Preservation, Intrigue and Property: Dissolving Boston’s Vilna Shul Congregation 1985-2001 by Michael Weingarten
This book tells the story of how a dying synagogue congregation on Boston’s Beacon Hill (the Vilner Congregation, which built and operated the Vilner (Vilna) Shul on Phillips Street) filed what it thought would be an uncontested dissolution plan. The petition instead triggered a reaction in which Jewish communal groups, local synagogues, preservationist interests, First Amendment religious rights, the Court system and Boston political/regulatory interests intersected with a real estate recession to create a legal maelstrom lasting over fifteen years (from 1985-2000) involving control of the shul’s real estate and Torahs. Over the ensuing years, much of the details of what occurred has been obscured. Here at long last is a carefully researched and definitive history of the dissolution of the Vilner Congregation, written by the author of History of the Boston Synagogue 1888-2013.