In the continued legal battle between restaurateur Joey Allaham and Lincoln Square Synagogue, a judge last week denied the restaurateur’s request to vacate Rabbi Hershel Schachter’s June ruling against him.
Allaham’s attorney had argued that the rabbi’s reasoning was “absurd and irrational.”
“R’s [respondent’s] argument that the arbitration award should be vacated on the grounds of irrationality is unavailing,” wrote Judge Jeffery K. Oing in a handwritten decision dated August 10th.
In accordance with Rabbi Schachter’s ruling, Allaham owes the synagogue $1,473,286.00 in addition to attorneys’ fees and any other costs incurred in the proceeding, the decision reads.
“Indeed, the award itself was not the full award sought by petitioners,” the judge continues. (The synagogue originally claimed that Allaham, its sole caterer, owed $1.8 million in unpaid rental fees.) “Thus, the rabbi may have taken into account R’s arguments in rendering the reduced award.”
Allaham could not be reached for comment.
Thomas Rubertone Jr., the attorney representing Allaham, previously argued that Rabbi Schachter’s “bias,” “lack of review,” “failure” to understand the significance of “pertinent documents” and “desire for expediency” resulted in a faulty ruling.
The two parties had agreed on Rabbi Schachter, a rosh yeshiva at Yeshiva University and a renowned halachic authority, as sole arbitrator (or dayan) of their dispute in February after their catering agreement went sour.
In his June decision, Rabbi Schachter said his conclusion was based upon what “‘Yosher’ dictates,” a Hebrew term that means fairness.
Rubertone argued that the decision should be vacated because the rabbi’s reasoning was “absurd and irrational” and that “one cannot simply rely on religion to excuse the result.”
In addition to his role at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Schachter serves as an official halachic consultant for the Orthodox Union, which continues to give its kashrut certification, or hechsher, to Allaham’s restaurants.
A representative from the OU told The Jewish Week in March that the organization would withdraw its certification from Allaham’s restaurants if he refused to comply with Rabbi Schachter’s ruling.
When asked about Allaham’s most recent strong accusations against Rabbi Schachter, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the OU’s kashrut division, defended Rabbi Schachter’s integrity and acumen on halachic matters.
“I know Rabbi Schachter to be an extraordinary scholar and a man of great integrity,” Genack told The Jewish Week.
The two parties sought out Rabbi Schachter after Allaham refused to appear before the Beit Din of America, the religious court initially agreed upon to arbitrate any disputes between the two parties.
Allaham claimed that Lincoln Square Synagogue Rabbi Shaul Robinson’s membership in the organization presented a conflict of interest.