Chabad of Seagate Legal Defense Fund

Bonus Round

Original Goal $300,000

BONUS GOAL $318,000

Current Amount Bonus Goal Hit

DONATED $319,619

In Action


The Cause

Twenty-eight years ago, Rabbi Chaim and Rivka Brikman were hired as the rabbi and rebbetzin of Congregation Kneses Israel of Seagate, a synagogue with a storied past dating to 1924. The synagogue had always prided itself on being a place in which every Jewish resident of Seagate would feel at home, so the Brikmans’ Chabad philosophy of warmth and outreach to every Jew was a natural fit. In keeping with their mission––they are shluchim, emissaries of The Lubavitcher Rebbe––the Brikmans founded a Hebrew school that has provided an authentic and state-of-the-art Jewish education to generations of Seagate children, and they created programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors, transforming what was a relatively small Jewish community into one that is vibrant and brimming with Jewish pride.

Eleven years ago, because their synagogue building sufficed for the congregation’s needs at the time, the congregation rented their adjacent building to a Satmar school, UTA of Boro Park. As the community grew, however, the congregation needed the space for all their ongoing services and programs, and chose not to renew their tenant’s lease on the school building after it expired. While verbally agreeing to vacate at the end of the school year, the tenants reneged on the agreement, fabricating a lawsuit against the synagogue––the first step in what would become a pattern of deceit by the erstwhile tenants. A court settlement required UTA to vacate the premises at the end of the following year, but they flouted the court order and brought a new lawsuit challenging the congregation’s right to its own synagogue. They teamed up with a former president of the synagogue, who had been voted out by an overwhelming majority.

In the past few months, UTA (Gary Schlesinger) hired armed guards to station themselves in front of the synagogue to stop community members from entering it, restricting the community’s use of its own building. They went as far as to insist in court that Rabbi Brikman should be arrested for hosting a Shabbos Kiddush in the building. They are well aware that their fabricated allegations will not hold up in court, and so they have engaged in delaying tactics––actions clearly intended to push off their inevitable defeat in court––hoping to exhaust the community’s resources through the legal proceedings.

The legal team is confident that Kneses Israel/Chabad will win in court as soon as the case is heard. Now, Chabad is turning to you to help cover the legal fees.

The community has shown its resilience in the face of adversity time and again. When Hurricane Sandy destroyed the lower level of the synagogue, they moved upstairs and soldiered on. Recently, an electrical fire wrought havoc in the upper level, forcing the community out, and the hundreds of Jewish families who enjoy services, events, and programs at Kneses Israel are currently without a building and a place to call their own. With your help, the Seagate community will once again overcome adversity, and continue to grow together as a community in our beautiful synagogue.

Friends of Rabbi Chaim Brikman
Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi and head Shliach of Russia
Rabbi Boruch Hertz, Rov Kehilas Chabad, Chicago, IL
Rabbi Chaim Meir Lieberman, Lubavitch Youth Organization, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Osher Vaisfish, Chabad of Huntington, NY
Rabbi Shimon Posner, Chabad of Rancho Mirage, CA
Rabbi Yochanan Marozov, Rov Kehilas Chabad, Flatbush, NY
Rabbi Yossi Paltiel, Mashpia Yeshivas Chovevei Torah, Brooklyn, NY

Community Campaign members
Polina Bulman
Levi Pavlovsky
Natalya Permyakova
Shaya Polsky
Eddie Yair


Matching Donors
  • Menachem & Dini Gurevitch
    Chocoladnike Imports
    Anonymous Friend
    Drimmer Family

  • Mordechai & Zissy Nagel
    Dr. Arthur Vayner
    Berel & Breindy Gansbourg

  • Joseph & Chaya Wolhendler
    Anonymous Friend from Montreal
    Anonymous Group of Shluchim

How it Works

Thank you for helping us reach our campaign goal of $318,000!

Name Effective Amount
Erica Haw $18.00
anonymous $18.00
Moshe Kupfer $100.00
Moshe Shagalow $100.00
Esther Sputz $54.00
Todd Levitt $36.00
Anonymous $54.00
Rapoport Family $36.00
Menachem Moscowitz $180.00
Dan Raksi $36.00
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