RIP: Bitter Dispute Over Jewish Burial Society Operations


Back in April, 2009, the Voice brought you the story of a dispute over the operations of a Jewish burial society. (Such societies buy and hold gravesides for their members before their passing in exchange for dues.)

A California man named Martin Specht accused the Manhattan-based Lanzuter Benevolent Association of failing to hold meetings and elections, keep minutes or follow their own bylaws. He also claimed the society’s leaders misspent society funds.

In response, Lanzuter attorney Martin Cohen denied the allegations and memorably accused the Voice of “a touch of anti-semitism” in writing about the dispute.

Well, the lawsuit that Specht filed against Lanzuter is finally over nearly two years later.

Lawyers for Specht and the society signed a settlement agreement last week which will replace the entire board with other members following an election, and open membership to children and grandchildren of current members.

In a letter to the Voice, Kerry Gotlib, the lawyer representing the society’s board, wrote that Specht and his lawyer were able to thoroughly review the society’s records and concluded that Lanzuter’s operations were “completely within the bounds of propriety.”

“Lanzuter is an important organization representing the epitome of true kindness,” Gotlib wrote. “The directors should be lauded for their hard work and dedication.”

To this, Specht’s lawyer Jamie Forman sent his own missive to the Voice, in which he wrote: “I, unfortunately, am compelled to respond. The fact is plaintiffs discontinued the lawsuit solely in connection with a heavily negotiated settlement agreement recently reached between the parties.”

The agreement, he added, “establishes mechanisms intended to insure openness and transparency in the future operations of Lanzuter.”