Court follows decision of Arbitration Committee

WILLEMSTAD — The names and the stone strip edge of the curved wall of the Shaarei Tzedek Synagogue must be removed within two months.

The Court ruled this yesterday in an appeal to a higher court. AOB Architects from Jacques Smeulders had instituted the legal proceedings.

A case that had been going on for over seven years now appears to end with this judgment – unless the association Shaarei Tzedek, the community of Asjkenans Jews appeals to the Supreme Court.

The case had become a matter of honor and principle for architect Smeulders. Placing the text ‘Herman and Miriam Tauber Jewish Center’ had been an infringement of copyright. Smuelders had already been proved right in this matter several years ago by the Arbitration Institute Architecture in The Netherlands. However, in summary proceedings when the architect had demanded the text be removed, the local judge had ruled against him because the local copyright deviated. Nevertheless, the court had followed the decision of the Arbitration Committee and the adoption of another article that offered the same result, namely infringement of copyright and therefore removal of the text.

The court imposed a penalty of 5,000 guilders per week with a maximum of 100,000 guilders if the association did not act upon the court’s decision.

The Arbitration Committee had already deemed all counterclaims from the association unfounded. The amount of these claims about alleged mistakes in the construction almost equaled the architect’s honorarium. The association has paid in the meantime.

In 2002, after an extensive selection procedure, AOB Architects was given the contract to build a synagogue, with the explicit instruction to emphasis the symbolic of the Wailing Wall – the holiest in the Jewish Creed. Smeulders had even traveled to Jerusalem for this. He had studied the Jewish religion and had spent numerous evenings with the community and the building committee later on. This on a basis of no cure, no pay contract because he considered it a privilege to make the design as non-Jew.

“The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is associated with so much respect and emotion; it isn’t marred by text either. So why should the wall of the synagogue be different? It’s a flagrant tarnishing and contempt for the symbolic Wailing Wall, the holiest of the Jewish Liturgy” says Smeulders. For that matter, the architect wouldn’t even have agreed with a David star on the façade.

To thank the supporters for their contribution, Smeulders had thought to place a huge tablet inside that mentioned their names. Although the deceased Herman Tauber had been the main financer, others had also contributed according to their ability.

The original design regarded a religious education center with a prayer room as well as a multi-functional room, a kosher kitchen, a library, classrooms and a chart room. This design would have cost over 4 million guilders, but there were no funds for such. The design had therefore been cut down to quite a bit more than 1.4 million guilders. The synagogue was officially opened in 2005.


22 February 2012

AOB Architects was represented in this case by Miriam den Boogert of law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. The Shaarei Tzedek Synagogue was represented by Annemarijke Bach Kolling and Martine Hofhuis of law firm Spigthoff Attorneys at Law and Tax Advisers.

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