Conservative Jewish congregants in Sharon, Massachusetts, are suing the local Chabad, alleging its members infiltrated their leadership in a bid to take control of their synagogue and its assets.
The case filed by members of Temple Adath Sharon will be heard Monday in Norfolk County Superior Court, The Jewish Advocate, a Boston weekly newspaper, reported.
The lawsuit, filed in November 2015, accuses Chabad of Sharon of “encouraging its members” and “actively participating” to “take over Adath Sharon’s board and to transfer Adath Sharon’s assets to Chabad,” according to The Advocate. The plaintiffs claim the Chabad “is experiencing serious financial troubles and seeks to convert Adath Sharon’s assets to rectify its financial situation.”
Chabad of Sharon denies the allegations, The Advocate reported.
According to the lawsuit, nine of the Conservative synagogue’s board members and officials were illegitimately elected to their positions in an April 2015 membership meeting. The plaintiffs say the members are affiliated with Chabad and “ran for office for the purpose of depriving Adath Sharon’s true members of their voting rights and transferring control and the assets of Adath Sharon to Chabad.”
They also claim the meeting was not properly announced to the membership, and proxy voting was not made available to all the members.
Among the officers the lawsuit says are illegitimate are Chabad Rabbi Chaim Wolosow, who was elected vice president; his daughter, Chana Minkowitz, who was elected secretary and treasurer, and his son-in-law, Chabad Rabbi Naftoli Minkowitz, who was elected president.
Wolosow resigned as head of the congregation after the lawsuit was filed, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also says Dr. Jordan Leff was illegitimately elected Adath Sharon’s president in 2008, and that in a November 2014 membership meeting, he and another synagogue officer “announced that the purported board of directors had voted to donate Adath Sharon, its building and all of its assets to Chabad.”
The plaintiffs value the synagogue building at $1 million. They are asking the court to order a membership meeting and the repayment of their legal fees by Chabad and to prevent the defendants from giving away Adath Sharon’s assets.
In New York and New Jersey, the growth of Haredi Orthodox Jewish communities has led to tensions with residents of surrounding towns, including reports of anti-Semitic incidents. Some locals have organized protests. In one case, a Reform rabbi was involved.