he dispute between leading Israel charity JNF and philanthropist Cyril Stein will not be settled by the London Beth Din.
Instead, the charity has said it wanted the argument — over why it has withheld funds raised at a dinner organised by Mr Stein and destined for an Israeli organisation — to be heard by the Manchester Beth Din.
JNF chair Samuel Hayek said this week: “We were asked to submit to the jurisdiction of a beth din. According to the halachic advice that we have been given, if we were invited to a beth din it was our right to determine which one we would want to go to.
“There is absolutely no suggestion that London will not be impartial or anything like that. We simply feel more comfortable going to Manchester,” said Mr Hayek.
Mr Stein and JNF have been locked in dispute since December over why hundreds of thousands of pounds have not been passed on to Project Or, an Israeli non-governmental organisation which runs projects in the Negev.
Mr Stein has claimed that only two small amounts of money totalling around £17,000 have been forwarded to the organisation. Mr Hayek contended that JNF has sent £321,000 and had not sent the remainder because it had questions about how Project Or was spending the money.
Mr Stein has also written to all those who attended the dinner, at Claridges in Mayfair in January 2007, to reiterate a request that everyone who made a donation at the dinner should ask for their money to be returned.
The JC asked Mr Stein to comment but he did not return calls.