EXCLUSIVE: Accused child molester sues synagogue in ‘hostile takeover’ attempt, congregation charges

New York Daily News

Friday, April 28, 2017

Leaders at a Brooklyn synagogue say a former congregant is trying to force his way into a leadership role and accuses him of inappropriate conduct with teenage boys.

In August, Zvi Geller, 40, sued Beth Jacob Ohev Sholom on Rodney St. in Williamsburg, calling for new board elections. He also said the board wouldn’t let him build a youth center.

But the synagogue leaders, which members describe as the last Orthodox, non-Hasidic place of worship in the neighborhood, say Geller is attempting a “hostile takeover.”

In an affidavit filed Tuesday against Geller’s suit, synagogue president Martin Needelman said Geller opposed the appointment of a new rabbi after its longtime leader retired.

“Geller strongly opposed the Congregation’s attempt to seek a new rabbi and without being formally appointed, he began acting as if he were the effective rabbi of the Congregation,” Needelman stated.

The affidavit further accuses Geller of sleeping on the synagogue’s premises at least three Friday nights while alone with a 16-year-old boy who’d joined him for the Sabbath. The document also cites an ad in a local Jewish publication that accuses Geller of being a molester.

Geller has not been charged with any criminal conduct and vehemently denies the allegations.

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