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Lubavitch rabbi rift

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-12-21

Chief Rabbi at Goan Club

Chief Rabbi at Goan Club

Two Lubavitch rabbis have been ordered by the London Beth Din to stop using the Lubavitch name for outreach work and refrain from any fundraising activities for the next six months following a bitter dispute over how the organisation is run.

Mendy and Yosef Vogel who set up The Goan Club in London's West End were accused by Lubavitch UK of "excessive expenditure" in the running of the organisation that was set up to attract young professional Jewish adults and taken to the London Beth Din for a ruling.

The Goan Club put on high profile events attracting guest speakers including Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising giant WPP while Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks attended the opening of the Club and said: “This is the one Jewish space in the midst of the city, that is not a synagogue, that is here for you to relax, unwind, refresh physically and spiritually."

In a letter to Lubavitch funders and supporters, Rabbi Shlomo Levin from the Lubavitch Foundation blamed the running costs of the Vogel brothers Goan Club for a cash crisis at the organisation: "Although these activities attracted large numbers of young professionals, they consumed too much of the funds raised at the annual FoL dinners and other fund raising events. As a consequence the Lubavitch Foundation has been unable to meet its monthly commitments, amassing large debts in unpaid teachers’ salaries, bank loans and unpaid PAYE. This situation reached critical proportions during this year where almost all of the £750,000 raised by FoL was applied to the Gaon Club’s salaries and activities."

Both brothers denied any wrong doing and claimed that their activities only enhanced the reputation of Lubavitch and that its funding did not result in any decline to funding for other Lubavitch work.

Lubavitch sought to gain access to the premises as well as getting access to files and other information and the Beth Din ruling has provided this. The ruling also ordered the brothers to stop any fundraising work for any project they may set up in the next six months as well as to stop using the name Lubavitch and associating themselves with the organisation.

A further case of the brothers taking Lubavitch to the Beth Din is set to be heard at a later date.