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U.S. Supreme Court Declines Head Shliach’s Appeal

The United States Supreme Court today announced that it will not hear the case of Chabad-Lubavitch of Michigan vs. Dov Schuchman, dashing the last remaining avenue of appeal for Michigan Head Shliach Rabbi Berel Shmtov in his bid to gain possession of the deed to a recalcitrant Chabad House in West Bloomfield.

The court’s decision leaves in place a ruling by the Supreme Court of Michigan, which ruled against Rabbi Shemtov one year ago and left control of the building in the hands of the Sara and Morris Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center, under the leadership of Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg.

The Michigan supreme court had ruled that Rabbi Shemtov’s lawsuit could not go forward because Chabad of Michigan waited too long to file the suit under the state’s statute of limitations, overturning a lower appeals court’s ruling that the deadline was suspended during Beis Din proceedings.

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81 Comments

  • 1. Anonymous wrote:

    Mazal tov!!

    And once again, with G-d’s help, Dovid defeats Golyas…

    • 2. Not a win for other cases wrote:

      Silberberg did not win. It’s just that the statue of limitations ran out. Another sheliach like cunion did win cuz he went to court not waiting years in beis din. (That Shemtov won) silberberg does do good. However did he have the right to put the Shul in his congregants name?

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      He didn’t put it their name. It’s their shul, so of course it’s in their name. They bought it, they paid for it, in whose name should it be if not theirs? Every normal shul is in the congregation’s name, not in the rabbi’s! He probably didn’t even get a say in the matter.

    • 4. Anonymous wrote:

      Silberberg never “put the shul in his congregants name.” That’s the big lie that the Shemtovs continuously repeat, in the hope that everyone will believe it.

      Incidentally, you are assuming that had this case gone to trial, that Shemtov would have prevailed. That too is highly questionable.

    • 5. to milhouse wrote:

      the shul was paid for in part by shemtov, and the other part was fund-raised for chabad, to take the shul away from the official chabad of Michigan, and give control to a board of members that not neccerialy respect chabad or the rebbe is gezaila

    • 6. Milhouse wrote:

      What are you talking about? Shemtov did not pay for the shul, in whole or part, and he did not fundraise for the shul. Maybe he made a donation, like anyone else. The shul’s members did the fundraising, and it belongs to them.

      Shemtov should take heed of the recent court decision about the Touro Synagogue. The court held that it was founded and funded for the benefit of whichever Jews will happen to live in Newport at any time in the future, and therefore belongs to those Jews, not to any outside body that looked after it while there were no local Jews to do so.

  • 7. Fraidy Eisen wrote:

    It’s about time! I can’t believe Shemtov made them spend so much money and wasted so much time that could’ve been used to further their outstanding work!

    • 8. Hey MILHOUSE wrote:

      If they “the congregants” bought it why don’t they call it the .”…,…” Family play house? No they using the name “Chabad” you can’t have it both ways my dear.
      Let’s see you open a Walmart distribution center and claim “well I paid for it ” this whole case did calm down the mushroom in town Werner – aside for the fact that Shemtov would have some just like cunion if he wouldn’t have spent 15 years fighting in beis din that he won against silberberg in many ways. – I know silberberg does many good however he has done much negative as well!
      their needs to be a sheriff in town And Shemtov is his name!

    • 9. No Thanks. wrote:

      I’m perfectly fine with the current rabbinical leadership at BCTC, which I have been affiliated with for the last 20 years. No need for your communist version of Judaism where you force me to trash my Rabbi and force Sheriff Rabbi Shemtov on me.

    • 10. Simple Economics wrote:

      OK Mr. Walmart analogy, so why didn’t Shemtov simply ask for the “Chabad” sign to be removed? Why did he spend $2 Million (which would have probably been $5 to $10 Million had anything actually gone to trial) on lawyers for a piece of property easily worth less then $1 Million?

  • 11. Lubavitcher wrote:

    Bh Bh! Bullys will not prevail! Rabbi Silberberg keep up the Rebbes work that you have been doing with such dedication for the past 40+ years

    • 12. Simple economics wrote:

      Cuz the Chabad community in wb is very good why should Shemtov handicap that Chabad name? He started it and wants to continue it with a rabbi that will have respect for himself and other Shluchim – Shemtov would not have closed this building he would have just continued as it is and even with the same rabbi as long as he would agree to the guidelines of respect for the other Shluchim in town. Perhaps it was the board that made this chilul? If they are giving money to Chabad then give it! Don’t hold it in your pants and say “oh I gave it”

    • 13. Simple Economics wrote:

      He would not have continued as is and left the Rav in Place.

      From Naftali Silberberg on a previous post: http://crownheights.info/chabad-news/439197/court-head-shliachs-lawsuit-can-go-forward/

      In their original psak din (dated 11 Iyar 5665) the beis din ruled that a commission should be formed whose task it would be to oversee the implementation of the psak din. The commission was comprised of R. S. Lazaroff and R. A. Lieberman, who represented Shemtov and Silberberg respectively, and R. E. Piekarski, appointed by the beis din. On 13 Tishrei 5767, R. Piekarski (the impartial third member of the commission) wrote to the beis din and explained why, in his estimation, the commission failed: “When we approached our task, it became apparent to us that R. Silberberg was willing to make compromises and is truly interested in making peace and cooperating with the commission and listening to its directives. On the other hand, it appears to us that R. Shemtov is avoiding making peace, and his only interest is getting rid of R. Silberberg and taking control of his shul. He is not seriously interested in making peace and that R. Silberberg should remain in Detroit.”

      “I am more than willing to share this letter with anyone who wishes to see it. Or, feel free to call R. Piekarski to confirm this.”

      If Shemtov started the shul like you say, then he obviously would have oversaw the articles of incorporation and the bylaws. He has yet to argues that……

    • 14. Milhouse wrote:

      Shemtov did not start the shul, and never had anything to do with it.

  • 16. pay his teachers wrote:

    Perhaps he should focus more on paying the teachers in beis rivkah each month instead of being worried about his own kovod.

    • 17. Different shemtov wrote:

      I dont disagree with you but this is not the same guy.

    • 18. Wrong Shemtov wrote:

      You are talking about Rabbi Avremel Shemtov of Pittsburgh who runs Beis Rivka and who is the brother of Rabbi Sholem Ber, the loser in this case.

    • 19. You both got it wrong. wrote:

      I think you may talking about Rabbi Avremel Shemtov from Philadelphia!!!😂😂
      Make sure you know what you talking about before correcting someone (I.e Pittsburgh)

    • 20. philly wrote:

      rabbi avraham shemtov does not live in Pittsburgh, he lives in Philadelphia

    • 22. Stuart wrote:

      Between Plaintiff and Defendant, between $1million and $1.5million.

  • 23. Rabbi wrote:

    Next time – the head shliach Rabbi SB Shemtov should listen to Rabbonim, he then wouldn’t have had this downfall.

  • 24. Anonymous wrote:

    Love when I hear the bully’s are not successful! Go farbrang with your sad people Shemtov .. Let good Shlichim do their good work ..

  • 29. BH wrote:

    It takes a supreme court to tell these Head Shluchim that they don’t OWN and get to abuse people….

    • 30. Milhouse wrote:

      The Supreme Court didn’t tell anyone anything; it decided not to hear the case. This is what happens to almost every application to be heard. Thousands of people a year ask the Supreme Court to hear their case, but it only has time to hear maybe 100, so about 99% of applications are rejected. The cases they pick are the ones that involve some principle that will affect hundreds of cases. A case that only affects its own parties is very unlikely to be heard.

    • 31. Ilan, a member there wrote:

      Okay…the MI Supreme Court told them that they don’t OWN and get to abuse people.

    • 33. Bully? wrote:

      You call Shemtov a “bully” do you have any idea what silberberg has been doing to bully Shemtov for the past 30 years!!?! And finally Shemtov stands up for himself!yoj think this really has to do with Shemtov wanting a building in his name?? ?

    • 34. Milhouse wrote:

      Really? What has Silberberg been doing to bully Shemtov for 30 years? Please, enlighten us.

      And yes, I do think this really has to do with Shemtov wanting a building in his name. If you know of any reason I shouldn’t think that, feel free to tell me.

  • 35. Yes! wrote:

    B”H! I am so happy for the Silberberg’s!
    They are great people!
    Too bad they had to go through this, but at least they have a happy ending!
    Wishing them much continues success in their shlichus!

  • 37. hi wrote:

    Bh Bh!

    Bullys will not prevail! its victims power!!

    Victims will fight until we win!!

    Rabbi Silberberg keep up the Rebbes mh”m work that you have been doing with such dedication for the past 40+ years you rock!!

  • 38. to #5 mixing people up wrote:

    Not getting into what is wrong or right, but you are mixing two people up. R’ Berel Shem Tov has nothing to do with Beis Rivkah, Avremel , does.

  • 39. lag B'omer on the horrizon wrote:

    While the court has spoken and hopefully this may be the close, I would point out to the noisy anti Shemtov mongers the following. There is a letter from the Rebbe where he writes to a person involved in a dispute that the person does not admit to being at fault at all and that maybe the person thinks that the other side is 100% wrong. The Rebbe basically responds that is not practical at all. Not to regurgitate the whole case, the bais din did rule in favor of Rabbi Shemtov. Those who may be using adjectives and rather disgusting ones, did you consider that Rabbi Shem Tov may be right on anything ? Why would a bais din rule in his favor if he had no points at all ? The good work that Rabbi Silbeberg has been doing has not been the issue. How the property was deeded is the issue.
    Also, to all those holding on to Rebbes doorknob, we are not in the easiest of times, it looks like there is more than one chabad case in the non Jewish courts.
    Hopefully, very soon Rabbi Shimon bar Yohcai will dance with Nasi B’dorenu and Moshiach will finish all court cases. To make peace amongst Jews will be his toughest job
    And , most certainly Moshiach will be at odds with some US Supreme Court rulings , for example marriage. Hence, I wouldn’t say that all their rulings are etched in stone. :)
    Peace upon the Land, and especially Eretz Yisroel should be protected by keeping our land.
    Both Rabbi Shem Tov and Rabbi Silbeberg will agree to that.
    Moshiach Now!
    Have a happy Lag B’omer

    • 40. Ilan wrote:

      And R Silberberg abided by that ruling.

      However the building was never his to give.

    • 41. F wrote:

      “How the property was deeded is the issue”.

      It took the MI Shemtov family over 30 years to contest how the property was deeded? I think the real issue was using their multi-million dollar empire to completely drown BCTC and rid the community of their rebbe. Thankfully the almighty protects BCTC as this case simply got thrown out of all courts (minus the MI appeals court where a top MI attorney, religious institutions from Colorado and top constitutional attorney Lewin all put together an extremely expensive appeal). Around $2 Million spent on a case that never saw the inside of a courtroom…….

    • 42. beis din wrote:

      “It took the MI Shemtov family over 30 years to contest how the property was deeded”
      according t halacha the shemtov were not able to contest it in court until after the psak of the beis din (which ruled in favor of shemtov). the case was in beis din for the past 15 years, and was being dealt with even earlier through arbitration with other shluchim

    • 43. F wrote:

      Beis Din #29

      1. You are correct and I do apologize for misinterpreting facts. BCTC was founded in the early 80s and the first psak dins didn’t surface until about 20 years after that where Shemtov started demanding the property. So I should have said 20 years, not 30. My mistake

      2. The site http://friendsbaischabadwb.com/letters.html has images of the psak dins that Shemtov deliberately violated. Based on the fact that Shemtov clearly feels its OK to ignore psak dins, I’m not sure why waiting 15 years matters.

    • 44. Me wrote:

      If you have ever had a case in front of the Detroit Beit Din, you wouldn’t ask the question of why would a beit din rule in his favor if he had no points at all. It is extremely common here. You also don’t seem to understand that Silverberg was the defendant in the Beit Din, while the building was owned by a separate 501(c)(3) of which Silverberg is merely an employee. Silverberg has no legal ability to transfer the building to Shem Tov, even if he wants to.

  • 45. Yankel wrote:

    What a disgrace that Chabad Rabbi’s fight like this and even lawsuits. The rebbe is rolling over in his grave. SHAME on these power hungry monsters called shluchim!

  • 46. to #18 wrote:

    There is a yiddish expression:
    אלע הינט האבן איין פנים

  • 47. Anonymous wrote:

    Happy for the Silberberg

    Shemtov remember the rebbe take care of his Shluchim

  • 48. Brunya Goldberg wrote:

    B’H justice prevails.
    But what is so sad is that Chabad/New York’s inaction in stopping the Shemtovs from pursuing this mean-spirited and financially wasteful case, has caused me to cut off all financial support to anything Chabad affiliated. The only exception is our support for the Silberbergs and their Torah Center. Yes, THEIR Torah Center.
    Shame on Chabad central for not putting the brakes on this chilul Hashem. My guess is that the Rebbe ob”m would have put the brakes on this travesty long before it became such a public issue.
    Wishing Brachas to the Silberbergs and whole West Bloomfield Torah community.

  • 51. Mazal Tov wrote:

    Mazal Tov,
    It’s so upsetting that the Shemtovs tried to shut down that Chabad House. The Silverbergs impact so many and are exemplary shluchim sent by the Rebbe. I spent a few Shabbos I’m there while I was in high school and had a wonderful inspiring experience!

  • 52. Nat Lewin was attorney for ShemTov?! wrote:

    It appears that Nat Lewin was the attorney for Shem Tov.
    This is really disconcerting.
    Can he be really considered on the side of Shluchim now?

    Also, a X-tian legal society was hired?

    Shame.

    • 53. Stuart wrote:

      Lewin is a hired gun. He is on the side of whoever is paying his fees. Take a look at who else he has represented.

  • 54. Sefirah wrote:

    All the above writers should take a lesson from Rabbi Akiva’s students – show some kavod.

    • 55. Pedant wrote:

      Perhaps you feel left out of the celebration, so for unity, I I’ll say it: I am deeply sorry that there is no imaginable further recourse you may employ, no matter how absurd or costly, to continue your holy quest to rip a shul out of the hands of its community. A real shame that is, better? :)

  • 56. Din Torah does not stop the statue of limitations clock wrote:

    Rabbi silberberg won this suit but head shluchim might have won in the long run, now they have learned something dangerous:

    Don’t waste your time going to beis din, go straight to court.

  • 59. לא הרי סילבבערג כהרי נפרסטק wrote:

    Can anyone explain how Rabbi cunin won in court against naparstek?

    And why didn’t Rabbi shemtov follow the same strategy?

    • 60. Milhouse wrote:

      Cunin sued the right party — the property’s owner. Shemtov sued someone who didn’t own the property he wanted, so what di you expect to happen?

  • 61. Ilan wrote:

    This wasn’t Silberberg vs Shemtov.

    This was Shemtov versus all the Shul members.

  • 62. Stuart wrote:

    Very simple. Cunin brought Chabad of Marina Del Rey AND its rabbi to bais din and had all parties sign an arbitration agreement that could be enforced in secar court. Plus Cunin did not wait til the statute of ran out before seeking a secular court judgment.

    By contrast, Shemtov did not take Bais Chabad’s owners to secular court at all, did not enter into an agreement that could be enforced in court, waited until the statute on limitations has run out, and THEN sure each and every officer and director personally in secular court.

    The only recourse Shemtov had was to try and break Rabbi Silberberg’s Shul financially by suing in secular court anyway, hoping that be running up the bills for appeals our Shul would capitulate.

    • 63. concerned Lubavitcher wrote:

      It should be noted that the Beis Din had issued a Psak in support of Rabbi Naparstek and then pulled it. Further corruption of the Lubavitch system and the Beis Din system. Sad, Sad.

      This should serve as a warning to other Head Shluchim or abusive Shluchim employers. Times are a’changing. The young are tired of this garbage of infighting. Be fair. Let people focus on their Shlichus and stop worrying about your ego. If your ego is hurt go and learn some Chasidus That’s what it’s for in the first place.

  • 64. Izzy C wrote:

    This is a great day of celebration. The head Shliach bullying must come to a end.

  • 65. Did Rabbi shemtov pay a significant amount of money for the property? wrote:

    If it is true that Rabbi shemtov paid a significant amount of money for Rabbi silverberg’s shul, does he have a legitimate case?

    • 66. Stuart wrote:

      Shemtov did not pay anything for Rabbi Silberberg’s shul. Shemtov did give Rabbi Silberberg $5,000 seed money when he arrived in Michigan in the 70’s. That’s not the same thing as paying “a significant amount of money for Rabbi Silberberg’s shul.”

      The Congregation bought the land and built the shul in the 80’s.

  • 67. It's Final wrote:

    יכירו ידעו כל יושבי תבל וואס איז געטראפן ט”ו אייר… (T.T.T.O the Detroit victory march)

  • 69. unknown wrote:

    that should have been the same argument when shemtov closed bais chaya mushka,

    community vs shemtov .. the Detroit lubavitch community school sadly only serves a limited few ,instead of the ufratzo ideology of lubavitch .. too bad could of had a beautiful community school instead it sank it to the ground …..leaving the rest to go elsewhere they had no interest in a community school!

    • 70. Detroit sem wrote:

      Did you call that a Community school?? That seminary was a wiled loos discrace for ANY community! Maybe Kagen meant well however he did not hire the right people to run it.

    • 71. Milhouse wrote:

      Um, what exactly is a “wiled loos discrace “. “Discrace” I can decipher (I think), but the rest of the phrase escapes me. Please use English.

  • 72. Happy wrote:

    Shemtov is a poor excuse for a head shliach. Do you think the Rebbe would want him to tear apart a community and undermine the hard work of a great and hardworking Rabbi? I’m happy he lost and this narishkeit is over.

  • 73. What the court was really ruling wrote:

    If you read up on the case you would realize that the supreme court did not decide who was right and who was wrong, they decided that the chabad of Michigan waited too long to bring up the case- even though during that time the case was in beis din. Which in other words is saying that the supreme court denies the legitimacy of a beis din. So no one should be celebrating we all lost.

    • 74. Ilan, a member there wrote:

      Also the bais din ruling was indeed executed.

      They ruled that R. Silberberg had to try and convince the board (the owners of the building) to turn over the deed.

      There was a meeting, R. Shemtov was invited by the board, and declined to show. R. Silberberg made a case to turn over the deed to Shemtov, and the board declined. It should have ended there.

      Also Shemtov never sued the board in bais din. The board were the actual owners of the building. R. Silberberg was and still is an employee of the corporation.

  • 75. Stuart wrote:

    NO – ” supreme court denies the legitimacy of a beis din” is totally incorrect.

    The Supreme Court only considers Federal questions that it considers important. The Shemtov petition was for the Court to hear Shemtov’s case. The Court simply did not consider the case an important Federal question for it to resolve, and simply said two words, “PETITION DENIED.”

    That is not a statement about a beis din at all. It is simply a choice to choose to consider about 1% of the petitions presented to it and the Court did not consider this dispute between two rabbis as important the top 1% of cases.

    If 20 state supreme courts had taken positions on both sides of the same issue and if it became a major public controversy affecting millions of people’s constitutional rights, the Court MIGHT have discussed the case before rejecting it anyway. In this case, theye did not bother to discuss it – they simply reviewed Justice Kagan’s clerk’s (an possibly Alito’s clerk as well) summary of the case and rejected the case out of hand. It just does not take priority over all those same-sex -marriage and Obamacare cases.

  • 76. Chosid wrote:

    No. 64.
    How dare you say that the Detroit’s Beis Chaya Mushka was a “wiled loos discrace” for any community. It was a very good school, its graduates went to the best seminaries and many maybe most became shluchos or mechanchos all over the world. Mrs. Werner was an excellent Mechaneches as was Mrs. Silberberg with her long, long experience in chinuch.
    Only the Shemtovs had a problem with the husbands of the aforementioned and the schools inclusiveness of regular Anash.
    Interestingly, Mrs. Kaplan (nee Steinmetz) who ran the tiny successor school recently WAS A GRADUATE of that “terrible” school.

    • 77. Detroit sem wrote:

      And you say Shemtov closed the sem cuz he wanted kagens basement ?? Lol the school was a chilul Lubavitch! Detroit is known for higher learning and chasidishkiet weather you like it or not you know that it’s a fact and this sem was no where close to that. Same thing with bergsteins school

    • 78. Hey chosid blamer wrote:

      You try to make a school and blame Shemtov that it failed. I don’t know much about the Chabad in Detroit but it sounds pretty messed up. You people are blaming the head for what he did and what he Dident do. You obviously did not have what it takes to make a good mushroom school priod. Don’t blame the head shelich that you say Dident want to support you since he already has a chasidishe school the way the rebbe wanted –

  • 79. unknown wrote:

    as far the schools system in detroit regardless of who ran it .. the whole system is not meant for the general lubavitch community it is meant for schulichim kids ,, so place it next to the ohel or anywhere, the fact he did not put english or give it a system where if you want whole day lemud kodesh and put it all under one roof rabbi shemtov had the money and the funds but he he didn’t want to put his kids with the community …. rabbi kagan tried to make it a community high school , bias mennachem attempted to make a community school but rabbi shemtov gave it no support, only one school for community, schools for the youth , would have detorit grown just like chicago etc but he splintered the community ,,, that is how he rabbi shemtov wanted it , sadly to say ,,, but that is life and bh we all survived but with wounds ….. we will survive as Rabbi Silberberg shul did … regardless of the pain one sees when you see the lack of cohesiveness…

  • 80. Detroit sem wrote:

    Rabbi Shemtov is the sherif in town you don’t have to like it. You seem all bent up about it so move to NY you can have many options for schooling let’s see how your kids come out!
    When a group of ppl open a school “in spite” it will never work. Fact: the girls of that sem were up to things that the Shemtov school would never and you know what I’m takin about and that’s why your all bent out of shape to this day.

  • 81. To MILHOUSE wrote:

    Why has Shemtov not tried taken away anyone else’s building??? Think about that.

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