Sydney Beth Din: reinstate fired Melbourne rabbi or face Din Torah

September 6, 2012 by  
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Melbourne’s Yeshivah Centre is embroiled in a battle with the Sydney Beth Din after it defied an order of the Jewish court.

The Sydney judges are incensed that the Melbourne centre – which houses the headquarters of the Victorian Chabad movement, two schools and numerous other educational and outreach facilities – defied an injunction to prevent it firing an employee last Friday.

In a blistering letter on Tuesday to Don Wolf, the chair of the Yeshivah Centre, the Sydney judges declared his dismissal of Rabbi Mordechai Engel, the program director of Kollel Menachem, as “null and void.”

The Sydney judges gave Wolf one week – until next Tuesday – to either reinstate him or agree to rabbinic arbitration.

If neither of these options is approved, the Sydney rabbis said they would inform the chief rabbinic authorities in Melbourne and the head rabbis of Chabad in New York that Wolf and the Chabad institutions of the Yeshivah Centre are in contempt of the court.

The letter, signed on behalf of the judges by Rabbi Eli Schlanger, the court’s secretary, said it is “unacceptable” that their authority has been ignored. The desecration of God’s name “cannot be tolerated,” they added.

Engel, 42, who has nine children, including a newborn baby, has been in his job for 14 years, running programs for the kollel. He approached the Sydney court because the Melbourne Beth Din only handles divorces and conversions.

The Sydney judges believe the case should be decided by a rabbinic arbitration before three Chabad rabbis.

Wolf said all dealings with employees are conducted “in a professional and confidential manner,” adding that the Yeshivah acts on the direction of its chief rabbi, Zvi Hirsch Telsner.

Rabbi Telsner, who had apparently over-ruled the injunction last Friday, wrote in an email on Wednesday saying that a rabbinic arbitration is being arranged “as quickly as possible.”

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