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The Forward: “Bialystoker Closing Under a Cloud”

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Here’s the headline in the new issue of The Forward: “Venerable Bialystoker Home Closing Under a Cloud: Sale of Lower East Side Building to Board Chief Raises Eyebrows.”  The article breaks some new ground not already reported here and elsewhere. But as you would expect from The Forward, the piece also offers good historical context, explaining what the nursing home has meant to this storied neighborhood.

Reporter Josh Nathan-Kazis writes:

The Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, founded 80 years ago by immigrants from the Polish town of Bialystok, plans to shut its doors by October 28, ending its presence history as a vibrant forcecentral institution in the lives of generations of Jewish immigrants and their descendents… Construction on the home was beguan in 1923 by an umbrella organization of benevolent societies, known in Yiddish as landsmanschaftn, formed by Jewish immigrants from the Polish city of Bialystok., known in Yiddish as landsmanschaften… Originally, the East Broadway building was to function as a community center, to be used for holding dinners and dances. That changed in 1926, when communal leadership determined that the still-uncompleted building would be used primarily as a nursing home. But the Bialystoker Center continued to fulfill a social function for decades, both as a networking tool for new immigrants and as a way for them to maintain ties forged in the Old Country.

Recent news coverage has focused on the sale of an office building owned by the home to Board Chairman Ira Meister. The Forward reports that another board member, Aaron Shmulewitz, was Meister’s legal counsel for the deal.  One observer told the newspaper the sale “raises serious questions about mismangaement:

“If it doesn’t raise a red flag, it’s at least an orange flag,” said Dan Kurtz, former head of the charities bureau of the New York State Attorney General’s office, which regulates non-profits like the Bialystoker Center. It’s “not per se illegal, but it raises questions,” Kurtz said. “…Frankly, it’s odd for a board member to represent a buyer when he’s a member of the board.”

Board member Barry Winston calls the sale a last ditch effort to save Bialystoker.  As for the shuttering of the nursing home, he said,  ““We’re not in a position financially to support a healthcare institution… It’s a building not designed for the modern high- cost medical reality.”   Once the home is closed and the building sold, Winston explained, the Bialystoker Center would function as a private foundation, dnating money left after debts are repaid to other charities.

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  1. It’s called Board Member helping Board Member Do things = Conflict of interest to achieve the  Self-Dealing in the purchase of the 232 property.
    Pals helping each other out, Disposes the sick and Infirm & EVICTING the elderly, no matter how you say it, ” A rose by any other name”.They say no one is going to make a profit off this deal? Well It would be too late to see where the monies go when the building has already been demolished.

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