A Jewish group associated with the Kars4Kids charity is trying to wrest a Staten Island synagogue away from its congregation, the synagogue’s members charge.
Oorah Inc., which is funded by Kars4Kids, claims in a lawsuit that the Young Israel of Eltingville synagogue owes it $1 million, a sum the congregation says it can’t afford to pay.
“It’s so infuriating and so incomprehensible,” said Harriet Goldman, a Young Israel member since the 1970s. “Why would they try to do this to us when their main emphasis is on Jewish outreach?”
The problems began in 2007 when Young Israel synagogue founder Sidney Stadler reached a secret deal to add Oorah to the synagogue’s deed in exchange for $250,000, legal papers charge.
Stadler pocketed most of the cash, saying it was repayment for loans he made to Young Israel, court papers say.
Oorah sought the arrangement to obtain a foothold on Staten Island. It wanted space in the Young Israel building to operate a preschool and hold classes for adults.
Oorah renovated the synagogue building and, for some of that work, it hired a company that Stadler partly owned.
The situation soured in 2013 when Oorah wanted to turn the sanctuary where Young Israel members worshipped into classroom space.
The matter went into arbitration before a religious court known as a “beit din.” It ruled in 2015 that Young Israel owed $1 million. The dispute is now in state Supreme Court in Staten Island.
Synagogue members say Stadler had no authority to make the 2007 deal changing its deed. They also say Stadler had no authority to enter into arbitration with Oorah on their behalf.
Young Israel president Max Robek called the situation “horrendous.”
“Oorah says we owe them $1 million. I have no idea how they arrived at that amount,” he told The Post.
Stadler would not comment. Oorah’s lawyer also declined comment.
In the meantime, the Kars4Kids music ad continues to jingle on radio and TV. Kars4Kids raises money by accepting donations of cars and real estate and then selling them.
The charity took in $34.7 million worth of cars and land in 2014 and spent $14 million on ads promoting its “1-877” phone number, public records show. Another $2.2 million went to salaries.
The largest chunk of Kars4Kids’ grant money — $12.6 million in 2014 — goes to Oorah. The groups share the same Lakewood, NJ, address and have the same president, Eliyohu Mintz. The groups pay for summer camps, schools and other programs for Jewish children and families.
Kars4Kids also gives small grants of less than $2,000 to other nonprofits such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.