Connecticut Mezuzah Dispute Resolved

The previous post described the dispute between Barbara Cadranel and the California Condominium Association of Stratford, Connecticut, regarding Ms. Cadranel’s mezuzah. Thankfully, the parties resolved the matter, and Ms. Cadranel will be allowed to keep her mezuzah on the doorpost outside of her apartment.

Today, the attorney for the California Condo Association sent the following letter to the Stratford Star:

To the Editor:

As attorney for the California Condominium Association of Stratford, I am pleased to advise that we have resolved the issue of the mezuzah on the door post of the unit owned by Barbara Cadranel.  Continue reading

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Another Battle over a Mezuzah in a Condominium

It seems to a be recurring set of events in condominiums: A Jewish resident affixes a small, unobtrusive mezuzah to her doorpost. Not long after, she receives a notice from the condo association explaining that no personal objects may be placed in “common areas.” The notice demands that the resident take down the religious object and threatens to impose a fine if she does not. One famous example of such a situation is the Bloch v. Frischholz case in Illinois. Although a few states have enacted laws specifically protecting condo residents’ rights to put up mezuzah’s (see this earlier post), the laws in many other states are not as clear.

The most recent case involves Barbara Cadranel, who currently resides in the California Condominiums in Stratford, Connecticut. After receiving a mezuzah as a gift, she placed it on the doorpost outside of her apartment. Soon after, on several occasions, she would return home to find the mezuzah on the ground. She then received a letter from the condo association demanding that she remove the object or face a fine of $50 per day.  Continue reading

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Attorney Warns Quogue Village Not To Reject Eruv Application

From the Southampton Press:

An attorney representing the East End Eruv Association warned Quogue Village Board members Monday that a denial of its application to create a religious boundary within the municipality would violate the First Amendment rights of Orthodox Jews.

During the hour-long public hearing, attorney Robert Sugarman of the Manhattan firm of Weil, Gotshal and Manges told the estimated 50 people in attendance that there is legal precedence that would support the village’s approval of the boundary, called an eruv. Mr. Sugarman’s law firm is the same one that is representing the East End Eruv Association (EEEA) in the federal civil rights lawsuit that it previously filed against Quogue and Westhampton Beach villages and Southampton Town over the proposed religious boundary.

Specifically, Mr. Sugarman said Monday that the group’s application, which was filed with the village two months ago, notes that the courts have ruled that attaching boundary markers, known as “lechis,” to utility poles in the village could be done without violating the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause states that governments cannot give preference to one religion over another.

He added that, if the village were to reject the application, board members would be violating the rights of Orthodox Jews to practice their religion, a move that would violate the Constitution’s religious protections. Continue Reading –>

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Filed under American Law, Halacha / Jewish Law, News, Shabbos

Shooting Hoops, But Missing the Point

The basketball team of the Beren Academy in Houston, Texas received some good news today: they will not have to forfeit a playoff game scheduled for Shabbos, because the league would reschedule it. The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) originally would not change the time for the game, set for 9 p.m. on a Friday night. However, after several players and parents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging a violation of religious freedom, TAPPS quickly changed its mind. (Click here for the full story and here for the papers filed in court.)

In a statement issued by the Beren Academy, the school made it clear that it opposed taking legal action, but was thankful that the conflict was resolved. Signing on to the complaint was a difficult decision for some of the plaintiffs, as well. According to one parent, “We talked about, does God really want us to do this? Are we going to look good or poorly in his eyes? It came down to the gut.”

Several of the plaintiffs’ lawyers also commented on this hesitation:

“There was resistance to our bringing the lawsuit. We’re sorry that there are members of the Jewish community who are reluctant to challenge bias and prejudice as a result of this. But this case shows that sometimes legal action is necessary to get a result.”

“Either way, we could see this was going to serve as a great life lesson for the kids.”

What kind of lesson did this teach the children? What did it show to the world?

It is indisputably admirable that the basketball team made national headlines with their unwavering commitment to the sanctity of Shabbos. But what did filing a lawsuit achieve?  Continue reading

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Agudath Israel of America Pro Bono Attorney Training Session

Please click here to view invitation.

Reality, Legality and Morality

A Custody Case Primer for Pro Bono Attorneys,

Steven Z. Mostofsky, Esq.

Location:

Offices of Allen & Overy LLP
1221 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York

To RSVP, or for more information, please contact Mrs. Chava Shulman at (212) 797-9000, ext. 335, or send an email to constituentservices@agudathisrael.org.

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Government-Mandated Healthcare: Halakha and Social Policy

By Chaim Apfel, J.D.

This article was printed in Volume 3 of Verapo Yerape. Republished with permission.

I. Introduction

The role that governments have played in caring for the level of public health has changed dramatically over the course of the twentieth century worldwide. In the United States this role has recently undergone a dramatic change with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as well as the Healthcare and Education Affordability Act. With all of these changes, many of the policies that were debated touched upon legal issues that have existed for thousands of years across many civilizations. It would be useful to compare how these issues were treated according to Jewish laws and values. The purpose of this paper is to explain what ethical rules should govern a government healthcare plan and to explain how such a plan should be implemented.

II. Two Distinct Biblical Commandments for Charity

Arguably, the most fundamental ethical issue that the statute addresses is to what extent individuals can be compelled to provide for their poor. The Biblical law mandating charity can be found in two locations. The first section addresses society’s reaction to abject poverty. Continue Reading –> 

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The Castle Doctrine and the Halachic Treatment of Intruders

The Common Law “Castle Doctrine”

Within the past month, there have been several incidents in which homeowners who shot intruders were cleared of any wrongdoing, because of the “Castle Doctrine.” The Castle Doctrine is a common law rule that allows a person to use deadly force to defend an attack in or intrusion into his dwelling. (The word “castle” in the name of the doctrine is a reference to the saying “an Englishman’s home is his castle.”) In one recent case, an 18-year-old woman in Oklahoma shot an intruder because she feared for the safety of her child and herself. Similar events occurred in South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

In order to correctly comprehend the Castle Doctrine, it is necessary to understand the context in which it applies.  Continue reading

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