Crown Heights - Congregants Discover Shul in Ruins
Members of a Crown Heights Shul were shocked to find their temporary place of worship destroyed, after a yearlong dispute with their landlord reached a boiling point.
Congregation Sosnitz is a Shteibel which was founded by Polisher Yidden at a Crown St. home in 1956. For many years the Shul thrived, but by the 1970s the Shul – like many others of its type – was struggling to get a Minyan and was about to close its doors. The Shul was saved in 1979, when a group of Lubavitchers began to daven there, after a Sicha in which the Rebbe encouraged his Chassidim to Daven in these Shuls and keep them afloat.
About a year and a half ago the shul’s home began to undergo construction, forcing the members to temporarily find a new place to congregate. After searching for some time, they made an agreement with Machon Chana to rent half of a first floor apartment in the Moisad’s building on the corner of Crown St. and Albany Ave. for $1,000 per month. The other half of the apartment was used as an administrative office by Machon Chana.
Months went by and the Shul’s original home remained unavailable. Machon Chana - under the impression that the Shul’s stay would be short - began to pressure the Shul to move out of the apartment so that it could be renovated. Machon Chana reckoned that the apartment would be worth $2,000 after renovations, so they felt they were losing $1,000 every month the Shul remained.
According to Machon Chana, the Shul promised to be out by Tishrei, but each month the Shul said they needed more time. Six months later Pesach came around and the Shul was still there.
After Pesach, the building manager met with the Shul’s representatives and told them they had to either move out or double their rent. The Shul’s members insisted that they be allowed to stay. Machon Chana offered them a different place to Daven upstairs, but the Shul rejected this because most of their members are elderly and cannot climb the stairs. (An Administrator of Machon Chana pointed out to us that their permanent home is up a flight of stairs).
Last night Yossi Avtzon, a member of the Shul, went over to the shul to drop off some food for the Kiddush, as he usually would, when he discovered to his shock that the entire place had been destroyed.
The entire apartment looked like it had been hit by a wrecking ball, with all the furniture cast aside, the walls torn down and the bathroom smashed to bits.
“I’ve never seen something like this happen to a Shul, it looks like kristalnacht,” said his brother Yonah Avtzon, also a member of the Shul.
The Congregation now unexpectedly finds itself without a place to daven on Shabbos, for the first time in almost sixty years.