“We are devastated by today’s Appellate Division decision to deny an ‘Interim Stay of Eviction’ and not allow our 67 year old synagogue to plead on behalf of the only spiritual home we have ever known. The court most certainly did not take into full account our historic, legal, equitable and moral rights to this building, as well as the fact that we have been trying to work this out to the best of our abilities,” said an angry and saddened, Richard McBee, president of the Lower Manhattan synagogue.
This morning, on the Sabbath eve, McBee found a “Final Eviction Notice” taped to the synagogue’s doors demanding that the Congregation move out all of its Torah scrolls, prayer books, assorted religious articles, extensive library, furniture, and accumulated memories by Wednesday, January 16.
At the heart of the dispute between the Sixteenth Street Synagogue and developer/investor Jack Braha, on behalf of the Braha Family, is the commitment that Braha made to recognize the Synagogue as a co-owner of the building when the Braha family purchased it to develop the upper floors as apartments. The synagogue’s has always asserted that it has had an equitable 1/3 ownership since 1945.
“Our synagogue and our community are a vibrant factor in New York’s Jewish life. This Shabbat we are hosting Gary Rosenblatt, the Editor and Publisher of The Jewish Week newspaper, as a Scholar-in-Residence, and we anticipate a Standing Room Only crowd, a testimony to our collective energy,” said McBee.
“Even as we pursued this matter through the court system, we were still making every effort to reach a reasonable agreement with Mr. Braha. I don’t know how he or his family can look at themselves in the mirror. For Traditional Jews to do this to an active community synagogue is beyond comprehension,” added McBee.
“Nonetheless, even though this eviction hangs over us, it won’t deter us from meeting the needs of our community. The Sixteenth Street Synagogue will continue to serve as a resource for Jewish scholarship and as an outlet for spiritual and community interaction.”