Zipple - The Jewish Supersite

Events Calendar

Joke of the Week
Recipe of the Week
Quote of the Week
Tip of the Week


w.w.w. Zipple  

Click Here to Visit!

News & Politics

Home > News & Politics > U.S. > Synagogue sues congregants for unpaid dues

U.S. News
Peres in U.S. to lay groundwork for talks

Parents of injured boy sue JCC

Israel News

Diplomatic contacts intensify toward ceasefire

Slain baby's funeral

International News

Czech school cancels seminars with neo-Nazis
Sarajevo Haggadah alive and well

Synagogue sues congregants for unpaid dues

New Jersey Jewish News
December 28, 2000

WHIPPANY, N.J.—A superior court case in Morris County that pitted a Rockaway, N.J., couple against their synagogue has left those involved angry and holding opposing ideas of what the nature of the relationship between a temple and its congregants should be.

David Slossberg was sued by White Meadow Temple of Rockaway for unpaid membership dues totaling $1,500. Slossberg and White Meadow settled-the agreement has Slossberg paying his former synagogue $33 a month for one year, a total of nearly $400. White Meadow brought the lawsuit after Slossberg and his wife, Dian, believed they had severed their relationship with the temple.

Slossberg said he agreed to settle with White Meadow because they agreed to leave his wife out of the suit, which originally named her as well.

Slossberg said he is "extremely upset" at the way White Meadow's people handled the situation. Although Slossberg holds no ill will toward White Meadow's attorney, Rabbi Leslie P. Lipson and temple administrators are another story.

"It's very bad what they did, but what they're doing to other people is worse," Slossberg said, referring to two other sets of defendants currently named in White Meadow suits. "It's pathetic the way they treated them. It is unconscionable. The other parties are not like me. They want to go to temple. One couple has young children."

Two other Rockaway couples are facing lawsuits brought by White Meadow Temple to collect back membership dues.

"We generate a budget every year," said White Meadow synagogue president Robert Goldberg. Based on that, the synagogue's leaders determine what the dues are. "When people fall behind, our financial secretary sends a letter," Goldberg explained, adding that additional letters are sent at regular intervals over as many as five years.

Only then, he said, is such a matter turned over to the temple's attorneys. He added that the temple often makes arrangements with those who cannot afford to pay full dues. According to Goldberg, White Meadow maintains a hardship committee whose members assess such situations. Only "after all the letters are ignored," said Goldberg, "then the lawsuits start."

The rabbi at White Meadow with whom the Slossbergs were familiar was Ralph Dalin, who happened to live next door to them. David Slossberg had apprised Dalin that he had spiritual and financial hardships; Slossberg was under the impression, at that time, that he had made a definitive, if unofficial, break with White Meadow. "He was sympathetic, but I don't know if he had any say in the business end," said Slossberg. That was in 1996.

Dalin moved to San Diego last summer and could not be reached for comment. He was replaced by Rabbi Leslie P. Lipson.

Once the dispute came to light and Slossberg tried to explain his financial situation to White Meadow, he said, the synagogue was less than understanding. "They never said 'just pay what you can,' or anything like that."

Slossberg believes the temple needs to be restructured when it comes to the way they do business with their congregants. "The temple should be held to an incredibly higher moral standard " than other businesses.

Goldberg said that Slossberg made no attempt to contact the synagogue regarding the matter of his late dues.

Slossberg said he now questions the moral standards of White Meadow's administrators and rabbi, who spoke only through their attorneys to Slossberg and his wife. "This rabbi, not to have reached out to me, for him not to do that is unconscionable. I don't know where he was ordained."

The settlement Slossberg reached with White Meadow has both embittered him and prompted him to start making some future plans. "I don't know that I want to divulge [them]," Slossberg said of his plans. "They're nothing earth-shattering; I won't damage the temple. But my plan is to help people that want to belong to a synagogue and have perhaps financial or spiritual problems." Slossberg did not go into further detail but denied that he will seek retribution of some kind against White Meadow.

Following the in-court settlement, Slossberg issued a statement:

"The Temple, Judaism, and faith lost today. The synagogue lost more than money today, they lost the possibility of ever having us as members in the future.... This is a very sad and troubling statement on Judaism and I will need time to digest what this has really done to my faith. But at the end of the day, I was born a Jew and I will die a Jew.

"However, at the risk of shaming my family and bringing public scrutiny upon us, I felt that I needed to go public with this issue for the purpose of changing the way the synagogue handles matters such as this. I would also like to reach out to the people in our Jewish community who have also or are currently being harassed by the synagogue for dues that they have not been able to pay for whatever valid reason, and I do say valid.

"I also want these people to be aware that they may be able to band together and initiate a class-action suit against White Meadow Temple. But more importantly, I hope that another synagogue or temple reaches out for these members, in an uncompromising way, and brings them back to their faith."

Lipson, who was on vacation, and Rosen could not be reached for comment. Goldberg said members of the congregation have been supportive but are upset about the publicity. The Star-Ledger published two stories chronicling White Meadow Temple Inc. versus David and Dian Slossberg.

"This is an unfortunate situation. I don't know why The Star-Ledger thought it was so important," said Goldberg.

"This kind of thing is a last resort. Before we take action, three or four letters or more are sent," Goldberg said, stressing that similar situations have lasted for as many as five years. "Some people thought I shouldn't have settled at all. I wish we could have made some kind of arrangement."

© New Jersey Jewish News, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission


People & Cultures

About Zipple | Legal Stuff | Link to Us | Add Your URL | Advertising | Feedback | Contact Us