It has come down to this in the long-running battle between the leadership of the National Council of Young Israel and a group of dissident members wanting changes to the movement’s constitution: “disembodied signature pages.”
In the latest skirmish between the two, a lawyer for the NCYI rejected a petition the dissident leaders assembled, which they said was from 25 percent of NCYI congregations. It called for the proposed constitutional changes to be considered at the group’s next national meeting, which is to be held here on Dec. 15.
The rejection prompted dissident members to claim the parent group is “changing the rules.”
“You have submitted to the NCYI an unsigned copy of a letter dated Oct. 29, 2010, which encloses both disembodied signature pages and other documents,” the lawyer, Daniel Kurtz, wrote to the dissident members.
“The signature pages make no reference to the content of the Oct. 29 letter … [or for] support [of] a proposed constitutional amendment. The signature pages also appear to have been executed prior to the date of the letter and could not have been signed in support of a document that did not then exist.”
The proposed amendments would permit NCYI branch congregations to resign, repeal the section that authorizes NCYI to seize the assets of a branch and bar NCYI from suing a branch, former branch or its members without the approval of two-thirds of the Delegate Assembly.
The proposal was triggered by an aborted plan in June by NCYI leaders to expel and seize the assets of its Syracuse branch for that synagogue’s failure to pay $20,000 in dues. The synagogue president, however, said she was told the action was because her synagogue had elected a woman president in 2008.
One of the petition organizers, Avi Goldberg of Brookline, Mass., told The Jewish Week that the NCYI was sent an e-mail that included a copy of the three-page petition and explanation, a page acknowledging synagogue approval of the resolution, and a signature page that was signed by each synagogue’s NCYI delegates. He said a total of 87 signatures were sent from 35 congregations.
“We sent them only the signature page from each synagogue instead of” all of the cover pages each synagogue received, he said, alleging that the NCYI was now “changing the rules” to prevent a vote.
Another petition organizer, Evan Anziska of Los Angeles, said: “To imply that a fraud might be taking place because signatures do not appear on the same page as the actual proposed amendments is insulting.”
Goldberg said he is now encouraging synagogues to send delegates to the NCYI meeting Dec. 15 to press their petition at that time.