A Montreal court this week is to decide if placing a picture of the renowned Lubavitcher Rebbe on the dashboard of city taxicabs endangers passengers. Cabbie Aryeh Perecowicz has appealed to the Human Rights Commission to cancel 1,400 Canadian dollars in fines handed out to him for placing the Rebbe’s picture, as well as a mezuzah and pictures of his family, on his vehicle’s dashboard.
The city’s tax regulatory authority said the objects are dangerous, but Perecowicz countered that all of the items were securely attached to the dashboard and that there was no risk of their causing injury to him or his passengers.
The mezuzahs are affixed to the frames of the front and back doors, although the Torah commandment to place the covered parchment on “the doorposts of your house” does not require them to be placed on temporary or small places.
The 65-year-old cab driver has been handed six tickets for the offenses, which include displaying small Canadian and Israeli flags, but he pointed out that he has been driving for 43 years with the items and without any complaints.
As for the spate of tickets, dating back to almost three years ago, Perecowicz speculated that he might be targeted because he was one of several drivers who publicly complained about the taxi authority’s not acting against unlicensed cabbies. He received his first ticket shortly afterwards.
He told Canadian media, “The bylaw is not exactly clear…. The way it is written, it says 'no object should be left in a taxi that is not required for the cab to be in service.' That can be interpreted into anything you want to think of.
“I am secular but I do have roots and a culture. These items mean something to me and that’s why I’ve always had them in my car.”
Montreal taxi companies said their drivers often display crucifixes and family pictures on the dashboard but that there have been no reports of anyone except Perecowicz being fined.