By Caroline Lewis
“We are shocked by [yesterday's] court decision,” said Richard McBee, President of Lower Manhattan’s Sixteenth Street Synagogue. The NYS Supreme Court has upheld the eviction of the synagogue from their home of more than 65 years by building owner Jack Braha. This decision marks a low point for McBee and the synagogue on the roller coaster ride of a real estate battle that has ensued over the Fifth Avenue property in the last few years.
Braha posted the five-day eviction notice two weeks ago, but the NYS Supreme Court put a Temporary Hold on the mandate, allowing the synagogue’s lawyers to argue their side in court. The Sixteenth Street Synagogue claims partial ownership of the building where they hold daily services and also asserts “moral rights” to the building based on the claim that Braha verbally promised to let the congregation remain rent-free when he purchased the building in 2005. Unfortunately, they have no paperwork to prove it.
Neither Braha nor his lawyer returned phone requests for comment.
As McBee promised, the synagogue will be filing an appeal of the decision in yet another attempt to save the religious community they’ve built over the years. “This action by the court forces our hand to pursue other options in our fight for our synagogue’s life and our own future as a community,” he said.
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