Why did Emmy Monash prioritise the ruling of a rape apologist over the work of a volunteer?

No. The residents DO NOT always come first at Emmy.

When it came down to a contest between fundamentalist religious politics and the desires and wellbeing of the residents, the residents lost.

The Emmy Monash Aged Care board refused to step in when Emmy's fundamentalist Orthodox rabbi got rid of a volunteer, Rabbi Yaron Gottlieb, just because Gottlieb sometimes prayed at an *egalitarian* Orthodox shul, Shira Melbourne.

In reality the Emmy board care more about keeping their Chabad rabbi happy than they do about what is good for the residents.

Make no mistake, Emmy is *supposed* to be a pluralist space.

It is *not* affiliated with *any* 'Orthodox' stream.

Yaron had gone to Emmy Monash every week to lead the davening (prayer) on a Friday night - for no pay, just out of his deep commitment to Yiddishkeit and the community.

He loved the residents, and they loved him.

But then, Yaron's cousin and Guardian of the Faith, Isaac Balbin, and Emmy rabbi, Michoel Stern, got talking.

Balbin and Stern discussed the abomination of Yaron's occasional attendance at an egalitarian Orthodox synagogue.

Balbin then supposedly asked for a rabbinic ruling from his rabbi, one Hershel Schachter of Yeshivah University.

Schachter is among other things a racist, a misogynist, and a homophobe, and someone who is very comfortable telling victims of rape NOT to go to the police.

*That* was the moral authority on which Emmy Monash turfed a volunteer whom the residents adored.

Rabbi MIchoel Stern didn't even have the decency to be upfront with Yaron about why he would no longer let Yaron lead the Friday night prayers.

Yaron was forced to confront the Stern to ask why he was no longer welcome to lead the davening there.

It took quite some tenacity on Yaron's part to get Michoel Stern to admit the revolting truth.

After that, a board member or two expressed horror at what had happened, but they were just paying lip service.

It took months for them to get around to having a meeting on the subject and when they finally did, they took the easy option of letting the fundamentalist rabbi Stern get away with his appalling behaviour.

But you want to know something?

Sometimes what seems like the expedient option at the time is really not the best course of action: there can be long term consequences for such cowardice and disdain for the wellbeing of the residents.

A version of this piece was originally published on Facebook, on April 22, 2018.

1 Comment

  1. Pam on July 20, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Alex, this is terrible, but it seems to be a regular occurence that good and decent rabbis and other people can be arbitrarily tossed aside by the will of the fundamentalists in our midst. Sadly, this has been going on for years, and the community are generally too apathetic to take a stand. It’s a great loss to
    the residents, whose needs should come first, but are subservient to the power and control of certain rabbis.

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