The board of directors of the National Council of Young Israel has voted again to sell its longtime Manhattan headquarters to a condo developer for $5.4 million.
The approval comes days after a state Supreme Court justice nullified a previous board vote by one of the nation’s largest Orthodox membership groups for not being conducted properly.
Tuesday night’s vote was 18-1 with one abstention, according to NCYI attorney Ken Fisher. It took place at an hourlong closed meeting at Abigael’s restaurant in Manhattan.
The approval sets up more legal battles between NCYI and its affiliate, the Young Israel of Fifth Avenue. The congregation operates on the bottom floors of the building at 3 W. 16th St. and ostensibly would be evicted if the building were sold.
YIFA attorney Joel Cohen said the NCYI board turned down his client’s request to consider another offer to sell the building for the same price that would allow the shul to stay in place.
Cohen, also a synagogue member, said the board would not allow any YIFA representative to speak at Tuesday’s meeting.
"They will continue to receive extremely vigorous opposition to the sale from us," he said. "To close a synagogue is just dead wrong."
Justice Debra James had voided a 2002 NCYI sale vote because some members voted by phone, contrary to legal requirements.
James refrained, however, from ruling on other substantive legal issues, including whether the sale would violate NCYI’s mission to promote synagogues.
YIFA contends that putting its congregation out of business is a violation of NCYI by-laws, and has also brought the battle against its parent group to a bet din, or rabbinic court.
Despite the new vote, Cohen said NCYI, which has about 140 member synagogues, still needs James to validate the sale, which also calls for state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s approval.
That approval requires that NCYI use $4 million of the sale proceeds to pay back the state Department of Health from problems associated with NCYI’s ownership of the Shalom Nursing Home in Westchester.