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Satmar dispute Update

Things are heatin’ up…..


A state judge intervened in the power struggle between two brothers who seek to lead one of the largest Hasidic groups in New York, ruling yesterday that supporters of the older brother have a legitimate claim to control the group’s business affairs. At stake is the political leadership of the Satmar Hasidim � a voting bloc of more than 50,000 � and control of a vast network of real estate and social services. The ruling, by Acting Justice Stewart A. Rosenwasser of State Supreme Court in Orange County, addressed a question of access to a cemetery in Monroe. But to decide the issue, he wrote that he must first resolve the question of which faction rightfully controls corporate decision-making. He ruled that a close supporter of the older brother, Aaron Teitelbaum, was the legitimate president of the religious corporation.

See also Recordonline:

The epic power struggle between two sons of the Satmar grand rebbe and their respective followers tilted in a new direction yesterday, when supporters of Kiryas Joel Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum won their first big court battle.In the dispute that began over ownership of the Kiryas Joel cemetery and ballooned into a larger fight for control of the Hasidic movement, acting state Supreme Court Justice Stewart Rosenwasser sided squarely with Aron’s faction. Aron’s rivals support his brother, Zalmen, chief rabbi in Williamsburg.
Rosenwasser agreed with Aron’s side that the cemetery belongs jointly to the main Satmar congregations in Kiryas Joel and Brooklyn, not just the Brooklyn group. But more importantly, he declared that Aron supporter Berl Friedman remains president of the Brooklyn branch, rejecting claims that the grand rebbe expelled him in 2001.
By itself, the ruling appears to place control of the Williamsburg congregation, its property and other assets back in the hands of Aron’s faction. Control of the Satmar’s Williamsburg core could determine which brother succeeds their father as grand rebbe, the supreme leader of more than 100,000 Satmar followers worldwide.But the Satmar court feud is certain to continue. To further complicate the legal morass, Rosenwasser’s decision contradicts another judge’s 2004 ruling that left Zalmen’s side in charge of the Williamsburg congregation. A ruling on an appeal is expected soon.Scott Mollen, attorney for the Zalmen faction, vowed to appeal Rosenwasser’s decision. Rosenwasser had urged lawyers for Zalmen’s side to bring the 91-year-old grand rebbe, Moses Teitelbaum, to court or have him testify to the expulsion in another manner. But they declined, instead filing more written testimony to the mountain of paperwork in the case.The judge was unconvinced.”An opportunity to present competent evidence by the parties who have argued that Mr. Friedman was expelled was granted and was rejected,” Rosenwasser wrote in his decision.The cemetery case, one of three court actions brought by Aron’s side against its opponents since 2001, had all the hallmarks of a Satmar legal scrap: a lineup of high-priced lawyers, a deluge of court papers, accusations of forged documents and disagreement on virtually everything.Not to mention violence. In October, when Rosenwasser released his “produce the rebbe” order and questioned if Friedman had truly been expelled, jubilant Aron supporters marched into the Williamsburg synagogue with bodyguards on a major holiday and sparked a melee that brought out police in riot gear.

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