THE Yeshivah community has split in two over the resignation of Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Telsner.
As reported in The AJN last week, Rabbi Telsner informed Yeshivah’s interim Committee of Management (COM) last Tuesday that he would be stepping down as the head rabbi of the Yeshivah Centre following comments he made during a clash with a victim of child sexual abuse.
In his resignation, he apologised for his conduct towards victims and their families.
However, some members of the community have told The AJN they believe the COM made his position untenable.
A petition, which has garnered more than 200 signatures, registers a “dissatisfaction with the events surrounding the stepping down of Rabbi Telsner”.
The petition doesn’t directly call for the COM to reappoint Rabbi Telsner, but says: “We stand behind Rabbi Telsner in solidarity of both him as an individual as well as the position of rabbi as a representative of the wider community.”
It added, “We further insist that the Yeshivah Centre – true to its title of being ‘Under the auspices of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’ – follow the directives, principles and spirit of the Rebbe’s explicit and inferred opinions in its running and operation. This point is not negotiable.”
On Sunday, however, the Rabbinic Advisory Panel to the COM emailed the community and said that it had spoken to Rabbi Telsner, and determined that “Rabbi Telsner stepped down of his own volition.”
The rabbis on the panel – Rabbi Yossi Gordon, Rabbi Avrohom Y Kievman, Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum and Rabbi Avrohom Jacks – said that “in light of recent events, Rabbi Telsner has chosen to put the moissad’s (institution’s) interests ahead of his own by stepping down”.
The COM also wrote to the community on Sunday and said that it had “very heavy hearts” because of Rabbi Telsner’s resignation, and assured the community it will continue to remain a religious organisation that respects halachah and Jewish processes.
“Although on this occasion the decision was not ours to make, we would like to assure you of our commitment to thoughtful and considered management of the Yeshivah Centre, in line with the values of Torah, Chassidus and the directives of the Rebbe, and in close collaboration with the Rabbinical Advisory Panel,” the COM said.
Rabbi Telsner did not return calls to The AJN.