Strathfield dispute back in court

THE long-running dispute between Strathfield Synagogue and Rabbi Samuel Tov-Lev is set to return to court on February 8.

The legal action is an attempt by some members to keep the shul operating and the rabbi living on the premises after he was dismissed from the synagogue.

The problems began in December 2010, when the congregation’s president Eddy Newman told the rabbi his contract would not be renewed because the shul’s future was in doubt.

“We can’t get a minyan and it is no longer viable as an ordinary functioning synagogue,” Newman told The AJN.

“The rabbi will not leave voluntarily, and so we will need to get an enforcement so that he will leave,” Newman said.

He said the rabbi, who declined to speak to The AJN when he was contacted, appealed to Fair Work Australia but then withdrew his action.

Newman said the action was then filed with the NSW Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court already ordered costs against the other parties, however, they allowed them to come back and start action by February 8.”

The majority of Strathfield Synagogue’s congregation, which once comprised 200 families, has moved to the North Shore or Eastern Suburbs.

And the rabbi previously told The AJN that he doesn’t want to leave because he believes the board wants to sell the shul.

“The board cannot close the synagogue, because the memorial in here is very important,” he says. “It’s disrespectful. The memorial commemorates some of our past members, members who had family in the Holocaust and members who survived the Holocaust.”

But a board member, who asked to remain anonymous, said the shul will not be sold.

“We have no intention of selling the synagogue,” he said.

“The kindergarten, which is on site, is paying us rent and that can keep us going.

“The rabbi was dismissed a long time ago, but as long as there is action going through the court we won’t take any action.”