R. Yosef Braun, the winner of the September 2010 elections for a 3rd Rov, is being sued in the New York State Supreme Court on allegations of fraud and defamation. This comes after refusing multiple summonses to Din Torah.
The plaintiffs in this lawsuit – the Crown Heights Beis Din, Vaad Hakashrus of Crown Heights, Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba, Berel Levertov, Shmuel Plotkin, Meir Hershkop and Chaim Jaffe (on behalf of the community of Crown Heights) – are suing R. Braun for fraud pertaining to his candidacy and subsequent election to the Beis Din of Crown Heights, and defamation based on letter he circulated calling the quality of the CHK’s Kashrus into question.
the twelve page complaint was filed last week after Rabbi Chaim Krauss, Rabbi Yaakov Gavriel Goldstein, and Rabbi Naftali Chaim Salamon – three Dayanim from the Boro Park based Beis Din Tzedek Ohel Chaim, signed a letter giving Rabbi Avrohom Osdoba and the members of the Crown Heights community permission to bring their claims before a secular court – due to R. Braun’s refusal to answer any of their three summonses.
In May 2012 the Ohel Chaim Beis Din issued a P’sak Din stating that “according to din we should be issuing a Ksav Siruv [against R. Braun], and anyone who wishes to ask Halacha questions by him should get permission from accepted rabbinic sources first.”
Last week the same Beis Din issued a letter giving Rabbi Osdoba and member of the Crown Heights community to seek remedy to their claims against R. Braun in secular courts, since he refused three summonses to appear before their Beis Din – or any other Beis Din that he could have chosen.
This lawsuit outlines the three years since the contentious elections for Rabbonim was held, in which R. Braun defeated Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky by a margin of 98 votes.
The action points out issues with the Zabl”o Beis Din headed by Rabbi Avrohom Rosenberg acted inappropriately by ignoring their own rulings:
“19. The Rosenberg Beth Din set the requirements for someone to be eligible to run in the election. These requirements were that the candidate: (i) submits his application to run for office within the specified filing period, (ii) has rabbinic ordination; (iii) must be at least 40 years of age; (iv) has to be married; (v) be prepared to accept a full time rabbinic position if elected; (vi) is a resident of Crown Heights or is willing to move into the community; and (vii) obtains approval from one of the two existing members of the Crown Heights Beth Din.”
“22. Rabbi Schwei’s camp scampered to find a candidate to replace Rabbi Mangel. In a hurried process they decided upon defendant Braun as their candidate of choice. They never properly checked on Braun’s credentials. The nomination of Braun was a mere 13 days before the date that the Rosenberg Beth Din had set for the election.”
“24. The Rosenberg Beth Din never conducted a proper background check on Braun to see if he met the requirements that they had set for one to be a candidate. If the Rosenberg Beth Din had conducted a cursory background check on Braun they would have discovered that he was lacking in some of the essential qualifications which they had set. At the time of his nomination, and at the time of the election, he was not yet forty years old- a clear requirement for one to be elected. Braun deliberately concealed this information from the Rosenberg Beth Din.”
The action goes on to detail how R. Braun along with his cohorts publicly destroyed one of the questionable documents that he used to substantiate his claim that he did have Rabbinic ordination.
Based on these claims the action seeks to invalidate the election of R. Braun ‘ad initio‘ – from the beginning – as if they had never taken place, due to the fraud.
Another part of the lawsuit deals with R. Brauns defamation of Rabbi Osdoba, the Vaad Hakashrus and the Beis Din – pertaining to the letters he circulated calling alleging that the Hechsher of the Vaad Hakashrus is invalid:
45. Specifically, Braun published a writing to third parties (i.e. the Crown Heights Jewish community) referring to the Crown Heights Beth Din and Va’ad Hakashrus, that stales that one should not rely on the various propaganda and promotions, as those publicizing them (i.e. the Crown Heights Beth Din and Va’ad Hakashrus), are not adhering to the ruling of the Torah.
46. The above statements by Braun are false, defamatory, and disparaging and were known by Braun to be false, defamatory and disparaging when he made them and were made by Braun in order to injure the Crown Heights Beth Din and Va’ad Hakashrus and divert business to himself. Braun published the above referenced statement with malice. Braun was not privileged in publishing the aforesaid statement.
This lawsuit – which was given the go ahead by three Rabbonim – is in stark contrast to last lawsuit that was filed by Zaki Tamir, Fishel Brownstein and Elie Poltorak in April 2011 where they sought, against the instruction of Rabbi Rosenberg, to enter the Zablo’s Psak Din in court.