UK Beth Din may hear Australia case via video

By Dan Goldberg, April 29, 2009
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A bitter legal battle between a prominent Sydney rabbi and his Orthodox congregation may be resolved by rabbinical judges in Britain.

Rabbi Moshe Gutnick won a last-minute injunction from the NSW Supreme Court on the eve of Passover to prevent members of his cash-strapped shul from voting on a motion to make his position redundant.

Justice Richard White ordered Rabbi Gutnick and the board of the Mizrachi shul in Bondi to resolve their dispute “by a Jewish tribunal in accordance with Jewish law”.

As Rabbi Gutnick is a judge on the Sydney Beth Din, the matter should be arbitrated by a zabla, whereby each party selects a rabbinical judge, who then agrees on the third.

Rabbi Gutnick, who has led the small congregation for more than 20 years, this week selected Rabbi Isaac Berger, an eminent judge of the Manchester Beth Din, as his representative.

Mizrachi president Mark Schneider wants the matter resolved by the London Beth Din.

“The primary reason is cost. We think it’s simpler and more robust for an established and authoritative Beth Din to hear the dispute.”

He said the court could take evidence from witnesses by video link-up and the principal characters could travel to London.

Mr Schneider said he had made the proposal to Rabbi Gutnick, but had not received a reply.

Rabbi Gutnick, who only works part-time at the shul, is in New Zealand this week.

Rabbi Gutnick is the brother of Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, a close confidant of Binyamin Netanyahu who was widely credited for the “Bibi is good for the Jews” campaign that helped swing the 1996 Israeli election for Likud.

    Last updated: 4:37pm, April 30 2009