Judge dismisses Anshei Sfard case; plaintiff says they’ll appeal

A circuit judge has a dismissed an appeal of the Anshei Sfard landmarking case. A plaintiff has said they will take the case to the next level.

A Jefferson County judge has dismissed an appeal of Louisville Metro Council’s revocation of landmark status for the Anshei Sfard synagogue, but a plaintiff in the case says they will appeal yet again.
If they follow through, the next appeal would be to the Kentucky Court of Appeals. The plaintiffs, Avram Kahn and Jeff Levy, have 30 days to file.
“As we’ve been informed of new facts that make the landmarking more urgent than ever, we are planning to appeal the decision, on behalf of the heart and soul of the Jewish community of Louisville,” Kahn said in a written statement. He did not say what those new facts were.
Steve Porter, the attorney of record for Kahn and Levy, has not returned calls from Community, but attorney Donald Cox, who represents Anshei Sfard, called the case “a tremendous waste of time and money caused by people who don’t have a legitimate claim.”
Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry threw out the appeal in an order entered on Feb. 8. The judge added in his own handwriting, “And twenty (20) days having passed since the filing of the motion.”
He was likely referring to the lack of a response to Anshei Sfard’s motion to dismiss.
The only Orthodox congregation in Kentucky, Anshei Sfard reached a conditional agreement with the Jewish Community of Louisville last year to sell its building at 3700 Dutchmans Lane, the condition being that the landmark designation for the synagogue be removed.
The Metro Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission voted 5-4 on March 22, 2018, that the buildings on the property qualified for landmark status – a designation the congregation opposed, but the plaintiffs petitioned for.
Louisville Metro Council voted overwhelmingly on Aug. 9 to overturn the designation, but Kahn and Levy appealed to Circuit Court on Sept. 7.
The designation would have made selling the property harder.
“They would have to exhibit economic hardship in order to demolish the building,” Will Ford, communications specialist for Develop Louisville, has said.
Anshei Sfard President Myrle Davis said a failure to sell the property would complicate the 35-member congregation’s struggle to survive.
“Our position would be dire,” Davis said, “but I think Anshei Sfard is always going to survive; we have a lot of committed people.”
Jon Fleischaker, chairman of the JCL Board of Directors, hopes to buy the property as soon as possible.
“I think this is a very good thing for the entire Jewish community to keep this property within the Jewish community,” he said.
The JCL wants the property to expand its campus as part of the construction of the new J, which is in the design phase.
Meanwhile, Davis said the historic features of the synagogue, including its stained glass windows, plaques, photos, religious items and cornerstones, would be preserved.
“Anshei Sfard has a lot of history,” she said, “and it’s not our intention to forget that history or dispose of it.”

Leave a Reply