Australian judge overturns religious court ruling


SYDNEY (JTA) – An Australian judge rejected a ruling by a Jewish religious court ordering an Australian man to pay an Israeli businessman 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.

In 2010, a panel of three rabbinical judges ordered Amzalak to pay more than $300,000 for the sale of shares to Shlomo Thaler, an Israeli. Amzalak, however, did not make the payments, and the Jewish court issued a siruv that effectively excommunicated him from the community.

“One should expel his children from school and his wife from synagogue,” the order said.

Amzalak complained that the Jewish judges were biased. 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 in which Rabbi Yoram Ulman was recorded as 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.”

(This corrects a previous version that said the Sydney Beth Din had ordered the 2010 payments by Amzalak.)


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