Rabbi Milecki’s contributions to South Head

July 20, 2017 by J-Wire News Service
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Rabbi Benzion Milecki has written to members of the South Head Synagogue denying he is one of the ongoing expenses the shule will have to meet if it is taken out of administration.

Rabbi Benzion Milecki

Rabbi Milecki has notified the membership stating: “The suggestion in the letter you received yesterday from the Secured Creditors is that if the company were to come out of Administration and return to the Board, “Ongoing expenses will continue to mount including the Rabbi’s package as he will not have been terminated”. In fact, the exact opposite is true.

  • As the Secured Creditors well know, I have not received any compensation whatsoever from the Synagogue since April 27, the day I was unlawfully terminated.
  • I made a voluntary undertaking, which still stands, not to seek compensation from the commencement of Administration until I give 21 days notice. I have not given such notice. 
  • As long as the Secured Creditors refrain from voting for liquidation, I will continue to refrain from making any claim while the synagogue remains in Administration.
  • Furthermore: Should the Secured Creditors vote to hand the Synagogue back to the Board, and the Board immediately resigns and calls a General Meeting to vote for a new Board, I will give a further undertaking to refrain from making any claim until the new Board is elected. 
  • Furthermore: Before making any claim, I will allow the new Board one month to either negotiate a win/win outcome with me, or failing that, to send a representative to Israel with me so that the matter may be heard by the Special Beth Din appointed by the Chief Rabbi to deal with South Head.
It should be readily apparent that the above amounts to a very significant donation to the synagogue by the Rebbetzen and myself, making us the Synagogue’s largest current donors.
In addition, although the Synagogue owes me a significant amount of back pay, holiday pay, long service leave and other entitlements, I will not make any claim for these until the issues are resolved either by negotiation or the ruling of the Beth Din.
In view of this significant contribution on our part, we do not think it at all excessive to demand:
a) that the secured creditors desist from demanding repayment of their loan and/or placing the Synagogue into Liquidation
b) vote to return the Synagogue from Administration back to the directors
c) that they, like us, make a significant donation towards the ongoing costs of the Synagogue, both while in Administration and after its return to the Board. Like us, their donation should continue until the matters are resolved by either negotiation or a decision of the Special Beth Din. This request that they contribute funds stems from their decision to place the Synagogue in Administration,  which according to their own decision cost the Synagogue between $250,000- $300,000. They must take some responsibility for causing this huge debt.
Furthermore, on April 27, Mr Hochroth made the following statement in a letter to the community:
In an administration, there are risks. The most significant risk is that our bank – which was our only secured creditor – would seek repayment sooner rather than later. This potentially puts our property at risk of being sold up or falling into the control of persons unknown who may have differing objectives to those of the majority of members. Three members of the shul – Curtis Mann, Rodney Naumburger and myself – have each loaned $500,000 to pay out and replace the bank to alleviate this major risk to our property and kehillah. The terms of this new loan are no less favourable than those of our current bank facility. The primary benefit of this new loan is that its lenders have every desire and intention to see the shule and kehillah continue and flourish which is not necessarily the case with a major commercial bank. 
From the above, it should be abundantly clear that Messrs Hochroth, Naumburger and Mann have: 
a) no moral right to vote for liquidation
b) no moral right to withdraw their funds from the Synagogue which would trigger the sale of the property 
c) a moral obligation to financially support the Synagogue because it was their decision to place the Synagogue in Administration hence incurring between $250,000 and $300,000 of Administration and Legal fees, placing the Synagogue in peril
d) a moral obligation to vote to return the Synagogue to the Board because the entire rationale for placing the Synagogue into Administration was an expensive and failed attempt to terminate me.
e) over and above the previous points, Messrs Hochroth, Naumburger and Mann have a Halachik obligation to abide by the injunction of the Special Beth Din of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and not do anything to create facts on the ground. Voting for liquidation, or causing others to do so, would be a clear breach of the injunction, a Contempt of Beth Din, and place them in the personal danger of a Ban of Excommunication.

If Messrs Hochroth, Naumburger and Mann stand by their moral and halachik duties and obligations, the Synagogue  will have the necessary time for the parties to either achieve a win/win agreement, or have the matter adjudicated in a Din Torah in Jerusalem according to the terms of my contract. I remind them that Mr Justice Brereton said in his judgement that it was inconceivable that a Board of an Orthodox synagogue would act against Halacha. 
It took us decades to build what we had at South Head. It’s taken only a few months to destroy it. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for another couple of months to save what can be saved so rebuilding can begin. “
The synagogue may well be put into liquidation at its deferred creditors’ meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning.


5 Responses to “Rabbi Milecki’s contributions to South Head”
  1. Peter Aschheim says:

    Rabbi Milecki doesn’t understand the difference between de facto and de jure.Yes he has legal rights as ruled by the NSW Court, but his position is weakened by the fact that he has lost the support of his kehilla.Such lack of support diminishes his position and his credibility.

  2. Bernice Charif says:

    Rabbi, you hold the key of the door that  can be opened deciding the future of South Head.  Rabbi we beg you to be nice, rather than right.  

    • Rafi Plotkin says:

      This letter is beyond the pale and to accuse the creditors of having no morals is incedulous.

      This letter is evidence of the rabbi’s unrealistic view and vindictive nature.

      What is more, his mention of excommunication is scandalous.

      I agree with Bernice 100 percent in that the rabbi has in fact LOST THE MORAL

  3. Jock Orkin says:

    As a disinterested party to the dispute ( I live in Melbourne ) ,I must say that it will take more than the wisdom of Solomon to resolve the irreconcilable differences between the two sides.I therefore respectfully make the following suggestion.

    Let the Rabbi remain in his post .

    All those congregants who are not happy with this should resign forthwith and form their own shul.

    Of course there will be serious financial implications if South Head implodes.The Orthodox community of NSW may well have to pick up the pieces by imposing a levy on all congregants in order to settle the dispute.

    • Colin Tow says:

      Hi Josh, unfortunately your suggestion would be very difficult to implement. For the last few Shabbatot I understand there have been fewer than 20 congregants (out of about 800), attending services at South Head shul. The new minyan seeking renewal has an attendance rate of about ten times that number, crammed into a makeshift shul. Cost issues aside, given the demographics and property constraints of the area, it would be impossible to find a new place of worship for such a large congregant body (600+ based on an independent survey), while the Rabbi retains his position at the existing shul, where most of the seats would unoccupied. Clearly the majority of members need to return to their rightful home in the original shul building.

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