Case against Melbourne rabbi to be heard in N.Y. rabbinical court


SYDNEY (JTA) – A rabbinical court in New York will determine the fate of a Chabad rabbi in Melbourne who was dismissed from his post amid allegations of improper conduct.

A Chabad-Lubavitch spokesman confirmed that Rabbi Chaim Herzog has appealed his dismissal after he received an official letter last month saying he no longer has the authority to operate in the name of Chabad. The meeting with the beit din, or rabbinical court, is scheduled for this week.

At the center of the dispute are allegations that Herzog was waging a “turf war” against colleagues operating near his Chabad house in Melbourne’s city center.

Herzog, who has been running the Chabad of Melbourne Central Business District since 1998, declined to comment, except to say that “Everything you print is a lie and I’m not going to comment any further.”

However, an official at Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn confirmed that Herzog received “an official dismissal letter” and that his name does not appear on the official list of Chabad emissaries. But the official added that Herzog is “innocent until proven guilty.”

David Werdiger, a grandson of one of the pioneers of Chabad in Melbourne, claims he was one of Herzog’s targets because he hosts a weekly study session for an organization called Jews of the CBD. He has applied for a protection order — known in New South Wales as an apprehended violence order — against Herzog, which will be heard Wednesday in Magistrates’ Court.

Werdiger blasted Chabad’s senior rabbis for failing to act since he approached them in 2008.

“I’m relieved that action has finally been taken,” he said of Herzog’s dismissal. “It’s too late; let’s hope it’s not too little.”

But Sydney Rabbi Eli Feldman, who studied at rabbinical school with Herzog, said that “I would like the good work that Rabbi Herzog has done in his time running Chabad of Melbourne CBD to be recognized and respected.”

Recommended from JTA