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A Chabad synagogue in Seagate, New York is under attack by a yeshiva connected to the Satmar Hassidic group, which was renting a space in the synagogue, according to CrownHeights.info.
Rabbi Chaim and Rivky Brikman, two Chabad shluchim (emissaries), were hired as the rabbi and rebbetzin (Rabbi’s wife) of Congregation Kneses Israel of Seagate 28 years ago. The Brikmans founded a Hebrew school, adult education classes and programs for youths, teens and seniors.
Eleven years ago, they were approached by the United Talmudical Academy (UTA), a Satmar Yeshiva from Borough Park that wanted to rent space in the building next to the main synagogue.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed the lower level of the synagogue, and then an electrical fire caused even more damage and left the community without a building or a place to pray.
The Chabad congregation decided not to renew their tenant’s lease since their building had been destroyed. The Satmar Yeshiva verbally agreed to vacate the building at the end of the school year, but then reneged on the agreement and fabricated a lawsuit against the synagogue. This was only the first step in an alleged series of deceit trying to bankrupt the synagogue and to initiate a hostile takeover of the synagogue’s property.
“We have no space in our shul [synagogue]. We’re physically locked out of our building.” Rebbetzin Brikman said in a video published to collect donations for the synagogue. “We have a tenant there who is just playing the system and refuses to leave.”
The yeshiva allegedly fabricated serious accusations against the shluchim and local community members, according to CrownHeights.info. UTA hired armed guards to stand in front of the synagogue to prevent community members from entering.
The group even insisted that the judge order the arrest of Rabbi Chaim Brikman because he hosted a Shabbat Kiddush in the building.
The yeshiva is allegedly attempting to draw out the proceedings in order to exhaust the community’s resources.
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CHABAD OF SEAGATE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
MENACHEM & DINI GUREVITCH
MORDECHAI & ZISSY NAGEL
DR. ARTHUR VAYNER
BEREL & BREINDY GANSBOURG
JOSEPH & CHAYA WOLHENDLER
ANONYMOUS FRIEND FROM MONTREAL
ANONYMOUS GROUP OF SHLUCHIM
HOW IT WORKS
For the next 10 hours, every dollar you give to Chabad of Seagate will be matched by extraordinary benefactors to reach our goal of $300,000!
EVERY YOU GIVE TO =
- 54 DOLLARS x 2 = 108 DOLLARS
- 100 DOLLARS x 2 = 200 DOLLARS
- 180 DOLLARS x 2 = 360 DOLLARS
- 500 DOLLARS x 2 = 1,000 DOLLARS
- 1000 DOLLARS x 2 = 2,000 DOLLARS
- 1800 DOLLARS x 2 = 3,600 DOLLARS
ABOUT THE CAUSE
Twenty-eight years ago, Rabbi Chaim and Rivka Brikman were hired as the rabbi and rebbetzin of Congregation Kneses Israel of Seagate, a synagogue with a storied past dating to 1924. The synagogue had always prided itself on being a place in which every Jewish resident of Seagate would feel at home, so the Brikmans’ Chabad philosophy of warmth and outreach to every Jew was a natural fit. In keeping with their mission––they are shluchim, emissaries of The Lubavitcher Rebbe––the Brikmans founded a Hebrew school that has provided an authentic and state-of-the-art Jewish education to generations of Seagate children, and they created programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors, transforming what was a relatively small Jewish community into one that is vibrant and brimming with Jewish pride.
Eleven years ago, because their synagogue building sufficed for the congregation’s needs at the time, the congregation rented their adjacent building to a Satmar school, UTA of Boro Park. As the community grew, however, the congregation needed the space for all their ongoing services and programs, and chose not to renew their tenant’s lease on the school building after it expired. While verbally agreeing to vacate at the end of the school year, the tenants reneged on the agreement, fabricating a lawsuit against the synagogue––the first step in what would become a pattern of deceit by the erstwhile tenants. A court settlement required UTA to vacate the premises at the end of the following year, but they flouted the court order and brought a new lawsuit challenging the congregation’s right to its own synagogue. They teamed up with a former president of the synagogue, who had been voted out by an overwhelming majority.
In the past few months, UTA (Gary Schlesinger) hired armed guards to station themselves in front of the synagogue to stop community members from entering it, restricting the community’s use of its own building. They went as far as to insist in court that Rabbi Brikman should be arrested for hosting a Shabbos Kiddush in the building. They are well aware that their fabricated allegations will not hold up in court, and so they have engaged in delaying tactics––actions clearly intended to push off their inevitable defeat in court––hoping to exhaust the community’s resources through the legal proceedings.
The legal team is confident that Kneses Israel/Chabad will win in court as soon as the case is heard. Now, Chabad is turning to you to help cover the legal fees.
The community has shown its resilience in the face of adversity time and again. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed the lower level of the synagogue, they moved upstairs and soldiered on. Recently, an electrical fire wrought havoc in the upper level, forcing the community out, and the hundreds of Jewish families who enjoy services, events, and programs at Kneses Israel are currently without a building and a place to call their own. With your help, the Seagate community will once again overcome adversity, and continue to grow together as a community in our beautiful synagogue.
Friends of Rabbi Chaim Brikman
Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi and head Shliach of Russia
Rabbi Boruch Hertz, Rov Kehilas Chabad, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Chaim Meir Lieberman, Lubavitch Youth Organization, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Osher Vaisfish, Chabad of Huntington, NY
Rabbi Shimon Posner, Chabad of Rancho Mirage, CA
Rabbi Yochanan Marozov, Rov Kehilas Chabad, Flatbush, NY
Rabbi Yossi Paltiel, Mashpia Yeshivas Chovevei Torah, Brooklyn, NY
Community Campaign members
Twenty-eight years ago, the Rebbe’s Shluchim to Seagate, NY Rabbi Chaim and Rivky Brikman, were hired as the rabbi and rebbetzin of Congregation Kneses Israel of Seagate, a synagogue with a storied past dating to 1924.
The shul had always prided itself on being a place in which every Jewish resident of Seagate would feel at home, so the Brikmans’ Chabad philosophy of warmth and outreach to every Jew was a natural fit.
In keeping with their mission––as shluchim of the Rebbe––the Brikmans founded a Hebrew school, adult education classes, programs for youth, teen and seniors, transforming what was a relatively small Jewish community into one that is vibrant and brimming with Jewish pride.
Eleven years ago, they were approached by a Satmar Yeshiva from Boro Park to rent space in the building adjacent to the main shul. Because the shul building sufficed for the congregation’s needs at the time, they rented the space to them.
Then came Hurricane Sandy and destroyed the lower level of the synagogue. Recently, an electrical fire wrought havoc and forced the community out, leaving hundreds of Jewish families without a building and a place to daven.
Left without a home, the congregation chose not to renew their tenant’s lease on the school building after it expired. While verbally agreeing to vacate at the end of the school year, the Satmar Yeshiva reneged on the agreement, fabricating a lawsuit against the shul, the first step in what would become a pattern of deceit trying to bankrupt the shul and initializing a hostile takeover of the shul’s property.
They have fabricated horrific accusations against the Shliach and Shlucha as well as the local community members. UTA of Boro Park, hired armed guards to station themselves in front of the shul to stop community members from entering. They even went as far to insist that the judge order the Shliach Rabbi Chaim Brikman be arrested for hosting a Shabbos Kiddush in the building.
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Does New York City — with its once-unimaginable record-low crime rates — still need private (but city-funded) citizen-patrol groups?
The question became more pressing with the arrest Thursday of Jacob Daskal, politically wired president and co-founder of the Boro Park Shomrim, on charges he repeatedly raped a 15-year-old girl over a period of months in his home.
It’s not the Brooklyn group’s first brush with the law, either.
Last year, Shomrim official Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein was sentenced to 32 months in prison for bribing cops on a regular basis to get hard-to-obtain full-carry handgun permits for paying clients, including some with criminal records.
The group itself has been accused of violently beating suspects it apprehends. And Daskal reportedly was able to arrange for Orthodox Jews arrested for minor crimes to avoid being booked through the system.
Shomrim faced a round of criticism — including from then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly — in 2011 when it waited three hours before notifying the NYPD of the disappearance of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, who was later found murdered.
Yes, it can be useful for police to establish a rapport with local residents, especially in a community as insular as Borough Park. And a citizen patrol can be an asset in discouraging graffiti and vandalism.
But the Boro Park Shomrim were born during the out-of-control crime wave of the pre-Giuliani era. And those days thankfully are long over.
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Detective Joe Vitella, the Longtime Community Affairs Liaison at the 66th Retires and Borough Park’s Satmar Offer a Celebration
Det. Joe Vitella, the longtime community affairs liaison at the 66th Precinct, retired today after 27 years in the NYPD
Detective Joe Vitella has been credited with taking down Shaya Lichtenstein, the Shomrim member who pleaded guilty in a gun-permit scandal. Vitella had been asked to testify in the trial of former Deputy Inspector James Grant who was ultimately acquitted. https://nypost.com/2018/04/26/feds-want-cop-in-bribe-string-to-testify-at-nypd-trial/. Vitella himself was not implicated and we make absolutely no suggestion that he should have been.
He has retired with a string of laudatory credits to his name. But the majority of his praise comes from the Satmar community covered by that precinct.
For us, what remains disturbing is the gray area that characterizes the lines drawn between the police department, the community boards and the Shomrim of Borough Park.
We are concerned lest a private community be favored by a police department, not in how that department protects its precinct but in how they handle the badly behaved within that precinct.
We fear that it may be the roosters running the hen-house and wonder why the Borough Park papers offered Vitella praise in painstaking detail but his retirement is really not mentioned elsewhere. We begrudge Retired Detective Joe Vitella nothing. Mazel Tov on your retirment.
We do ask, who is running whom within the walls of that community and the doors of that precinct.