As if the monetary crisis was not enough to occupy the leaders of Chinuch Atzmai, the internal power struggle brought the sides to the Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday before Justice Moshe Sobel .
In addition to the wedding of a grandson of the Gerrer Rebbe Shlita, the day in court perhaps brought additional simcha to the Gerrer Court. The hearing was called in response to an urgent petition from Rav Avraham Yosef Lazerson, who petitioned against the registrar of non-profits, against Chinuch Atzmai and against the attorney general. Lazerson basically is trying to prevent the system from recognizing the Council of Torah Sages from being viewed as the formal board of the directors, which would leave the operating authority of Chinuch Atzmai in the hands of Gur.
MKs Yaakov Litzman and Shmuel Halpert were represented by attorney Yitzchak Meron. Rav Lazerson was represented by attorney Eldad Yaniv and Rav Meir Porush and Rav Shlomo Laurentz were represented by attorney Avraham Bogatt, a former registrar of non-profits.
They met for some three hours, each presenting his view, disputing if Rav Lazerson is the head of Chinuch Atzmai, in practice and/or in title and is he a member of the ‘amutah’, the non-profit organization.
Justice Sobel is no slouch, and by all accounts, he came prepared, well-versed in the minutest of details, expressing his surprise regarding the speed in which the registrar of non-profits is operating, having called to convene the non-profit on Wednesday, today. Justice Sobel stated “I do not understand the emergency. They waited 28 years to change the ‘agudah’ (organization) to an ‘amutah’ (non-profit) so why the rush suddenly. Sobel stated a few more months will not make a difference, resting his remarks on an opinion from Yaron Zlicha, a former state comptroller, who indicates the transition from an agudah to an amutah can wait a number of months.
Attorney Bogatt (representing Rav Porush and Rav Laurentz) stated the Gedolei HaTorah are indeed old, and the extra time may have profound ramifications should they not be present for the next hearing. Justice Sobel stated this is the way of the world and tens of Gedolim of the Council of Torah Sages have left the world over the years.
Surprising everyone, Sobel stated if Lazerson is indeed a member of the amutah, then all the members of the expanded amutah also have the right to vote. Basically, the question arose that if R’ Porush (referring to Rav Menachem Porush, Rav Meir’s father), R’ Laurentz and R’ Meir did not have the authority some 30 years ago to appoint the Gedolim as members of the directorate [as Lazerson claims], then how did they have the authority to appoint Lazerson, who claims this is what occurred.
It was also learned that there are still two members of the original board alive, Tzitron and Wolfson. The court now wishes to hear from them as well since their positions cannot be disputed.
The question was then raised who will decide who exactly is a member of the Council of Torah Sages. Justice Sobel, realizing the absurdity of the situation, in a humorous gesture turned to the prosecution and stated at the end of the day, the registrar of non-profits will make the decision as to who is a member of the Council of Torah Sages.
Attorney Meron, representing Litzman (Gur), told the court that if it is afraid or hesitant to postpone Wednesday’s meeting of the Council of Torah Sages, it is fine since there is no meeting of Gedolim and the entire matter is “fictitious”.
Since no one was able to determine with absolute certainty who the new players are, the court presented four options:
1. The Council of Torah Sages will physically convene, or meet by video conference, and the four members of the amutah can present their case before the Gedolim. (YWN on Wednesday morning learned the Council will be meeting on Wednesday ‘by proxy’ to cast their votes).
2. The four amutah members, including Lazerson, meet once again and reach a decision regarding exactly who is permitted to make the move, changing over the autonomous agudah to an amutah led by the Council of Torah Sages, [which Lazerson opposes].
3. The four members [including Lazerson] convene together with the two members of the expanded forum (Tzitron and Wolfson) to decide.
4. The registrar’s decision will be frozen and those taking issue can petition the court with the facts as to who exactly is a member of the agudah and the Council of Torah Sages.
At present, the registrar has withdrawn his opposition to Lazerson being a member of the board of directors of administrator.
The bottom line for now, the process of converting Chinuch Atzmai to an amutah is frozen for 60 days and the Council of Torah Sages will now convene. Within 60 days, the sides seek to ascertain who are the amutah members and make decisions. Failure to do so will reinstate the registrar’s decision.
Amazingly, this hearing came on the eve of general elections, perhaps highlighting that above all, the Ashkenazi chareidi community has learned absolutely nothing from the failures of the Jerusalem mayoral election, and is once again ‘shooting itself in the foot’ less than a week before the elections.
This was the case during Operation Cast Lead too; while the tzibur was saying tehillim the leaders were busy with their in-fighting, perhaps opening a new door, for Ashkenazi chareidim to cast their vote for Shas or another party.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)