October 22, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Three busted, four reported

New York Daily News - Home - Bust three in temple's holy war


BY LARRY COHLER-ESSES and TONY SCLAFANI

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Three men involved in a wild brawl over control of a prominent Brooklyn synagogue were arrested yesterday, law enforcement sources said.

The arrests followed an angry feud within the borough's Satmar community that turned violent during services at the Yatev Lev temple in Williamsburg two weeks ago, sources said.

Hundreds of worshipers were on hand when backers of two feuding rabbi brothers vying for control of the synagogue came to blows, cops said. Several worshipers suffered broken bones.

The power struggle to lead the congregation is between the followers of Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum, the oldest son of Grand Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum, and those of Aron's younger brother Zalmen, according to sources.

The bitter feud - which has led to street fights and a court battle - ignited several years back, when the father stepped down and chose Zalmen to run the congregation.

The appointment infuriated Aron's followers, who believe the oldest son should be the next in line to lead.

On Oct. 6, some of Aron's followers stormed the synagogue during dancing rituals that are part of the Simchat Torah - the holiday marking the end of the year-long reading of the Torah, Satmar sources told the Daily News.

The temple crashers flipped over metal benches and yelled, "Take your kids home because there's going to be fighting!" witnesses said.

"They did this many times before, but not with such power," said Moses Lawfer, a Zalmen follower. "This time they bused people from upstate."

However, followers of Aron - who have a satellite community in Orange County - say they were just attending the services.

Three Brooklyn men who align themselves with Zalmen were slapped with assault charges, according to sources.

----With Veronika Belenkaya and Nancie L. Katz

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