Sunday, October 17, 2010
Torah, torah, torah !!!
Satmar sect set to strike B'klyn foes amid Vito woes
The battle between two Satmar Hasidic sects is about to reach biblical proportions.
The scandal engulfing Assemblyman Vito Lopez -- the most powerful ally of Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum's faction -- has created a window of opportunity for the faction led by older brother Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum to capture the highly coveted Williamsburg congregation the sibling rivals have fought over for a decade.
At stake is a $372 million real-estate empire.
Operatives within the Aaroni faction -- which controls the Satmar congregation in Kiryas Joel in upstate Orange County -- told The Post that within weeks they plan to crash the Brooklyn congregation's main synagogue on Rodney Street, two Zali schools and a matzo bakery.
The bitter feud between the brothers dates to 1999, when their ailing father signed over the Williamsburg congregation to Zalman. Secular courts have refused to settle the fight, saying it's a religious matter.
When the two factions last clashed on Rodney Street, in 2005, riot police were called in.
Abe Weinberger, a board member of the Zali congregation, warned that the Aaroni plot is "only going to end up in riots."
But Aaroni official Moishe Indig said the time is ripe for another takeover attempt.
"Vito Lopez is going down; we're going up," he said, explaining that the embattled Brooklyn Democratic boss can't use his influence to prop up the Zalis anymore.
"I don't think that, in today's date, anybody will take his call."
Since Lopez became mired in scandal involving the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, a social-service empire he controls, the Aaronies have seen a remarkable turn in their political fortune.
Their candidate for district leader, Lincoln Restler, who campaigned on toppling Lopez, narrowly defeated the Zali-backed candidate on primary day.
Since the Aaronies proved they could sway elections, Gary Schlesinger, chairman of the Aaronies' nonprofit arm, UJ Care, said big-time politicians like Andrew Cuomo have visited them.
UJ Care and the Central Jewish Council received only $50,000 last year in comparison to the rival Zali-allied United Jewish Organization, which got $575,000.
And last week, a state Supreme Court judge suspended proceedings on a case over the Broadway Triangle development project in Williamsburg, pending city and federal investigations into Lopez and his affiliated nonprofits.
Broadway Triangle would have meant 160 units of affordable housing for the UJO. The Aaroni faction had joined the lawsuit to stop it.
The Zalis have also tried to block an affordable-housing project that would benefit the Aaronies -- Rose Plaza, with 226 affordable units for UJ Care, proposed by Aaroni Vice President Isaac Rosenberg.
A City Council member said David Neiderman, who heads the UJO, pressured elected officials to vote for the Broadway Triangle but against Rose Plaza and has tried to dissuade them from funding UJ Care.
"He did not want me to befriend UJ Care, he [Neiderman] talked about them all the time," the councilmember said.
Neiderman responded that public funding was "competitive" and that he opposed the Rose Plaza project on its merits.