Adler naming rights in doubt.

December 30, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
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An appeal to have the naming rights of the Melbourne’s Sephardi Association Synagogue revert solely to the building’s original benefactor has been upheld.

Rodney Adler

Rodney Adler

The saga of the Sephardi Association’s synagogue’s naming rights began in 1990 when a donation by the late Albert Sassoon Yehuda to aid the financially ailing synagogue was made with a condition that the synagogue would bear his name in perpetuity.

But when Sydney-based businessman Rodney Adler heard several years ago that the cash-strapped synagogue had serious financial difficulties, he made a large donation on behalf of his family and the synagogue’s new extension housing a community centre was named the Lyndi and Rodney Adler Sephardi Centre. It is understood part of the finance for the extension by the nephew of the late Albert Sassoon Yehuda, Dan Horesh…the executor of the estate.

In 2009, the estate of the late Albert Yehuda Sassoon claimed that a $100,000 debt owed the Association would be scrapped in exchange for naming rights of the entire complex resulting in a case heard before the Victorian Supreme Court in 2010 which the estate lost with the judge declaring that any naming rights attached to the original synagogue built in 1994 did not apply to extensions.

The decision was handed down in 2011 and appealed by the estate earlier this year.

On December 13, the Victorian Court of Appeal upheld the estate’s claim following a legal battle estimated to have cost around $500,000.

The final judgement relating to costs and conditions will be handed down on January 31.

President of the Association Paul Berman told J-Wire: “We will comply with whatever the Court decides but if costs are awarded against us, the community will once again be in financial trouble. Whatever the outcome, the Association will continue to honour all our benefactors who have given so generously. We will, of course, look into all options open to us.”

The naming rights to the extension were offered to the Adler family as part of a package.

Rodney Adler told J-Wire: “This was about a Melbourne Sephardic community on the verge of bankruptcy. I am Ashkenazi and I live in Sydney. At no stage in the deal was I asked to relinquish naming rights.”

In the meantime, all parties await the orders to be handed down at the end of next month.