The Chairman of the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky (also the last surviving secretary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory), this week hailed the recent decision by the Kings County Surrogate’s Court on the question of who has final authority over the iconic building at “770” Eastern Parkway, in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, Lubavitch.com reported.
Merkos is the central educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement, which include The Shluchim Office, The National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education, Kehot Publication Society, the Central Chabad Lubavitch Library and Chabad.org, among numerous others.
Rabbi Krinsky serves as Chairman of the Board of Merkos, and Rabbi Avraham Shemtov serves as Chairman of the Board of Aguch. Both were appointed by the Rebbe.
Justice Harriet L. Thompson ruled on April 25, 2020 for the Court that the authority over “770,” and specifically its main synagogue, belongs to the official institutions that the Rebbe appointed for Lubavitch World Headquarters, and is to be run by Agudas Chassidei Chabad (Aguch) and Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the central organizations of the movement, according to COLlive.com.
The two organizations had argued that “Congregation Lubavitch Inc.” – run by a group of gabboim – was not authorized to seize control over the synagogue.
In her verdict (read the full verdict here) the Hon. Judge Harriet L. Thompson wrote clearly, “This Court has the legal obligation to enforce the bylaws, religious corporation law and subsequent amendments to their contents.
Judge Thompson was also clear about who owned the property and who granted authority to others in managing and running it. “Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson determined the power and authority granted to the owners of these properties, not this Court,” she wrote. “His intentions and only his intentions were made clear by granting full authority to the owners, through Boards of Trustees.”
In addition, the Judge wrote, “It is also clear to this Court that the Grand Rebbe was a brilliant man, full of wisdom, discernment and prophetic. The evidence supports the conclusion of this Court that the corporate structure of both corporations [Agudas Chassidei Chabad and Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch] was the legal mechanism that the Rebbe, with the assistance of competent counsel, conceived to maintain control and possession of all the properties including the control of the Synagogue. The Rebbe had foresight beyond his years.”
Rabbi Krinsky welcomed the verdict in a statement released Monday, in which he said the movement’s World Headquarters was ‘gratified by the decision’ that was handed down by the civil court to its ‘rightful owners.’
The rabbi explained that Chabad had sought action in the court against “certain individuals” who he said had defaced a plaque on the outside of the main building that commemorated the laying of the cornerstone for the synagogue by the Rebbe. The plaque, explained Rabbi Krinsky, ‘referred to the Rebbe in Hebrew terms transcribed in English as “of blessed memory”.’ He went on to say the vandals were subsequently joined by the ‘so-called Gabboim,’ who have been engaged in a power struggle against Aguch and Merkos for control over the entire building at “770” – including the synagogue.