Staten Island, NY – Hoping To Save Sanctuary, SI Synagogue Sues Oorah

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    Staten Island, NY – A nine year old partnership between a New Jersey based outreach organization and a Staten Island synagogue is headed for the courtroom, one year after a beis din issued a ruling on the matter.

    The dispute between the Lakewood-based Oorah and the Young Israel of Eltingville in Staten Island stems from an arrangement made in 2007.

    According to court papers, Sid Stadler, acting on behalf of the Young Israel, agreed to give Oorah sole ownership of title and the deed to the property in exchange for $250,000. The arrangement gave the Young Israel the ability to hold services at the synagogue for as long as the shul continued to hold regular minyanim on Shabbos and Jewish holidays, as well as giving the Young Israel access to other areas for certain events.

    The Young Israel also agreed to accept Rabbi Chaim Mintz, founder of Oorah and father of the organization’s CEO, Rabbi Eliyahu Mintz, as an arbitrator in any potential problems.

    Over the next several years, Oorah made substantial renovations to the property which became home to its Torah Spot Learning Center and the Little Stars Preschool, but in 2013, Oorah decided to convert the synagogue’s sanctuary into a classroom, leaving worshippers relegated to a classroom for religious services, an option that members felt would have been a death blow to the Young Israel.

    Hoping to reach a mutually amenable resolution, Stadler and Oorah agreed to go to a beis din which ultimately ruled in Oorah’s favor, saying that the Young Israel owed the organization $1 million.

    That judgment prompted the synagogue to file a suit against Oorah in Richmond County State Supreme Court, asking the court to vacate the beis din’s arbitration award. The lawsuit alleged that Stadler was never officially elected president of the synagogue and that even a legally appointed president would not have had the authority to make the agreement with Oorah without the approval of the synagogue’s board of directors.

    The lawsuit further charges that the sale of the property was invalid because it lacked the necessary approvals by the attorney general as required by state law in the sale of any real property by a non-profit corporation.

    In a VIN News interview, Stadler described the entire chain of events as a “heartbreaking situation.”

    Stadler said that dwindling membership and a dire financial situation had him looking for partners to keep the synagogue afloat in 2007. The Young Israel took in a kollel and entered into an arrangement with long time friend, Rabbi Chaim Mintz, the former dean of a Staten Island yeshiva.

    “It was the perfect situation,” Stadler told VIN News. “They were bringing unaffiliated people in for the Torah Spot and some live here now and are part of the community. But he decided the building wasn’t enough. He wants to turn the shul, a makom kodesh, into a classroom.”

    Stadler, whose name appears on the synagogue’s official stationery as the Young Israel’s president, said he cannot understand what would possess Oorah to close a synagogue that has a minyan every Shabbos and yom tov.

    “Jewish blood doesn’t shut down a shul,” said Stadler.

    A spokesperson for Oorah declined to publicly comment on the matter.

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    44 COMMENTS

    1. Not surprising. Oorah in the name of kiruv tends to do these things. It is known as the worse place to work for years. Before you come work there for a measly $15 an hour on emust sign their life away and agree to never take them to a din torah. They have all types of rules and regulations unprecedented by any other business or organization. They are very sneaky people.

    2. The facts of this broigas are in dispute and illustrate exactly why you need to retain the option of access to a secular court to resolve these kinds of issues. Some of the great gadolim of our age, including the two Satmar rabbonim shlita, have shown it is OK to use secular courts to resolve complex commercial and fact-finding matters that a din torah is very unsuited to resolve

    3. Oorah has a long record of settling fraud and financial mismanagement suits brought by states Attorneys General…this just adds to the chillul Hashem. Sad.

    4. Your article is an example of poor journalism. It omits any comments by or interviews with Young Israel members opposed to Stadler…which were published in detail in the NY Jewish Week story in their July 1st edition.

      In doing so, you present only part of the story; you leave your readers in the dark about how secretive the Stadler/Oorah deal seems to have been, about the law suit’s substance, and about the conflict of interest allegations against the Mintz father/son duo.

    5. Somebody please explain : I might be missing something. How did yi only receive 250000 from oorah , and now that they can’t use the shul anymore YI is the one that has to give back 1 million to oorah . MIDAS SIDOM ? Or I missed the point ?

      • Of course you are missing the point.

        Apparently the organization spent way more than just the initial $250,000.

        If you look at the article, the YI is not even contesting the amount of $1,000,000.

        I would think that the midas sdom is the YI not keeping to its words regarding the sale it made.

        • please explain the “Apparently the organization spent way more than just the initial $250,000” if oorah owned the building y should yi pay for renovations that benefit themselves , especially when yi cant even use it. again unless we are ssing the main part of the argument

          • Who said renovations? I am sure there were mortgages that were paid by Oorah as well.

            Court records are clear.

            The YI was using the building all along.

            • From what I understand part of the deal was yi should be able to use it without any sort of payment. And the renovations that oorah made to benefit themselves ( look at comment thread ) shouldn’t have to be paid by yi. Unless that was the deal , but it doesn’t state so in the article

    6. Oorah spends enormous amount of money on adverstising, I think that alone makes me not want to give them, now definitely. The Young Israel movement is dying left and right, even the flagship YI of Flatbush has maybe 40 men on Shabbos. I guess saying a tefilla for Obama and the medina doesn’t attract a big crowd nowadays.

    7. So let me understand this. Oorah legally purchases the property from the president of the Congregation. The contract stipulates that if there are no minyonim then Oorah may convert the building as to their liking. They go in front of a mutually pre-agreed arbitrator. The arbitrator rules like Oorah and now the Shul is upset. The shuls sole claim is that the president wasn’t authorized or that it lacked the attorney generals approval. It doesn’t claim anywhere breach of contract. So again, please explain why Oorah is wrong. Oh, Oorah should be nice and forget about the contract or the sale? You took $250,000 from them for that sale. What about that?

      • you say no minyonim
        schedule ..
        erev shabbos mincha marriv.. 40 people show up.
        update.. to not knowing
        shabbos morning 20 people show up
        shabbos afternoon shiurim for children..about 10-15 show up
        2 separate shiurim for men and women..giving by our two kollels
        mincha followed by a sumptuous .shalos seuda
        marriv..15 people show up keep 72 min…
        Sunday morning 8 am minyan..about 20 people show up
        rabbi goldman’s Gemara shiur from YSI for over 30 years every monday night at 8 pm(come one ..come all)
        every day shiurim and learning by our kollels and our yeshiva bochurim
        achron achron chaviv
        rwo beautiful clean mikvas one for women with separate enttrance
        and mens mikva ..used everyday by the kollel, bochrim and all different shuls on staten island
        Chazak to all and to YIE bli ayin hora.. going into the 43rd year.. kain yibu

      • A) If Oorah would buy the rights for the shul from the genitor of the Shul – would it be a legal sale?
        Did the board sign on it?
        That’s a question.
        B) why would the people who work for or own the Oorah be those who decide when there is a disagreement?
        It should be 3 party that has no negios at all.
        C) if someone would come to your neighborhood and legally bought a last small Shul where people daven, and then kick those people out legally – it doesn’t look right to me.
        It’s not how the kiruv should be done!

    8. “I guess saying a tefilla for…medina doesn’t attract a big crowd nowadays.” It’s said in just about all Orthodox shuls in the world, my friend. Get out of your Chareidi foxhole and smell the coffee.

    9. Obviously, there is much more to this story than what is reported… In my dealings with Oorah, there is nothing sneaky about the people (by anonymous) or their motives (implied by yonasonw). Personally, I have benefited by their generosity, inspiration and motivation to be a better person, father and Jew!

      • Go work for them and see their terms of contract compared to other businesses in town. Its a well known fact that unless a lady wants to sign her life away you don’t work for Oorah.

    10. Many of these “kiruv” organizations have a very limited view of kiruv. If you don’t fit into their desired demographics, well then you just don’t count. Here we have the perfect example.

    11. still taiku.. If you cant make a mishibayrach for the medina at least make a mishibayrach for my nephews and the hundreds of other frum boys that are shomer Torah and mitzvas, quite learned, real jew lovers, and BH living with their wonderful families where a jew should live.

    12. OK, so here’s the missing piece of the puzzle! Just spoke to a community member. You know who this “bais din” was? 3 “Rabbis” paid entirely by Oorah, “because the shul couldn’t afford it” ($2300 each, per sitting). Several reknown Rabbonim have told the shul members that the findings of this “Fievish” crew were null and void, even without the fact that the (former) President signed an arbitration agreement.
      That explains us why a million. Because the Feivish crew asked Oorah how much they want and they said a million. When asked why they submitted papers listing their gas/electric/maintenance charges for several years, but remembering where their bread was buttered, these “Rabbis” didn’t even bother reading the papers!
      The real reason for Oorah’s abhorrent behavior, aside from the obvious love of winning, is frustration! Yes, frustration! They opened 3 programs in the building, and 8 years later, there are: less than 20 kids COLLECTIVELY in all 3 classes of Littlestar (can you figure out why they needed to build classrooms in the Shul?), they need to bus in frum girls to attend the Tuesday night shiur to fill the room for the picture (I think they bait them with food, like fish

    13. 43, The Shul elected president signs a contract – but he wasn’t authorized to. The arbitrator listed on the contract that was pre-agreed to by both parties was Biased. The Beis Din that you elected to hear the case was paid off. It seems that anyone and everyone that doesn’t give you the verdict you want is being paid off. I guess if it goes to court and they rule against the shul, you will find something wrong with them.

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