OU and Agudah petition court in HAFTR case


By The Jewish Star staff

Issue of August 21, 2009 / 1 Elul 5769

The Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel have submitted a ‘friend of the court’ brief to the New York State Appellate Division asking that court to defend a beit din’s verdict in a case between HAFTR and a faculty member, Rabbi Nachum Brisman.

As reported in the Jewish Star in January, Rabbi Brisman was dismissed from his teaching position at HAFTR over Hashkafic [philosophical] differences. He took HAFTR to the Beth Din of America, which found in Brisman’s favor and awarded him $50,000 in back pay. The beit din also doubled Brisman’s salary to $100,000, reinstated his tenure and ruled that any future termination of Brisman must go through the beit din itself, thus exceeding the limits of the agreement between HAFTR and Brisman to submit to the beit din’s authority.

When Brisman’s lawyer sought to register the verdict with the secular courts, a routine matter, Justice Bruce M. Balter of Kings Country Supreme Court overturned the decision and called it “irrational” and “violative of public policy.”

The 24-page brief issued by the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel does not side with either Brisman or HAFTR, but argues that the appellate court ruling should be overturned since, among other reasons, it interferes with a case whose merit was decided based on religious law.

Nathan Diament, public policy director of the Orthodox Union, wrote, “The lower court’s ruling in this case undermines the long-established and appropriate relationship between secular and ecclesiastical courts.”