Anne Geggis, Sun Sentinel
Wells Fargo bank is foreclosing on Chabad of Boca Raton — including its synagogue and preschool — for not paying on its $2 million mortgage since November, according to a lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court.
The 23-year-old Orthodox Jewish congregation has occupied its 3-acre campus at 17950 Military Trail since 1999.
Rabbi Moishe Denburg, leader of the congregation, and Michele Lenoff, its attorney, declined to comment.
Wells Fargo also wants the property put into receivership to keep it maintained. Attorneys and other representatives for Wells Fargo, suing the Friends of Chabad of Boca Raton, also declined to comment on the case beyond the filing.
It’s at least the third time in two years that a Chabad in Palm Beach County has been facing legal action for debts.
Rabbi Sholom Ciment, whose own congregation Chabad-Lubavitch of Boynton Beach filed for bankruptcy in 2010, said the issues are the same that are facing nonprofit organizations of all kinds. In February 2011, Chabad House-Lubavitch of Palm Beach closed its bankruptcy case, federal filings show.
Nonprofit organizations get into financial trouble when supporters don’t see their own situations improving, he said.
“This is not a Jewish issue, it’s not a synagogue issue. There have been all types of organizations in the last few years that have gone defunct and bankrupt,” he said. “It’s a whole lot more visible than any time that I can remember.”
Ciment said his congregation pulled together, was able to survive and is back on sound financial footing after facing bankruptcy.
But court filings show that Chabad of Boca Raton had the mortgage on its 23,112-square-foot facility modified five times since its original property loan. Wells Fargo is owed $2.1 million in the mortgage principal, interest, late fees and attorneys’ fees, records show.