Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Synagogue That Will Not, And Should Not, Go Away

Sadly we were forced to reach out
to the Federal government as a last resort ...

...The Litchfield community - Jew and Gentile - and its clergy, have been most welcoming and supportive in all our programs, and it is a shame that some elected officials have made it their mission to try to block the Synagogue, with statements from a historic commission member claiming "there is no place for a Star of David on the Litchfield Green" and a Litchfield selectman hiring her own lawyer to fight the Synagogue, and having him announce at the town meeting "the Synagogue is like a Strip Joint"

  • Statement From The Congregation

  • Discriminatory Treatment Claim In Huge Federal Lawsuit

    "The Star of David may not comply with the District."
    -- Litchfield Hysterical District
    Commission Chairman Wendy Kuhne

    Taxpayers On The Hook,
    Big Time,
    For Legal Costs, Multiple Damages
    Resulting From Official Actions

    Litchfield County Times /
    Torrington Register Citizen
    Break Story:
    Jewish Group Sues Litchfield Over A Denial


    LITCHFIELD - In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday, Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County and Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach are suing the town of Litchfield, the Historic District Commission and 10 unnamed individual defendants in connection with Chabad's rejected attempt to expand and transform property at 85 West Street into a new headquarters that would include a temple.

    The plaintiffs claim in the suit, prepared by attorney Kenneth R. Slater of Halloran & Sage LLP in Hartford, that the actions of the defendants in blocking Chabad's plans represent violations of the Jewish group's civil rights, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) and Connecticut statutes.

    In fact, Chabad and Rabbi Eisenbach allege on the part of the defendants "a pattern of religious discrimination directed at the Jewish people ... based in large part on anti-Hasidic animus ... ."

    ... One section of the lawsuit discusses the use of other nearby properties in the historic district, citing among examples the Oliver Wolcott Library, which consists of a historic home embellished by an addition done by a master of Modern architecture. "The square footage of the rear addition to Wolcott's historic home is larger than the house itself, the addition extends way beyond the existing building at the south side of the structure," the lawsuit says. "It is not half the size of the historic home - it is larger than the Wolcott's historic home. The Defendants approved these changes to the Wolcott's historic home ...

  • Litchfield County Times

  • Editor's Note: Please see the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, aka RLUIPA.

    Note Attorneys Fees section in this federal law:

    RLUIPA is a federal statute that was passed in 2000 to provide stronger protection for religious freedom in the land-use and prison contexts.

    RLUIPA has since been asserted in dozens of lawsuits, prompting widespread media coverage and scholarly attention.

  • Full Text Of RLUIPA

  • RLUIPA Web Site

  • Torrington Paper Notes Meeting On Litchfield Synagogue, Congregation

  • You Don't Have To Be An Einstein To Figure Out What Was Going On Here

  • Halloran & Sage

  • Courthouse News Service Story

  • Litchfield Hysterical District Sets Up Court Battle
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