Rabbi claims he was vilified for welcoming non-white members – New York Post

Posted By on August 24, 2017

A Westchester rabbi who sought to diversify his synagogue was panned by its racist board members for turning the congregation Spanish and Black, according to a federal discrimination complaint.

Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Vias, a Sephardic Jew who trained as an Orthodox rabbi, claims the board at Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers has a long history of discriminatory practices against non-Whites.

Vias explosive allegations are laid out in a complaint recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Racist members employed subterfuge and sabotage against not only Rabbi Vias but new Latino and African American members, the complaint said. They have attacked any bi-racial or non-white member as not really Jewish.

Vias, who joined the synagogue in 2003, claims one board member, Helen Schwartz, commented, Wouldnt it be terrible if the darkies took over the synagogue? without realizing the rabbis Cuban background.

In 2011, Schwartz also allegedly complained to a director that Vias wasnt actually Jewish because of his Sephardic/Hispanic background.

Board members allegedly spread rumors that the rabbi was out to turn the congregation Spanish and even accused him in 2008 of stealing from the rabbis discretionary fund to change the congregation to Spanish members.

An investigation revealed that the funds were properly distributed, the complaint said. However, the very same false allegations arose again several months later, again with no finding of wrongdoing.

Vias accuses the board of doing nothing when a White congregation member with a Dominican spouse and biracial kids complained of racist treatment in 2010.

Specifically, board members raised her biracial background, claimed she didnt look Jewish and said the family was creating the wrong impression at the congregation, the complaint said.

The boards retaliation against Vias has included cutting his salary, docking his pay and manufacturing criticisms that he chased out more members than he brought in to the congregation.

He also claims the board forced him to sell his rabbi residence and charged with finding a buyer, promising a three-percent bonus that was never paid out.

Vias is seeking compensatory damages for the boards unlawful discrimination and retaliatory practices, which he claims caused him significant financial ramifications, humiliation, outrage and mental anguish.

A message left at Lincoln Park Jewish Center wasnt immediately returned.

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Rabbi claims he was vilified for welcoming non-white members - New York Post

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