Young Israels challenge control of national council


SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — A group of Young Israel synagogues is challenging the control exerted by its central body.

In an Aug. 3 letter to the the National Council of Young Israel leadership, 35 of the organization’s 140 North American branch synagogues formally proposed three changes to the national body’s constitution.

One amendment would make explicit the right of Young Israel branches to resign from the organization, a right the national leadership says is prohibited. A second would repeal the clause that allows the council to seize the assets of any branch synagogue that is dissolved or expelled. The third would prevent the national body from initiating litigation against a branch, former branch or any representative of a branch without the approval of two-thirds of the members of the Delegates Assembly.

Together, the changes could significantly restrict the punitive actions the national council can take against its branches.

The ongoing battle between the national council and Shaarei Torah Orthodox Congregation of Syracuse, N.Y., a former Young Israel shul, inspired the letter.

The Syracuse synagogue says it is being forced out of the national organization because it elected a female president, which is banned by the constitution. The council’s leadership says the expulsion is being sought because the synagogue owes $20,000 in dues.

Signatories to the letter, representing 25 percent of Young Israel branch synagogues, have called for a special meeting to discuss and possibly vote on their proposed amendments no later than Sept. 30.

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