

And because it is the intention of the defendants to execute their plan leading to the destruction of all the facilities, an irreversible situation incapable of remedy (because, as mortgagees, they can vote for the liquidation of the Synagogue as means of retrieving their funds at the creditors’ meeting that will take place on Friday morning, 20th Tammuz);

Therefore I request His Honour the Av Beth Din and the Beth Din to issue an immediate injunction that prevents any of the sides from acting in a manner that could lead to the destruction of all these holy facilities.”

Order of HaRav HaGaon Rav Chaim Shlomo Rozental, Rav and Av Beth Din of Jerusalem, and Av Beth Din of the Special Court Established by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in the matter of Rabbi Benzion Milecki and South Head Synagogue.

17 Tammuz 5777

Decision – Order

With the power vested in me by virtue of my position as Av Beth Din of the Special Court appointed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in accordance with the agreement and written contract made between Rabbi Benzion Efraim Milecki shlita (may he have long life) and the “Holy Congregation Ahavat Shalom”, also known as South Head Synagogue, and the leaders and members of that congregation; and in view of Rabbi Milecki’s assertion in his letter of Tammuz 5, 5777, (9/7/17) that the Supreme Court of NSW has verified that contract and ruled that all matters between Rabbi Milecki and the aforesaid congregation must be decided in accord with the ruling of a Beth Din; and in view of the fact that the Beth Din of the Chief Rabbinate has been agreed by both sides according to the said contract to rule on any dispute between them;

And in light of the claim of Rabbi Milecki in the aforesaid letter, that irreversible damage could be caused annulling any possibility of bringing about a Hearing on the matter in dispute;

I order, with the power of my status as Av Beth Din, that it is forbidden for any of the two sides or their representatives to take any action that could create facts on the ground, until resolution of the matter in the Beth Din in the presence of the two sides.

Both sides may present this Order to any legally authorised Court.

Given on Tammuz 17, 5777, albeit not in the presence of the two sides

Rabbi Chaim Shlomo Rosenthal
Rav and Av Beth Din of Jerusalem
Av Beth Din of the Special Court 

(Seal of Rav Rozental – Av Beth Din)

cc:

The Chief Rabbis of Israel shlita

HaRav HaGaon Avraham Yosef, shlita,
Chief Rabbi of the city of Holon;
Judge of the Special Court

HaRav HaGaon Moshe Raphaeli shlita,
Judge of the Special Court

The answer was received in Sydney yesterday by Rabbi Milecki who has told J-Wire: “The following Order was received by both me and the respondents (members of the Board, Finance Committee and Secured Creditors) yesterday,n response my request to the Av Beth Din of the Special Court Established by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in the matter of South Head Synagogue and Rabbi Milecki. 

Allow me to point out that it is inconceivable that officers and representatives of an Orthodox Synagogue would not show the utmost respect to an Order issued by the Av Beth Din of the Special Court, and universally respected Dayan, His Honour, HaRav HaGaon Chaim Shlomo Rozental.”

J-Wire has asked for comments from the Shule’s president.

Comments

8 Responses to “The Jerusalem Beth Din serves an injunction to protect South Head Synagogue”
  1. Kim Morris says:

    As a member of the Jewish community in the Eastern Suburbs, but not a member of a Synagogue, I have been absolutely abhorred by the public spectacle which has ravaged the community and the debacle which has taken place at South Head Synagogue.

    I do not profess to be religious, nor do I align myself with any Synagogue – but growing up in an exceptionally traditional, kosher home and attending an Orthodox Jewish day school, I believe Jewish morals and values were imparted, particularly regarding opening our homes and places of worship to Jews in our community and around the world. In my opinion, in this instance, it seems that no morals or values were imparted until such time that members of the community, and now the Beth Din have stepped up to save South Head Synagogue.

    Those involved in this debacle, who profess to be concerned about the future of the next-generation, have lead by very poor example and have taught the next generation that it is acceptable to:

    – Lock a fellow Jew out of a Synagogue, with force

    – Allow a Synagogue to be forced into liquidation, with the view to selling it and allowing a place of worship to be open picking for others (a somewhat frightening thought)

    – Bully, harass, vindicate, vilify, expose, denigrate, name & shame in both Jewish and Secular public forums

    – Not take responsibility for contributing to failure

    – Run away, justify and pin blame on others to make themselves feel better

    – Impart sensitive information and accuse others of “being informants”

    – Plant “eyewitnesses” to relish in the demise

    – Degrade the generosity of community members who step up to contribute and support

    – Not accept outcomes you don’t like

    – Continue to vilify and destroy when the both the law and community have spoken

    Are these actions “not the antithesis of what is trying to be achieved for future generations?” Leading a congregation in this manner is frightful.

    Hopefully moving forward the community will put politics aside and that South Head Synagogue will survive and remain a place of worship for many generations to come.

  2. Jonathan Barker says:

    It is counter intuitive for the rabbi Milecki to criticize The Board of Directors as he attended all their meetings as a self appointed de facto director and played a major role in FINANCIAL decision making.This self appointment is unheard of in the running of non Chabad Shuls world wide.

  3. Rafael Manory says:

    With all due respect to the Beth Din in Jerusalem, this verdict should have no validity in Sydney. I am not a member of the synagogue, but it sounds to me unconceivable that the Beth Din would take a decision based only on a letter of one side of the dispute. No tribunal in Israel can oblige people in Australia to throw good money on sustaining an untenable situation. The shule is bankrupt if they have to pay what Rabbi Milecki was awarded by a court in Australia, it is their right to declare bankrupcy and Rabbi Milecki could have prevented the situation by not insisting that he be involved in future decisions in the shule. The involvement of the Israeli Beth Din seems so misplaced that it convinces me that this synagogue is unfortunately doomed. The situation reminds me of king Louis the 15th who was saying “after me- let the flood come”. After Rabbi Milecki the bankrupcy comes.

    • Joe Weinstein says:

      Rafael,

      With “Due respect to you”

      You say that “… no tribunal in Israel can oblige people in Australia….”

      You may not be aware of the Legal “Contract” between the parties (was drafted as to Australian Secular Rule of LAW); and causes the parties to be obligated to the Rule of Law within Australia.

      You may not have read the Recent Judgement (Order) by the Supreme Court of NSW that very clearly Reminded the Administrator & the Shule Board (& President) “…the administrators could not sack Rabbi Milecki (as they purported to do) [that is: it was illegal in accordance of Australian Law; as per Contract….”

      Furthermore, Justice Paul Brereton of the Supreme Court of NSW; clarified the Supremacy of Halacha (Jewish Law; which OBLIGATES Jews to dispute via a Beth Din) in all the affairs of an Orthodox Synagogue, including its application (by Administrator/ Community) to the relationship between a Rabbi and his Community. 

      In otherwords Justice Paul found that the Beth Din (including the most respected in Israel) has the Authority & Jurisdiction Under Australian Law and therefore has “validity in Sydney”

      As to your assertion “…based only on a letter of one side of the dispute….”
      please be mindful that the “decision” by the Beth Din (of Israel) is an interim injunction after the Application by the Rabbi for the “dispute” yet to be heard by all parties (when the Respondent RESPONDS!)

      And The “order” (by Beth Din) states: “….until resolution of the matter in the Beth Din in the presence of the two sides.” [ie BOTH parties]

      JW

  4. Larry Moskowitz says:

    This is only a letter and not a ruling of a properly constituted meeting of a Beth Din.
    I don’t believe it is enforceable and is only a crude attempt at coercing the Creditors into accepting the position of Benzion Milecki.
    This is blackmail and should fall on deaf ears.Why did Benzion not use the Beth Din before I ask.
    What an expedient incident !!

    • Halina Rubenstein says:

      I think this is neither a crude attempt nor blackmail…and the follow-up question should be why did the Shule Board NOT use the Beth Din well before the situation became dire? It was stated in the employment contract that matters pertaining to irreconcilable dispute be dealt with through the Beth Din. Instead, the Board in its infinite wisdom attempted to circumvent this by calling in an administrator to terminate the Rabbi’s employment – this action being made void by the Civil Court, confirming what was stated in the original contract… also a time consuming and unnecessary costly exercise, bringing the shule into greater debt (I believe without the Rabbi even drawing his salary during that time up until a resolution is made).

      I agree – the Beth Din have made no decision but have issued an injunction until resolution of the matter in the Beth Din in the presence of the two sides. Why is the Board so hesitant to abide by the dispute conditions of the employment contract?

  5. Sally Gerzt says:

    The Rabbi acted as a Shadow Director of the Board,even though he was not elected by members at an AGM.
    Therefore any criticism he levies against The Board is a criticism of himself as well.

  6. Harry Locketz says:

    Another Pyrrhic victory for Milecki Family because the Shul will have 20 members.
    How will the Shul remain solvent.
    Rabbi Milecki is so obstinate it beggars belief.

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