Friday, March 9, 2012

Rabbi Genende's Purim Torah and...Sodom

The end of (the original) Sodom

In Ethics of our Fathers (Pirkei Avot 5:13) the Mishna talks about  4 categories of people associated with giving charity. The 4th is one who doesn't give any - and also prevents others from doing so. The Mishna calls this person a Rasha (wicked). Now read on:

For some time now some AJNWatch contributors have been following up the truly bizarre (alleged) claim by a number of Meshulochim and (allegedly) verified by their local drivers that they are banned from entering Caulfield Shul during prayer times by the 'guard' if he has the slightest suspicion that they may  Chalilah vaChas use the opportunity to accept Tzedaka.  They virtually have to beg this bouncer for mercy and almost 'swear' by their mother's lives that they will only pray.

And woe betide anyone who breaks this most ancient decree (conceived approx 3,500 years ago by the Board of Management of the former city of Sodom). To the best of our knowledge there was never such a diktat in place under the previous rabbis, Rabbi Sholem Gutnick and Rabbi Yonasan Abraham.

Maybe it's time that someone gave the good people of CHC a halachic/history Shiur regarding the behaviour of the Sodomites - as well as  how it all ended.

Until then, maybe when next sermonising, the rabbi  quote a few lines from one of the many sites that talk about this and freely available on the net, Eg:

From the perspective of Jewish tradition, is tzedakah a mitzvah that Gentiles should also fulfill?
Do all the nations of the world have a Divine mandate to establish caring societies that help and strengthen those in need?

A 13th century sage, the Ramban - also known as Nachmanides - finds a reference this from Proverbs (14:34): "Tzedakah uplifts a nation."

He writes: "Tzedakah exalts any individual nation that practices it. According to him, the classic example of a cruel and selfish society which failed to do acts of tzedakah was the city-state of Sodom, which was why it was destroyed during the era of Avraham and Sarah. The story of Sodom's destruction appears in the Book of Genesis, and in his commentary on a verse from this chapter (19:5), the Ramban points out that the root cause of Sodom's destruction is described in the following Divine message:

"Behold, this was the sin of Sodom, your sister: She and her daughters had pride, surfeit of bread and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. And they were haughty, and they committed an abomination before Me, so I removed them in accordance with what I saw." (Ezekiel 16:49,50)

Another 13th century sage, Rabbenu Yonah, expresses a similar idea:

"We find concerning the sin of Sodom, that although they sinned with many perverse acts such as robbery, violence, miscarriage of justice, and illicit sexual relations, Scripture attributes their annihilation to their failure to practice tzedakah, as it is stated, 'Behold this was the sin of Sodom, your sister...she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.' " (Sha'arei Teshuva 3:15).

Jewish tradition views Sodom as the epitome of selfishness; thus, selfish behaviour is referred to in our tradition by the contemptuous epithet "Midas Sodom" - the attitude of Sodom, and it is a term which can apply to an individual or to an entire nation.

 And actually, we didn't find "re-creating Sodom" featured anywhere in RABBI RALPH'S PLAN - "MORE THAN A SHULE"  

But then neither did we find amongst in his plans anything about educating the parishioners about the importance of Mitzvah of Tzedakah. Check out the list, maybe we missed something there.

Despite using the term "allegedly", we actually have several first-hand reports about this disgraceful behaviour taking place regularly in front of a once proud and heimish Shul.

What causes a formerly highly respected Beth haKneset to turn its back on Mitzvat Tzedaka and in its place be labelled by visiting needy people as a reminder of one of the most wicked places known in our (and indeed the world's) tradition?

Was it the change in the make-up of board members? Was it the religious leadership or lack of any input by them?  Some may say that after the unpleasant and expensive Mond business and the departure of the rabbi there was been a noticeable drop of attendance by those labelled as Shomrei Torah uMitzvot. But whatever, instituting "Sodom laws" is a massive plunge in acceptable standards and indeed something unheard of in Shuls anywhere.

Following the publicity about these charges, we truly hope that the decent and charitable folk who remain and/or who have connections with CHC will express their outrage and pass on our sentiments to as many people as possible with the aim to influence a change in this despicable rule.

Having known about the above for quite some time,  you can imagine how staggered we were after receiving the following  'hilarious' Purim newsletter published by Rabbi Ralph, where he jokes about how Chareidim will be treated in his Shul. (At least, we hope he is joking. But seeing the way collectors are treated in his Shul, who knows?)
Rabbi, here's some advice. Forget the college humour. Take a long and serious look at what  is happening in YOUR synagogue! Hiring guards to ensure that congregants (unfortunately very few - after you discount the Kaddish-zogers) do not, G-d forbid, give a few dollars to destitute or unwell fellow Yidden! Poor Jews who have paid a small fortune and shlepped themselves to the other side of the world to try and get help themselves and their families. Shouldn't you be thoroughly ashamed to be associated with such practices? Do we need to remind you that Tzedakah was always the most important Mitzvah that Jews everywhere participated in? Whether  they could afford it or not.

Where is your and your Shul's Ahavat Yisrael to these poor people - Chareidi and non-Chareidi?

Are you not embarrassed that your CHC spend member's monies - ensuring that they won't give charity! What an absolute disgrace!

Maybe your next newsletter topic should discuss at length the words of Chazal that proof of being part of עם ישראל  is when  Jews show that they are ביישנים, רחמנים וגומלי חסדים
And you may also use the Mishna that we began with:

אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בְּנוֹתְנֵי צְדְקָה.
הָרוֹצֶה שֶׁיִּתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְּשֶׁל אֲחֵרִים.
 יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים וְהוּא לֹא יִתֵּן, עֵינוֹ רָעָה בְשֶׁלּוֹ.
 יִתֵּן וְיִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, חָסִיד.
לֹא יִתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, רָשָׁע:
PS: Previous AJNWatch commentary about Rabbi Genende's views here.


  1. Having a parade of meshulachim accost mispallelim during davening - often quite rudely - is a annoying to say the least. It diminishes the level of kavona, interrupts the shatz, and generally turns the service into a shambles. I don't blame Caulfield shul for trying to bring some order to its minyanim. If meshulachim want to raise money from the mispallelim, they can damn well wait until davening is finished!

  2. Harry, well stated.

    That is EXACTLY why we put those rules in place. The shnorrers in those times were also diminishing our kavona.

  3. If you have davvened there recently, you'd soon realise that kavona is rarely something that comes up.

    Sadly most of the people simply have no rachmonus on a nebach collector. Especially if he happens to be a Sfardi.

  4. While harry makes a point, emember that what you are doing when praying is begging - shnorring - from hashem for all kinds of thing sfor yourself and your family - health, parnoso, long life and more.

    You want Him to listen to your requests, maybe you too should listen to others.

    To ban people seeking tsedoko from a Shul is despicable in my view

  5. I wish to correct the self-righteous, ill-informed nonsense that you have served up in your article. Unlike the "rock spiders" behind this blog, and most of the commenters, I will not hide my identity behind a pseudonym.
    Firstly, let make it very clear that meshulochim are not "banned from entering Caulfield shul during prayer times" or for that matter at any time in the past, present or future. Had you bothered to check some facts before rushing to press with your hysterical "Sodom" feature, you would have been informed of a serious incident that took place recently where a security guard was assaulted verbally and physically by a "collector" who was questioned about why he was leaving the premises carrying a full bottle of expensive alcohol as well as food belonging to the shul. This gentleman was in the company of a regular collector who has had free entry to our shul and access to our mispallelim for several years. As a result of this and for other very valid reasons we have been been forced to establish a fair protocol to vet collectors. All genuine collectors continue to be given access to the shul at any time, but are repectfully requested to wait till the end of the tefilla before approaching baalebattim. Further to your vile comments comparing us to Sodomites and accusations of turning our backs on Tzedaka, please be assured that apart from donations to collectors, CHC donates considerable amounts of money to vaious charities in Eretz Yisroel and elswhere without publicity or fanfare.
    While I have the floor here, allow me to correct some of the other blatant untruths in your hateful article. Contrary to your assertion, I can assure you there has been no "noticeable drop of (sic) attendance by those labelled Shomrei Torah u mitzvos". I can think of only a small handful fitting your description who did leave the shul after raping our coffers of in excess of $2million (what you refer to as the 'Mond story')and leaving it for others to clean up the mess.
    You also libelously claim in your diatribe that CHC pays and hires guards especially to lock out meshulochim. This is utter nonsense and truly despicable.
    Finally, let me put you right on your comments about "falling attendences". I can proudly inform you that our attendances at all daily minyanim are at record highs and continually growing, moreso than in the times of Rabbis Abraham and Gutnick. And Baruch Hashem, the "kaddish-zoggers" are in the minority!
    I trust in future you will think out your articles more carefully and with Pesach approaching, along with the chametz you will also clean out the 'Sinah' that pervades in your writings.

    Robert Weil.
    Caulfield Hebrew Congregation.

  6. Some shuls such as Mizrachi have a designated point in the davening after which meshulochim can feel free to approach mispalelim. This is a win win situation .
    However not to permit them to come in at all leaves me speechless. Definitely not it he way the founding members of previous clergy would behave.

  7. Rabbi Genende has made no secret in the past of his disdain and lack of respect for the Chareidi community and it's leaders.
    This is only another example.

  8. Johnny - you quite rightly said: "You want Him to listen to your requests, maybe you too should listen to others."

    However, surely there is an opportunity for meshulachim to collect BEFORE and AFTER davening, rather than davka in the middle?

  9. Harry, As I understand the situation they don't give them any opportunity - unless you call waiting out on street a respectable way to treat poor Jews.

  10. Robert, as a one time member of your Shul, I am happy to see you defend it.
    Sadly, I too have have heard first-hand reports of meshulochim being 'warned off' by your guard. One case where the the alleged language used: "I'll throw you out by the scruff of your neck!" shocked me.

    Having some nebach ganev pinch a bottle of your expensive booze, is indeed terrible, but not a reason to create a situation implying that every poor Jew is a thief.

    Finally, can you clearly assure us that every meshulach is welcome to enter your Shul during prayer times - as well as(respectfully) approach the mispallelim for a donation?

    Thank you

  11. grandson of CHC founderSunday, March 11, 2012 1:47:00 AM

    Mr Weil, I think it is quite despicable of you to say that the previous boardmembers of your Shul, who were hardworking and loyal with absolutely no personal agendas (unlike some of the stirrers from upstairs- who were happy to encourage the machlokes and sinat chinam - at whatever cost and whether allowed al pi halacha or not) "raping our coffers of in excess of $2million".

    Where were you when this was going on? Did you try and bring matters to a solution?

    If you would have put in as much effort then as you seem to now for a stolen bottle of mashkeh, maybe there wouldn't have been such a huge hole in your accounts.

  12. Why does Caulfield have guards all week? Is it the only shul in Aust that is under threat?

  13. Oy oy Robert.
    What do I do now? My favourite rabbi, Mordy abusing my favourite blog "self-righteous, ill-informed nonsense and "rock spiders"

    You are making my life complicated. Please make friends

  14. Mr Robert Weil - Purim Torah? This is not the first time that the Rabbi has written in such a manner about the Chareidi community. The so called treatment of meshulochim is only part of a bigger picture. By any imagination thesis not Purim Torah and unfortunately expresses the true attitude of the writer .

  15. To the Grandson of a CHC founder I say this.

    If, as you claim "the previous board members of your shul who were hardworking and loyal with absolutely no personal agendas etc" were in fact as you describe them, as a 45 year member of the CHC, I ask if you can please explain this.
    The CHC became an Incorporated Association in around 1984. Some members of the Board in 2000, were members of the board that took that decision.
    When it was clearly pointed out to them by David Mond, that to conduct the election that they were going to conduct in September 2000 would be illegal because they did not have a legal register of members as required under the Incorporated Associations Act, an Act that they fully embraced, instead of postponing that election, they decided to go ahead with it despite the fact that doing so would have been completely illegal.
    If not for David Mond seeking an injunction to prevent that illegal act from taking place, the "Honorable board members" as you called them would have been guilty of illegality.
    Instead of accepting the injunction that Mond was granted stopping the election and adhering to the Magistrates ruling not to have an election until such time as the CHC had a legal, properly prepared members register, your "honorable" board decided to ignore the ruling of the Court and the rest as they say is History.
    The "honorable" board preceded to destroy 2,000,000 dollars of members money fighting a case they could not win.
    I personally spoke to members of that board imploring them to stop the folly and stupidity that they were pursuing.
    Your "honorable" board members lost on every count. Even the Din Torah decision was set aside by the Supreme Court, and the Dayanim were found to have misconducted themselves and ordered by the Judge to pay back the 100,000 of fees that they had been paid.
    To there everlasting discredit and shame, they have never paid the money back, thus acting illegally by ignoring a Court order against them. The Judge knew who she was dealing with.
    Thanks to Hashem, a new board and subsequent boards have been elected. We have a wonderful new Rabbi. Rabbi Genende's pastoral work, Bikur cholim etc. is magnificent.
    We have a beautiful Chazan in Dov Farkas, who has brought a badly needed new lease of life to the Shul.
    As for our President Robert Weil, he had the misfortune to be a member of that "honorable" board at the time, and worked tirelessly to prevent what took place. unfortunately, your "honorable" board did not listen.
    All your "honorable" board members had to do, was accept the Judges ruling, prepare a members register to the satisfaction of the Judge, and then conduct the election thus saving 2 million.
    And here is something that neither you nor any of your "honorable" members of that board have probably ever thought about. Had they either listened to David Mond's advice, or acceded to the Judges order, they would have had the election a month or two after the original date, and would have won easily, and your "honorable" members would most likely still be in power now with Rabbi Abraham at the helm.
    There would be nothing left of the Shul because, with all due respect to them, they presided over a Shul that had an unpopular Rabbi, and I can also assure you that those at the helm of that board were as unpopular as that Rabbi, and there were hundreds of vacant seats( now there is a waiting list), but they still would have been in charge.
    Let's be honest here. Who among the past "honorable" board members and their extended families is prepared to admit that they actually acted stupidly, and more importantly, illegally when they defied a Court order from a Magistrate.
    If they were right, why did the Magistrate rule against them and why did they lose so completely in the Supreme Court?
    You made quite a few mistakes in your post, but the main one was leaving out three letters before the word "honorable" DIS.

  16. The shule has lost its Yiddishe soul!

  17. HERE'S one recent story
    A meshulach by the name of Neustat wanted to go into the minyan and the gauard who said his name was James warned him not to try an collect tzedaka and waned that if "I see you do so, I'll rip you out by the scruff of your neck - and I have done so to others previously"

    Neustadt reported this to rabbi Genende - so this whole blog topic is obviously not news to him.

  18. Is there anyone here who actually davvens in Caulfield during the week who can confirm that meshulochim ARE welcome?

    Also are the rabbi and Weil regular attendees of the minyan?

  19. Max, whether you and others like it or not, CHC have done the right thing about the Meshulochim. The came/come to CHC because they know that they will get tsedoko, and sometimes we would have 6-8 coming.

    I, and others who daven there in the mornings never had a problem with that.....until they came up to me while I was saying Shema or quite obviously in the middle of Shemoineh Esrei. They were obviously in a hurry to get to other Shuls to collect, but that never, and still doesn't excuse their behaviour.

    Something had to be done, and it has been, and if they or you and the others on here don't like it, bad luck.
    As far as Rabbi genende and charedim go, when he has expressed an anti Charedi view, and he has, and I have, and guess what 98% of world Jewry have, it is for a very good reason.
    For my part, the fact that they sponge off Medinas Yisroel, won't serve in the army, and treat the female population like dirt, is reason enough for me to criticize them.

    We say every morning, LEOLAM YEHAY ADAM. I translate it as always be a mentch. unfortunately for some in the Chareidi community, they believe that this dictum does not apply.

  20. Hi Moshe, I daven at the 8.00 A.M Minyan at CHC. Rabbi Genende attends every Minyan, Robert Weil is there 80% of the time. His business takes him interstate and overseas at times.

    And one other thing for the haters on here. Firstly, Rabbi Genende gives to EVERY meshulach that comes in, and Secondly, if a meshulach is a mentch and waits till the end of the davening, Rabbi genede will make an announcement encouraging EVERY MISPALLEL to donate money to the Meshulach on their way out of Shul.

  21. To the Grandson of a CHC founder.
    I owe you an apology. I always like to get my facts correct, and have made a mistake in my reply to you that I wish to correct.

    Nowhere in your post did you use the word "honorable" and I apologise for the last sentence of my post where I said that you left out the letters dis.

    Thinking about my mistake, has led me to the conclusion that even you, who have an obvious bias towards the previously, and I will get it right now, "hardworking" board members, didn't see fit to call them "honorable". For that, at least, I commend you.

    You may also like to know, that the Mond versus Berger CHC and others case that took place in the Supreme Court of Victoria, is being studied by law students at no less a place than the Harvard law school in the U.S.A.

    The incredible stupidity and unbelievable actions of your,"hardworking", but not honorable board, will, I am sure, be a source of great amusement to the students at that prestigious College for many years to come.

  22. It is not a new thing to blame a whole community for the stupid actions of an isolated few. Hitler did this better than anyone else.
    But a pity if Rabbis follow this dispicable behaviour.Very sad.

    Love a fellow jew to Rabbi Genande means- as long as he is not more serious about his religion than I am!

  23. I am trying to read all views as well as ask around from people who davven in Caulfield.

    I am getting more and more confused.

    Robert denies the whole story about the guard refusing entry to meshulochim. However aside from the above comment about Mr Neustat being tossed out by the scruff of his neck, I have spoken to a close relative of his here who told me the exact same story and how upset Neustat was - as he actually was not even planning to ask for tsedaka but simply to davven.

    Harry j thinks it s quite OK to ban collectors of tsedoko. Nice. At least the Mizrachi are mentchlech and tell them at which spot in the tefila they can come and do their work. But a total ban is OK??? You forgot the mishna lo yiten velo yinu acherim - rasha.

    Robert also writes this:
    "Firstly, let make it very clear that meshulochim are not "banned from entering Caulfield shul during prayer times" or for that matter at any time in the past, present or future."

    Then we get this:

    Anonymous Mar 10, 2012 08:30 PM
    Max, whether you and others like it or not, CHC have done the right thing about the Meshulochim. The came/come to CHC because they know that they will get tsedoko, and sometimes we would have 6-8 coming.

    ...Something had to be done, and it has been, and if they or you and the others on here don't like it, bad luck. "

    So who is stating the truth here? Robert or Anon? Are meshulochim banned or not?

    Can someone give us a straight answer?

    To add to the confusion, I have heard a 3rd version of what goes on in CHC and that is that any meshulach wishing to collect there, must first attend the shul office and prove his credentials after which they give him a letter allowing him to collect there. The problem with all this is that for the effort of going twice (and sometimes more) the financial result is miniscule and hardly worth the effort.

    True that choice wan't around in Sodom..

    And I accept the writers who say that rabbi genede personally tries to do the right thing. But shouldn't he as a modern day rabbi who is into all kinds of mitzot ben adam lechavero be actively encouragingthe support for our poor brethren from israel - no matter if he is an ashkenazi/sfardi/chardi/chasidic/modern orthodox of religious zionist??

    Shouldn't we show our rachmonus and ahavat yisrael to all types of jews?

    As someone entioned , it is hard enough for some of those sad individuals to beg for help after traveling half the world, so make their life even more miserable?

  24. I recall last year CHC advertising seeking someone to make a siyum for bechorim on erev pesach.

    I don't recall this happening in the days of rabbis gutnick and abraham.

    Actually i ama surprised that these days with artscroll's english Shas easily understood by any average IQ over the age of 14-15 why the shul hasn't got anyone - especially nowadays with several rabbis and chazanim on their staff - who can over a year study(or at least read) one of the smaller mesechtot

  25. daf yomi said: "Harry j thinks it s quite OK to ban collectors of tsedoko. Nice."

    HELLO??? Did you fail to read what I wrote properly or are you purposely try to misconstrue my post? G-d forbid that I should say that meshulachim should be denied the opportunity to collect tzedoka at shuls!

    In my post above I said, quite clearly, "If meshulachim want to raise money from the mispallelim, they can damn well wait until davening is finished!"

    That's right, after davening - or even before - but NOT during.

    As for the posters above who are regurgitating a very sad case in CHC's long history and defaming the participants (both rabbinic and lay) - please stop! You are doing no one any good dwelling on past (mis)deeds. Be constructive!

  26. BTW AJNWatch - it really reflects badly on your blog to post that picture of Rabbi Genende in Purim garb. It looks as if you are not interested in raising or addressing a valid, serious issue, but rather taking the piss out of the good rabbi. It's what is in his mind and heart that count - not his dress sense!

  27. Daf Yomi, I should have clarified my comment that "something had to be done and had been". When you state that Meshulochim now have to come to the office and present their credentials, that is what I was referring to.

    Let's get one thing straight here, if the Meshulochim that came to CHC had conducted themselves in a gentlemanly manner and not how I described them in my post, then there would never have been an issue with them. But unless you were a victim of their harassment as I and many others were, and I will say that not all acted in that way, but that those that did have ruined it for the gentlemen ones, then you can't make an informed comment.

    It is quite obvious to me, that most of those on here criticizing Rabbi Genende and Weil and CHC, haven't got a clue what they are talking about, but are allowing their general anti Genende bias to come to the fore and are using the control of which Meshulochim are allowed to collect, and which aren't, to vent their spleen.
    As far as it being inconvenient for them to go to the Shul office to establish their credentials, what else have they got to do? if they are genuine meshulochim and are serious about their "job" collecting for charity, then they go to the office. if they don't go, then we have every right to question their motives, and who they are collecting for and why.

    AS far as Neustat is concerned, I believe he was correctly dealt with after allegedly abusing the security guard. He wasn't tossed out for being a gentleman.

  28. Harry Joachim, I am a member of CHC and was present during the conflict that took place at CHC over a 4-5 year period.

    As someone who dovened and still dovens in the main shul, I was friendly with many members of the board at that time and am still friends with them

    I followed the whole episode very closely, and I can say as someone who read all the transcripts of the court cases, available on the net if you want to read them, and who spoke to members of our board at the time, and who listened to both sides of the story from both my friends on the board and those that supported Mond, that there was absolutely no defamation in Anons or anyone else's posts.

    The previous board behaved disgracefully, and you may not know this, but during the conflict, two members of that board resigned in disgust over the actions that that board was taking at the time because like me, and I advised my friends on the board of this fact, and they were one's who did not resign, that they were acting illegally and to just do what the Magistrate ordered.
    I didn't know David Mond at the time, and have only met him briefly a couple of times over the past 5 years since the resolution of that issue. So I can't really form an opinion as to his character.

    What I can say, however, is that he was 100% correct in the action that he took in order to prevent an illegal act from taking place. The second thing I can say, is that the Dayanim of whom a court of law, none other than the Supreme Court of Victoria, found had misconducted themselves, a disgraceful act that any fair minded Yid would have to agree is a despicable act, have never paid back the fees that they were ordered by the Judge to repay.

    The only defamation taking place Harry J, is the defamation of our Australian Laws, the defamation of Dina Bemalchus Dina, and the defamation of our community in that such supposedly respected Dayonim, in Berger from Manchester, Katz, who is Rabbi Beck's Shlita Son In law And Ulman from Sydney would flout the law as they have and not repay their ill-gotten gains.

  29. I did not intend to write anymore on this matter as I believe I have stated the position of CHC clearly. However, I must say that I am positively sickened that the moderator of this site who claims that comments will be "moderated for language and content" could allow the comments of an obviously deranged individual going by the alias of "James Bond" to see the light of day.To commpare a fellow Jew (let alone a Rav who is loved and respected by his kelilla) with Adolph Hitler is beneath contempt and has no place in a civised society. Your poster Harry Joachim correctly points out how distasteful and disrespectful it is of you to constantly rehash photos of our Rabbi in Puril garb. No matter that you you may not agree with his hashkofa, portraying him as some sort of buffoon does nothing for the credibility of your blog site and only serves to egg on morons like "James Bond" and other anoymous bloggers to spread venom and hatred.
    Two more points. To get back to original issue, CHC's policy on collectors will be documented shortly and poated on our website. This should clear up any confusion and eliminate all the 'broken telephone' stories that people are posting on AJN Watch and whispering around town. Secondly, may I suggest you post on your site the video taken in Williamsburg on Purim of Satmar charedim acting like wild animals while burning the Israeli flag. This might help explain why charedim are sometimes 'on the nose' and why CHC needs to take measures to see where tzedoko given to collectors is going to end up.

    Robert Weil.

  30. LOYAL MEMBER - what I meant by "defamation" is that there's been enough mudslinging - whether true or not. The sorry saga was over a decade ago and - whatever side you take - I am sure you agree that it was a shainde.

    What matters is the position of CHC TODAY. Is it succeeding as a viable shul with mispallelim? Are there regular minyonim and shiurim? Is it a family-friendly place? These are the questions that should be addressed, not the state of play over ten years ago...

  31. Re the picture of the good rabbi, as I checked and it comes straight from the Shul's website
    and seeing that it accompanied a purim torah by him, can't be considered as inappropriate. At least, appropriate for the accompanying post.

    On the broader question of whether a rabbi of our largest synagogue should disport himself thus - even on purim, may be debatable.

    I can't imagine the archbishop of melb or the imam of the local muslims kitting himself out in this manner (nor any other orthodox rabbi for that matter.)

    So if it's OK for the rabbi and shule, it shouldn't be considered as taking the piss of the rabbi.

    And I have no complaints re the rabbi personally. He is what he is. But Caulfied board members should've thought twice and maybe seeked the views of more people before deciding to move so far left modern orthodox.

    Yes they may have many more "members" but how many come daily, weekly and even monthly (when there is no simcha)?

    And sure turning the shul into some sort of theatre with chazanus shows and concerts was a success - but is that really the role for such an important house of worship?
    Like saying, we'll leave yiddishkeit to Chabad, Merkaz hatorah and bet hatalmud while CHC will entertain you. Robert while this may mean zero to you and some of your board, to us whom torah and mitzvot are part of our life, removing so much of it from our beloved shul - hurts.

  32. I refrained for several days from commenting on the rubbish that is published by the brave yidden who spread such lashon hara anonymously. However, as your courageous supporters also join in without putting their names to their insults and abuse I think you shou;ld be aware of a few truths.

    I do not know the details of the shul policy regarding collectors but I am a regular at the 8.00 minyan & I can state categorically that anyone with a current certificate or credentials is supported personally by Rabbi Genende with both a donation & usually an introduction provided he waits until after davening and the Hilchot Rambam that are taught at the end of Tefillah.

    Prior to Rabbi Genende's arrival I personally experienced the offensive behaviour of some collectors including have a fistful of money shaken under my nose while I was davening the Amidah at the Omed and having a note written in Hebrew waved in front of my face during Tefillah.

    Insofar as some of you seem to think that Rabbi Genende is anti-Chareidi it is true that from time to time he has condemned the behaviour of some Chareidim from the pulpit. On each occasion he also makes it very clear that he is not attacking the Chareidi community but criticising the behaviour of individuals that is a Chillul Hashem. He also speaks out against the behaviour and policies of members of the Reform movement and any other Jews when their behaviour shames us all as Jews and as decent people.

    I do not speak for the Board as I am not a member but I can also assure you that there are certain people that will not be tolerated in our shul including child molesters, wife abusers, predators and money launderers.
    If you are seriously offended by the recent Purim column you need to reexamine your own sensitivity & agenda.

    [As for revisiting the shul litigation, GET OVER IT!]

  33. Response to Robert Weil:

    Actually, we here at AJNWatch, could also have taken offense at your description of us and the blog as "self-righteous, ill-informed nonsense" and as the "rock spiders behind this blog". But we are big boys now who have been laid into by far bigger and better adversaries and detractors. We always knew what we were getting into when creating this site. Our intention being to support and defend the views of a large and important sector of the Australian Jewish community that is usually overlooked by all the organisations - including rabbinical and synagogical etc. (Having said that - and maybe this actually proves the necessity of this tribune, we have piles of emails from rabbis and community leaders - including a number of non-religious, praising us for our efforts. They often admit that they can't or won't say so in public but are happy that someone is doing so).

    Thus copping a spray is par for the course.
    And as you may have noticed we try not to censor criticism aimed at us - as long as it doesn't include nivul peh and muck (which some posters seem to dwell in).

    And, we concur that the 'James Bond' comment was over the top. Which gives us the opportunity to again remind and request our writers to re-read and reconsider whatever you have written before pressing the 'send' button. Unseemly Nazi and holocaust comparisons have no place on any Jewish - or indeed non-Jewish blog.

    Regarding the photograph of your rabbi, for the past 2 years it has been featured on your Shul's website. Open for all to see. Hopefully no one is accusing us of having snared it by some sneaky underhanded spy-camera.

    We agree with your words, that it is a bit buffoonish. As a word of advice we would suggest that it be removed from your site and the rabbi counselled to enjoy his Purims wearing more fitting gear.

    We look forward to reading the CHC's soon to be released policy on collectors. (Though we are somewhat confused, after your earlier comments - as well as that of some others -that there is or are already a number of policies on this matter.)

    May we suggest that when formulating the policy, rather than add to the burdens of these collectors, try your best to make their life a bit easier. Remember, most are from very difficult backgrounds and situations. The Mitzvah of וחי אחיך עמך refers to all Jews - even those who may belong to different sectors of our nation. And of course, please ensure that no one in your community may every again be accused to be party to לֹא יִתֵּן וְלֹא יִתְּנוּ אֲחֵרִים, רָשָׁע

    Regarding the crazies in Williamsburg, we don't feel the urge to give them any extra publicity 9which is actually all that those nutjobs crave). In any case all your favourite blogs and sites have no doubt given it plenty of exposure.
    Whatever the case, to use that as an excuse to create additional pain and difficulties to some poor nebachs - who have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with it - is pretty despicable.

  34. AJN Watch said: "Regarding the photograph of your rabbi, for the past 2 years it has been featured on your Shul's website."

    Valid point. Robert - perhaps you could suggest to the Rabbi that this picture be removed from the CHC site given the stir it has caused.

  35. Jonathan, did you see the new controversy about the awarding of the Israel prize to Rabbi Druckman an 'enabler' of child molesting?

    "Rabbi Who Covered Up Child Sex Abuse Should Not Get Israel Prize, Former Students Say

    A group of former Netiv Meir yeshiva students are publicly objecting to Rabbi Haim Druckman being awarded the Israel Prize because he failed to report child sex abuse to police or to do anything to stop it."


    Sad but unfortunate that molesters and criminals seem to be around everywhere - except of course in the fine portals of CHC

  36. Jonathan Slonim assures us:
    I can also assure you that there are certain people that will not be tolerated in our shul including child molesters, wife abusers, predators and money launderers.

    This is wonderful. Would Caulfield Shul be the only Shul or place in Melbourne/Australia/the world that can make such a claim?

    What is the secret to this amazing success story? Is Jonathan crediting Rabbi Genende/Robert Weil for this or was it always so?

    1. It is easy to be disingenuous while hiding behind a nom de plume.
      It is regrettable that there are several so called shuls and community organisations and communal leaders that cover up such behaviour while condemning those who do not meet with their lofty standards of religiosity.
      If you want to criticise me or others in the community have the courage to do so under your name.

  37. What a load of self serving drivel from AJN WATCH. You begrudgingly admit that James bond's comment utilizing Hitler, YEMACH SHEMOI, is "over the top".

    When Cartoonist Luenig in the age, tried to use a similar comparison between hitler and the state of Israel, Michael Gawenda, the editor at the time, to his everlasting credit, refused to publish it.

    Yet you, not only published the comment, but allow it to remain, as of my typing this post, on this blog. That you have allowed the comment in the way it has been used and that it still remains on this topic on this site, says to me that you condone it's use. Your comment that it was "over the top" is a very weak disingenuous cop-out.

    I have no idea who you are, and frankly don't want to know. That you allowed such a despicable comment to appear, says everything about you that I need to know. Robert Weils comments about you were far too lenient.

    I hope that the "Community Leaders and Rabbis" from whom you have "piles of emails' wake up to themselves and desist in any way encouraging or supporting you.

    If they do, in fact, continue their support of your site, then they are just as guilty as you and that lowest form of animal life, who goes by the name of James Bond, in condoning the use of Hitlers name on this site for the purpose in which it was used.

  38. Anon - your twisted and warped comment amazes me. True, James Bond's comment is beyond the pale, I think that the 'crime' is nowhere near as 'horrific' as subjecting poor Jews to degradation and pain. But you too have sunk tousing the holocaust card to bash this fine blog.

    Threatening a fellow human being to throw him out by the scruff of his neck for the crime of trying to enter a shul is far far more 'despicable'.

    I think that this is a matter that should be brought up at the next meetings of RCV and the COSV.

  39. Summarizing the above 100,000 words

    tzedoko good
    being disturbed in the middle of shachris bad
    abusing people bad
    wasting $2M on an ego trip bad
    democracy good
    bais din not paying back their fees bad
    sumo suit debatable but leaning towards not something to wear to a bar mitzvah reception

  40. You may all pretend to be angels but your not no one is! What happened to loving another fellow Jew. Are you so arrogant enough to let it go over a fight over ego.
    Think about it... the person that started this blog and blog post should know that they are the people that start this loshen Horah and shame on them it is an embarassment to Judaism (chilul hashem)

  41. I am surprised that you haven't commented on the hesped by rabbi Ralph on Jimmy Stynes and the connections with Moshe rabenu and the yomtov Pesach.

    Here it is - from the Caulfield shul website
    Rabbi Genende Keeps in Touch

    Even though I am an atheist when it comes to footie, I was deeply moved by the service and tributes to the storied 45 year old Jim Stynes who died this week after a lengthy battle with cancer. Jim was, of course, more than a legendary footballer and it is this, no doubt, that accounts for the extraordinary outpouring of grief and his enormous state funeral.

    When thinking about the life of Jim Stynes, his is a story worthy of Pesach. Pesach is a reminder about the capacity of people to achieve great things when they set their minds to it. It is especially about the potential of an individual and the power of one. At the heart of the Pesach drama is one man consumed by passion, driven by compassion, fired with courage and energised by justice. I am referring to Moshe, the man who leaves the comfort and privilege of his upbringing to bring hope to his beleaguered people; Moshe the man who goes into exile because of his actions; Moshe the man of exquisite caring and of unyielding courage. He can tenderly take care of the vulnerable, he can trenchantly take on a Pharaoh. He can teach with patience but rage about justice with an urgent impatience. Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of Moses is not his talent but his humility. He is never “up himself” but always the most humble of all humanity. It is conceivably this quality that leads Maimonides to famously state that “everybody is able to achieve the righteousness of Moshe Rabenu”, to become a “tzadik” like him. Most of us don’t have the prodigious talents and abilities of a Moses but all of us can become good and righteous people.

    Jim Stynes was a man of exceptional ability, an outsider (Irishman) who penetrated deep into the inside of Australian culture and psyche. He was a gifted sportsman and winner of the prestigious Brownlow Medal. He was a man of courage as exemplified on the football field and in his very public struggle against cancer.

    He was a teacher and an individual with an especially large heart evinced in the name and purpose of the Reach Foundation which he co-founded. What stands out from the many tributes to Jim was his ability to connect and inspire the young; the words on the Reach Foundation website read: “Jim believed there is greatness in each and every one of us. He not only encouraged us to see this for ourselves, but supported over half a million young Australians to recognise this for themselves too”.

    What equally stands out in all the accolades is the extraordinary humility of the man. He was a hero to so many precisely because he wasn’t full of or up himself. I am certainly not suggesting he was a Moses, but I am saying that he exemplifies the challenge that Moshe set for us and that Pesach reminds us of: to become your best self, to do it with courage and compassion, to do it with understanding and humility

    I'll let your readers digest this and consider if the comparisons are what one expects from and orthodox rabbi.

  42. To Carlton Fan,
    We really do love to pick on Rabbi Genende don't we? There is absolutely no reason why any orthodox Rav in our community should not comment on current events if it is relevant. There is such a concept of a 'goy-tzedek' and if only young (certainly gentile and even some Jewish kids) were to look up to Stynes as a role model, the world would be a better place. A few years ago, when Yossel Gutnick was ivolved with football, I attended an evening where the guest speakers were Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, author of "Towards a Meaningful Life" based on the thoughts of The Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Jim Stynes. Both were excellent but Jim Stynes was particularly spellbinding and made a great impression on everyone. His theme was that everyone has a divine mission and certain unique capabilities and how we should not succumb to being 'bittul zman' (not his exact words but same meaning).
    In this matter I really think Carlton Fan's comments are just dafkah nit-picking.

    CHC Member.


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