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Manhattan Chabad Sues Benefactor for Blocking Sign

A Manhattan synagogue, Chabad Lubavitch of Midtown, is suing the man who helped them obtain the 509 Fifth Ave. location over signage at the property.

SL Green Realty, a frequent business partner of Jeff Sutton, gave Chabad a $16 million loan to help the synagogue move into the fifth avenue location, but now Sutton is being slapped with a lawsuit for his generosity.

The ownership of the building’s retail section is a partnership between Sutton, Bobby Cayre and the Adjmi family, who said they were “shocked” by the synagogue’s allegations, which it says are without merit, according to The Real Deal.

The synagogue, led by Rabbi Joshua Metzger, claims in a lawsuit that the Skechers’ “billboard” at the property blocks the synagogue’s new signage and prevents it from advertising or bringing in donations.

In addition, they allege that the construction “set off fire alarms, broke pipes in the building and filled the stairways with dust and debris,” disturbing its daily prayers and Sabbath services.

The shul’s attorney, David Abrahamson said, “The lawsuit seeks to uphold the property rights of a Synagogue beloved by thousands. We categorically deny and reject the assertion that Jeff Sutton entered into a retail arrangement with Chabad for any reason other than pure business motives. We are disappointed that our dispute with Jeff Sutton and Skechers has resulted in litigation. We have tried in good faith to resolve our differences.”

“As Chabad asserts in its complaint, Jeff Sutton pledged  to respect the dignity and sanctity of our Synagogue. Instead, the Synagogue has been desecrated with inappropriate signage and banners for months. Sabbath, holiday and daily prayer services have been disrupted with incessant construction, noise and dust. We seek to protect the property rights, dignity and sanctity of a beloved community institution,” the attorney added.

A spokesperson for the retail partners said in a statement to The Real Deal that “we have the utmost love and respect for the Chabad organization and the dignity and sanctity of the synagogue located at 509 Fifth Avenue.”

“Evidencing our love and support,” the statement continued, “we arranged financing for the closing on the acquisition of Chabad’s portion of the building, and provided this Chabad chapter with a loan, so that Chabad did not default under its contract to purchase. That is why we are both shocked and extremely disturbed by the allegations in this complaint which are totally without merit.”

In 2012, Chabad and 509 Fifth Avenue Retail LLC paid $39.8 million to purchase the 60,000-square-foot building from Murray Hill Properties. In January, Skechers signed a 15-year lease for the 3,500-square-foot retail unit.

In May, Chabad was permitted to place a sign on the building. One week later, Sketchers also put up their sign, which the synagogue also claimed damaged a shofar on their sign.

Chabad is suing for $500,000 in damages and is looking to file a temporary restraining order that would prevent Skechers from installing the sign until the court makes a decision on whether it is appropriate.

Despite claims that the Sketchers sign blocks the synagogue’s sign, sources said that Chabad sign is still easily visible from the street level.

28 Comments

  • 1. There is a boss wrote:

    The headline is wrong he is not a benefactor, he investmented in the property and make a lot of money off the loan and the retail space.

  • 2. Milhouse wrote:

    Why are you taking Sutton’s side, calling him a “benefactor” and “the man who helped them”, when the Chabad House denies that he did any such thing? Why are you reproducing an article that is clearly biased toward the other side, when you should either be neutral or side with the Chabad House?

  • 6. smh wrote:

    This is such a chillul lubavitch and chillul hashem chabad is suing the person who gave them the building and a chabad supporter they may be right but I hope they can resolve this outside court quietly

  • 8. ouch wrote:

    why must shluchim keep doing this?! shliach after shliach seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons and it reflects badly on all of us. Ouch.

  • 9. Don't judge a book by its cover wrote:

    I happen to be very well versed in this upsetting and unfortunate case, it pains the Shliach to have to be going through with this and it’s extremely uncomfortable, having said that the Shliach is actually categorically saving and safekeeping the name of Lubavitch and the Rebbe by not giving into the Rebbes moised C”V being bullied and belittled by someone that wants to make a little more money, the Rebbe deserves the utmost success and with Rabbi Metzger, David Abramson and others (Oscar) doing their bit for the Rebbe’s moised, we should be zoiche to the geula NOW

    • 10. Antonio wrote:

      I don’t think the rebbe needs you to get yourself dirty to protect the dignity of his moised, the rebbe can manage that on his own.

  • 11. very proud wrote:

    Josh,
    Ver nisht nispoel get every dime you can from these
    Guys no one deserves more money other then u

  • 12. ukedai bizoyon,,,, wrote:

    ” Why are you reproducing an article that is clearly biased toward the other side, when you should either be neutral or side with the Chabad House?””

    Millhouse,
    An honest person does not side with one side if they don’t know the facts
    Don’t expect this website, that tries to be as fair as possible to side with Chabad based on nothing.
    Btw, this is the second lawsuit against Jews involving this property
    A chossid keeps away from machloikes because he goes lifnim mishuras hadin
    Machloikes=Gehinom this is from
    Mahara”l on this weeks parsha explaining why even young kids were punished!

  • 13. To #6 wrote:

    Now really, how sad! Your comment lacks all reflection to any intellectual capacity that seperates humans from non humans. I emphasize “your comment” and not “you”.

  • 14. Don't judge a book by its cover wrote:

    Antonio, I’m assuming you would hold the same opinion regarding the “seforim” being in the wrong hands… Antonio The Rebbes Chabad houses are sacred and must be safeguarded against all evil no matter how sugar coated it may be seem, and if the Rebbe doesn’t “need” Shluchim, did the whole Lubavitch misunderstand him when he sent thousands out to do his OWN work in HIS name ?

    • 15. Antonio wrote:

      No i do not think the same applies to the SEFORIM, these are completely different.

      Chabad Houses were formed by the Rebbe to bring Chasidus to the world, if there is something connected to a Chabad house that is the opposite of Ahavas Yisroel and chasidus, then the whole point of the Chabad house has been compromised.

      In no way am i forming an opinion about Rabbi Metzger, i do not know details nor do i know both sides of the story and so i cannot form an opinion, i am just saying the Rebbe does not need you to fend for his KOVOD, and to be involved in lawsuits and then use his name as the reason for it is something undoubtedly the Rebbe would be totally against, comparing this to the SEFORIM is completely wrong.

  • 16. Why wrote:

    Why does a chabad house need to be worth $16 Million???

    How About the local Mosdos?

    How about the local families?

    • 18. Excellent point! wrote:

      Only it wasn’t $16 million, it was almost $40 million:

      “In 2012, Chabad and 509 Fifth Avenue Retail LLC paid $39.8 million to purchase the 60,000-square-foot building from Murray Hill Properties.”

      — Why?

    • 19. TuchesOnCouch wrote:

      because if it didnt purchase it, it would end up like the local moisdois

    • 20. manhatten wrote:

      because this Chabad House is in Midtown, try to find something cheaper there…

  • 21. @11.12.13 wrote:

    You are correct! Now get off your lazy bum and go raise 40 mil. For local… Emor m’at and start moving. Josh obviously works very hard this doesn’t happen by itself

  • 22. Citzen Berel wrote:

    “but now Sutton is being slapped with a lawsuit for his generosity.”

    Ms. Vega, you have a bright future with and a prime cabin on the new-age Titanic that is modern journalism.

    Enjoy a margarita while the staff rearranges the deck chairs.

  • 23. ukedai bizoyon,,,, wrote:

    No 17
    Hard work does not mean suing everything all the time.Especially not fellow yidden,especially not for the second time.
    This frivolous lawsuit must be withdrawn immediately for the sake of Hashem and his people.
    Chosid=Lifnim meshuras hadin.
    Kol shekein here

  • 24. the truth wrote:

    the partiucalr moisad is notroiosuly litigious… google the rabbis name and lawsuit and you will see he has a pattern of making trouble on his real estate deals. I mean shlichus

  • 26. donate wrote:

    Can you put a link so we can donate this seems like a charity that needs our money

  • 27. Critic wrote:

    Yeh!Where do all these “wealthy” uppity Shluchim have the gall to set up Chabad “houses? Let them set up Chabad tents.If it was good enough for Avrohom avinu,the first kiruv ”professional“,it should be good for them.Metzger should pitch a tent on the corner of 42nd and fifth or better yet somewhere in the Mojave Dessert.Don’t these guys realize that its a mitzvah for shluchim to exist in abject poverty? Lets stop these expensive, ostentatious kinusim too while we’re at it.Let them stop building mikvohs, schools and other such money guzzling enterprises.Metzger close up your kollel,stop feeding the poor and stop with your silly unrealistic work in attracting hundreds of Jews to authentic Judaism every week.
    For every dollar they they raise for their Chabad houses they should raise 2 dollars for the bereft poor of CH so that they can lease their cars at Leasing Direct or redo their million dollar homes. .Like my mother A”H used to say to me “there are children in the world who are starving of hunger and you don’t want to finish your food?”

  • 28. Critic wrote:

    The unmitigated chutzpah of this shliach to Midtown Manhattan who doesn’t live in CH .How dare he fulfill his shlichus to Manhattan by raising this $42 million dollars on his own without the help from anyone in CH.He should of realized that if he wouldn’t have raised the necessary funds for this building the people who can’t afford tuition for their children in CH would then have the funds to do so.In fact why don’t we tear down every Chabad house across the world.This will certainly create an influx of millions of dollars to mitigate the tuition problem in CH.And how’s about the millions upon millions of dollars that has been raised by the head shliach to California.This alone could have made everyone in CH wealthy.Lets do the Obama thing. Lets share the “wealth” of these mean, money grubbing shluchim.The audacity of them.Who do they think they are with their sweat,blood and tears to raise money. How dare they fulfill the Rebbe’s shlichus!!!
    Down with the Chabad houses! Down with the Shluchim!Power to the people!

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