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Constitutions, Bylaws and Charters

• Should proxy voting be recognized in congregational business meetings? That was the issue before a New York state appeals court. A Jewish congregation called a special business meeting to determine whether or not to retain its rabbi. The congregation, by a vote of 23 to 21, voted to submit the dispute to a panel of 3 orthodox rabbis for a final decision. The minority challenged this vote on the ground that 4 proxy votes (which were not counted at the business meeting and which agreed with the minority) were improperly disregarded at the meeting. Had they been counted, the vote would have been 25 to 23 against submitting the dispute to an arbitration panel. The court observed that the state "Religious Corporations Law" requires proxy voting only in a few instances not relevant to this case (e.g., voting to sell, mortgage, or lease property, and certain elections of officers), but that ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • March 1, 1990

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