Aussie Chabad Turf War Heads to Religious Court

A rabbinical court in New York will determine the fate of a controversial Chabad rabbi in Melbourne who has been dismissed from his post amid allegations of improper conduct.

A Chabad spokesman confirmed that Rabbi Chaim Herzog has appealed his dismissal after he received an official letter last month saying he no longer has the authority to operate in the name of Chabad. The meeting with the beit din, or rabbinical court, is scheduled for this week.

At the center of the dispute are allegations that Herzog was waging a “turf war” against colleagues operating near his Chabad house in Melbourne’s city center.

Herzog, who has been running Chabad of Melbourne Central Business District since 1998, declined to comment, except to say: “Everything you print is a lie and I’m not going to comment any further.”

However, an official inside Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn confirmed that Herzog received “an official dismissal letter” and that his name does not appear on the official list of Chabad emissaries.

But until the appeal is heard, the official said Herzog is “innocent until proven guilty.”

David Werdiger, a grandson of one of the pioneers of Chabad in Melbourne, claims he has been one of Herzog’s targets because he hosts a weekly study session under an organization called Jews of the CBD. He has applied for an apprehended violence order against Herzog, which will be heard in the Magistrates’ Court on Nov. 7.

Werdiger also blasted Chabad’s senior rabbis for failing to act since he first approached them in 2008.

“I’m relieved that action has finally been taken,” he said of Herzog’s dismissal. “It’s too late; let’s hope it’s not too little.”

But Sydney’s Rabbi Eli Feldman, who studied at rabbinical school with Herzog, said: “I would like the good work that Rabbi Herzog has done in his time running Chabad of Melbourne CBD to be recognized and respected.”

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Aussie Chabad Turf War Heads to Religious Court

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