Thursday, May 10, 2012
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein ruled Wednesday that Kiryas Joel dissidents can continue to operate four Jewish summer camps in the southwestern portion of the county.
"The Ulster County Department of Health does not have the authority to divide these camps among the two factions of the Satmar community," County Attorney Bea Havranek wrote in a three-page letter.
Camp Rav Tov has been run for years by affiliates of Hasidic leader Zalman Teitelbaum.
But this year, Zalman's older brother — Aaron Teitelbaum — also filed a permit to run some of the camps. Hein's office decided to keep on issuing all the permits to allies of Zalman.
Aaron's faction is in charge of the Kiryas Joel synagogue, but Zalman's allies are dominant in Brooklyn.
Some 3,800 Williamsburg-area teens attend the religious summer camps in Dairyland, Kerhonkson, Napanoch and Ulster Heights. The camps cost roughly $650 per family.
The Brooklyn-based Rosenberg family has been running the Rav Tov campsites for the past four decades.
After the 2006 death of Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum, Rabbi David Rosenberg aligned himself with Zalman.
"The camps will be run the way they always have been, by the people who have always run them," said Rabbi Issac Mandel, an ally of the Zalman faction.
Both Zalman and Aaron's supporters claim to be the rightful leaders of Congregation Yetev Lev in Brooklyn.
Courts have ruled that the Satmars must work out secession issues among themselves.
Yetev Lev owns the camps in Wawarsing and Rochester.
Zalman's followers — representing themselves as the sole congregation members — transferred all the camp property to Rosenberg in December 2010.
Aaron's followers challenged the transfer in court, arguing that the congregation's leadership remains under dispute.
Supreme Court Judge James Gilpatric voided the property transfer in September 2011.
"The initial application by the (Zalman's) is the quintessence of non-disclosure, bordering on a fraudulent application," Gilpatric wrote.
Four months later, Zalman and Aaron's followers — both calling themselves Congregation Yetev Lev — filed for permits with Ulster County's Health Department to run the camps. Hein met with both sects on two occasions, while Havranek met with the lawyers once. They reached the conclusion, according to Havranek's letter, that the Hasidic foes wouldn't solve the dispute on their own.
"A deep divide exists amongst the Satmar community that extends beyond the issue at hand," Havranek wrote. "The County does not wish to be part of that controversy nor will it."
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