Earlier this month I wrote briefly about some of my thoughts regarding the proposed restructure and its impact.
Chol Hamoed Pesach, 20 Nissan 5776.
On 20 April, 2016, two days prior to Pesach, the Trustees of the Yeshivah Centre released to the community, documentation detailing the latest version of the proposed restructure of the Yeshivah Centre.
That documentation comprised (i) the proposed structure and (ii) explanatory notes, both of which can be found at the following links on the Governance Review Panel website, www.ycgrp.com.au:
Proposed Structure: http://media.wix.com/ugd/67a5f5_7bccdef946f74698bd001912bef0a8c5.pdf
Explanatory comments on amendments to proposed structure: http://media.wix.com/ugd/67a5f5_1b992be55cdf489697a9a5c0166a8099.pdf
Significantly, the Trustees are not inviting comments from the community in response to this latest version of the proposed structure.
This latest proposed structure does not adequately or appropriately address a number of fundamental matters critical to the structure and future of the Yeshivah Centre, including but not limited to:
- The Preamble – does not adequately address the objectives of the Yeshivah organization, Halacha and Chabad Chassidus, as exemplified and defined by the Rebbeim of Chabad. That is, to establish a Chabad Chassidic community and offer Jewish education of the highest standard.
- Rabbinic oversight – there remains a critical absence of a Rabbinic Jewish Law compliance committee, of senior qualified Rabbonim (not merely vocational rabbis) to ensure Halachic and Chassidic compliance, and an appropriate mechanism for dispute resolution. The community request for a Rabbinic body has been ignored. The mere presence of some Rabbis on the Boards of the entities in the proposed structures, simply does not address the fundamental requirements in this regard.
- Accountability of the Principal- an educational subcommittee chaired by the Principal, does not provide for accountability of the Principal.
- Conflicts of interest- presented by the permanent presence of an employee and current Trustee on all the boards of YCL, YBRSL, and CIVL, who has been given life tenure. There are fundamental governance and accountability issues with this situation.
- Transparency and clarity- in the election process and the order of appointments of theseboards. For example, the board of YCL is to have three members appointed by CIVL and the board of CIVL is to have three members appointed by YCL – which is to come first? It is a conundrum incapable of resolution according to the latest documentation.
- Lack of democratic election process
- Ongoing involvement and influence of the current Trustees
- A mandatory, documented dispute resolution policy/process should be detailed in documentation evidencing the proposed structure
- Financial accountability and commerciality – eg. the ongoing role of the proposed administration entity, Yeshivah Administration Services -YAS Pty Ltd, is contrary to commerciality principles.
- No delineation between religious and secular arms of the school- The current structure includes a clear structural delineation between the religious (ie Chabad Institutions) and secular educational arms of the school (Yeshivah- Beth Rivkah Colleges). The proposed structure does not stipulate the religious arm of the schools. This could lead to governance and transparency issues. Also, the proposed structure obliges the entity of Chabad Institutions of Victoria Ltd (CIVL) to resource Yeshivah Beth Rivkah Schools Ltd (YBRSL), and this is inappropriate.
- Mandated, specified professions of board members, and named subcommittees- this is inappropriate as specific expertise can be accessed externally as required.
- The document is not signed by the Governance Review Panel (GRP).
- The Trustees’ role in the election process- the Trustees have announced they have that they “will be seeking the written consent of the people who wish to become members of the future incorporated companies shortly in preparation for the elections”. This is contrary to their undertaking that “the management and conduct of the up-coming elections and the tabulation and reporting of the election outcomes will be outsourced to an independent company...”
It is most disappointing that the Trustees have chosen to release the documents just prior to Pesach, well aware that the community was preoccupied with Yom Tov preparations and was not in a position to appropriately focus attention to this important document.
It is also unacceptable for the Trustees to have ignored the respectful request of 213 people who signed a community petition, requesting the opportunity for further community consultation and comment of the GRP documentation and draft constitution, for the restructuring of the Yeshivah Centre. This documentation needs to be released to the community in the interests of transparency and good governance.
Wishing you a Good Yomtov,
Lisa de Winter