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Worcester, Mass. Yeshiva Seized by IRS Up for Auction as Illustrious Long-Time Leader Takes Ill

Over the past ten years, the IRS has been unable to get the yeshiva to turn over payroll taxes for its 30 or so employees.
Rabbi Herschel Fogelman

Rabbi Herschel Fogelman

The Internal Revenue Service has seized the building that houses the Worcester, Mass. Yeshiva Achei Tmimim Academy at 22 Newton Ave., a co-ed school serving 105 students grades PK-12. A notice on the building says the seizure is for “nonpayment of internal revenue taxes,” the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports.

According to the IRS and the Worcester County Registry of Deeds, the yeshiva owes $435,235.31 in federal taxes, dating back to 2004, mostly payroll taxes.

Over the past ten years, the IRS has been unable to get the yeshiva to turn over payroll taxes for its 30 or so employees.

A public auction of the seized property scheduled for December has been rescheduled to Jan. 4, according to the IRS auction website. The bidding will start at $472,000.

According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, “things appear as normal at Yeshiva” despite the seizure, and both the Hebrew school and the adjoining synagogue continue to operate. The IRS is yet to try and force the school out of its home. But all that would change if the sale goes through next month.

The Worcester yeshiva has been run for many decades by 90-year-old Rabbi Herschel Fogelman, a Lubavitch emissary and a well known and loved figure in Worcester, who is staying at the local Jewish Healthcare Center. His son, Rabbi Mendel Fogelman, told the Telegram & Gazette that he had no comment.

The IRS in Boston had no comment either, “due to Section 6103, privacy and disclosure laws.”

The school also owes the city of Worcester $8,523.78 in property taxes, $12,399 in water and sewer charges, $10,461 to a company called Acme Pre-Pak Corp., $31,400 to National Grid, the electric and gas provider, and $25,000 on a 2001 mortgage with Commerce Bank & Trust.

Reporter Aaron Nicodemus mused on how “every major Jewish holiday the Telegram & Gazette’s newsroom gets a call from Rabbi Fogelman, who seeks to discuss the meaning behind that particular religious event and remind us of the need for news coverage. In the past, he would show up unannounced and insist on an audience with a reporter, and he usually found one. Rabbi Fogelman called the newsroom several weeks ago to discuss Hanukkah.”

A Chabad Magazine story recalls interactions between Rabbi Herschel Fogelman and the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, having to do with a friend of Lubavitch in Boston. Warning: the story involves getting a guy to put on tefilin.

According to Nicodemus, last year, Commerce Bank & Trust foreclosed on the school dormitory building at 9 Midland St. Then the same property was purchased by Steve Gaval, a longtime member of Yeshiva Achei Tmimim, for $61,000.

A solution emerging, perhaps?

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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7 Responses to “Worcester, Mass. Yeshiva Seized by IRS Up for Auction as Illustrious Long-Time Leader Takes Ill”

  1. Rc Fowler says:

    I doubt they would do this with a mosque!

  2. Rc Fowler says:

    I doubt they would do this with a mosque!

  3. Roc Diaz says:

    sounds like they were running on fumes for a long time, they got the most out of it that they could, its time to come to israel and give it another shot rabbi!

  4. Hadar Israel says:

    If that is true, it is a MAJOR CHILLUL HASHEM.
    In fact, "דינא דמלכותא דינא", that is "the law of the land is the law", applies FIRST AND FOREMOST – some say exclusively those laws – to דיני ממונות, that is commercial and tributary laws.

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    The IRS doesn't discriminate.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    While there is dispute as to the extent of דינא דמלכותא דינא, the original discussion in the Talmud Bavli specifically was about paying taxes. The ruling there is that it is a chiyuv to pay taxes and every halachic authority since then has ruled thus. There is also no question that one must pay ones suppliers and ones debts.

  7. Hadar Israel says:

    Exactly as I was saying. The principle doesn't apply in Erets Israel. It doesn't also apply anywhere else in case of 'Avodah Zarah, Ghiluy 'Arayoth and Retsach. It certainly DOES apply in the case of taxes in the US, where there is no government endorsement of 'Avodah Zarah, Ghiluy 'Arayoth or Retsach.

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