Staten Island Synagogue Receives $1 Million Arbitration Award
Tuesday, November, 8, 2016
A Staten Island congregation claims control over an Eltingville synagogue and a $1 million arbitration ruling is invalid. The claim relates a nine-year dispute covenant between a Jewish congregation and an Orthodox Jewish non-profit corporation. A recent court filing shows Oorah Inc. allegedly wanted to access the synagogue and obtain tax exempt status as a religious congregation, according to Young Israel of Eltingville. Israel asked the court to compel Congregation Oorah Inc., to provide correspondence and documents with the IRS related to its tax exempt status.
Oorah is accused of forming Congregation Oorah Inc. to use Young Israel’s “… premises to falsely represent to the IRS that it was a synagogue.” This would give it tax exempt status and other benefits, and ensure it fell under less scrutiny by the government. Young Israel claims Congregation Oorah is not a religious congregation, but instead, a daycare center that does not conduct religious services.
Young Israel has also asked the court to overturn the 2015 arbitration ruling that awarded Oorah and other organization affiliated with it $1 million for upgrades, repairs, and mortgage payment. According to Young Israel, a previous agreement in which Oorah consented to assume the financial responsibility and allow the congregation to use part of the building for prayer gatherings is invalid because it was never signed and was hidden away. Oorah denies the accusation, claims the agreement was signed, and should be considered binding.
The ongoing dispute was settled in arbitration proceedings in 2015 by a three-member arbitration panel that awarded Oorah $1 million. Young Israel now claims its board did not sanction the arbitration and wants the ruling overturned.