RABBI Pinchus Feldman’s days at Flood Street seem numbered after an amazing exchange between members of his family and Harry Triguboff in the last week.
Triguboff told The AJN exclusively on Wednesday that he regrets giving Feldman a peppercorn lease for parts of the Yeshiva property.
“It was a mistake to give him a lease,” Triguboff said.
“The lease is only for another few months and then it’s finished.
“I will never give him a lease again.”
When asked if he thinks Rabbi Feldman will leave, he said, “No one will evict him before Pesach, that’s for sure. If he goes, we should be so lucky.”
And Triguboff took a swipe at his old friend, stating that, “If I was him, I would be more worried about the Royal Commission,” which is due to resume in Sydney today (Thursday).
The spectacular fight between the Feldman family and the long-time Yeshiva donor reached boiling point last week when Triguboff’s company Meriton, which owns the Yeshiva property, withdrew an offer for Rabbi Feldman to be the spiritual leader of the Yeshiva Synagogue.
In the same letter from Meriton, several other Feldman rabbis were told their peppercorn leases for offices and the shul within Yeshiva would end and they needed to leave by April 20.
Triguboff has backed Rabbi Pinchus Feldman financially to the tune of more than $10 million over the past few decades. When Yeshiva was in dire financial straits in 2012 he bought the property for $6 million and gave Rabbi Pinchus Feldman and others space within Yeshiva for a peppercorn rent.
But since 2012 the relationship between the Feldman family and Triguboff has declined.
The AJN understands the dispute started when Triguboff handed over control of Yeshiva to Rabbi Dovid Slavin.
Despite working in the same building, there has been increasing tension between Rabbi Slavin and the Feldman family.
It came to a crescendo when Triguboff, with the support of Rabbi Slavin, offered the Feldman family control of the shul but asked them to move out of their offices.
When workers were removing personal items from the offices one member of the Feldman family allegedly threatened to call the police.
It was then that the letter to vacate was sent to the Feldmans.
Rabbi Yossi Feldman wrote a scathing response to Triguboff, alleging the Yeshiva shul will be closed “out of hatred”.
“You’re about to commit one of the biggest sins possible of degrading and humiliating a Talmid Chochom [Torah scholar] even after you have shown until now that you have been supporting Talmiday Chachomim [Torah scholars],” Rabbi Yossi Feldman wrote.
“My father does not want to fight with you and is meanwhile planning to remove every single thing from the Shule based on your vacant possession letter and he’ll see what he can do next.
“Basically there won’t be any Oron koydesh [holy ark] Sefer Torahs and books left and you’ll be – not because of lack of money – the first Jew to close a Shule since the Nazis, communists and terrorist Palestinians.”
In a subsequent email, Rabbi Yossi Feldman stressed that he was not comparing Triguboff to a Nazi.
Following the letters, and a call from Rabbi Pinchus Feldman to Triguboff, the notice to terminate the lease was withdrawn on Tuesday night.
“I didn’t change my mind, they changed theirs,” Triguboff told The AJN.
“I had to tell them they have to behave, and now they are behaving.”
Following Triguboff’s decision to let the Feldmans stay in Flood Street, for now, Rabbi Pinchus Feldman wrote to the shul committee on Tuesday night.
“I don’t believe that our shul has any future with the suggested structure of not having a lease and being under Slavin.
“But let it be our decision not that we are evicted.”