Temple’s lease in tumult

By Sarina Trangle

A rent dispute between Ohr Natan synagogue and the Rego Park congregations’ landlord has landed the two in court.

Rabbi Nahum Kaziev, who leads the Bukharian house of worship, at 98-81 Queens Blvd., said Ohr Natan was served with an eviction notice after the property owners accused the temple of not paying rent.

He said the synagogue continued sending monthly checks, but was told its landlord, Trylon LLC, did not receive them.

The temple attempted to send more checks to account for the missing money, but Trylon argued the rent was late and moved to terminate its lease in Queens Supreme Court, according to Kaziev.

Judge Terrence O’Conner dismissed the case because of a technicality earlier this month, but Trylon LLC plans to re-file its case.

Still, the rabbi welcomed the temporary reprieve.

“We thank God our prayers were heard. We had hundreds of people praying, about 60 came to the civil court room during the hearing,” he said. “They cannot just come and condemn a community center with thousands of members and destroy a house of worship.”

Ohr Natan and the Educational Center for New Americans, which serve mostly the Bukharian Jewish community that hails from Uzbekistan and Central Asia, and Trylon have clashed for months.

After Trylon bought the building for $9 million in December 2012, Kaziev said the landlords sought to demolish the commercial property, evict Ohr Natan and other storefronts and build high-rise apartments in their place.

The Art Deco-style building that houses the synagogue was created for the 1939 World’s Fair and used as a movie theater until the Trylon Theater closed in the late 1990s. The congregation moved into the theater in 2002 and spent $2.1 million restoring the facility to meet its 1,000 members’ needs, according to Kaziev.

Trylon has been disputing the rabbi’s claims since the property sale.

A Trylon employee, who would not disclose his name because he identified himself with the Jewish community, said the company sought to protect Ohr Natan by providing it with a temporary facility nearby while it knocked down the structure and constructed a new building, comprised of commercial stores on the first floor, space for Ohr Natan on the second and then residential units.

He said Trylon had been too busy trying to collaborate with Ohr Natan to begin drafting blueprints.

Meanwhile, the man said the synagogue missed its rent payments and did not respond to requests for payment until Trylon took the dispute to court.

The judge then dismissed the case because Trylon served the congregation with a notice that contained the wrong address.

“Now I am going to have my attorney send him another notice at the correct address,” the man from Trylon said, noting that to date the congregation owes about $100,000.

He said Trylon is struggling to work with the rabbi and has reached out to leaders at other neighborhood synagogues in an effort to get them involved.

In an order to show cause filed by Ohr Natan the synagogue indicated it would like to resolve the dispute in Beit Din, a rabbinical court, because the landlords are members of the same Jewish community as the congregation.

“We are speaking to them to make sure that we can preserve the synagogue and the center,” the Trylon representative said.. “No matter what the synagogue is going to be there.”

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.