Australian judge overturns beit din ruling

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – An Australian judge rejected a ruling by a Jewish religious court that ordered an Australian man to pay an Israeli businessman more than $300,000 for the apparent sale of shares in a company.

In an 80-page ruling issued Monday, New South Wales Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt ruled in favor of Benjamin Amzalak, a Sydney-based director of Raffles Capital Ltd.

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In 2010 Amzalak was ordered by the Sydney Beth Din Jewish religious court to pay more than $300,000 for the sale of shares to Israeli Shlomo Thaler. But Amzalak refused to adhere to the order and did not make the payments.

As a result, the Jewish court issued a siruv against Amzalak, effectively excommunicating him from the community. “One should expel his children from school and his wife from synagogue,” the excommunication order stated.

Amzalak complained the Jewish judges were biased.

Judge Schmidt agreed, concluding that the “arbitration was not conducted impartially.”

Schmidt said “it cannot be doubted” that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kaminetsky, one of the dayanim, or judges, was “partial to Thaler and acted in pursuit of that partiality at the Beth Din.”

Monday’s judgment included a transcript of a private conversation in Yiddish among the rabbinic judges, during which Rabbi Yoram Ulman, another dayan, was recorded saying: “I am already persuaded [but] so that we do not give the appearance of impropriety let us give him [Amzalak] some time to answer.”