In a “Hail Mary” move, a New York Supreme Court judge has temporarily blocked the sale of a Jewish non profit building on the Lower East Side one of the hottest real estate markets in town for $13 million to developer Peter Fine.
Worshippers at a synagogue at 25 Bialystoker Place, known as the Home of the Sages of Israel, are heartily objecting to the fact that the building is in contract to be sold without their knowledge or permission.
The deal was approved by a new “board” made up of men outside Manhattan who do not worship at the synagogue.
Part of the proceeds from the deal — $3 million — will go to the synagogue’s president, Rabbi Samuel Aschkenazi who does not worship on the Lower East Side but instead operates a “synagogue” out of the garage that is part of his home in Queens, at 82-61 Beverly Road in Kew Gardens.
In addition, $10 million of the proceeds from the sale were set to go to Ger, a right wing sect in Israel that has nothing to do with the Lower East Side folks who worship at the synagogue.
The Lower East Siders also say they can’t worship daily in the rabbi’s garage in Queens — it is too far and they can’t drive there during Shabbat, which occurs every Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown each week. In addition, their Lower East Side synagogue is the only one that is wheel chair accessible.
On Friday, Supreme Court Judge Geoffrey Wright said he will stop the sale until it is determined who is on the board and whether or not the proposed sale was “properly approved.”
“The sale can’t go forward until we take the testimony of ten people from Brooklyn who say they are on the board — at other times they say they are trustees and we find out more about who this ultra right wing sect is that is getting $10 million from the sale. I look forward to having them raise their right hands and try to explain this. It’s outrageous,” said lawyer David Jaroslawicz.
“There was a one in a million chance that a supreme court judge would make this ruling. It’s a big deal,” a real estate source said.
The Home of the Sages is beside the landmarked Bialystoker Synagogue, where disgraced ex-assembly speaker Sheldon Silver worships.
Fine is also in contract to buy he synagogue’s air rights and another property adjacent to the synagogue in another controversial deal, as the Post previously reported.
The Attorney General’s office, which looks at non-profit land deals, initially did not object to the sale but then withdrew its non objection.
At press time, the AG’s office did not say whether or not they were “actively investigating” the proposed sale.