Rabbi Telsner’s days numbered?

Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner. Photo: AJN file

ALMOST four years after Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner, senior rabbi of the Yeshivah Centre, announced he was resigning he may finally be taken off its payroll.

Rabbi Telsner resigned as senior rabbi in 2015, but continued to work at the centre on full pay from Chabad Institutions of Victoria Limited (CIVL), an arm of the Yeshivah Centre.

Two years after his letter of resignation, CIVL board member Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner assured the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Rabbi Telsner does not “still occupy a position of leadership within the Yeshivah Centre”.

However, over the last two years he has continued to take on leadership roles.

In late May the CIVL board wrote to the community – three months before Rabbi Telsner’s current contract ends – saying it has “appointed a committee to take the task of searching for a rabbi of Yeshivah Shule”.

Days later the CIVL board wrote to Rabbi Telsner and told him restrictions would be placed upon him. According to a member of Rabbi Telsner’s family, the letter asked him to leave his office, to stop giving Torah lessons, to stop running weekly gatherings, to stop speaking in the shule and to stop taking halachic actions on behalf of the Yeshivah Centre or CIVL.

A CIVL board member explained to The AJN those instructions refer to leadership roles, noting Rabbi Groner’s statement to the Royal Commission.

“We want to comply with the law, we want Rabbi Groner’s statement to be accurate and we were sure that Rabbi Telsner would want to ensure that Rabbi Groner didn’t lie to the Royal Commission,” the board member said.

The AJN understands less than 10 per cent of CIVL members support Rabbi Telsner and that the board does not intend on renewing his contract.

Rabbi Telsner told The AJN that he did not want to comment.