The Home of the Sages property on Bialystoker Place. Photograph: J. Oliver Conroy.

A new lawsuit is only the latest sign of an epic power struggle within the Home of the Sages of Israel, a tiny Lower East Side synagogue. The house of worship’s nondescript and rundown building on Bialystoker Place has become the subject of a ferocious real estate battle between different factions, each claiming to be the synagogue’s lawful representative.

In a suit filed two weeks ago – only the latest in a mounting pile of litigation – members of the Orthodox Jewish synagogue’s small congregation allege that Rabbi Samuel Aschkenazi, “who despite his title, is not the rabbi for Home of the Sages,” is attempting to sell the property out from under them to real estate developer Peter Fine – and then split the $13 million profit with Friends of Mosdot Goor, a Gerer Hasidic group unconnected to the synagogue.

Keep Reading »