Is Greed Holding up the Expansion of Rebbes Library?

by

Source: CH.Info

170
A letter written by Rabbi Shalom Ber Levin, the longtime dedicated chief libarian of the central Chabad library, known as Ohel Yosef Yitzchak Library or the “Rebbe’s Library,” exposes what is holding back the purchase -by Agudas Chasidei Chabad, the Chabad-Lubavitch Umbrella Organization, – of the home of the late Reb Meir Itkin, for the purpose of a much needed expansion of the Library.

The letter tells of demands for an astronomical price of $3 Million for the building and tells of of the involvement of Mendy Hendel, a Mishechist linchpin, who is involved in many activities of Sinas Chinam in the Crown Heights community.

According to the letter, dated Monday the 25th of Sivan, Rabbi Levin explain that it has been over a year that Agudas Chasidei Chabad, which are the official owners of the library and its building, have been negotiating, and have reached an agreement with the family of Reb Meir Itkin.

The agreement reached was for double the amount ($1,500,000) of the market value, and it took quite some time to find a donor willing to facilitate the purchase. But once that donor was found the family balked and demanded double that offer ($3,000,000!) since they claim that another buyer came forward and is willing to pay more, writes Levin.

To read the complete letter in Hebrew, click here.

Involvement of Mendy Hendel

Rabbi Levin writes that Sunday he bumped into Mendy Hendel who attempted to glean from him a quote stating that the library does not need to expand. He went on to detail the short conversation, of Hendel trying to dupe him into mistakenly saying something about there problems with purchasing the property.

Furthermore, CrownHeights.info sent a photographer to take photos of 760 Eastern Parkway. While there our photographer noted that Yankel Chazan passed by and took note of his work.

Chazan is known to write and disseminate Hendels propaganda articles under various pen names and is editor of Hendel’s publication – the Beis Moshiach.

It was not even two hours when an article appeared on Hendel’s mouthpiece website, listing a series of forged and misquoted letters from the Rebbe–, claiming that the Rebbe instructed not to expand the library into the Itkin home. Presumably this was done to preempt any articles that may appear and open the possibility of public support for him to purchase the property for his own nefarious needs.

$3 Million?

What is the realistic value for 760 Eastern Parkway? Levin writes that it is $800,000, but a quick search through properly records revels that 736 Eastern Parkway was sold in 2006 for $1,120,000 just before the housing bubble popped and the market crashed.

One real estate expert told CrownHeights.info that both houses are comparable in size, the only difference being is its proximity to 770 and its obvious value to Merkos and the Library. He said that in today’s market $1,200,000 would be a fair offer and $1,500,000 would be very generous.

According to the expert, if a bidding war ensues, then the realtor stands to be the only one to benefit, since the sale of this property would benefit inheritors, any capital gains are subject to an approximate %50 estate tax.

Negotiations Spanning Three Years

On Motzai Shabbos, January 8th 2011, Rabbi Yehuda Krisnky sat down with Mrs. Shaina Teichtel, who is the daughter of Reb Meir Itkin, in her home where they negotiated the terms of the sale to Merkos for the sole use of expanding the Library.

In this meeting they did not discuss prices since the family was not ready to make the sale, but they did discuss keeping a room dedicated in their father’s memory, which Minyanim can be held on his Yahrtziet, as well as regular Farbrengens, which Reb Meir cherished. Merkos agreed, and put all of it in writing which both sides agreed to.

Rabbi Chaim Shaul Bruk told CrownHeights.info that a number of months later, the Itkin family hired attorney David Yeroshalmi to act as their agent to handle the sale of the house. Rabbi Krinsky had attempted to reach him and after playing embarrassing phone tag for nearly a year the matter fell off the table.

Over a year ago Merkos had managed to secure a donation to facilitate the purchase of the Itkin home, on condition that the money go specifically for the expansion of the library, and it would be available if he was successful in a specific business deal. That happened six weeks ago and Merkos once again attempted to contact the Itkin family to go forward with the sale.

Enter Real Estate Brokers

The Teichtel family informed Merkos that all matters relating to the house should be referred to a local brokerage firm named B.H. Tal, which is owned by Shoshana Tal and Yehuda Segal, two local Crown Heights residents.

Uninterested in paying massive brokerage fees, especially since all negotiations were done directly, Merkos was not sure how to proceed. After a board meeting it was decided that Merkos needs to hire its own representative to protect their own interest.

Merkos hired Crown Heightser Yerachmiel Jacobson. After reaching out and contacting Mrs. Tal he received a response that “there is nothing to talk about until an offer is submitted in writing.” Jacobson then submitted Merkos’s offer of $1,500,000 – a number which was mentioned a number of times in the last three years – which Tal ignored.

After reaching out multiple times asking for a response, a source told CrownHeights.info that, finally Tal responded by saying “these things don’t happen fast, it takes time.” However, when pressed further the bombshell dropped with Tal passing on a message from the family saying “the family is not willing to lose millions” and did not even propose a counter offer.

‘World’ Media Jumps In

After practically ignoring Merkos’s purchase offer Tal began listing the house for sale in advertisements on the web and on ‘Chabad’ news websites.

Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot ‘picked up’ on the pending sale and published an article sensationalizing the possibility of living so close to 770. Other much smaller sites ran similar stories in an attempt to drum up interest in the sale of the home and create a wider appeal.

CrownHeights.info attempted to reach out to the Itkin family, but our calls were not returned. Shoshana Tal responded to an email seeking comment with the following statement from the family; “The Itkin family is committed to uphold their parents legacy of commitment to the Rebbes [sic] ideals. And that the house was bought by Rabbi Itkin with the Rebbes blessings.”

5 Responses to “Is Greed Holding up the Expansion of Rebbes Library?”

  1. WhoIsShmira? Says:

    Personal Opinion:

    I was very upset to hear about this. Especially when the people involved consider themselves Chabad Chassdim (from Chasove families of Anash). I would think that they would jump for joy at an opportunity like this. Especially when they are not being asked to give it over for free and a dedication room is being offered.

    I think this could have been a shining example of doing something good and could have been a great lesson that money is not everything. In a world lacking morals, principles and good will, this would have shown otherwise.

    If the house is sold to another for more money, no joy will come of that money.

    I would be just as upset if this would happen to anybody else.

    Imagine you have a house adjoined to another which goes on sale. Your neighbor puts the house up for sale and gives you or you offer a good price, then comes some Joe schmoe, lets call him Mendy Hendel and starts to make problems and as a result the price goes up and up. I’m sure you would be upset and perhaps angry.

    Thank you CH.Info for publishing this.

    I would like to see more articles like this.

  2. CHLEAKS.COM Says:

    74. voice of reason wrote:

    I don’t think anyone objects to them trying to get the best price they can for a house, I think the issue is that they seem to be throwing their principles aside to get it. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t but to the general public, the Itkins stand as Chassidim who are close to the true fundamentals of Chassidus & the Rebbe, not this yellow flag & terrorist garbage. Therefore, by playing cat & mouse with the Rebbe’s mosad just to get more money and to be actually considering selling to terrorists is abhorrent.

  3. Chaim Shaulzon Says:

    Translated from: http://bshch.blogspot.com/2013/06/blog-post_1628.html#comment-form

    For Controversy (Machlokes) There is Plenty Money!!!

    It happens almost everywhere I’ve seen it Satmar for years they failed to build the Meis Medresh, years was the building empty and desolate they could not finish it because there was no money, but once the Controversy (Machlokes) began within one year they build giant synagogues, where millions were available as much as needed, the institutions that were contested were developed, something very interesting happened, what they could not do peacefully they did with Machlokes.

    Now this is happening in Chabad, with the structure that is adjacent to the Chabad library in Crown Heights, the owners were offered double the price more than the worth and then came the Meshichistim and promised more money, just to make sure the sane people don’t take control over it.
    What interesting is from where are millions. A house which is worth a total of around $800 thousand dollars they are ready to give nearly $3 million, would a sane person do this? Absolutely not. But, when there’s a Machlokes millions are found.

    What infuriates me is that when you ask these very same people for money for important matters they will give you barely a $100, but when there’s such a controversy they open their pockets wide and immediately write a check for a hundred thousand dollars or even a million dollars.

    This is the reality!!!

    What’s a wonder here is that the same family whose selling the home, is not their good name important to them, or for money they are willing to sell their good name in order to rake in millions? I admit I am doubtful as to whether I would be able to defeat my evil inclination when face with millions, and yet we are talking about a house next door to the Rebbe and Chabad Casidim should them think twice before they make such a move. If they sell it to Meshichistim they will claim they that they did it for the money not for ideology, because they are not originally Meshichistim and from the outset it has been agreed upon with the leaders of Chabad on selling for double the price.

    Now is the time to prove greatness and heroism to make the right decision, to prove that money is not always important, sometimes the right move is more important because it pays much more in the future.

    Chaim Shaulzon

  4. Anonymous Says:

    If you compare velues this house is worth 3 million minimum I think that can go up to 5 million
    Its easy to sell cheap somebody else’s house I would ask all these appraisers to sell me their house for their “appraised value”
    Merkoz can pay 3 million What’s the big deal! They get millions of dollars Rohr can buy it

    • WhoIsShmira? Says:

      The only reason the house is worth do much is only because it’s the house next to 770.

      There are so many houses for sale on Eastern Parky and they don’t come close to 1.5 million.

      So on the one hand the owners are selling “the house next to the Rebbe/770”, on the other hand they are not willing to sell the house to the Rebbe’s mosdos (?)

      I’m hearing rumors (and rumors are not facts) that a missionary group is very interested in this house and they might be willing to buy it even for five million. I hope and pray this is not true. Once the sale takes place we will all be smarter.

      If G-d forbid the house is sold to a missionary group, a church or to any goy, we shall see how all those “they can do what they want” people react.

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