From the Rabbi

“If I am not for me, who will be?”
- Hillel

Dear congregants & friends of Agudas Achim:

Recently Steven Turk sent a letter to you regarding the situation at Agudas Achim. In part it reads,

In September 2008 your Board of Directors voted to terminate Rabbi Lefkowitz’s contract based on our claim that he had improperly used Synagogue funds. The Rabbi then took our Congregation to the Chicago Rabbinic Council (the cRc), which upheld its termination and ordered the Rabbi and his family to vacate the Synagogue’s condominium by August 2010.

PLEASE NOTE- AANSC bylaws: Article VII, “The Board of Directors shall manage and administer…except as to the following: a2, Matters involving the engaging or discharging of salaried employees” My contract signed by Steven Turk: F3, “The Congregation (not the board of Directors) or Rabbi may terminate this contract for cause.”

Steven Turk’s accusations against my sons and myself at the Bet Din, in civil court proceedings he brought against us and to the police, all in your name as claimed President of Agudas Achim, have created untold pain and shame for the Lefkowitz family. In keeping with the axiom of our great sage Hillel, it is time for me to come to my own defense.

I have attached three documents to this letter:

  1. A letter clarifying the entire Bet Din episode I recently received from Rabbi Alan Abramson, the Menahel of the Bet Din. (click here to view)
  2. Steven, in your name, claimed during the Bet Din proceedings and in statements to the police that my family opened a secret account at the Harris Bank which we utilized to commit various acts of “financial impropriety.” I share with you Steven’s letter, as the then President of Agudas Achim, to the Harris Bank authorizing this alleged SECRET account and delegating my sons as its signatories. (click here to view)
  3. The dismissal order of Judge Joan E. Powell of the case brought by Steven Turk in your name, essentially making the same charges against my sons and myself in civil court that he leveled against us during the Bet Din hearing. (click here to view)

I have already communicated with the legal Board of Directors of our Synagogue informing them as Rabbi of Agudas Achim and per my contractual obligations to the Synagogue, of my formal conclusion that Steven Turk, by his actions, has disqualified himself from membership in Agudas Achim. It is beyond question that essential to leadership in a Synagogue is a deeply felt reverence for our religion, coupled with the attributes of honesty and integrity.

It is now time for all of you, as the Maccabees of old, to speak out and act for yourselves. Cleanse our Synagogue, our small Temple, of the impurity it has had to endure these three years. Together with our Board I urge you to reopen Agudas Achim, rededicating it anew to the timeless values and observances of Judaism.

Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz