Judge Halts Demolition of 111-Year-Old Chabad Shul

Congregation Anshei Lubawitz, built in 1906, is the oldest synagogue in Borough Park. Its architectural beauty and uniqueness among the square apartment buildings surrounding it make it a local landmark. However, under suspicious circumstances, the Shul’s current trustees are attempting to have it demolished, to be replaced by a luxury apartment building.

The synagogue, led for many years by the famed Rabbi Yitzchok Dov Ushpal, OBM, is of great significance to Chabad history. It is the oldest synagogue in Borough Park, and was visited by the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe during his visit to the United States in 1929, as well after his permanent arrival in 1940.

However, an April 27, 2017 petition filed by Chevra Anshei Lubawitz of Borough Park with the Attorney General, sought approval for the sale of the Synagogue’s Property, located at 4024 12th Avenue, to 4024 12th Ave LLC, an entity that is owned and controlled by Moses Karpen, which will result in the demolition of the Building. The petition was approved on May 3, 2017.

Now, members of the Shul’s are crying foul, saying they were unaware of the sale, and have petitioned for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the Shul’s demolition, which was granted today, August 24, 2017, by the Hon. Judge Marsha Steinhardt of the New York State Supreme Court.

The petition was filed after the Crown Heights Beis Din issued a Halachic ruling (see below) allowing the congregants to take the trustees to court to prevent the building’s demolition.

According to the TRO petition filed by members of the Shul, the sale of the building and demolition cannot go ahead because:

1. Contrary to paragraph 6 of the AG Approval, the Synagogue has not “complied with the provisions of the Religious Corporation Law and the Not for Profit Corporation Law applicable to the sale of its real property” because the full membership of the Synagogue (rather than selected members) did not receive notice of the Special Meeting that purportedly approved the Sale in accord with either Section 194 of the Religious Corporation Law or the Constitution of the Synagogue;

2. The only reason that there were “no objections to the proposed transaction,” was because the petitioners (and other members who oppose the Sale) were not made aware of the proposed transaction in time to register their objection to the Sale, and instead learned of the Sale after a Deed had been delivered to the Purchaser and after an attempt to cover up the entire transaction as a mere “temporary closure” for the Summer months of the Synagogue;

3. The Application contains numerous material misstatements and omissions, including a statement that the condition of the Current Building is “old, dilapidated, in need of extensive renovation and is no longer able to house the Synagogue adequately and safely”, when in fact the condition of the Building, which is the oldest operating Synagogue in Borough Park, is perfectly adequate and furnishes the membership with a beautiful space to conduct services and a complete failure to disclose the architectural beauty of the interior and exterior of the Current Building;

4. The purchase price of $3.1 million is grossly inadequate and does not represent the actual fair market value of the Property, and was not arrived at through an arms-length negotiating process and a solicitation of a number of competing offers, but was instead the product of a personal relationship between a trustee and Karpen; and

5. The best interests of the Synagogue and its membership would be served by continuing the operations of the Synagogue in the Current Building and permitting the membership to continue to pray in a beautiful setting, rather than abandoning the Current Building, occupying temporary quarters for as long as four years, and then, relocating to a floor and basement in a box residential structure.

Now that the TRO has been granted, time will tell if the shul’s members will prevail in preventing its sale and demolition, which will be decided by the courts over the coming months.

21 Comments

  • 1. sd wrote:

    we, as yidden, must uphold our most sacred. Money may make people comfortable for the moment, but this is an old shul, for goodness sake. Have respect.

    Reply
    • 2. Anonymous wrote:

      The plan was to give the air rights to a devolper that will build in exchange a new shull and a simcha hall so that the shull would have an income

    • 3. Really? wrote:

      Really? Then why all the shadiness and backroom clandestine deals?

      It stinks and now we know why.

      FOR SHAME!

  • 5. Milhouse wrote:

    The last point is the most important one and makes all the earlier points moot. They’re not suing any yid — they’re not even suing Eric Schneiderman in his personal capacity — they’re suing the office of the Attorney General, which is not a yid (or even a person) and can’t be sued in any beis din. It’s a state agency and there is nothing wrong with suing it in its own state’s courts.

    Reply
  • 6. sd wrote:

    WHO IS THE BENEFICIARY OF THE FUNDS REALIZED BY THE SALE OF THE BUILDING ?
    THIS INCIDENT HAS A ” KARPy” SMELL.

    Reply
  • 7. a landmark wrote:

    I must have passed it hundreds of times, always seeing it but I never went in. It really is lovely and seems to be in great condition. But it is on a well-appointed, large lot and that = MONEY!! That’s all that matters these days… greedy developers will destroy every vestige of architectural history, even a shul, because their G-d is MONEY.

    Good luck to the plaintiffs.

    Reply
  • 8. Historian wrote:

    To clarify, the building was built for Temple Beth El, which was organized August 28, 1902, as shown on the cornerstone, a photo of which is above. The cornerstone was laid in 1906 and the building dedicated in 1907.

    In the 1920’s Temple Beth El built a magnificent much larger edifice in a newer section of Borough Park, at 15th avenue and 48th street, and moved there, which made their older Shul available for another group.

    That is how it came to pass that Anshei Lubavitch was there.

    Reply
  • 9. article wrote:

    I figure that this was the Shul of Rabbi YD Ushpal OBM
    one of the Roshei Yeshiva in Tomchei Tmimim NY

    Reply
  • 12. Wolf wrote:

    That looks like a very nice shul, well-kept shul. Some of these greedy developers would tear down every last shul if they could profit off of it.

    Reply
    • 13. YittzchokM wrote:

      Well kept? You’ve obviously never been there. If you would you’d know the facts. The fact is the building is is falling apart. It’s a Shonda that people think that this is considered sanctifying God’s name. Keeping a place that’s literally in worse then a public restroom.

  • 14. EMSer wrote:

    And nothing about two of the voters suspiciously purchasing summer homes just right after the sale?

    Reply
  • 15. free at last, free at last... thank G-D almighty...free at last wrote:

    NO NAME, I promise; however, in Aventura AND Unincorporated Miami there are plenty of felons on the director’s board …… makes me wonder and makes me sad…….ONE big macher even has his name smack above the front of the bldg entrance……need i say more……….NO WAY….BTW ….. when i confronted the rabbi (notice, i used small letters) and suggested he return the developers stolen money to the rightful people HE WAS NOT HAPPY……. THE DEVELOPERS and THE RABBIS WORK HAND IN HAND

    Reply
  • 16. YittzchokM wrote:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. The fact is that the full membership and officers of the board voted. At every vote, some people lose. That’s a natural part of democracy. There are people today who don’t think Trump is our president. They question his legitimacy mostly because they lost the election.
    Those are the facts. Everything else is hearsay.
    Do some members opposed the sale? Yes. Was the sale approved by a wide margin?
    yes it was. Was the entire membership notified about the impending sale? yes they were. Did they have a chance to voice their concerns? Yes they did.
    Are there some worshippers who think they’re members and they’re not? Yes, there are.
    The shul has a constitution that explicitly states who’s considered a member and who’s not, who’s considered an officer who’s not, who gets to vote and who does not.

    So we’re left with is you not liking who the developer is or some of the people involved. That’s your choice. But this isn’t legal matter, neither is it an Halachic matter.

    Reply
  • 17. A.A. wrote:

    Seems that you were hired to protect the developer and YOU don’t know the facts! I’m davening there for over 20 years. If the management can’t take care of the Shul, the solution is NOT selling! There are plenty good candidates that would be glad to take over the management of the Shul.

    Reply
    • 18. YittzchokM wrote:

      That’s a great Point. Make sure you vote against it if you’re against the sale. If you’re out voted, at least you tried

  • 19. AGluck wrote:

    Don’t understand why selling was so bad. I asked rabbi unsdurfer and he agreed that as Gabbai I am enttled to sell and to take a small piece of the profit to purchase a summer home.

    Reply

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