Judge Rules Orthodox Jews Have Right to Peaceful Worship in Private Home

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from Liberty Institute,

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, Liberty Institute won another victory in an ongoing national battle against hostility toward local houses of worship.

At a hearing for a motion for summary judgment, Collin County District Court Judge Jill Willis ruled that members of a small Orthodox Jewish community have a right to continue meeting in a far north Dallas, Texas home for private worship.

Rabbi Yaakov Rich is hopeful that Congregation Toras Chaim will no longer face hostility in the neighborhood home where the Orthodox Jews peacefully meet.

A local homeowners association (HOA) and the past president of the HOA, Mr. David Schneider, had brought a lawsuit attempting to ban the congregation from peacefully meeting to study the tenets of their faith in a private home.

Congregation Toras Chaim has been meeting to study and pray in an area under the authority of the homeowners association since February 2011. The tenets of the Orthodox Jewish faith instruct members not to drive or ride in a car on the Sabbath or on Jewish holidays. For this reason, Congregation Toras Chaim members must meet within walking distance of their homes.

For two years, the homeowners association had full knowledge of the congregation’s religious activities in the neighborhood, and took no action. Then in 2013, the congregation relocated to another home in the area near Schneider. Soon, Schneider filed a lawsuit against Congregation Toras Chaim and the owners of the residence where they were meeting.

Schneider contended that the congregation’s religious activities violated the neighborhood’s residential-only restrictive covenant. Yet the HOA had not taken enforcement actions against several other non-residential uses of property in the area it governed, including a shed in Mr. Schneider’s own yard that violated the rules.

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