More turmoil at Melbourne's Yeshivah Centre (Part 2) - new public statements

By Manny Waks
February 2, 2016

It seems that due to the international outcry relating to Chabad International's outrageous letter, they have now issued a clarification letter (see below), which seems to suggest that they've done a massive backflip. They now seem to claim that, contrary to what they initially claimed, they in fact don't have any power or authority over the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne. Once again it is clear that Chabad Headquarters are just as chaotic and unprofessional as their Melbourne branch.
At the same time, the post-Royal Commission founded group, Parents & Friends of Yeshivah Melbourne (PFYM), must take some responsibility for this. They are absolutely right to try to stop Yeshivah's Trustees from implementing a governance structure that would see them appoint some of the new board members for up to six years (as well as other issues such as the permanent appointment of Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner to the governing body). But they have lost credibility in my eyes due to their endorsement of Chabad International's intervention, as evidenced by their distribution of its letter. Similarly, their call for Chabad rabbis to have the final say on decision-making as part of their governance proposals is equally ill-advised. The model of governance involving Chabad rabbis at the top has been tried and has failed.
Accordingly, I am now cancelling my membership of PFYM as I cannot, in good conscience, continue to support it.
I would like to reiterate that this is by no means an endorsement of the plans of the current Yeshivah Trustees and the model set out by the Yeshivah Governance Review Panel. The current Trustees cannot be involved in the ongoing leadership of the Centre in any way, shape or form - not now and not in the future. They have proven, time and again, that they are unfit to be involved and they must leave, as they claimed they would.
At this point, it is clear that there is nobody within the Yeshivah/Chabad community who is capable of running Yeshivah and there is no good plan on the table. Therefore it seems clear to me that the best alternative would be for the Yeshivah Centre to be handed over to external administrators.

Chabad International follow-up letter

24 Shevat 5776
3 February 2016
To the Members (Trustees) of the Yeshivah Centre Associations
It has been brought to my attention that my letter, of January 28, was regretfully misinterpreted and distorted.
It was not our intent to interfere with the important restructuring process that you are engaged in. The Yeshivah Centre carries its own management responsibilities, and, as such, has the authority to determine what is necessary and what is best for the institution. We commend and support the great efforts which you have made to ensure the physical safety and spiritual welfare of the children who attend Yeshivah Centre, which is the paramount concern of any educational institution.
The purpose of our letter was to offer Merkos' guidance in guaranteeing that the spiritual standards of Chabad-Lubavitch are maintained and safeguarded.
We believe that it is possible to preserve the essential spiritual standards and character of Chabad-Lubavitch without impeding the restructuring process that you have initiated and look forward to further engaging with you on this matter.
I hope and pray that the process will be crowned with success, and that the Yeshivah Centre and its students will flourish and grow in keeping with the Rebbe's teachings and the ethos of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky
On behalf of the Board of Directors
Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch
Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters

Parents and Friends of Yeshivah Melbourne letter

25 Shvat 5776
On 20 January 2016, the Yeshivah Governance Review Panel, appointed by the current Trustees, publicly released their recommended proposed future (re)structure of the Yeshivah Centre.
Media coverage over the last 24 hours has highlighted a letter dated 28 January 2016, subsequently sent from Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch (Merkos) at Chabad - Lubavitch World Headquarters in New York, to the current Trustees of the Yeshivah Centre.
Numerous stakeholders from the Yeshivah Centre addressed Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch with substantive expressions of concern regarding recommendations and objectives outlined within the proposed structure.
The position Merkos detailed in their letter to the Trustees is directed to enshrining the Orthodox Jewish nature and Chassidic philosophical ethos of the Yeshivah Centre, and to this end requested that no further steps be taken by the current Trustees to formalise the process until this matter was resolved.
This input by Merkos is welcomed by many in the Yeshivah community.
Additionally, many Yeshivah Centre stakeholders are concerned that the proposed structure contemplates an ongoing role and influence of the current Trustees. This is so notwithstanding that these Trustees have previously undertaken publicly to resign.
Community expectation has been that a year following the Royal Commission, meaningful community participation in the future management and administration of the Yeshivah Centre, good governance and transparency would be facilitated.
Parents and Friends of Yeshivah Melbourne