‘Torah thief rabbi’ claim doesn’t have a prayer in court

| May 3, 2012

Testimony was concluded last week in a bitter three-year court case in which a Brooklyn rabbi who was once convicted of stealing a Torah from an Upstate synagogue and trying to fence it, now claims to be a member and assistant rabbi of an East Village orthodox synagogue — which the synagogue’s rabbi and congregation members strongly deny.

Rabbi Pesach Ackerman of the Anshe Mezeritz synagogue, 415 E. Sixth St., said the Brooklyn rabbi does not attend services there and has fabricated the story in an effort to wrangle control of the synagogue for personal financial gain.

At the conclusion of a three-hour hearing on Wed., April 25, before State Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman, the judge indicated that, in his preliminary opinion, he saw no solid evidence that Rabbi Bernard Welz was a regular attendee of the East Village synagogue, or that he had made the required contributions to qualify him a member.

The judge told Welz’s attorney, Meyer Silber, that he was ready to render a verdict right then, but allowed Silber to take 30 days to provide any additional proof that might change his mind. Gammerman said he would make his final decision on June 4.

Welz was not available for comment, but his attorney said after the 10 a.m. hearing that he was disappointed by it.

“I respectfully disagree with the judge,” Silber said. “He precluded significant evidence that would have proven our case. We will now explore other options.”

Charles Knapp, the synagogue’s pro bono attorney who took over the case last year after the previous lawyer withdrew, said that the opposing side had “failed miserably to make their case.”



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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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