Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Australian Court Upholds Decision That Rabbi's Contract Has Expired

In Engel v. The Adelaide Hebrew Congregation, Inc., (S. Austr. Sup. Ct., June 26, 2007), the Supreme Court of South Australia upheld a decision of a lower court that a rabbi's contract with his congregation had expired, and he was obligated to give up possession of property that the synagogue had provided for him. JTA provides more background on the six-month legal battle in the case, as does this prior posting. Rabbi Yossi Engel-- who argues that he has tenure in his position-- contended that the court should have stayed proceedings while his dispute was heard by a Bet Din (Jewish rabbinic court). Originally the synagogue's board refused to submit the matter to the Sydney Bet Din that has jurisdiction over Adelaide, and that Bet Din issued a contempt order against the board. Ultimately the parties agreed to have the case heard by a Bet din in London. The court, however, said: "even if Rabbi Engel has a remedy under Jewish law, which would result in an order under that law that he be restored as rabbi and given possession of the property, this Court would not enforce such an order by injunction or by order for a specific performance."