Friday, August 23, 2013

Court Hearing on Status of Vaad HaKashrus Beginning August 21

Note: The nature of this site is to compile important information about community affairs that can be used as a reference; it is not a news site and we do not try to be the first to post the latest news. Therefore, since this Court action is ongoing and developing, we will update this post when there is additional news.  We will not necessarily make a new post, so you may wish to check this post periodically for updates, and we will try to make it clear when there is an update as follows:



The August 21st Court Hearing was scheduled to hear arguments about the validity of the recent appointment of a Vaad HaKashrus (VHK) by the Crown Heights Beis Din and the Vaad HaKohol. [See the tab above on the "PsakDin Court Case - Kashrus Motion 7/4/13.] The Vaad HaKohol is presenting the point of view that the VHK is appointed by the Vaad HaKohol, and reports to them;  they are not an independent organization.  Rabbi Osdoba's lawyers are tryiing to argue that the VHK is a seperate corporation, and neither the Beis Din nor the Vaad HaKohol have the power to appoint them.

The Hearing began on the 21st, lasted the whole day, and continued on the 22nd for the whole day. Because there are a number of motions and Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) before the Court, the lawyers of both sides will meet with the Judge on the 23rd in order to deal with them.  The Hearing will continue listening to testimony from witnesses on September 9th.

Events of August 21

The first day of hearings  began with procedural matters.  The Judge discusssed her order for both parties to go back to Rabbi Rosenberg's Beis Din to resolve certain matters, specifically related to Kashrus, which the Judge felt was not clearly resolved in the Psak Din.  The Vaad HaKohol's lawyers accused Rabbi Osdoba's side of deliberately delaying and preventing returning to Beis Din by making conditions, and by manufacturing delays.  Rabbi Osdoba's lawyer announced that there would be no more delays, they are willing to go to Beis Din without making any conditions, and they would abide by the Psak Din.  The Judge said that, should she send the parties back to Rabbi Rosenberg Beis Din, should anyone delay, etc., that side would be ruled against in Court.

There were then discussions about which witnesses would be required to testify.  The Judge made it clear that all witnesses who were sent a subpoena must appear in Court unless there were extenuating circumstances.  There was specific discussion about Rabbi Osdoba, with his lawyers arguing that he should not be made to testify in Court.  The Judge ruled that he must come.

A discussion took place about which side would present their case first, and it was ruled that, since Rabbi Osdoba's lawyers had requested the hearing to determine the validity of the new VHK, they would make their case first.  They called Beryl Levertov as their first witness.  He testified that he is in charge of the VHK, that he has been so for many years, and that he determines which hechserim he gives.  He reported that Rabbi Osdoba's role on the VHK is very limited, essentially to answering halachic questions that may arise that Levertov brings him.  

The Vaad HaKohol's lawyers then began their cross-examination, which continued until the end of the day, and was adjourned to be continued the next day, August 22.  The questioning concerned who Levertov reported to, trying to make it clear that the Vaad HaKohol, and the Rabbonim on the Beis Din, controlled the VHK.

Events of August 22

On April 22nd, Levertov's testimony was interrupted to allow one of the Vaad HaKohol' witnesses, Rabbi Spielman to testify, (because he had to leave early to attend his granddaughter's wedding).  Levertov then continued his testimony.

After Levertov's questioning was finished, the Osdoba lawyers called their second witness, Yanki Herzog. Although the Osdoba lawyer's called Herzog, he is known as a "hostile witness" since he favors the Vaad HaKohol's point of view.  He is still in the middle of his testimony, and will resume at the next hearing date on September 9.

Both Rabbi Spielman and Yanki Herzog testified that the Vaad HaKashrus is formed by, and reports to, the Vaad HaKohol for administrative matters, and is supevised by the Crown Heights Beis Din regarding questions of Jewish law.

Events of August 23

The hearing today was between Judge Rothenberg and the attorneys for both sides.  A number of developments took place:
  • Judge Rothenberg ordered both parties back to Rabbi Rosenberg's Beis Din within 90 days for a continuation of the Din Torah.  She requested documentation from Rabbi Rosenberg by October 12th that Rabbi Osdoba's side has agreed to all the conditions he set, and that payment arrangements are made.
  • No more witnesses will be called and no more testimony will be taken for now.  The hearing on September 9 will continue the lawyers' battles on the outstanding motions, including the motions each side has against the other for contempt of court and sanctions.
  • The Levertov Vaad HaKashrus can continue operations in the meantime, however, they must send a copy of each check that they write to the new Vaad HaKohol's Vaad HaKashrus, and the Judge wants to see a weekly report of their financial activity.
  • Judge Rothenberg noted that the statement made on the CHK logo,

that it is under the supervision of the Crown Heights Beis Din, is false and amounts to consumer fraud. She strongly recommended that it be removed from the CHK symbol immediately.