Aberdeen Israel Fund
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Disaffected Synagogue Leaders Push For Change In Young Israel
Reps of 18 synagogues rally support to make national organization ‘more transparent, accountable and responsive.’
Staff Writer
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A group of  disaffected leaders of 18 Young Israel synagogues has begun soliciting support for constitutional changes that they say would make the National Council of Young Israel “more transparent, accountable and responsive to member branches.”

The action came in the wake of a June 24 conference call meeting of representatives from Young Israel’s 150 member synagogues.

An item originally on the agenda — to expel a Syracuse synagogue for refusing to pay dues and electing a woman president — was withdrawn shortly before the teleconference. 

The group’s leaders reportedly refused repeated requests from delegates to discuss the removed agenda item. In addition, they are said to have refused to answer questions about the organization’s constitution or the ability of an affiliated synagogue to resign from the organization.

Shaarei Torah Orthodox Congregation of Syracuse had been affiliated with Young Israel but resigned in 2008 after saying it had received a threat from the National Council.

“We were told that if our [woman president] did not resign immediately, they would sue us for having used their name for years and would also claim our assets,” said Beverly Marmor, the synagogue’s immediate past president.

She said the synagogue owns its building, a parsonage and at least three Torahs.

Although Marmor said her synagogue sent a letter to the National Council informing it of the resignation and a name change from Young Israel-Shaarei Torah of Syracuse, the National Council refused to recognize the resignation.

In a memo to delegates in advance of the June 24 conference call, delegates were told that attempts to resolve the conflict with the Syracuse congregation had been unsuccessful. And it said that the National Council had “determined that the branch could not resign …”

It went on to say that the synagogue’s resignation letter subjected the congregation to “disciplinary proceedings.”

Delegates said they understood that to mean that, according to the constitution, the synagogue’s “assets, both personal and real, shall become the property of the organization.”

One of the proposed constitutional changes would require a two-thirds vote of the delegates before the National Council could bring legal action “against a branch, former branch, rabbi of a branch, president or other board member of a branch in his or her representative capacity of that branch...”

Another proposed change would repeal the section of the constitution that calls for the seizing of the assets of a dissolved or expelled branch. And a third proposal would allow branches to resign from Young Israel.

A spokesman for the group that put forth these proposed changes said 35 member synagogues must agree to support the proposals in order for them to be presented to a convention of the delegates. He said the proposals just began circulating and that already more than 20 synagogues have signed on.

“After we get the required number of signatures, we will propose to the president that he call an emergency meeting [of the congregations] to vote on them.”


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07/16/2010 - 00:15
Jewish life, Judaism, Orthodox Judaism
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Oh, Sergeant was his rank. You spelled it like a name. I've seen Phil Silvers on the Beverly Hillbillies on TVLand and you're right, he is lovable and at least his character has a conscience in the end. Maybe Pesach Lerner should take a lesson from the finale of the Sergeant Bilko show. He ends up behind bars ( as I found when I googled it at http://www.sgtbilko.com/)
Dina, Sergeant Bilko was a con-man, a scam artist who ran schemes out of the motor pool at a fictional Army base. Phil Silvers played him as a lovable scoundrel like Sgt. O'Rourke on F-Troop or Gruber on McHales Navy. None of these fictional characters were really nasty. The difference between fiction and real life is that Pesach Lerner and his Corporal Agarn, Benjamin Hammer, have done really nasty things like blocking access to the bathrooms and rooftop Sukkah at the old Young Israel building on 16th Street and trying to destroy Shaarei Torah in Syracuse. Anonymous, I see there are a total of 209 tax-exempt listings for NCYI on that website. Why are the shuls listed as National Council instead of under their own names? I thought there were only about 150 YI shuls in the country. What are all these other tax-exempt holdings? Are they legitimate?
Who's Sargent Bilko?
Can someone explain why the OU has only one entry on www.taxexemptworld.com but National Council of Young Israel has 48 at their New York headquarters? There are several including one for National CounSEL of Young Israel that have Pesach Lerner listed as the specific contact. What is going on here?
Close Dina. But it was Yehoshua who made the neder, oath, about Jericho belonging to Hashem on behalf of the nation. Thus it was their responsibility to identify the one who took from the spoils in order to live up to the oath. Asher, these independent Orthodox shuls have accountability to Hashem, not to holier-than-thou hypocrites of National Council. From what I've heard about the Syracuse community the reason they have women in the post of president is because it is small struggling community, not because of feminism like the Young Israel of Scarsdale with its Womens Tefilah group as Dina points out. Where's the accountability or oversight there? Abracadabra, P Lerner identifies more with Sargent Bilko than with anyone else.
Can someone tell me why the Executive Director of NCYI himself davens in the Chassidishe Shul in his neighborhood every Shabbos, and not in the Young Israel which is just a block away? How did he land this job without ever davening at a Young Israel? It seems to me he identifies more with the Agudah, and has been trying to steer the NCYI towards the Agudah's outlooks and agendas.
It is so funny to me how these supposedly "Frum", "Orthodox", shul Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Members want to establish "independant Orthodox" shuls and have no accountability whatsoever to anyone. Such an attitude reminds me of Protestant Christianity (wink wink). It's a very sad day for Orthodoxy and "Modern Orthodoxy" in particular. The fight to have Female Rabbis, Female Shul Presidents, Prayer Services at the Kotel, etc. clearly demonstrates that the ugly head of radical Feminism and Modernism have so slowly but cleverly come upon us in our Orthodox communities. The fight for the Soul of Orthodoxy is at hand my brothers and sisters. May Hashem speadily and in our day give victory to Orthodox Torah Judaism wherever it flourishes.
I think what Daniel is trying to point out is that Shalom Rubashkin's suffering began at the same time as NCYI began to try extorting money from Shaarei Torah of Syracuse. It is well known that NCYI looks the other way about their rules when a shul pays their dues. Young Israel of Scarsdale is a wealthy shul and has no problem paying so NCYI doesn't threaten to seize their assets for having a Womens Tefilah group every month. But Syracuse can't afford the dues so NCYI decided to use the No Woman President rule to take whatever the shul has. It's like what Achan did after Hashem warned the Bnai Yisroel not to take anything from Jericho. Achan wasn't punished by Hashem, he wanted the Bnai Yisrael to deal with the criminal in their midst and so Yair died to make the point.
the Young Israel national structure, like many other organizations, has ossified and stagnated and lost a sense of purpose other than its own self-aggrandizement. It takes positions on issues having nothing to do with synagogue operations, and acts without regard to the needs or wishes of the members of its constituent synagogues. It is more a protector of the status quo than a vessel for enhancing the experience of observant Jews. It, like other creaky old organizations, is desperately in need of a "revolution".
I did try to post the name and location of the YI but the newspaper did not post it. So it is up to you to search the web to find out which one it is. Try here first for a hint: http://www.frumcommunity.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1527&view=topic&forumid=9&postid=6578
The previous poster has hit the point squarely. NCYI serves no purpose and adds a layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to even legitimate tzedokos. If you look at most ads that have the Young Israel logo on them, ranging from singles events to supporting Gush Katif, their pyramid is added on. Why? Does their stamp add anything? Quite the opposite, I have no desire to enrich an NCYI flunky who preens about what HE's done for Sderot while he is gouging money from struggling shuls and won't even lend them money for needed repairs! I also read the article about YI of Mosholu Parkway and I have to wonder why NCYI has their lawyers harassing Shaarei Torah in Syracuse instead of helping Rabbi Charlop get the insurance claim he needs to do the repairs in the Bronx?
Why belong to the Young Israel? What service do they provide? Do they provide funding for the construction of the shul? Do they pay salaries of the office staff, including the rabbi? Do they purchase sifrei Torah for the shul? What does the national office do other than collect dues? What need is there for a Young Israel to be pasted on the side or front of the building. A stand alone independent shul can well survive in today's times without the need to feed a bureaucracy in New York, which often times is far removed from what is transpiring in the US beyond the George Washington Bridge. The case of Syracuse shows how out of touch the National Office is with the demands and changes of the Orthodox community today. Also, I dont even know what identity the NCYI represents. I have been in Young Israel shuls that are comprised of a large number of yeshivish people while others are at the opposite extreme. What is Young Israel today? Shuls today are suffering financially. They can save themselves much needed funds by disenfranchising from the Young Israel movement. Jewish History shows that many movements in Europe at the turn of the century have since become defunct. Perhaps the NCYI movement is headed in that direction or should take steps to make itself meaningful and relevant to the needs of the shuls beyond the George Washington bridge!
I dont understand what leverage the national council has over the member shuls. What were to occur if a Young Israel affiliate woke up one morning and decided to break off and no longer be affiliated with the Young Israel? Does the National Office of the YI buy the building for the shul? NO Does the National Office of the YI pay the salaries of the shul? NO Does the National Office of the YI buy sifrei Torah for the shul? NO Does the National Office of the YI pay utlity expenses of the shul? NO There is only one thing the National Office of the YI does: Collect membership fees/dues. Now someone has to explain to me why should one belong to them. THere are hundreds of independent shuls throughout the country. Think of the money saved by not having to pay extortion membership fees to a national office with bloated Central Office salaries. What is Lerner's annual salary?
There is a simpler solution. All of the branches who are dissatisfied with NCYI should just resign from it and stop sending it dues. They wouldn't even need to change the name of the shuls since they are entitled to the name Young Israel under trademark laws contrary to what NCYI would have everyone believe.
There is are only two common denominators about Young Israel. The shuls all have mechitzot and they all pay royalty to NCYI to use the name. In at least one Young Israel I visited the only difference between it and the Conservative temple down the road was the mechitza. The parking lot filled up during davening, people went into the lobby to talk on their cell phones and they even have a prominent mixed-religion lesbian couple (this was explained to me when I saw the rabbi ask her partner to adjust the thermostat on Shabbat). I wonder what the mechitza means to them? This is ok but a women shul President is not?
Your loshon hara is remarkable. Please state which Young Israel Shul you are referring to, its address, city and state. Otherwise, please remove the slander
Is Shalom Rubashkin's plight similar to those who died in the Biblical battle of Ai? In Chapter 7 of the Book of Joshua we learn 36 men suffered death because of Achan ben Carmi's greed. (According to Rabbi Nechemia it was just one man who was like 36, Yair ben Menashe). Why should Yair have died and in turn caused grieving to the entire Klal Yisroel because of another man's totally unrelated greed? Are NCYI executives' actions are similar to that of Achan? We as a community grieve for the injustice being done to Shalom Rubashkin. We are now learning of the threats made to what was then the Young Israel of Syracuse by the executives at National Council of Young Israel. These threats to seize the shuls assets were made at practically the same time as Sholom Rubashkin's troubles began. Is there a lesson to be learned here? http://www.azamra.org/Bible/Joshua%207-8.htm
stay on message. S Rubashkin is no "prisoner of conscience)
What is young israel today anyway? In smaller communities the name is used only to indicate that it is an orthodox synagogue, and in others it indicates a breakaway shul, whether it is to the right or to the left. There are Young Israel's that are a sea of black hats and others that are extremely modern/left-wing. So in reality it represents nothing. Why do these shuls still pay dues? What do they get out of it? ...

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