Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Allies of Kiryas Joel's ruling faction have filed a $50 million lawsuit against Ulster County for awarding four summer camp permits to their Satmar Hasidic adversaries.
Arguments made on behalf of Aaron Teitelbaum, the grand rebbe for most Kiryas Joel residents, say it's illegal for secular authorities like Ulster County to settle an intrareligious dispute.
"This determination by the County ... is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and unconstitutional," lawyer Richard Mahon II wrote in an amended complaint.
Ulster County awarded the permits May 9 to a Satmar Hasidic group in Brooklyn led by Aaron's brother, Zalman Teitelbaum. The complaint, which was filed May 30, aims to overturn that decision.
Allies of both Hasidic groups asked this year to operate the Wawarsing and Rochester camps.
Zalman's Hasidic sect dominates Brooklyn, but Aaron's faction controls the Kiryas Joel synagogue. Both brothers claim to be the rightful successor to their father, Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum, who died in 2006.
The Kiryas Joel faction considers longtime camp operator and Zalman ally David Rosenberg to be a "heretic," according to the 14-page complaint.
Ulster is therefore guilty of religious discrimination against the Kiryas Joel group by awarding the permits to Rosenberg, the lawsuit claims.
The Kiryas Joel faction has suffered more than $50 million in damages because of the county's alleged civil rights and equal protection violations, the suit argues.
The camps, located in Dairyland, Kerhonkson, Napanoch and Ulster Heights, total 331 acres and are worth a combined $11.2 million, according to town assessors.
The county planned to inspect the camp properties May 15, and the camps are scheduled to open June 26. Ulster Supreme Court Judge James Gilpatric plans to make a ruling on the permits by June 26, said Ben Ostrer, lawyer for Zalman Teitelbaum.
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