Canadian Jewish News reports:
Rohr Chabad of NDG has launched a public fundraising campaign to buy the former church hall it occupies from the real estate developers that own it.
Chabad says it must be in a position to make an acceptable offer by the end of May.
Director Rabbi Yisroel Bernath told The CJN on April 19 that “ideally” he would like to raise $1 million, but “realistically” he expects at least the $800,000 needed to make the down payment.
With that, and the $500,000 it has in hand, Rabbi Bernath believes Chabad is in a position to support a mortgage and maintain the building, which is about 100 years old.
It finds itself “in limbo” since the Côte des Neiges-Notre Dame de Grâce borough council earlier this month withdrew its approval of the developers’ planned housing project on the site, following strong opposition from nearby residents.
The developers have not made public their intentions, but Rabbi Bernath said he knows that they have received offers for the property. Chabad has been given “the first right of refusal,” which means that Chabad has first dibs, if it can match other offers, said Rabbi Bernath, underlining that he considers the developers “friends.”
In the April 18 announcement of the online campaign, Chabad appealed to “the local, national and international community” to help “a synagogue under attack from [a] local elected city councillor.”
That refers to the tirade at the April 4 borough council meeting by Jeremy Searle, an opponent of the housing project.
He charged that Chabad was resorting to “the overused Jewish guilt argument” and insinuations of anti-Semitism to deter the opposition.
Rabbi Bernath said many people remained disturbed by the veteran councillor’s remarks and his lack of apology or clarification, and he expects Searle will be questioned at the next borough meeting on May 2.