‘A shared vision’ for CHC

David Mond (left) with Rabbi Ralph Genende this week. Photo: Peter Haskin

CAULFIELD Hebrew Congregation (CHC) has elected a new board, with longtime congregant David Mond as president, and his brother Barry Mond and Robert Weil, another stalwart, as vice-presidents.

The Monds’ involvement in a protracted dispute with the shule last decade has drawn attention to their return, as has their strongly traditionalist outlook.

After the August 26 election, the synagogue sent an email to members, signed by the president-elect and Rabbi Ralph Genende, CHC’s senior rabbi, stating the new board “comprises a diverse mix of cultures, degrees of observance and interests” but was “committed to delivering stability and innovative plans to secure the future”.

David Mond told the AGM, “I will expect us to relate to each other on the basis of mutual respect as a minimum.” He said the new board is focused on developing the shule’s infrastructure, with a strategic review and a three-to-five-year development plan.

Speaking to The AJN, he said, “By giving that address, I sought to give people hope and confidence that I’m coming in with a new team … to make Caulfield Shule into a community centre.”

Asked about the shule’s spiritual direction, Mond would only say, “We have a constitution that outlines how we should conduct ourselves … we are a modern Orthodox congregation.”

David and Barry Mond were involved in a dispute with CHC from 2000-04 after claiming voting and nominating rights for board membership which were declined. The row became the subject of a contested din Torah, and cases in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and Supreme Court of Victoria, with the latter eventually ruling for the Monds.

Settling the dispute for $771,000 in 2004 left CHC cash-strapped, and the following year, a group within the synagogue, Save Our Shule, won an election to form a new board which appointed Rabbi Genende to set CHC on a path of healing.

The rabbi has taken the shule in new directions, and has spoken strongly about human rights, particularly for LGBTI Jews. He drew flak from some in his congregation last year when Rabbi Steve Greenberg, an openly gay Orthodox US rabbi, was invited to address the shule.

Approached by The AJN this week, Rabbi Genende reflected, “We are a broad shule with diverse views”. Describing David Mond and himself as “different kinds of people obviously”, he added, “we do share a vision for modern Orthodoxy, for Caulfield Shule being a centre of excellence”.