Seventeen years ago, Rabbi Eli Goodman, and his wife Beila, founded Chabad Lubavitch of the Beaches to serve the Jewish population of Long Beach Barrier Island, a 10-mile-wide island off the southern coast of Long Island comprising the communities of Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, and Lido Beach.  Chabad currently operates a center for Jewish life in Long Beach, consisting of a synagogue as well as a broad range of educational, social, and religious programming for children, teenagers, young professionals, and other adults.

In November 2021, Chabad purchased property in Atlantic Beach to open a Chabad House—a center offering religious services, education, and programming to the broader Jewish community. At the time of this purchase, the property had been for sale for nearly two years and vacant for at least three years, during which time the Village of Atlantic Beach never once attempted to buy the property.

Yet within less than a month of Chabad’s arrival—and less than two weeks after Chabad first used the property to publicly celebrate a Jewish holiday—Atlantic Beach decided to seize the property through eminent domain, purportedly to build a community center and lifeguard operations facility.  Atlantic Beach has never publicly explained its sudden interest in the property.  In fact, its attorney admitted the Village considered no alternative sites, even though the Village already already owns at least two undeveloped properties better suited for its purported plans to build a lifeguard station.

At a town meeting earlier this year, several residents raised concerns that the Village has no way to pay for the property and that it’s not suited for the project it envisions.  The Village, however, moved forward with seizing the property.

That’s when the Chabad reached out to First Liberty Institute.

In July 2022, First Liberty, along with the law firm Sidley Austin LLP and the Harvard Law School Religious Freedom Clinic filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against the Village, seeking to halt its effort to seize the property.  The next day, the United States District Court for the District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) preventing the Village from moving further and set a hearing date.

Then, in September 2022, United States District Court Judge Joanna Seybert issued a preliminary injunction against the Village, halting its effort to seize the Chabad’s property.

In Spring 2023, attorneys announced a favorable settlement with the Village.

“We are grateful that Chabad of the Beaches will be able to keep and use the property it purchased to minister to the community,” said Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel for First Liberty Institute said.  “We are appreciative of Village officials assisting in reaching this settlement.”

“For years, we have looked forward to being a part of the Atlantic Beach community,” said Rabbi Eli Goodman of Chabad of the Beaches.  “We look forward to being a part of this community, serving our friends and neighbors for years to come.”

News Release
For Immediate Release: 9.6.22
Contact: Peyton Luke,
Direct: 972-941-4453

Breaking: Judge Blocks New York Village’s Effort to Seize Property from Jewish Group to Build Lifeguard Center Blocks from Beach
Judge acts on lawsuit filed in July by Chabad of the Beaches against the Village of Atlantic Beach, stopping the Village from unlawfully taking property by eminent domain.

New York, NY—United States District Court Judge Joanna Seybert today issued a preliminary injunction against the Village of Atlantic Beach, New York, halting the Village’s effort to seize property owned by a small Jewish group, Chabad of the Beaches, through eminent domain.  First Liberty Institute, Sidley Austin LLP, and the Harvard Law School Religious Freedom Clinic filed a complaint and motion against the city in July.

You can read the order here.

“Chabad of the Beaches is grateful that Judge Seybert has stopped the Village – at least for now – from taking its property,” said Jeremy Dys, Senior Counsel at First Liberty Institute.  “We hope this decision today encourages the Village of Atlantic Beach to welcome Chabad of the Beaches to its community, rather than spending even more taxpayer dollars to keep them out.”

In her order, Judge Seybert said, the Village’s “decision to acquire the Property by eminent domain will burden Chabad’s religious exercise by curtailing its outreach mission to the Jewish community and by eliminating its highly visible presence in the Village. Based upon the record evidence, and considering ‘the historical background of the decision under challenge, the specific series of events leading to [it], and the . . . administrative history,’ as well as statements made by community members, the Village’s acquisition decision was made in a manner intolerant of Chabad’s members’ religious beliefs and which would restrict Chabad’s practices because of its religious nature.  Thus, the Village’s acquisition decision was targeted and not done neutrally, thereby requiring the Court to apply strict scrutiny in deciding whether that decision is constitutionally permissible.”

Chabad of the Beaches purchased a property in Atlantic Beach, on Long Beach Barrier Island, to build a center for outreach to the Jewish community, known as a Chabad House.  The property was vacant and for sale for several years, but within weeks of Chabad of the Beaches’ purchase the property, and just two weeks after Chabad of the Beaches used the property to celebrate Hannukah, Village officials announced plans to take the property through eminent domain.  The Village made no effort to purchase the property during the time it was available.  Multiple alternative properties better suited to a community center and lifeguard operations facility, some already owned by the Village, were never considered.


About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Peyton Luke at or by calling 972-941-4453.

News Release – 7.16.22

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