Far North Dallas Rabbi Cries Discrimination as Neighbors Try to Close His Living-Room Synagogue

Categories: Religion

CongregationPicture.JPG
Welcome to Congregation Toras Chaim. Sure, it may look like your typical Far North Dallas house -- 3,500 square feet, $330,000 on the tax rolls, a swimming pool in the back -- but it doubles as one of the area's newer and smaller synagogues.

This isn't exactly a secret. The congregation's website lists the home as its primary meeting place, hosting daily prayer services, Torah study, and various holiday services and social events. Also, it's hard to disguise the several Orthodox gentlemen who file into the home for the twice-daily services, or the families who walk to the home on the Sabbath.

Neighbors have certainly taken notice. As Fox 4 reported last night, David Schneider, who lives across the street from the budding synagogue, has sued Rabbi Yaakov Rich, saying he is violating the rules of their homeowner's association and is lowering property values. In the suit, Schneider demands $50,000 in compensatory damages.

Rich is unapologetic. "We just want to have our religious freedom to be able to pray and to study in this house," he tells Fox 4.

Also, he says, home prices near Orthodox synagogues "always go up in value, not down."

But what started as a neighborhood squabble is primed to turn into a religious war.

See also: Silenced Joshua ISD Valedictorian Speaks Out, With an Assist from Plano's Liberty Institute

The Liberty Institute, the Plano-based nonprofit famous for Plano ISD's candy-cane case and, more generally, turning trivial bureaucratic slights into examples of a widespread war on religious liberty, is representing Rich in his legal dispute, describing his congregation as "under attack."

"Alarmingly, houses of worship -- including small bodies like Congregation Toras Chaim -- have been increasingly victimized in recent years by unreasonable regulation and litigation that frequently violates their rights," the organization writes on its blog.

Liberty Institute is basing its defense of Rich and his synagogue on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a law passed by Congress in 2000 protecting arbitrary zoning rules that infringe on religious liberty.

Whether that argument flies depends on whether the Liberty Institute and Congregation Toras Chaim can convince the court that the government -- or, in this case, a homeowners association -- has no compelling interest in barring a church or synagogue from operating out of a single-family home.

Whether the fight expands depends on how Dallas chooses to interpret its zoning laws. Churches and homes occupy separate parts of the city's zoning code, with the former required to provide a certain amount of parking.

See also: Craig James, Claiming Religious Discrimination, Preps for a Lawsuit Against Fox Sports

Dallas defines a church as "a facility principally used for people to gather together for public worship, religious training, or other religious activities." It also provides an exception for "home study meetings or other religious activities conducted in a privately occupied residence."

Rich tells Fox 4 that the city has asked him to obtain a "certificate as a congregation." We're checking on what exactly that means. (Rich tells us he was referring to a certificate of occupancy.)

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
116 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster

Dude, rent some space in a strip mall and call it a day.  Running a church or swingers club (or any such deal which brings in regular traffic)  in a residence is an asshole move.

ruddski
ruddski

The neighbor should re-think his opposition. I went to a "Taste of Chanukah" festival a while back, and was so impressed with all the hot babes and hot food, I almost converted on the spot.

blankcur1
blankcur1

Is the church open to everyone? Can the homeless come and pray there? If so, thats cool. We are making up for the property taxes that is avoided with this exemption, so if society can benefit, Im down with keeping it a synagogue. . 

CarWash
CarWash

Toras! Toras! Toras!

dc005
dc005

There were almost certainly covenants in the Deed for the property that required the rules of the Homeowner's Association be agreed to.  One of which would be that it is not to be used for any purpose other than private residential.

As others note,  there's always a Q of when is the line crossed,  when does a few friends coming by to visit turn into a church.   Almost certainly when the website went up,  claiming it was.


Liberty Legal looks for these 'cause it immediately bombards its mailing list with an emergency plea for funds to defend ... whatever hookum it's spouting.    If they get attorneys fees at the end of the case,  that's good,  but they've already made a nice chunk of change from folks who are trying to stop attacks on the Christian faith ...


Well,  ok,  scratch that one ...  although I don't recall their ever lining up with Moslems or Hindus.

d-may
d-may

As I said on the Fox 4 page, this is really a case of "Main Use" vs. "Accessory Use", at least as far as the city of Dallas zoning is concerned (don't know about the specific rules for the HOA.) 

In my opinion, two simple questions need to be asked:
1. Would this synagogue exist in this home if was not the residence of the Rabbi? Probably not.

2. Would a person live here if the synagogue was not there? Yes, most likely.

Therefor, in my completely irrelevant internet opinion, the synagogue is clearly an accessory use and the property should be regulated as a residence first.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

This is truly bringing the Israel First concept home.   And of course if there is a religion then THEY will always be a victim of something. 

ruddski
ruddski

Your supporting links don't work.

rusknative
rusknative

@dc005 well, does holding a bris in your home constitute making it into a hospital?

ruddski
ruddski

According to the FBI, jews are the targets in about 60% of religion-connected hate crime in the US.

Jews, like Christians have been run out of several areas in the wretched Muslim Mideast.

They are targeted by Western liberal boycotts constantly.

But they are as a people fairly successful, and mostly white-skinned, so they deserve the hatred of the left.

Goober-Patrol
Goober-Patrol

@holmantx That is a big word for a country boy like you.  Now go on to the Quitman Dairy Queen and get you a Dilly Bar for the love of Suribachi.  Read the Bible more often and you will find the answer.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

They are targeted by Western liberal boycotts constantly

"They" are not "targeted", as the boycott is of Israel.

There is a difference, a` huge difference.

I'm not supportive of the boycott initiative, as the SodaStream controversy shows the boycott is misguided.

however the boycott is not focused on boycotting Jews, it is focused on boycotting Israeli cos.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski   OMG....the tears are flowing my little persecuted victim.   Can you hear the violin's or is that Fiddler's on my roof?  Or is that actually violence created (not by White-skin) but by White Phosphorus. 


Bless your poor little pea picking heart that these poor Christian Jewish victims or boycotting and discrimination are left to live such successful lives in their white skin?  


I am going to Chick Fila right now to get a dried chicken sandwich on a bagel.   Will that make you feel better and less victimized?  

dc005
dc005

@ruddski and you're more full of crap than usual today.

ruddski
ruddski

Teabaggingdude, I'm not a Jew. That doesn't change any facts I've presented that set you off.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski Can you drop the leftist/rightest BS for a second?  We are talking about how victimized you are as a Jew and what we can do to make sure you can have an appropriate place to worship without those mean Texas Muslim's destroying your synagogue.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@scottindallas @ruddski Hey ruddiski, if you don't know Abe Foxman who has the cushiest job on the planet, you should check him out.  He would love to hear about your non-existent complaints.  That is his gig, to try to bring as much media attention to the slightest little whine.

He can turn your whine into a free trip to Israel.  

ruddski
ruddski

" what muslim purges of Jews?"

Are you serious?

ruddski
ruddski

Leftists LE, mavdog. The ideology is one big lie, maybe that has something to do with it.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@scottindallas @ruddski

bullshit scott. that is a fabricated allegation that has been disproved.

just look up "Farhud", the Iraqi laws making Zionism a capital offense, and the public hanging of Ades. Jews were being oppressed years before the Baghdad bombings. Jews were fleeing Iraq way before '48.

CarWash
CarWash

You're fooling yourself, and you don't believe it...

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@ruddski what muslim purges of Jews?  In fact the    Mossad attacked synagogues in Iraq and Iran after the formation of Israel to drive Jews back to Israel.  do the research, don't just trust the biggest whiners on Earth--Abe Foxman and the ADL

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@ruddski

who exactly are these "people who tend to lie"?

the correction was to your comment specific to the "Western liberal boycotts". again, those are NOT boycotts on Jewish businesses, but are boycotts focused on Israeli firms. those Israeli firms may or may not be owned by jewish businessmen.

as for your attempt at misdirection with the comment on "Muslim purges of Jews and hate crimes", that is clearly NOT what I corrected you about, and those actions have nothing to do with the subject of boycotts on Israeli firms. you are being more ridiculous than usual today....

ruddski
ruddski

I've been told that many times, I'm not sure I believe people who tend to lie.

If you think Muslim purges of Jews, and the hate crimes in the US are a result of "anti-Isreal" sentiment, I'd say you're fooling yourself.

Goober-Patrol
Goober-Patrol

@ruddski Do you know how to order Flounder?  Answer.   Ask the waiter for some Flounder.  


Do you know how to make a dumbshit troll? 

Answer.   Ask him if she knows how to order Flounder. 


Now would you like some Pepper with your Salient points?   Do you understand what I am saying?


If not, then you know how intelligent people feel when they attempt to read your prose.  

dingo
dingo

@TeaBaggingJesus @ruddski

Can you stay focused on a single issue and avoid the series of incoherent meandering desecrations in order to make your point, or is this an ingrained trait for all of your 'best friends' to enjoy?

ruddski
ruddski

Tebaggingdude, I don't give a shit who your friends are, and you've not made any salient points, or even attempted to refute mine (good move). That makes you a floundering dumbshit troll.

Just-Sharon
Just-Sharon

@ruddski Now lovelumps, you are the one using verbiage like dumb shits and sphincter.   And add that to your whine and jeez and you have your self a big plate BWAH BHAH BWAH!.  

So just to keep it straight, are you currently in full victim mode now?   It could be that you have been so victimized that you are regurgitating your history and facts from The Sarah Palin University of Victimization.  


And she has a pretty sphincter that is just full of....full of....full of..well what she calls facts but we all know what comes from there. 


Now what can we do to help you in your current victimized state?.  You are without a place to worship because some Texas Muslim's have destroyed your Synagogue?  And you can't really go to Sister Jeffress church because they only like Israel (but not Jews) so they can get a bigger mansion on the streets paved with gold. 


Let us help you with your conundrum.  And don't worry, some of my best friends are Jewish. 


ruddski
ruddski

"How many synagogues have been stalled?"

None in the US that I know of, did someone say there were?

"How many mosques?"

I know of two or three. Probably has to do with the Long War With Islam? Just a hunch.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@ruddski really?  How many synagogues have been stalled?  How many mosques?  Those figures are not without issue. 

ruddski
ruddski

Note that when leftist haters are confronted with undeniable history and facts, they regress to elementary school?

Or, maybe they're actually progressing, hard to tell with such obviously dumb shits.

ruddski
ruddski

My claims are supported by recorded history, official statics, and news delivered by even liberal news sources.

Your snark is supported by, well, your sphincter.

ruddski
ruddski

That's a nice way of saying "I really can't dispute a single word of your post". Thanks!

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...