The L.A. Times reports that the lengthening legal mystery of who owns Rabbi Pauker's Torahs took another inconclusive turn this week as a Superior Court judge overruled a rabbinical panel. For seven years Rita Pauker has claimed the four scrolls were loaned to Rabbi Samuel Ohana, then an assistant to her husband, the late Rabbi Norman Pauker — and wants them returned. Rabbi Ohana says they were gifts to him when he opened his own Sherman Oaks temple in 1998, as Rabbi Pauker's synagogue had closed.
In January an Orthodox religious court, known as the beit din, declared the Torahs belonged to Pauker's widow, Rita. Rabbi Ohana then appealed to a higher religious court in Israel, just as Rita Pauker submitted her claim to a decidedly slower and more secular process — L.A.'s civil courts. This Monday, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Zaven V. Sinanian ruled that the beit din decision was invalid because one of its three rabbis had a conflict of interest. Ms. Pauker is now appealing Sinanian's order, although the disputed Torahs will be spending at least one more Passover in Rabbi Ohana's hands.