The Mizrachi decision – Rabbi Gutnick responds

August 25, 2009 by J-Wire
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Rabbi Moshe Gutnick responds to the decision reached by the London Beth Din in order to settle the dispute between Gutnick and Sydney’s Mizrachi congregation.

from Rabbi Moshe Gutnick

Rabbi Gutnick has been fully vindicated by the decision of the London Beth Din. Here are the relevant parts of the decision.

Despite the Synagogue arguing that the Rabbi did not have life tenure (which for the purposes of this judgement is generally synonymous with chazaka – see paragraph 5), the Beth Din found in paragraph 24 that “at some point after September 1990 an agreement was reached that Rabbi Gutnick would be entitled to Life Tenure” and further in Paragraph 34 the Beth Din determined compensation “because of his employment on life tenure”.

Despite the Synagogue’s arguments that the amount of compensation the Beth Din award should be reduced due to performance issues, the Beth Din found that the argument was not valid as noted in paragraph 31 “ We therefore find no grounds for applying any reduction”

The Beth Din made an appropriate award reflecting life tenure concluding at the age of 65 – the average retirement age in Australia. The Beth Din noted that this finding was consistent with the principle of life time chazaka as chazaka did not bring with it an automatic right to remuneration – however in our case the Rabbi has the additional advantage of remuneration for his “life tenure” – see paragraph 26.

Referring to the proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW, the Beth Din stated in paragraph 39 that “there are clear Halachic grounds for a claimant to recover his costs from a defendant, where, after a defendant has refused to attend a Din Torah for the resolution of a dispute, the claimant has taken action in the civil courts”. The Beth Din found that “we are satisfied on the basis of the correspondence of the parties… that the Rabbi made repeated requests for a Din Torah and the Synagogue bluntly refused to attend.” The Beth Din found that “the Rabbi is entitled to recover the costs of  the Court proceedings from the Synagogue”

Rabbi Gutnick said “I am pleased that this matter has finally been resolved in a Beth Din as I had requested from the very start. I applaud the wisdom of the judgement and in particular its recognition of my life tenure employment. I hope that we can now all move on with our lives in peace “

Comments

23 Responses to “The Mizrachi decision – Rabbi Gutnick responds”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    I hate seeing this sort of thing within the Jewish community but at least everyone has a democratic right.
    Besides, by now everything would have settled down.

  2. Mizrachi says:

    Board “member of 50 years”:

    It is irrelavent how many people “wanted him out.”

    You still have to give a person what is owed to them.

    As we now know, redundancy was not legally and halachically viable.

    Simple.

  3. member of 50 years says:

    Wrong again I am not a board member. But one that was not able to voice my opinion at the special EGM about the Rabbi because of people like you and Ron a very small minority very very small who were afraid that they would lose out at that EGM. You caused all this. The majority were there and there were huge numbers who wanted him out. And you know that. I am one of those members that YOU disenfranchised by supporting the Rabbi in not allowing the EGM to continue. You helped disenfranchise the rest of the shule. The majority. Your vociferous loud shouting physical and abuse of members has been disgusting.

  4. Mizrachi says:

    Board “member of 50 years”:

    I knew you were a board member from your very first slanderous post.

    I thought you accused me of bring Dr Weiser in the previous article???

    If you are going to cowardly publicise libelous assumptions, at least remain consistent.

    You have trully epitomized the strife that Mizrachi Synagogue finds itself.

    For you it has always been a game.

    It is no wonder that Mizrachi is in its current state.

    And again, though it still may not register in your troubled mind, there are many other members in Mizrachi aside from Dr Weiser who know that the current board has acted immorally and deceitefully.

    You have been proven factually incorrect in every one of your posts.

    And as a result you have nothing to respond aside from slander.

    Enough with the slander campaign.

  5. Very Old Member says:

    To member of 50 years.

    You have just explained one of the main problems with the Mizrachi Synagogue over the last 9 months:
    If someone dares to voice an opinion that differs to that of the Boards they are perceived by the Board to be “causing problems”.

    A Board that has self confidence can afford to give views that differ from theirs a voice. A prime example is the previous Board. As members of Mizrachi will recall, some members were against the Great deal, the then Board allowed those views to be heard, allowed a debate and kept all members fully informed of both sides of the argument.

    It seems to many worried members that the current Board considers anyone with a conflicting view as a trouble maker and the Board responds by going out of their way to ensure there was no debate.

    It is their way or the highway and the result is the Synagogue has lost money, membership and community respect. You said that the “kitchen tea” members will be remaining – that’s great if its true and only time will tell, but regular attendees would know that of the 45 odd members that joined before Pesach we have seen less than 5 of them ever attend a service at the Synagogue and to date no names have been put on seats for them.

    Shabbat services are attended by less people each week. Numbers now appears to have dropped below 20. Friday night gets 10 and the rest of the week, forget about.

  6. Very Old Member says:

    To member of 50 years.

    You have just explained one of the main problems with the Mizrachi Synagogue over the last 9 months:
    If someone dares to voice an opinion that differs to that of the Boards they are perceived by the Board to be “causing problems”.

    A Board that has self confidence can afford to give views that differ from theirs a voice. A prime example is the previous Board. As members of Mizrachi will recall, some members were against the Great deal, the then Board allowed those views to be heard, allowed a debate and kept all members fully informed of both sides of the argument.

    It seams to many worried members that the current Board considers anyone with a conflicting view as a trouble maker and the Board responds by going out of their way to ensure there was no debate.

    It is their way or the highway and the result is the Synagogue has lost money, membership and community respect. You said that the “kitchen tea” members will be remaining – that’s great if its true and only time will tell, but regular attendees would know that of the 45 odd members that joined before Pesach we have seen less than 5 of them ever attend a service at the Synagogue and to date no names have been put on seats for them.

    Shabbat services are attended by less people each week. Numbers now appears to have dropped below 20. Friday night gets 10 and the rest of the week, forget about.

  7. member of 50 years says:

    Yep it is boring now that I know who I am arguing with. Doesn’t make it fun any more. Mizrachi and Ron have caused enough problems in the shule.
    As I said enough with your lies and distortions.

  8. Mizrachi says:

    Board “member of 50 years”

    Having been proven totally deceitful in your previous commment, attempting to rewrite history,you have nothing to respond.

    Other than slander.

    You are clearly sick.

    The board lied saying rabbi gutnick didn’t have life tenure.
    The board lied saying rabbi gutnick didn’t want to go to a din torah.
    The board were the people with false affadavits.

    Do not embarrass your pitiful self further.

    Your slander campaign you have journeyed on tells more of yourself, than anyone else.

    Delusion will not get you anywhere in life.

  9. stop the fighting says:

    I’m not going to throw stones anymore.

    All I want to say, to both sides, is there are no winners in this case.

    To Member of 50 years AND Mizrachi… stop arguing.
    You will never agree and it serves no purpose.

  10. member of 50 years says:

    The Rabbi never gives anything graciously. Too many know the other side too.
    It is only 2 people who provide continuous lies in the shule and they need to think about Yom Kippur coming up.
    Oh sorry there was at least two more who gave affidavit one who really lied for the Rabbi.
    The Rabbi did not accept a payoff but now he has to.

  11. MIzrachi says:

    Board “member of 50 years”

    Let us not rewrite history.

    1. You claim that the $500,000 had to be paid upfront, yet the board DID NOT respond with an offer to pay it off over a number of years.

    clearly the fact it was to be paid up front was not the issue. Rather, the board wished to leave the Rabbi with nothing.

    Unfortunately for you and your board, the facts are all out there. Too many people who were intimately involved in the negotiations did not keep quite as you would have hoped.

    2. Yes, it seems logical that the Rabbi claimed at least $1m in court, the Beth Din found he was entitled to $1.2m before any discounts.

    3. Yes, you are correct, the Rabbi didn’t get what he wanted – the $500k he graciously offered.

    He got more.

  12. member of 50 years says:

    $500,000 was an upfront payment that the shule had to pay up front totally which they didn’t have. The president had to go to the Board to ask for permission. they did come back with an offer to pay it off but the rabbi refused.
    He asked for at least one million in court when the Judge cornered him.
    He still did not get what he wanted.

  13. MIzrachi says:

    Board “Member of fifty years” – forgot to pop your pills today?

    Again with the antisemitic sentiment. Again with the slander against the rabbi. Do you not understand that Rabbi Gutnick could be a billionaire and yet that gives you no right to detract and steal what is rightfully owed to him???

    You can convince yourself the moon is made of cheese, it doesnt change the truth.

    The rabbi didn’t recieve chazaka, he recieved something with a little more financial gravity – life tenure.

    He didn’t ask for anything near $1.7 million,especially befor the din torah, when he SIGNED A DOCUMENT settling for $500k, only for the president to back out.

    Enough of the slander.

    Parade that you won the din torah because you are only paying back:
    >$800,000 compensation to the rabbi.
    >$100k+ of rabbi’s supreme court costs.
    >$100k+ of your own supreme court costs.

    You have clearly “won” hands down! And with all that inflation, a debt until 2024 doesn’t look to bad after all, does it???

  14. Ron says:

    What happened was that instead of the shul paying what the Rabbi actually signed on but the shul refused $460,000 plus statutory costs of about $45k back after Pesach, the shul “won” in the LBD and now have to pay out double and more when we will find out just how much the Board wasted on legal bills – probably another couple of hundred thousand – and yet another Board secret.

    We never lost our shul – it was given away by the Board – totally unnecessarily – and our kids put into debt.

    That’s a great result – not.

    Talk about incompetent.

  15. member of 50 years says:

    To Ron
    You and the Rabbi can say he won and we can say he lost
    He asked for Chazaka and he didn’t get it
    He asked for $1.7 million from the Beth Din to the age of 80 years. They gave him to 65 years
    He expected to get $1.2 million immediately but got $800.000 to be paid off over 15 years so inflation will eat away at that.
    But we got our shule back.

  16. member of 50 years says:

    To non member No offer was ever made except in the Rabbis affidavit to the Beth Din. Obviously it was a secret to everyone even the Board. It was an offer between the Chabbad house the Russian Shule and the Rabbi so that the Rabbi could get his money. which is what I keep saying. It is all about money for a Rabbi who earns 1/2 million Dollars a year anyways.
    Anyhow who wants to join with Chabbad, especially the Russian Shule. We are not compatible even the London Beth Din said so.

  17. 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 Gutnick , – 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 Gutnick 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 ?

  18. 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 Gutnick , – 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 Gutnick 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 ?

  19. MIzrachi says:

    To ‘paying’ member:

    In the previous article you accuse me of being Ron Weiser, and now Rabbi Gutnick!!

    Has it entered your mind that there are many others who do not align themselves with the horrendous and irresponsible actions of the current board???

    Once again you distort the truth, and inject anti jewish sentiment as well.

    Contrary to what your antisemitic nature would lead you to believe, there are no “interpretations” of the award.

    If you really are a paying member you would have recieved the ruling.

    It is written in plain english.

    1)Contrary to the shul’s arguments – (paragraph 34) “We have decided Rabbi gutnick is entitled to compensation of $800,000 because of his employment on life 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.”

    And yet you still choose to defend the board, regardless of their misleading and dividing of our communtiy, and gross mistreatment of the rabbi.

    You claim to be a paying member.

    Where will you be in 2024??????

  20. Ron says:

    It seems as if the Board is not willing to accept reality.

    It’s press release quoted the President as stating that the LBD had determined that Rabbi Gunick did not have chazaka – I can’t find that anywhere in the judgement.

    The judgement determined that Rabbi Gutnick had “life tenure” and stated that that is till age 65.

    The LBD in its decision clearly states in Point 39 that the “Synagogue bluntly refused to attend” a Din Torah.

    It is simply impossible to see how this can be read to mean anything other than it says.

    The result of the Din Torah is that it has cost the shul far more than it needed to – the Rabbi had signed a deal for an in total payout of $460,000 plus statutory dues (inclusive of his legal costs etc) – the shul did not want to sign.

    The shul did not come back and say fine, but with a payment plan.

    Now we, the members of Mizrachi will have to pay out almost as much immediately but will have an additional overhanging debt to be paid for almost 2 decades.

    In terms of members and attendance.

    I am one of the very few who actually do attend.

    2 out of the last 3 Friday nights I was the minyan man.

    Thank G-d (with irony) we have people saying kaddish who have to turn up.

    If only all of the Board members and even some of the new members, let alone what remains of the existing members actually came to the shul, we would all be in a better place.

    The board will not even give me a list of members despite repeated requests.

    What is so secret about the membership list that it cannot be revealed?

    As for friendliness – one of the regular board members refuses to even say shabbat shalom.

    I guess that is because he lied on his affidavit to the LBD and is ashamed – but that is the calibre of people we are being asked to follow.

    The shul can indeed progress – but we need a healing board and not a divisive one.

    The judgement of the LBD is done – but some honesty in regards to it would be a refeshing change – and allow us to move forward.

    No-one has won here – we have all lost – but if the board will deal openly with the membership, we may start to heal.

  21. Paying Member says:

    Mizrachi possibly you and the good Rabbi should reflect on the CHABAD interpretation of the Award at http://www.chabad.info

    It starts the article stating…
    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.

    I also thank the London Beth Din in not insisting that my shule be sold to pay you out, as you wanted. Rabbi it is a shame it took several court appearances to convince you to go to the London Beth Din – See supreme court transcripts.

  22. Question for the Rabbi says:

    I’m just wondering Rabbi how you feel knowing that the congregation you worked with for so long is on the brink of bankrupcy becasue of this decision?

    What is more important? the congrations long-term future of the money you have been awarded? There was a day when a Rabbis cared.

    You have done a dis-service to every Rabbi in Australia.

  23. MIzrachi says:

    Lets see the board members try to spin this one!!!

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