Satmar Charity Is Suing NYC

A Williamsburg charity is suing the city for not getting a tax break in what insiders say is mayoral payback for its rabbi’s role in the circumcision controversy.

The city wrongfully revoked a property-tax exemption of a building owned by the United Jewish Organizations, the group claims in a lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

City officials said they were open to revisiting the issue if UJO filed an appeal of the revocation. But insiders said the city’s move was a sign Mayor de Blasio is displeased with the group’s leader, Rabbi David Niederman, who has tussled with City Hall over the regulation of mohels who practice oral circumcision rites.

In the metzitzah b’peh ritual, the mohel sucks blood from the wound left by the cut foreskin. Several newborns have contracted herpes during the bris ritual.

De Blasio cut a deal with Hasidic leaders in 2015 that would allow the ritual to go on without a consent form as long as the community identified mohels spreading the infection. But the city has been unhappy with the level of cooperation.

“City Hall is pissed at Niederman for his circumcision shenanigans,” said one Jewish leader with ties to both City Hall and Niederman. “They’re not going to help him with any issues, such as the building’s property-tax exemption.”

UJO is converting a property at 500 Bedford Ave., which has been tax exempt since 2001, into a condo. The city said the building’s change in mission disqualified it from an exemption.

“The city never questioned UJO’s December application to renew the exemption before rejecting it in January,” the UJO argued in its filing.

1 reply
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    A Williamsburg charity will sue the City for the latter’s refusal to give it a tax break. The reason is likely related to its rabbi’s move to deregulate circumcisions.

    The United Jewish Organizations will make a push to sue the city as part of a group claim suit filed last Friday in Manhattan Supreme Court. The organizations allege that the city wrongfully revoked a property-tax exemption.

    City officials responded to the lawsuit by stating that they were willing to reexamine the issue if the United Jewish Organizations would file a formal appeal of the revocation. According to the New York Post, the city’s position is born of the fact that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is displeased by leader of the coalition to sue, Rabbi David Niederman, a high-profile leader of the movement to regulate the use of mohels that practice oral circumcision rites.

    The main risk of this sort ritual is that newborns boys that are exposed to it often end up contracting herpes as a result of the met zit pah b’peh ritual, in which the mohel sucks blood from the left by the removed foreskin.

    In March 2017, the city slapped a flimsy $2,000 on mohels that were practicing unsafe circumcision methods. Considering that the average mohel performs 10 circumcisions a week, and that each circumcision costs parents $1,500, the threat of such a paltry penalty is laughable and will do nothing to deter the practice.

    An article in the March Post remarked that the basic problem is a lack of trust and transparency between City officials and ultra-religious and therefore protected Jewish organizations. One mohel commented that “Many ultra-religious individuals are very wary of civil authorities and they won’t really follow what civil authorities are dictating.”

    In 2015, Mayor De Blasio reached a consensus with Hasidic leaders, allowing for the ritual to be practiced without oversight and without the signing of a regulatory consent form, provided that the community had the opportunity to identify the mohels that were the source of the infection. De Blasio has been less than enthused by what he views as a lack of proper response from the Orthodox community.

    “City Hall is pissed at Niederman for his circumcision shenanigans…They’re not going to help him with any issues, such as the building’s property-tax exemption.” one Jewish leader told the Post.

    The suite was precipitated by the United Jewish Organizations desire to convert a property located at 500 Bedford into a condo unit.

    The building has been tax exempt since 2001. The city remarked that the building’s change in mission disqualified it from the exemption.
    The UJO’s claim argues that “The city never questioned UJO’s December application to renew the exemption before rejecting it in January.”

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