Graff Family Foundation Vs. Young Israel Of North Beverly Hills

I went up to the Beverly Hills courthouse today and snagged the complaint.

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Joe, an attorney, emails: "The hearing on 10/28 indicates that the the Graffs are seeking to attach assets – this is an extraordinary remedy – a prejudgment attachment – basically saying that the judge should slam a lien on title to prevent sale."

The complaint is for breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment and constructive trust.

Here’s the background on the lawsuit: The Graffs got mad when their candidate, Nachum Braverman, was not hired as rabbi.

Why was this dispute taken to a secular court? Did no Beit Din (Jewish law court) want to touch it? Was the RCC judged too corrupt and incompetent?

Oy, how it hurts me to have publish something that makes the Jews look bad in front of the goyim!

4. In the early 1990s, several families practicing Orthodox Judaism in the North Beverly Hills neighborhood joined together to form a prayer group.

5. This prayer group would meet at various temporary locations, typically on Friday nights and Saturdays (in observance of the Jewish Sabbath) and on major Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashonah, Yom Kippur and Passover.

6. As membership in the prayer group began to grow, in or about 1992, the prayer group formed the non-profit corporation which is the defendant in this lawsuit, the Young Israel of North Beverly Hills.

7. In or about 2003, Defendant had grown too big to continue to meet in temporary space and the members of the congregation undertook to realize their dream of becoming a full-fledged synagogue (or "shul") with its own building for holding prayer services and providing for the membership’s communal needs.

8. In connection with this undertaking to build its own synagogue, Defendant began a fundraising campaign (hereinafter referred to as the "Building Campaign") specifically to raise funds designated for the construction of the new shul building (the "Project").

9. To raise funds for the Project, certain representatives of the Defendant…met with potential donors and solicited donations.

13. In reasonable reliance on Defendant’s oral and written representations that donations contributed to the Project would be used for a specific part of the Project in the new building as designated by that contributing member, and for no other purpose, in 2004 — at the earliest stages of the Building Campaign — Plaintiff contributed $250,000 to the Building Campaign for the construction of an Aron Kodesh in the new shul. Plaintiff made clear to the Defendant, and Defendant confirmed, orally, and in writing, that the donation was for the sole purpose of constructing the Aron Kodesh within the new shul building.

14. By check dated May 28, 2004, in the amount of $25,000.18, Plaintiff made its initial installment payment of its $250,000 pledge amount.

26. Defendant began construction of the new shul building in or about 2004; however, upon information and belief, Defendant abandoned the Project shortly thereafter.

27. In a letter to its members dated Sept. 8, 2006, Defendant solicited votes for two of its Boards: the Executive Board and an At-Large Board. The September 8, 2006 letter set forth a vision of governance, an agenda and a "plan of action." The first agenda item in this Sept. 8, 2006 letter was identified as "complete [the synagogue’s] construction in 12 months." …With respect to completing the construction of the synagogue, the Executive Board was responsible for obtaining an additional $4,800,000 in funding to complete the construction. According to Defendant’s Sept. 8, 2006 letter, funding the $4,800,000 included: (1) Accelerating collection of payment on outstanding pledges of at least $1,000,000; (2) Collecting $1,000,000 in new pledges; (3) Obtaining additional pledges (once construction began); and (4) Obtaining a non-recourse line of credit facility for $2,000,000.

28. To date, and over two years after the September 8, 2006 letter set a deadline for completing the shul building within 12 months, Defendant has not raised the $4,800,000.

29. Moreover, as delineated at an Aug. 27, 2008 Board Meeting, Defendant has begun to pursue other dispositions of the property and has effectively abandoned the Project. Instead of building the synagogue, Defendant intends to either (1) SWAP – swap locations with the Sephardic Shul on Foothill Avenue in Beverly Hills; (2) SPLIT — attempt to split the space with another congregation; or (3) SELL – sell the property outright and buy or lease another space.

30. Upon information and belief, Defendant will not return to Plaintiff the $250,000 Plaintiff contributed to the Project for the construction of the Aron Kodesh in a new shul building, and instead, will use these specially designated funds for a purpose other than for one the parties contracted.

38. Defendant breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing implied in the Agreement by representing to Plaintiff that the $250,000 would be exclusively used for the construction of the Aron Kodesh as part of the new shul building and by failing to take any steps to construct the Aron Kodesh as part of the new shul building, despite repeated inquiries and demands by Plaintiff.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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