Lawsuit Against Bialystoker Synagogue is Dropped

The Jewish Press reports that a lawsuit dividing members of the Bialystoker Synagogue has been withdrawn.

15-17 Bialystoker Place.

15-17 Bialystoker Place.

The suit filed by board members Baruch Singer and Lenny Greher followed the sale of the Orenstein senior building for $28 million last year.  It named Shlomo Hagler, board president and a state Supreme Court judge; as well as Heshy Jacob, head of the United Jewish Council, and Rabbi Zvi Romm.  Now the newspaper reports a “notice of discontinuance” was filed yesterday by the plaintiffs, ending the dispute.

The disagreement stemmed from a requirement by the New York State Attorney General that the profits from the sale by funneled back into new affordable housing in New York.  Some synagogue members wanted the money to help pay for much-needed maintenance and other improvements to the landmarked shul.  The controversy at the Lower East Side’s largest remaining synagogue (which includes among its members Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver) did not sit well within the insular Jewish community.  The Jewish Press explains:

The concern of community leaders throughout the process was not the outcome of the lawsuit, but the “chilul hashem” – a term that means literally the desecration of God, but is often used to describe in-fighting which makes a Jewish community look bad. Having just emerged from several years of economic hardship, the last thing the Orthodox Jewish community of the Lower East Side needed was a rift among its most influential members. And so a great deal of pressure was applied in recent days, to bring the peace back to the congregation, the largest in the neighborhood.

As we reported the other day, the senior home was sold to Ruby Schron, one of New York’s biggest developers, and his family.  An agreement between the parties requires Schron’s company, Cammeby’s International, to operate the senior home for at least 30 years before redevelopment can occur.

The concern of community leaders throughout the process was not the outcome of the lawsuit, but the “chilul hashem” – a term that means literally the desecration of God, but is often used to describe in-fighting which makes a Jewish community look bad. Having just emerged from several years of economic hardship, the last thing the Orthodox Jewish community of the Lower East Side needed was a rift among its most influential members. And so a great deal of pressure was applied in recent days, to bring the peace back to the congregation, the largest in the neighborhood.