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Monday, June 27, 2011

NY - Skverer Rebbe: Lawsuit In Arson Attack Has No Merit

Skverer Rebbe

White Plains, NY - The chief rabbi in a Hasidic village north of New York City says a recent lawsuit filed against him is without merit.

A resident of New Square who was badly burned in May had alleged Grand Rebbe David Twersky directed the attack. Plaintiff Aron Rottenberg claimed Twersky targeted him because he had begun praying at a synagogue other than the principal one in the insular village of 7,000 residents.

On Monday, Twersky’s attorney Franklyn Snitow issued a statement saying the lawsuit has no legal or factual basis. The attorney says Twersky condemns violence.

Eighteen-year-old village resident Shaul Spitzer has been indicted on charges of attempted murder, attempted arson and assault in the attack. He has pleaded not guilty.

Spitzer’s lawyer says Twersky wasn’t involved in the attack on Rottenberg.
NEW SQUARE — The newly hired lawyer for Grand Rebbe David Twersky said Monday that a civil lawsuit brought against his client by burn victim Aron Rottenberg is baseless.

The rabbi has actively campaigned against violence in the Skver Hasidic village of New Square, said his lawyer, Franklyn H. Snitow.

"The rabbi has done everything in his power to ensure that New Square has been a safe and peaceful community for decades," Snitow said in a statement.

The victim's lawsuit alleges that Twersky was responsible for months of intimidation that culminated in the May 22 arson attack on the Rottenberg home. Rottenberg suffered third-degree burns to more than 60 percent of his body in the attack.

The suspect, Shaul Spitzer, 18, of New Square, is named as a co-defendant in Rottenberg's $18 million lawsuit, filed June 14 in state Supreme Court in New City by attorney Michael Sussman.

Rottenberg's lawsuit claims Twersky endorsed several months of intimidation and violence directed at his family in response to Rottenberg's praying at the Friedwald Nursing Home instead of the New Square synagogue, where Twersky presides.

The lawsuit says that, between September and May, the Rottenberg family was a constant target; Rottenberg's daughter was expelled from a village yeshiva and the family received several threatening telephone calls and had car windows smashed on numerous occasions.

On Monday, Snitow condemned such violence on Twersky's behalf.

"Such behavior has never been nor will every be tolerated," he said. "In addition, we strongly believe that the civil case brought against the grand rebbe has no legal or factual basis."

In an email Monday, Sussman, an attorney based in Goshen, N.Y., called Snitow's statement "nonsense."

"The grand rabbi has sat by and allowed terror through the community," Sussman wrote.

"The Rottenberg case is not isolated and Mr. Snitow should know better than to associate with profound lawlessness.

"I welcome the upcoming legal battle."

Spitzer, who had lived with Twersky for more than a year before the attack, is the only one to be criminally charged in connection with the case.

He faces charges of second-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson and first-degree assault.

Spitzer pleaded not guilty in Rockland County Court on Friday and is free on $300,000 bail.

Rottenberg has been living at a hotel since his release from Westchester Medical Center on June 20.

After enduring two skin graft procedures, he is facing weeks of occupational and physical therapy.

Rottenberg has said he hopes to return to New Square soon.

Twersky, 70, has been the grand rebbe of New Square since 1968. He rarely comments publicly and did not comment on the Rottenberg attack until four days later.

Snitow, of Snitow Kanfer Holtzer & Millus in Manhattan, has been as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan, according to his firm's website.

Since entering private practice in 1976, Snitow has handled a number of high-profile cases, many involving issues concerning the First Amendment.


  1. One thing I can tell you is that Frank Snitow and his law firm are corrupt.It's all about the money........

  2. Snitow should slither back into the sewer where he belongs.

  3. "The rabbi has done everything in his power to ensure that New Square has been a safe and peaceful community for decades," Snitow said in a statement.

    No believes this, even for a second. This is a cult being held captive mentally by the guy with the tricked out car (which means he's bought off some public officials) living in a Nyack mansion

  4. Just as a point of correction, his name is Franklyn H. Snitow. Franklyn as spelled this way, not Franklin. I know him from Forest Hills. His areas of practice include: Complex Commercial, Employment, and Family Law.

    My guess as to why he was chosen, was not because he's Brafman or Lewin who are trial attorneys, but because he provides non-litigious representation. He is there to enure that Twersky's and NS's First Amendment rights are not violated. The First Ammendment prohibits "the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances."

    Although the FBI and others may see problems with how New Square is being run, Snitow will be there to ensure that NS has the right to operate without government oversight because it is a religious based community.

  5. There are many people in the frum community that do not care about Chillul Hashem. They think that can do what the heck they want and don't care if it makes news in the world. Shame!!!! I just find it too hard to believe that any Rebbe would order anyone to burn down a house. Because he won't daven in his shul and instead a nursing home? Please, there has got to be more to this story.

    Everyone, before they do a crime, they should realize, they will get caught and the whole world will be watching, besides Hashem having their acts recorded and will be played back after they leave this world.. And before then, they can also end up spending many years in jail. Should be enough to stop people from doing a crime.

    Also, stories like this put those who's yiddishkeit is shaky, off the derech, as it is hard to believe that frum yiddin can attempt to burn a house down with frum yiddin inside. This is yiddishkeit? This is sickenening beyond words.

  6. I know several people Frank Snitow represented in their divorce actions. I thought he specialized in matrimonial/divorce cases. Hmmm. He charges a pretty penny....