Youtube screenshot of Satmar yeshiva in Chabad shul in Seagate, NY.
(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
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.
The legal team hired by the shluchim believes that the synagogue and shluchim will win in court when the case is heard, but that can take some time.
The shluchim and community members published a video to ask for donations. In the video, many of the community members expressed shock at the situation.
“I feel violated. Like someone breaking into your own home, that’s how I feel,” said one community member.
“Our congregants are shocked, devastated, hurt and surprised that people who call themselves Jews, can actually with a straight face, go into court and say what they are saying,” said Rabbi Brikman.
“You are helping us to get back our home, to get back a place that every single child, adult, senior, mother, father and teenager knows – that belongs to them,” said Rebbetzin Brikman in a plea for financial help and support during the legal battle.
The shluchim have turned to the Chabad Lubavitch community and fellow shluchim to help them cover legal fees. A website, CrisisInSeagate.com, has been set up to receive donations.
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