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Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Hagler, who is also the president of Bialystoker Synagogue, the largest on the Lower East Side, and Heshy Jacob, manager of East River Housing and head of the UJC and the local Hatzolah, are being sued to the tune of $25 million by a group of synagogue board members over the potential sale of a lucrative piece of real estate next door to the shul.
In the suit, NY landlord Baruch Singer, a shul board member, and former school headmaster and East River Housing co-op president Lenny Greher claim that Hagler and Jacob, as well as the synagogue’s Rav, Rabbi Zvi Romm, and the chairman of its housing fund should not have sold the property at 15-17 Bialystoker Place, based on a 2012 ruling by a Brooklyn Beit Din.
The suit came after the synagogue sold in January a 127-unit low income senior housing building it co-owns together with the UJC on an adjacent lot for $28 million.
A source in the synagogue has told The Jewish Press that the proceeds from the property sale may only be used to create new affordable housing for seniors, and not—as they had been hoping—to cover the synagogue’s financial needs.
Our source pointed out that when the membership was asked to approve the sale, they were not told about this stipulation. But another source claims the limit had been spelled out.
Another source has told The Jewish Press that Justice Hagler’s name is going to be removed from the suit this Monday.
Hagler took over as shul president from Jacob Goldman, president of LoHo, a local real estate firm.
Baruch Singer is the son of the Bialystoker’s former Rav, Rabbi Yitzchok Singer z”l, who was involved in developing the property which is being fought over.
The lawsuit has been causing some strife and a lot of awkwardness on Grand Street, where the religious Jewish community is concentrated in about ten high-rise residential towers.
The latter source has told the Jewish Press that the next battle is going to be over the sale of the synagogue’s air rights to developers.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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