DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A group of Orthodox Jewish families in a North Dallas neighborhood said that they are in a fight for their religious freedom.
The neighborhood homeowner’s association is suing the congregation of Toras Chaim for violating residential rules.
The feelings of the Highlands of McKamy neighborhood HOA are scattered throughout the streets. Signs posted in front yards have comments like, “Keep Us Residential Only.”
“About 30 Orthodox Jewish families worship here,” said David Schneider, while standing outside of his home. “It’s a full-on synagogue.”
The synagogue is operating just across the street from the home where Schneider lives. He and the HOA have filed a lawsuit. “They’re breaking the rules. I would expect, if the situation was reversed, somebody would do the same thing with me,” he said.
Some residents, including Schneider, are also worried about traffic. “Honestly, it’s pretty easy if you’re not watching,” said Schneider. “You see people slide through a stop sign. I’m scared someone might get hurt.”
Lawyers for the congregation say what is truly being harmed is religious freedom. Liberty Institute attorney Jeff Mateer said, “It’s a bedrock First Amendment principle that people can worship in their homes.”
Mateer said that he and his team have filed a motion for dismissal on the ground of the First Amendment. “There are lots of activities going on in other homes, but they’ve singled out this Jewish group.”
Schneider said that the lawsuit has nothing to do with religion, and he would feel the same way about a school or medical office. “I wish them absolutely no ill will,” he said, adding, “I hope they relocate nearby. The closer the better, as far as I’m concerned.”
A judge will determine whether to throw out the lawsuit or move forward with a trial. The Collin County Courthouse hearing starts at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
“I’m all about mending fences,” said Rabbi Yaakov Rich with Toras Chaim, “and I want very much that we should be one community, very close-knit community.”
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