As you are aware from numerous articles in the Chicago Jewish Star for the last three years Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation has suffered the belligerence of one man, Steven Turk. Mr. Turk locked us out of our Synagogue. In a written statement to the Chicago Jewish Star quoted in its August 26, 2010 edition responding to the Congregation’s August 8th annual meeting and elections to which Mr. Turk was specifically invited, he stated he viewed the August 8th meeting as a break in and criminal trespass and “police will make arrests of those who broke in.” Of course no one was arrested. In fact members of the Chicago Police Department were in attendance at that very meeting assuring civility and assisted the Rabbi, who is in a wheel chair, in entering the Synagogue building.
In the same article concerning the reopening of Agudas Achim, Turk states this will occur when our Synagogue “becomes Conservative or Reform”, an unacceptable idea to the overwhelming majority of our congregants. A bizarre statement, for in the past Mr. Turk himself turned the Synagogue Conservative only to return it to its Orthodox roots as a prerequisite to Rabbi Lefkowitz’s assuming the pulpit. It is common knowledge Agudas Achim was a moribund institution until the Rabbi, as the Bet Din clearly confirmed in its written decision, “resuscitated” our Synagogue.
Turk as well assailed the good name of Rabbi Lefkowitz and his sons. He agreed in writing to have the matter adjudicated in a legal binding arbitration before the Ecclesiastical Court (Bet Din) of the Chicago Rabbinical Council. The Bet Din determined his accusations to be unfounded. Turk did not abide by their decision, forcing the Bet Din to find him in contempt of court (mesarev lavo ladeen). He then filed the same charges in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Judge Joan E. Powell dismissed Turk’s case. Mr. Turk removed the Synagogue’s Torahs from our building. In spite of letters, calls and a visit to his office by our Board, he has steadfastly refused to return them.
Nevertheless, we are proud to announce Agudas Achim has been holding regular services for over a month. We now must address the maintenance issues ignored by Mr. Turk and move the Congregation forward.
We turn to you at this critical time in our Synagogue’s long history imploring you to stand with us by offering your financial support to AANSC and its important work of providing a religious home for our many seniors from the former USSR and the growing young Jewish population residing in Uptown.
With our gratitude for your understanding of our plight and our thanks for your support,
Ganakh Kagan, Iosif Katz, Levi Lefkowitz and Boris Mushkin