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The Appellate Term of the Supreme Court of the State of New York has just issued a verdict on the long-brewing case of the ownership rights to the main shul at 770 Eastern Parkway – Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.

Judges Wavny Toussaint, Marina Cora Mundy and Lisa Ottley have issued a written ruling on the matter, just weeks after the 770 shul made international headlines due to the anarchy displayed there and the unauthorized construction work by bochurim.

Agudas Chassidei Chabad (Aguch) and Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, central organizations of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, are the stated owners of the 770 and 778 buildings. Howard Wintner and David S. Abramson of The Abramson Group, PLLC represented them.

Fighting them is Congregation Lubavitch, Inc. (“CLI”) led by the 770 Gabboim Zalman Lipskier and Avrohom Holtzberg, and former 770 shamash Sholom Ber Kievman. Edward S. Rudofsky, P.C. represented them.

The appellants, Gabboim / CLI claim that the main shul belongs to the Crown Heights community and not the Chabad establishment, and as such, they are the legal caretakers and decision-makers of the 770 shul on the ground floor of the 778 building.

The Gabboim have set up offices in the shul building.

As the case dragged on in court for some 20 years, the Gabboim had de facto control over the Shul. Under their control, rough bochurim, believing the Rebbe is physically alive, have banished people from the premises, exercised violence, and dug the infamous tunnel to expand 770.

A few years ago, the Civil Court ruled in favor of Aguch and Merkos, granting them ownership of the building. The Gabboim appealed that decision to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Judges Wavny Toussaint, Marina Cora Mundy and Lisa Ottley have now dismissed this appeal, writing, "appellants have not established any rights to the subject premises, let alone rights greater than petitioners’ rights."

In granting victory to Merkos and Aguch, the judges noted that Merkos and Aguch wrote in their appeal brief that they are operating the synagogue for religious purposes and that “once [they] regain possession and control of the Synagogue, any person who acts with proper decorum will be allowed to worship at the Synagogue.”

Rabbi Eli Cohen, Executive Director of the CHJCC who supports the Gabboim/CLI, told that the Gabboim will comply with the order as far as surrendering the Kingston Avenue buildings to Merkos and that now this case is resolved, they look forward to working together with Merkos and Aguch leadership to restore order to the shul and to planning the needed expansion.

Yaacov Behrman, a PR liaison for Merkos, added:

“When taken together, these two court determinations confirm the full rights of ownership in Aguch and Merkos and their legal ability to restore order, respect, and reverence to the Rebbe’s Shul.”

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