One of the perks of living in America is that religious institutions are exempt from several taxes. Of course, there are rules for such things and of course, they’re not always followed.
Take this recent example from the Jewish penal colony known as Rockland County. A multiple family house owned by a shul was granted a property tax exemption under the pretense that it would house the Rabbi and two assistant rabbis. The problem is that there were several illegal conversions to the building and there was no proof that the other rabbis actually lived there.
Gedalia Oberlander, who identified himself to the Assessment Review Board as the rabbi of the congregation, said he lived in one of the apartments, and two assistant rabbis lived in the others.
“I feel that not having a certificate of occupancy shouldn’t interfere with having the exemption,” Oberlander told the board at its meeting Thursday.
Even more comical is that they’re having trouble finding the shul itself:
“There was no CO (certificate of occupancy) and we’re unable to confirm the location of the synagogue itself, seeing that it wasn’t in that location,” Shedler said yesterday.
And for the coup de grace, the name of the shul?
Congregation Merkoz Halacha
I remember that story. You wouldn’t believe how many “Rabbis” take Parsonage that should not be or using it on things that they are not allowed to.
This story stinks. It doesn’t seem that this guy has a shull in the first place. He is probably just BS’ing the town.
His father Herman Oberlander tried pulling the same scam a couple months ago. He claimed that he is a rabbi and all his tenants, who are incidently also his grandchildren, are his assistants. I guess the son had from whom to learn.
Trial begins on rabbi’s claim of tax exemption for Monsey home
Monsey rabbi drops tax lawsuit against Ramapo
“And for the coup de grace, the name of the shul?
Congregation Merkoz Halacha”
It’s the same Herman Oberlander who tries to have his tenants arrested! See article below.
New York Daily News (NY)
March 1, 1996
POLS GO TO BATTLE WITH LEGAL AID GROUP
Author: LAURA WILLIAMS
A Brooklyn-based, grass-roots legal group says it is being targeted by politicians who oppose its work on behalf of minority tenants in Williamsburg.
The group, Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A, says the assault is being led by Queens Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing).
Late last month, Mayersohn entered a 30-year battle for affordable housing between Hispanics and Hasidim in the north Brooklyn neighborhood by sending a letter co-signed by 21 fellow Democratic Assembly members to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In the letter, she requested a review of state funding for legal aid organizations, some of which, she wrote, “seem to have gone beyond what most of us, who have supported these programs in the past, would consider to be appropriate activities.”
Mayersohn first got involved in the issue when she discovered the Housing Authority was having a tough time ridding projects of drug dealers who are represented by legal service organizations other than Brooklyn Legal Services.
Then, BLS’ work also got her attention, said Bill Viscovich, Mayersohn’s counsel.
BLS has fought for the minority tenant community in Williamsburg for 20 years. In 1976, its lawyers brought a suit against the New York City Housing Authority, charging discrimination in racial quotas. More recently, BLS has charged that the Housing Authority turns a blind eye while Hasidim illegally transfer public housing apartments to each other, keeping out Latinos.
BLS does not focus solely on housing project issues. Yesterday, for example, BLS lawyers were advising a Hispanic woman, Rosa German, in a struggle with her Hasidic landlord, Herman Oberlander, who wanted her arrested.
The competition between the ethnic groups is contentious because housing in Williamsburg is tight and getting tighter. The Hispanic and Hasidic (mainly Satmar) populations in Community Board 1, which includes Williamsburg, both grew 14% between the 1980 and 1990 censuses.
Mayersohn said that BLS has overstepped its mission, which is to help poor people who can’t afford lawyers.
“Brooklyn Legal Services has gotten involved in a conflict between two communities,” said Viscovich. “That’s not the way to spend public funds.”
“They say we’re representing one side of the community,” responded Martin Needelman, project director of Brooklyn Legal Services Corp. A, which works in north and east Brooklyn. “We say we’re representing victims of racial discrimination from the Housing Authority.”
Gov. Pataki has expressed his desire to cut funding for legal aid groups. The Assembly members who signed the letter are not calling for cutting the state funding to all the state’s nearly 200 legal aid groups, but to examine where the money goes.
“Some are wondering, when budgets are tight, [whether] we want to support legal services that give priority to drug dealers and that cross the line in advocating one side of a community against another,” said Assemblyman Jules Polonetsky (D-Coney Island), who signed the letter.