Baltimore city officials have falsely accused a local Chabad of zoning violations in a bid to force the demolition of their building, said a court document filed by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce on behalf of Chabad of Towson.
The forced razing of the educational and religious building, which also serves the Jewish students from two nearby colleges, is allegedly part of an anti-Orthodox move by bureaucrats and Baltimore County, reported news outlet COLive.
The court brief stated that Baltimore County officials falsely accused Chabad-Lubavitch of zoning violations and participated in a local campaign aimed at preventing Chabad of Towson from enlarging the Chabad House for Rabbi Mendy and Sheiny Rivkin’s growing family of eight children, and also so that it could host shabbat meals for Jewish students from nearby Coucher College and Towson University.
After Chabad was given country authority to construct the addition, a 70-year old stipulation in the deed of a neighbouring property was used by local officials to label the building as illegal. A local court ordered it demolished.
The brief stated that the demolition order was the first time in American legal history that a building used for religious study and worship has been ordered taken down because of an obscure stipulation in a neighbouring property deed.
It also noted the obstruction effort by multiple parties to prevent Chabad from enlarging its structure, and the tradition of religion liberty in Maryland.
“It’s shocking to witness anti-religious bias by government agencies that furthers private hostility to religious observance so as to destroy religious institutions,” said Duvi Honig, CEO of the Orthodox Union Chamber of Commerce.