June 16, 2011 11:58 am at 11:58 am #597432
I received emails objecting very strongly to a closed shul having been sold to Asians who now use it as Buddhist temple. The shul had been empty for a long time and the congregation was dissolved. Why should there be a problem?June 16, 2011 2:43 pm at 2:43 pm #778718minyan galMember
I don’t see any problem. Where I live, one shul bought their building from a church that needed a larger building, two closed Hebrew/Yiddish schools were sold to another faith-based school and a very large orthodox shul was sold to a church. These are all Xtian congregations or schools that these sales were made too.
EditedJune 16, 2011 2:52 pm at 2:52 pm #778719bombmaniacParticipant
har habayis has been lacking the beis hamikdash for a while…why not build a movie theatre on it…(not to mention the dome of the rock)June 16, 2011 2:54 pm at 2:54 pm #778720
The reality is if you have a shul in an area with no minyan anymore (Like parts of the Bronx or Brooklyn).
You need money for upkeep and things like insurance (You dont want part of a building falling on someone walking by because the building was not taken care of)
You might not really have a choice, You have to sell the property (and the buyers you might like are not available)June 16, 2011 3:03 pm at 3:03 pm #778721YW Moderator-80Member
Why should there be a problem?
thats a good question.
what are the relevant Halachas?
what did the Poskim say?June 16, 2011 3:06 pm at 3:06 pm #778722HaLeiViParticipant
If you can’t keep the building burn it down. You don’t make shoes from Sefarim and you don’t make a Beis Avoda Zara from a Shul!June 16, 2011 3:14 pm at 3:14 pm #778723bombmaniacParticipant
????? ?????????June 16, 2011 3:25 pm at 3:25 pm #778724IUseBrainsParticipant
The Mishna Berura brings down that Shuls are Changed to Avoda Zora if there is talking!June 16, 2011 4:11 pm at 4:11 pm #778725
The rabbi I spoke to said Buddhism is unquestionably Avodah Zarah and it would have been better to level the shul than sell it to be used as a Buddhist temple.June 16, 2011 4:18 pm at 4:18 pm #778726bezalelParticipant
How can agnosticism be Avodah Zarah?June 16, 2011 4:34 pm at 4:34 pm #778727smartcookieMember
Minyan- buying a property that used to be a place for Avodah Zora is different because you’re changing the place from Tameh to Kodesh.
Here, you’re are giving up a precious, holy building and giving it away to the use of Avodah Zora.June 16, 2011 5:58 pm at 5:58 pm #778728
What I found disheartening about the described sale is there are still a handful of frum local people. It was still possible more frum people could have moved back there like they have in sections of Lakewood.June 16, 2011 6:30 pm at 6:30 pm #778729
It doesn’t matter whether anyone ever moves back to Oxford Circle. It was a chashuva shul for over 50 years. It is a terrible indignity that a building that used to house Sifrei Torah now has people prostrating themselves to Buddha where an Aron Kodesh once stood.June 16, 2011 9:01 pm at 9:01 pm #778730HomeownerMember
The solution to OP’s question does not come in the form of advocating the commission of multiple felonies, e.g. arson and insurance fraud.
Note to Bombmaniac, while I see you’re mixing Hebrew with Yiddish, the term is “fire insurance,” not burning insurance, i.e. ????? ???? ?? or just ????? ??.June 16, 2011 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm #778731goldieloxMember
???? ?????, ??? ????? you should only elevate things to higher ????? and not lower it . Selling a shul to a nother ‘religion’ will definitely lower its Kedushah!June 16, 2011 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm #778733
I am certain Rabbi Meles did not approve the sale of his shul to Buddhists. So who did?June 16, 2011 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm #778734
The rabbi I spoke to said the shul could have been sold for any other purpose but absolutely not for Buddhism because every posek considers it to be outright Avodah Zarah.
He directed me to an article The Sale of a Synagogue by Rabbi Israel Poleyeff in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society.
From what I read even a mosque might have been preferable.June 17, 2011 12:12 am at 12:12 am #778735bezalelParticipant
I am certain Rabbi Meles did not approve the sale of his shul to Buddhists. So who did?
From the Jewish Exponent (Which I have no intention of linking to):
According to Young Israel’s by-laws, if a congregation can no longer support a daily minyan — something Oxford Circle hasn’t been able to do for some time now — the synagogue property is supposed to revert to the national organization.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.
Lerner said it’s rare that the national council has actually had to take such a step. He added that the fate of the building has not yet been decided, but acknowledged that selling it is indeed a possibility.June 17, 2011 1:30 am at 1:30 am #778737
There are three big problems with this sale.
1) A shul was disgraced by its use as a house of Idol Worship!
2) The sellers aided the Idol Worshippers by providing a beautiful place to practice their Avodah Zara.
3) How can the one who sold it say “Whatever proceeds there are will go to continue [our] mission” ? The proceeds of the sale are tainted by benefitting from Avodah Zara!June 17, 2011 2:07 am at 2:07 am #778738
This whole affair is deeply disturbing. According to the email I received everyone involved knew the buyers were going to use it for a Buddhist temple.
I just read through Rabbi Poleyeff’s complete article again. I can’t see any way the sale of the shul in Oxford Circle to Buddhists (even indirectly) could possibly have been sanctioned by the Vaad Halacha. Someone needs to look into how this happened.June 17, 2011 2:20 am at 2:20 am #778739
I know of a few shuls that became churchs because they became bankrupt and were foreclosed by the bank.
Because the bank foreclosed the building had to be sold to the highest bidder. There is not way to stop this from happening aside from rasing a few million dollars to buy the building at the foreclosure auctionJune 17, 2011 2:32 am at 2:32 am #778740
That wasn’t the case here.June 17, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am #778741600 Kilo BearMember
I think you can legally demolish your own property so long as you don’t try to collect insurance. They should have done that rather than sell it to a beis avoido zoroh. Then a developer could have rezoned it for residential, commercial or whatever (I have no idea where it is or how it is zoned now).June 17, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm #778742
What was the case here? The whole story from all sides, not just hearsay.
Let’s look at all the property records on the sale. We know from Bezalel’s posting who was in charge of the sale. Let that person provide all the documentation he has and let’s hear from the rabbonim (if any) who approved the sale as well as those who objected to it. If there were rabbonim on the Vaad Halacha who should have been consulted about the sale but were not, how did it go forward?
There are too many unanswered questions about this sale. Let’s hear those answers and have an independent Chacham determine if there was impropriety.June 17, 2011 1:45 pm at 1:45 pm #778743
I know this is not the case here, but there might be facts that we dont know about where the shul was forced to sell to a Buddist temple (Like some creditor esentially forcing sale to highest bidder)June 17, 2011 3:25 pm at 3:25 pm #778744
I doubt there was a creditor forcing the sale since the shul was paid for long ago. Also, from the article it seems quite clear there were no locals involved.
Like davidbassar says, let’s get all the facts and hear all sides in this story. If there was a valid reason that complies with Halacha why the Young Israel was sold to Buddhists, let’s see it written as a responsa like Rabbi Poleyeff’s. But if there were improprieties in this sale, someone should be taken to task.June 17, 2011 7:43 pm at 7:43 pm #778746
Avodah zora is one of the worst sins in our Torah. There is no way a creditor can “force” anyone to violate their religion. Even if there are heterim regarding this sale we need to know how they were arrived at and if they were avoidable. This sale was a terrible chillul Hashem and a slap in the face to the Jewish community of Philadelphia.June 17, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm #778747minyan galMember
Yesterday I posted about several Jewish buildings in my city that were sold to Xtian organizations. I happened to drive by one of them today and it did give me a “shtoch in hartz” to see the sign “Church of the Living Hope” where it used to say “B’nai Avrohom”. I have driven by there several times since the sale, which was about 10 years ago and never given it much thought, but after this discussion, I realize that it is a sad thing to have happened. I will say that the new tenants have maintained the building and the landscaping and it is very neat and tidy, but it simply isn’t the same. About 10 years before this shul closed, they, along with some government money, built a low rental senior citizens block right next door that had a walkway attached to the shul. Of course, the apartment building is still there and a lot of Jewish people still live there, but the walkway has (of course) been blocked off. In the old days, if they were short for a minyan, they would just go through the walkway and start knocking on doors. I guess I am just nostalgic today but, we cannot live in the past. Shabbat Shalom to all.June 19, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am #778748
The sale we’re discussing here was just one year ago. The seller was not even the local shul, it was the parent organization and according to the city database all they got for it was $114,000!
Here’s what I read from a rabbi in Teaneck about selling a shul,
“There are more pointed considerations if the new use is to be as a place of worship. Since idolatry is forbidden to Jews and non-Jews as well, we may not only not join in idolatrous practices, we may not even participate in providing a home for them.”
He goes on further to say “To sell or lease a synagogue, then, does ask us to make some effort in advance of the sale to determine that the new occupant would not desecrate our values, religious and personal.”June 19, 2011 1:02 pm at 1:02 pm #778749
I felt a stab in my heart when I looked at the interior photo of what used to be the shul at 6427 Large St. and saw a fat Phat idol in the spot where an Aron Kodesh containing holy Sifrei Torah used to be. I can only imagine how Rabbi Meles must feel.June 19, 2011 4:29 pm at 4:29 pm #778750charliehallParticipant
http://www.bronxsynagogues.org has documentation of hundreds of former shuls that aren’t there any more. Most have been turned into churches including a few former YI congregations. It is very sad.June 19, 2011 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm #778751
As bad as it is for a shul to become a church, it is far worse for a shul to have its Aron Kodesh replaced with a phat Buddha idol.
Charlie, I just got this in an email. It’s about one shul in the Bronx that remains empty rather than become a church.
A Man of Principles (from the obituary of Rabbi David B. Hollander )
But an organization that Rabbi Hollander was ideologically opposed to offered the only hope of the synagogue being able to repay the rabbi. Knowing that he would not approve of the sale, the board members solicited, and received, approbations from several rabbinical authorities.
True to form, Rabbi Hollander refused to sanction the transaction.
Board members exited the room misty-eyed, in awe that the rabbi they came to revere made such a sacrifice.June 20, 2011 12:49 am at 12:49 am #778753
The buyers should have been vetted to learn what they planned for the building. Whoever was in charge of the sale of the shul was negligent in their duty and should not be working for Young Israel.June 20, 2011 1:03 am at 1:03 am #778754splendaMember
So what can be done at this point?? It’s already sold and the sale can’t be undone. So what is the tachlis of this thread?? It was an error obviously, and to say the seller “should of known” is pushing it. You can’t always know what a buyer will do once he has title to the property. Be dan lkaf zchus, especially here where it is clear there was no knowledge beforehand.June 20, 2011 2:02 am at 2:02 am #778755
Dan lkaf zchus means to judge according to merit. If there is a pattern of negligence, incompetence or worse in the organization that allowed this terrible thing to happen, then that needs to be addressed and those responsible must be held accountable for not only this travesty but also for others that are still going on. If the Moderator will permit me I can give you a brief outline and links to verify the information.June 21, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am #778757
Supposedly the Vietnamese family that bought the shul said they were going to live in it. There should have been a way to guarantee that as a condition of the sale.
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