Orthodox Jewish Synagogue Files for Bankruptcy in South Florida
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Orthodox Jewish Synagogue Files for Bankruptcy in South Florida

December 28, 2012

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A venerable synagogue in Hollywood, Florida, is filing for bankruptcy protection in order to shed several millions dollars in debt, according to a recent report from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Hollywood Community Synagogue is looking to bankruptcy to reorganize its debts, most of which are linked to several properties it owns in central Florida, according to a statement released by Rabbi Joseph Korf.

Sources say the synagogue owes between $1 million and $10 million in debt, but that it only holds a relatively paltry $50,000 worth of assets. The synagogue’s bankruptcy reorganization attorney refused to speak with sources, citing ongoing negotiations with creditors, but sources expect the group to have a relatively quiet bankruptcy process.

The synagogue, which is also known to its members as HCS Chabad Jewish Center and Chabad Lubavitch, owes money to a wide range of creditors, including Regions Bank, which is reportedly looking to collect at least $1.4 million.

Other creditors that will play a role in the bankruptcy process include Home Depot and several law firms, according to sources. The presence of several law firms in the list of creditors comes as little surprise, given the synagogue’s contentious history.

Sources say Hollywood authorities have used extensive legal measures to prevent the group from expanding into other properties. Local officials have also prevented the synagogue from holding religious services in the homes of its members.

This move proved so controversial that the U.S. Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Hollywood in 2005. One year later, the city settled with the synagogue for $2 million, although much of this money was lost to litigation fees and subsequent construction costs.

Sources also note that the recent struggles of the national economy played a significant role in reducing donations to the synagogue. As the succinct Rabbif Korf recently told sources, the group simply has "too many debts."

The synagogue has long served as a unique resource for Orthodox members of the religion with relatively modern views, according to the synagogue’s website.

The group says that it blends "traditional values with contemporary techniques," which allows it to "help people appreciate their roots as they discover joy and meaning in living Jewishly."


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