Chabad HQ objects to Yeshivah restructure

The Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne.

THE educational arm of Chabad Headquarters in New York has written to the trustees of the Yeshivah Centre objecting to its proposed restructuring.

Following a commitment to overhaul the centre’s management structure in the wake of last year’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Yeshivah trustees appointed five members to a Governance Review Panel (GRP) to consider how the centre – which comprises Yeshivah and Beth Rivkah Colleges and all Chabad organisations within it – should be managed.

The GRP has now released its proposal for community consultation before it is put forward to the trustees, who will decide if they consider it appropriate.

According to the proposal, the Yeshivah Centre would have an eight-person board with one independent chairperson. Another entity would be set up to run the school, with four of the nine board members appointed by parents, and a third entity would run all other Chabad organisations within Yeshivah, including schools, youth groups and others.

But according to Chabad HQ, the proposed structure “has caused us considerable alarm”.

Noting that “the times and circumstances may indeed call for changes in the management structure”, a letter from Chabad HQ to the trustees stresses “there cannot be any change in the overarching authority under which these institutions were established and have functioned all these years,” namely, “the Rebbe zy’a and his representatives at Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York and in Melbourne itself”.

The letter added, “The trustees of a Lubavitch institution are put in place and entrusted to ensure this hierarchical structure, and they have neither the right nor power to do otherwise. Unfortunately, the documents from the GRP do not reflect this reality at all.”

The letter also stated that all Lubavitch institutions are “by necessity, under the halachic purview of a Lubavitch rabbinical body … Again, the documents from the GRP do not reflect this.”

Chabad HQ has established a subcommittee, comprising four rabbis, to engage with the trustees and say they will “consider a visit to Melbourne in the near future, if they find it necessary”.

The AJN spoke to Rabbi Yisroel Deren from Chabad HQ, who clarified his organisation’s position. He said the objections have been made to the proposed structure because he believes it will endanger the spiritual safety of children. However, he conceded that Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner in Melbourne does have the power and authority to ­authorise a restructure of the organisation and that Chabad in NY is powerless to stop any changes.

Responding to the letter from Chabad HQ, the trustees said they were “committed to adopting a corporate structure for the Yeshivah Centre that reflects good governance and adheres to the principles of Chabad Lubavitch and the guidance of the Rebbe.

“The GRP is in the process of receiving community feedback on their proposed governance structure. The GRP are conducting an open, transparent and collaborative process and we encourage the community to make submissions to the GRP.”

JOSHUA LEVI

The GRP is accepting submissions to the new structure, which is available at www.ycgrp.com.au, until Monday, February 8.