Senior rabbi in Melbourne officially ostracized

 SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – The Sydney Beth Din ostracized a senior Orthodox rabbi in Melbourne for “gross contempt, ignorance and defamation.”

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The Sydney rabbinic judges issued a nidui, or ostracism, last week against Rabbi Menachem Kaminetsky, after he questioned their jurisdiction and claimed Rabbi David Rogut, one of its judges, had not completed his rabbinic ordination. 

“Therefore all the restraining orders and unilateral demands issued by the Sydney Beth Din … are not worth the paper they are written on,” Kaminetsky wrote.

In a withering response, the Sydney judges issued the ostracism against Kaminetsky. 

Although Kaminetsky apologized for insulting Rogut, he apparently did not withdraw his comments questioning the Sydney court.

Rabbi Eli Schlanger, secretary of the Sydney Beth Din, wrote to Kaminetsky this week: “We note your response and apology in relation to Rabbi Rogut. However the nidui remains in force until you retract your remarks in relation to the Beth Din and its jurisdiction. We understand that in emails to others, rather than show any contrition, you continue to malign the Beth Din at the same time that you purport to apologize.”

The bitter war of words centers around a dispute over the dismissal last year of Rabbi Mordechai Engel from his post as program director of Kollel Menachem, a Chabad-affiliated Torah study center.

Because the Melbourne Beth Din only handles conversions and divorces, Engel appealed to the Sydney court for a rabbinic arbitration. 

The Sydney judges ordered the Yeshivah Center, the headquarters of Chabad in Melbourne, to pay Engel within seven days and appoint a representative to sit on the rabbinic arbitration.

A senior Melbourne rabbi told JTA there has often been “tension” between rabbinic authorities in Sydney and Melbourne. “No one likes to be told what to do by interstate partners,” he said.

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