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New Legal Wrangle Over Lubavitch Headquarters

Chabad-Lubavitch leaders have renewed their push to evict the congregational leaders of the Chasidic movement’s main Brooklyn synagogue.

On Sept. 21, leaders of Chabad’s governing bodies issued vacate notices in a bid to force out the congregational leaders, or gabbaim, who effectively run the massive synagogue in the basement of 770 Eastern Parkway, the movement’s world headquarters in the Crown Heights neighborhood. The notices gave the gabbaim until Oct. 4 to leave.

The notices are the latest salvo in a long-running fight over control of the synagogue, with the two sides battling in court for more than half a decade. In May, the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court reversed on technical grounds a previous court order for the gabbaim to vacate the synagogue.

Over the past decade, the synagogue has been the scene of occasionally violent clashes stemming from the ongoing dispute and religious conflicts. Under its current gabbaim, the synagogue has been a stronghold of those who aggressively promote the idea that the Lubavitchers’ late rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994, is the messiah.

The recent vacate notices were signed by Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, chairman of Agudas Chasidei Chabad of the United States, and Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch.

A New York court ruled in 2006 that the groups led by Krinsky and Shemtov are the synagogue’s rightful owners.

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