Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Report: Charges against Rabbi Engel may be dropped

Those AJNWatch readers who have been with us right from the beginning may remember that the main impetus for the creation of this blog was the AJN’s despicable full front page ‘Wanted by Police”-style “Charged" front cover portraying Adelaide's Rabbi Engel.
No less disturbing to us, by the way, was the total non-reaction of Australia's rabbis to the public mugging of one of their own.

But while the Rabbi Engel’s colleagues didn’t seem to show too much concern, a number of laymen from several Melbourne communities DID care enough to establish this blog thus ensuring that the community had a mouthpiece through which to respond quickly and vigorously to the attacks, prejudices and misrepresentation by the Jewish News.

While the situation is nowhere near to perfect yet, we (together with many AJN readers) were pleased when the editor of that time Ashley Browne was giving the boot. Though we would be proud to declare that his sacking was in some way swayed by AJNWatch’s criticism, not having inside knowledge, we cannot honestly make this claim. But whatever, at least Browne is now off the scene. We can only hope that the cleansing procedure at the AJN continues.

All this is by way of a foreword to today’s article in Adelaide’s Independent Weekly stating that all charges against Rabbi and Mrs Engel may shortly be dropped. Should this indeed happen, the least that the AJN should do is a public apology to the rabbi and his wife for their appalling reporting style of their case.


  1. Congrats to Ajnwatch! You are the first to report this. Nothing on the AJn's website yet. But I'll bet that if the news was bad about R Engel they would have flashed it immediately

  2. You make a good point about the rabbis here not lifting a finger to help. I also can't undertand why all the chabads advertise in the ajan in such a grand way. Sure they have to get the message across but do it with smaller ads - that will in addition to a message of not being happy about the way the paper reports - also will save them hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars.

    Just look at what is being done worldwide for Rubashkin. Led by Chabad - but assisted mightily by the entire charedi world. While here a chabad rabbi is publicly humiliated and we hear nothing. why?

  3. It is important to note that there were a number of Rabbis behind the scenes including from ORA and including myself , who were involved in assisting Rabbi Engel find justice and in assisting him in this most difficult time for him and his family.It is not always prudent to make loud noises.

    It is also important to note that the Rabbinate does not in any way condone any illegal activity.

    When all the charges will Im Yirtzeh Hashem be dropped,as I pray they will be, that will be the time for appropriate comment.

  4. Thank you Rabbi Gutnick.

    While we appreciate that not all actions can or should be publicised, it would have been appropriate for the rabbis to react forcefully to the nasty reporting style of the AJN who seemed to be out to destroy the reputation of one of their colleagues.

    Similarly there should have been condemnations issued by Orthodox Shuls, Chabad etc.

  5. Rabbi Gutnick, while there are several issues here, let me ask you why there was no outcry from Australia's Chabad community and more so a threat of boycotting the AJN and holding off advertising.

    When one of ours is being attacked, we should be there to defend him/her.

    I am reliably told that ever since the AJN's horrible reporting in the Leifer case, almost the entire Adass community has quietly placed a ban on the Jewish News. You rarely see an ad from any of the Adass group of organisations and I am told that there wouldn't be half a dozen buyers of the AJN in that community. (There wern't that many before either, but this caused most who were still reading it to stop)

    I cannot remember the last time I saw a 'hatches, matches' notice from an Adass family.

    That is exactly how we should have reacted to the Engel issue - especially after the notorious 'Charged" headline.

    Obviously the AJN realises that we Chabadniks don't want to mess with them, thus we continue to be portrayed in a pretty negative way, eg the Moshiach men stories, the Yechi sign, Rabbi telsner etc.

    Ad mosay???

  6. AJN has been attacking Chabad long before Rabbi Engel was slandered. The problem is that many Chabad rabbis (like most others) don't want to be seen as controversial.

  7. Chosid, how do you think the AJN ought to react to the "Moshiach Men"? Should it portray them in a more positive light? The 17th of Tammuz is coming up; perhaps it could get them to write a recipe column.

  8. As someone who lived in Adelaide during the time that R Engel was Rabbi of Adelaide Hebrew Congregation and had almost daily contact with him I know that there was no such school.
    Also, the Chillul Hashem he caused by fighting the community when they didn't want to renew his contract was disgusting. This community of less than 1,000 people does not need this divisiveness.
    Maybe it is time for us Jews to grow up and realise that we can also make mistakes and sometimes must pay for them.

  9. Rabbi Engel not only back in 2006 and previous years, but today has quite a lot of support and I hope that he will continue as he does best, to support in many ways the Adelaide Community, for the better of the Adelaide Community!

  10. Support?? The community in Adelaide awoke last Thursday 13th May to read in the morning Advertiser newspaper an article on page 25 "Rabbi may demand payout" as he is still litigating against the congregation in the District Court for $600,000 even though the Supreme Court ruled his contract ended. He didn't have tenure. Where is his request for a Beth Din or zablo now? This litigation in the public courts will be another massive chillul hashem in the media for the community there and for Australian Jewry.

  11. Following negotiations with prosecutors, the charges were dismissed. Rabbi Moshe Gutnick came to Adelaide recently for a celebration dinner with Rabbi Engel. Those who worked behind the scenes were thanked. About seventy people enjoyed the seudah. Apart from the Engel family, about forty were locals and the rest were supporters and benefactors from interstate. See photos of the event here:


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