Rabbi Selwyn Franklin: NORA and the K-A

March 11, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Rabbi Selwyn Franklin is the interim president of the New Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia and the vice-president of the NSW Kashrut Authority…a situation which The Executive Council of Australian Jewry finds questionable.

Robert Goot

Robert Goot

In a statement released by the ECAJ, president Robert Goot states: “The recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has highlighted how things can go terribly wrong for the very few Jewish organisations which choose to operate outside the governance structures of the mainstream Jewish community and which fail to operate according to the same governance standards that prevail in other Jewish organisations.

We understand  that NORA is committed to encouraging the adoption of such standards by all organisations in the Orthodox community, and we commend them for this commitment.

It therefore appears anomalous that the President of NORA holds the position of Vice President of the KA after the KCI Report has raised serious concerns about the lack of transparency of the KA’s governance, finances and operations and its lack of accountability to the community.  These concerns were underlined by the resignation last week of two lay members of the KA Board, whose resignations  were reported as being in protest over the lack of proper process. This is in addition to the resignations of other Board members in the past allegedly for similar reasons.”

Rabbi Franklin has responded saying: “It has been about three weeks since I was appointed as Interim President of NORA (New Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia).

Rabbi Selwyn Franklin

Rabbi Selwyn Franklin

Since then we have created a steering committee of representatives from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Currently, work has been focused on organizing a national conference to be held in Melbourne at the beginning of June where Rabbis will adopt a new constitution which will include criteria for membership which will exclude anyone who has brought the Rabbinate into disrepute.

NORA is committed to ensuring that representative Rabbinic organizations meet  “appropriate standards of governance and accountability” and I will work assiduously to achieve that aim.

It has been suggested that there is a contradiction between what NORA espouses and the state of governance and accountability of the NSW Kashrut Authority (KA). It has therefore been recommended that I step down from my position on the board of the KA in view of the findings of the Kashrut Commission of Inquiry (KCI) which suggest that the KA is lacking in good governance and accountability.

I would like to make it patently clear that the KCI findings are without foundation and certainly not substantiated. For me to resign from the KA board would mean the dereliction of my duty both to the kosher consuming public and the wider community.

In addition it has been suggested that the resignation of two board members from the KA also indicates the lack of good governance in the KA. As these board members have indicated, their resignations had nothing to do with the lack of good governance. So to suggest I step down from the KA for this reason is also fallacious.

It is unfortunate that the President of the ECAJ did not consult with me before issuing his statement to the press which called on me to resign from the KA. I presume that begs the question on good governance at the highest levels of leadership of the Australian Jewish community. I believe that the President of COSA played no small part in that call for me to step down from the KA.

I have wanted to work closely with our representative bodies to restore faith in the Rabbinate. Let us put aside innuendo and pettiness so that we can work hand in hand for the betterment of our religious leadership in Australia.”



13 Responses to “Rabbi Selwyn Franklin: NORA and the K-A”
  1. Helen Gien says:

    Hi Rabbi Franklin,

    I am Rosetta Levine’s cousin and I live in the United States. I’m not sure if you are the Rabbi who was recently in South Africa and took a video of my dad’s unveiling. If so would you be kind enough to send it to me. I have been waiting for my cousin to send it to me but she says she has not received anything from you.
    Thank you in advance and kind regards,
    Helen Gien

  2. Dr Yaacov, John B. Myers says:

    The community’s voice must be heard, where they have the courage to speak it. How can a community have achdut, be responsible and show respect for the values we live by and have inherited, if we submit to such insensitivity, lack of compassion and stone-heartedness, and forsaking honest and warmhearted responsiveness and compassion while under oath, as was exposed at the Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse? Self respect and respect for Torah demands that the values of compassion and honesty, humility and doing good deeds (Yevamot 79b)is what defines us, and no less. We are all obliged to keep these mitzvot. Achdut is based on the fact that everyone is obligated and no-one is exempt. World peace depends on it, so let’s not delay in taking the necessary steps to bring the matter to rest, in accordance with values that we are beholden to keep, to learn and to teach. Correction, by recognizing one’s mistakes and saying sorry, whether for causing anything or just as words of comfort, as anyone would, demands reflection and action as required, even the need be resignation or stepping aside. This is what Judaism has to teach, not only others but ourselves. Delaying the inevitable is more painful than taking the plunge. Accepting punishment is values based and one of the thirteen principles of our faith and belief in Hashem. It’s in one’s own interest and the interest of the whole community to do so. It’s cowardly not to and it is disrepectful to Hashem. Can the community tolerate the ongoing intransigence of those who refuse to step aside, yet need to based on their screen performances as community leaders, of Yiddishkeit in public? As shareholders in the future of Torah values, we must unite in showing respect for why we are here, namely to act responsibly, by show respect for one another as expected of us, as told to us by Moses, who received is instructions directly from Hashem, yet was prepared to resign to ensure He continues to look after us.

  3. Schneur Naji says:

    Secular Jewish community representative bodies have no Halachic right to direct a Rabbinic bodies such as Kosher supervision authority or a Beth Din.
    The governance which organization like ECAJ exert is limit to there constituent members.
    The Torah states “Dina Malchusa Dina”, the Law of the Land is the Law, except where a secular law contravenes the Torah.
    A religious body must conduct its affair in a legal, appropriate and transparent manner, but is never subordinate to decisions and attitude of secular mores.

    • Michel Eliyahu Gourarie says:

      pluralistic roof bodies which give equal voice to Orthodox Judaism and heterodox groups may be politically correct and popularist; however this approach is contrary to Torah and Halacha.
      Every Jew born of a Jewish mother or converted by an Orthodox Beth Din equal, however not every place of worship is Kosher.

  4. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    At all times and in every community, there is the need for oversight of structures and procedures, when necessary corrections and changes must be implemented.
    However, I do not believe that making blanket unspecified accusations against unnamed individuals or casting vague aspersions against generic groups is helpful.
    If one feels strongly that a wrong has been done, address it directly and specifically in a cogent manner without emotive and semi-sensational language.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    I think I can recall the president of COSA contributing a post in fulsome praise of a Rabbi Kluwgant who had found it necessary to resign his various positions due to his participation with the Royal Commission hearing and what that brought to bear. I believe he was also of the view that Rabbi Selwyn Franklin had ‘big shoes to fill’. It seems the president of COSA is playing some under the table games here. Not a good thing at all for what needs to be effected for better and more ethical Jewish administration. Very tacky indeed. I hope I’m not getting my ‘posts’ mixed up – if so I apologise in advance. I’m pretty sure my memory serves me correctly.

  6. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

    Robust public debate is part and parcel of communal life.
    Every issue has many sides, nothing is black and white.
    The supply of Kosher foods and the licensing of caterers and facilities at sustainably prices is a core component of any mature and healthy Jewish community.
    The KA has served the community for over two decades and continues to do so.
    The Jewish Board of Deputies recently commissioned an inquiry in Kashrut services, a critical report was published.
    Changes and improvements will most likely occur.
    Let all the stake holders discuss, debate and if necessary argue through the issues in a civil and dignified manner.
    Public denigration of personalities is puerile and counterproductive.

  7. naomi krinsky says:

    I call on all Rabbis and Lay leaders to stop this bickering in the Sydney community. Every Jewish organisation needs full accountability and transparency. I call on any Rabbi or Lay leader to call me to discuss my concerns as a community member not just the few that continuously find fault with our Rabbis and lay leaders.
    Lets work on everything…… starting with Private school fees which has become unaffordable for most. Then the cost of Montefoire home, surely the founders intention was not to create a place for the wealthy. Oh and lets not hope to die too soon, cause that too is a fortune. Like everything in this very expensive city.
    On a positive side, we have first class schooling, first class nursing homes and first class burial society as well as first class Kashrut.
    It would be absurd to suggest that Lay leaders dictate to Rabbis as it would be absurd for Rabbis to dictate to a civil judge.
    What I truly don’t understand is this about improving Kashrut or is it Tall Poppy syndrome. Are the Lay leaders involved( and I don’t know who the main players are)kosher consumers. If the KA or any Jewish organisation is audited by a registered auditor then I would imagine that would be sufficient.
    If however, the community at large does not want First class Schools, nursing homes, burial society or Kashrut then so be it.
    Just stop this open war.
    What we do need is a respite centre for the disabled.
    Avahas Yisroel is what might get us what we need. The coming of Moshiach.

    • Avigael Cassel says:

      Theres no Avahas Yisraol when leaders refuse to obey the law. Justice and Righteousness come before Achdut.

  8. Chana Warlow-Shill says:

    I resigned because an important statement was published without Board approval. Therefore I do not agree with Rabbi Franklin’s statement that our resignations have nothing to do with good governance.

    • Avigael Cassel says:

      Im glad to see Chana that you are finally starting to see the corruption around you. It takes time, but its an ugly sight and completely unacceptable.

      • Naomi krinsky says:

        Do you have proof of corruption, if so take it to the authorities. One must be careful when making such statements.

  9. Schneur Naji says:

    Did Robert Goot ever have any clashes with Rabbi Franklin in the past.
    I believe that Robert was the attorney against Rabbi Gutnick in a London Beth Din adjudication over the Mizrachi Synagogue affair.
    So it may be judicious for the President of the ECAJ to recluse himself from the issues of the KA, as there maybe perceived prejudice.

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