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governance Archives - David Werdiger

Celebrating Change

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During the month of Elul, our minds turn to Rosh Hashanah, and we reflect on the year which is drawing to a close. We have many different units for measuring time – seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years – and each serves a different purpose. To paraphrase Marc Levy, if you think a hundredth of a second is a short amount of time, ask the person who won the Olympic silver medal in the…

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Yeshivah Episode IV – A New Hope

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The drawn out process of governance reform at Yeshivah over the last few years has not concluded, rather has reached an important step. If it were a construction project, we could say that we’ve done our share of demolition and excavation, and the foundation is largely complete. Now it begins in earnest. With a new organisational structure, broad membership, and boards with elected representatives, we have the basis for a fresh start – a new…

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Democracy Comes to Yeshivah

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With the passing of a new Jewish year and the fresh spiritual energy this brings to the world, there is a palpable buzz around the Yeshivah as we approach something that has never happened here before: democratic elections. The intersection between democracy and Orthodox Judaism is a complex one that is still developing, and after a baptism of fire over the last few years, our community is likely breaking new ground in its transformation from closed to…

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The Best Way to Pay It Forward

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This morning I attended an event to pay tribute to Michael Dubs for his service of over 25 years to JewishCare and its precedent organisations. As president and board member of Jewish Community Services (JCS), and as a member of the loan committee, he made an outstanding contribution to the Melbourne Jewish community, and in particular to those most in need. The most important thing Michael did for me was to recruit me into JewishCare. It happened back in…

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Safeguarding the Chabad Ethos

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As the reform process at the Yeshivah Centre continues, the term “safeguarding the Chabad ethos” has been bandied about quite a lot. But what does it mean? Some people have  blamed the “Chabad ethos” for the misdeeds of the past, particularly in the context of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, but this is more often than not a misdirection which shows an anti-Chabad bias. Yet at the same time, I get…

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Can Yeshivah take the cultural steps forward?

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A wise friend of mine adapted the Harvard-developed negotiation model (seven elements, getting to yes) to articulate a hierarchy of three ways a dispute can be resolved: power, rights and interests. Power is a very effective way to resolve a dispute. For example, a child says “I want to do X”, and their parent says “no”. The dispute is very quickly resolved through the use of power. It works well because of the power imbalance…

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After the Royal Commission

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Following the Royal Commission hearing into the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne, David Werdiger has written several articles. With a lot of the focus on the Jewish law of “mesirah”, David points out that criticism of the AFP’s handling of the Bali Nine is actually the asserting the very same legal principle. “Knowing that a citizen would be subject to a legal system far more severe than our own, the AFP would not hand someone over to that jurisdiction”….

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After the Royal Commission – Stepping Back from the Precipice

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The Jewish community is reeling after the recent case study as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. From the perspective of an ‘insider’ who personally knows almost all of the people involved, it’s especially painful. I am related to victims, to people accused of abuse, and to people in senior positions in the community. That’s the way things work in close-knit communities: there are many overlapping and complex inter-relationships,…

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Case Study: Oligarch Enterprises

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This is written in the style of a Harvard case study. It is an allegory; imagine a real company in this situation and facing similar challenges. The questions at the end are a guide to what the issues are and the process to deal with them. Suggested answers are most welcome. “They did what?!” exclaimed William, Chairman of Oligarch Enterprises, at one of the regular informal gatherings of the “mini-board”. The recovery of the supermarket division was progressing…

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