The synagogue's rabbi says yes. Past Chabad behavior says yes. Attorney (and child advocate) Elliot Pasik says no – but he says it in a way that calls his own behavior into question.
Court To Weigh Sale Of Syosset Shul
Stuart Ain, The NY Jewish Week
The long-running saga over the fate of the East Nassau Hebrew Congregation in Syosset seems now to be at a crossroads.
A controversial plan to sell the synagogue to a Korean church deserves judicial scrutiny, according to State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
In papers filed before State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Phelan in Mineola, Assistant Attorney General Dorothy Nese asked the judge to conduct a full evidentiary hearing if necessary before deciding whether to permit the sale.
At issue is which of two groups of residents are telling the truth when they claim to be the synagogue’s trustees.
A group that includes the congregation’s rabbi, Sol Appleman insists that there is no longer an active congregation and that there has not been a minyan there for several years. In court papers, Rabbi Appleman said he is seeking dissolution of the congregation so he can sell the synagogue and three homes it owns.
The group seeking to block the sale, he said, wants to bring about “a hostile takeover” of the building, which he said his late parents bought and later donated to the congregation. Rabbi Appleman’s father, Morris, had been the Orthodox congregation’s spiritual leader for more than 40 years.
He charged also that Chabad-Lubavitch of Plainview is behind the group seeking to block the sale and that “their real goal is to obtain possession of East Nassau’s real property.”
Gerald Gross, the attorney for the objecting residents, claimed in court papers filed by an associate, Elliot Pasik, that Rabbi Appleman was “trying to play this court like a fiddle” in order to pull off “an elaborate scam.” He insisted that the board Rabbi Appleman said truly represents the synagogue is actually a “sham” because it is “populated by his family and friends who do not reside in the Syosset area.”
“Rabbi [Appleman] has, quite intentionally, driven this synagogue into the ground, closing it, looting its assets, and behaved like a neighborhood street bully, all in an effort to enrich himself with a $300,000 plus judgment,” Pasik wrote.
Rabbi Appleman said in an interview that he has arranged for the proceeds from the sale of the congregations’ properties to go to 25 different charities and yeshivas.
A bet din or Jewish religious court awarded Rabbi Appleman more than $290,000 in back pay that he said the congregation owed him. A court later affirmed that award in an uncontested proceeding that the objecting residents are now seeking to vacate.
In her papers to the court, Nese said she has been following this dispute for more than two years. At first it concerned allegations that the rabbi improperly leased the synagogue to an outside group and was planning to sell it. To do so or lease it for longer than five years would need her office’s approval.
Nese said she wrote to Rabbi Appleman to tell him of complaints about his “purported misuse or misappropriation of the synagogue property” and the way he was “conducting himself as the rabbi.”
She said also that she is still awaiting information from him that she requested a year ago and that the objecting residents had sought to argue their case before a bet din. When Rabbi Appleman declined, the religious court issued a ruling barring him from selling the congregation’s property.
Rabbi Appelbaum said the proceedings were holding up funds that were eagerly awaited by charitable beneficiaries.
Rabbi Appleman said three different developers want to buy the houses and that “a church wants to buy the synagogue indirectly.” He said the sale price is $2.5 million.
Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, executive director of Lubavitch of Long Island, said his organization is trying to see if there are other area residents interested in saving the congregation.
“They need to get more people on board to convince the court that there are enough people who want it to be a viable congregation,” he said. “We’re trying to help them get their shul back.”
Rabbi Appleman commented on VIN's post about this story:
I'm at email@example.com
Rabbi Sol Appleman
I had no problem selling the Shul to the Chabad of Oyster Bay. In fact, in 2003, I personally contact Rabbi Shmuel Lipsycz of the Town of Oyster Bay Chabad and asked him if he was interested in the Shul. He answered that he was and we had a meeting. He offered $300,000. We turned him down. Besides the "offer" being insulting, the courts would never allow a sum paid for real property of a not for profit religious corp to deviate by more than 10%. Shortly after, The Torah Academy of Long Island signed a lease for 4 years. They tried to build up the school, but a flood and asbestos cleanup ended that dream. After they left in Aug. 2006, I tried to sell the Shul to YU, Chofetz Chaim, Touro and others. No one wanted it. People from The Chabad of OB - the same ones involved here - tried to stop any sale then. However, rather than come up with the fair market value of the building, they wanted to simply take it over by importing chasidim from Crown Heights. I called Tuvia Teldon in March 2007 to ask him to stop them from doing that. He told me that he doesn't get involved in internal disputes in a Shul. He called me before Pesach this year and informed me that he was now getting involved. So I guess he lied to me. Again, had Chabad offered a fair market value, they could have had it. However, I will not stand by and let them steal it. Some of the money will go to pay debts incurred. At least 3/4 of the money will go to institutions that my parents A"H supported their entire lives. Every day that goes by, these institutions are losing money. That is on the head of these 4 imposters, 1 lawyer and Rabbi Teldon.
Chabad has pulled this type of sleazy con dozens of times, from Vilna to Manhattan. It is notorious for this, and the Rebbe when he lived was behind much of it.
Pasik, of course, is either ignorant of or has chosen to disregard that history. More troubling, Pasik's language is abhorrent. Do you have posek who allows this, Elliot? Or do you just get to do this whenever the whim strikes you? (If the latter is true, could you start using the same strong language to describe the gedolim who cover up for Kolko, Margulies, etc? Or are haredi gedolim untouchable?)
Attorneys choose their clients. They also choose what language they use to describe opposing litigants.
In Elliot Pasik's case, both choices appear troubling.
[Hat Tip: Yankel.]