web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Freedom of Religion Denied

City officials in Englewood are hampering the development of a synagogue, but were nowhere to be found in opposing Kaddafi and the Libyan Embassy in Englewood.
Muammar el-Qaddafi's tent.

Muammar el-Qaddafi's tent.

You know your city might be out to stop your Synagogue when one of its most powerful officials testifies that its creation might bother the Libyan embassy that is your neighbor. But that was the testimony of City Engineer Ken Albert at a recent hearing where he said that our Synagogue may not have enough “landscape buffering” to protect the Libyans next door.

Landscape buffering.

And here I was more concerned about Kaddafi owning the house next door to me and possibly stockpiling arms as he reportedly did with embassies all over the world and God forbid harming my family. And what did the city do protect us? Nothing. Zero. Gornisht.

Over thirty years they even forced me, and the rest of Englewood’s residents, to subsidize Kaddafi’s murderous regime by refusing to challenge his tax exemption. But as soon as we apply for a Synagogue, the city Engineer, whose full salary remains undisclosed despite it being paid from the public purse, is concerned that we might interfere with the rights of the Libyans. It has suddenly taken on great importance that our Libyan neighbors – who pay no taxes – be protected by requiring planting of evergreens capable of growing to 106 feet within one year, 25 feet from the property line. It seems that landscape buffering has now been added to our national policy of cooperation and trust building between our two nations! Perhaps they are trying to play out “and they shall turn their swords into plowshares….”

Our hearings before Englewood’s Board of Adjustment have been farcical. Harry Reidler is a member of the board who is also an active Democratic Council member in Bergen County. He has repeatedly brought up my Congressional candidacy (Republican) in the hearings, although they were never germane to the application. His hostility has been glaring and undisguised.

In the last thirteen years our Synagogue has hosted thousands of people of every denomination, religion, color and creed, including Mayors of our City, Governors, Senators, and world-renowned personalities. For many, especially secular Jews and non-Jews, it is their first introduction to the beauty of Judaism and the peace and serenity of the Sabbath. But that did not stop Reidler from a bizarre insinuation in the last hearing, by some strange comparison, that our Synagogue might be something of a scam. This loathsome and slanderous suggestion, bordering on the anti-Semitic, was, mercifully, quickly objected to by the chair but only on the grounds that it was off topic. That Reidler seems to have made up his mind about our application before it was heard and does not even evince a pretense of objectivity is evident from the hearing’s transcripts, which are all part of the public record. Another board member, Elliot Fuld, seems only slightly behind Reidler in animus and opposition.

Hearings that are supposed to be fair and objective have instead been characterized by deep hostility, making a mockery of Englewood justice. Albert, for example, did not even reveal, as he should have been required to at the beginning of his testimony, that about eight years ago, after he and the city tried to strong-arm me by appropriating part of our property for a traffic light and offered us $1000 in compensation (in Englewood, when your home is assessed for tax purposes it is Versailles, but for condemnations it suddenly becomes a trailer park), I sued the city with Albert as its main witness. They paid me a settlement and Albert’s plan was revised. They did not take the land. Surely a lawsuit in which Albert played a central role should have been mentioned by him as part of full disclosure.

Nor is the board beyond intimidation in order to try and get us to back down and withdraw our application. Ken Albert is supposed to be simply the City Engineer, however well compensated. But in our hearings he suddenly decided to play the role of City code enforcer, suggesting to the board that because we have employees (he mentioned four, there are actually fewer) we are in violation of city statutes. (Interestingly, the last City code enforcer, Peter Abballe, with whom I clashed over the Kaddafi home next door to me, was arrested by the FBI in a sting operation and pleaded guilty to taking bribes). Those present at the hearing began to imagine a frightening scenario of a city doing random spot checks for inconsequential violations on the part of citizens that run afoul of city elders.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

4 Responses to “Freedom of Religion Denied”

  1. Yechiel Baum says:

    Have the Libyans move it to Bengazhi where our Amercian Ambassador was murdered and pitch their ten there.

  2. Yechiel Baum says:

    Have the Libyans move it to Bengazhi where our Amercian Ambassador was murdered and pitch their ten there.

  3. Roc Diaz says:

    the answer is that since the rest of the world seems to be clear with its message towards us, its time for all jews in america and around the world to leave where they currently reside and come live in their true country, ISRAEL!

  4. Roc Diaz says:

    the answer is that since the rest of the world seems to be clear with its message towards us, its time for all jews in america and around the world to leave where they currently reside and come live in their true country, ISRAEL!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at a government meeting.
Proposed Conversion Bill, Change in Local Rabbinate Power Nixed by Netanyahu
Latest Indepth Stories
Map of Syria-Turkish border area, pinpointing Kurdish border town of Kobani, just taken by ISIS terror forces Oct 7, 2014.

Turkey and Iran the 2 regional powers surrounding the ISIS conflict gain from a partial ISIS victory

The Rosenstrasse area of Berlin, where Jewish husbands of non-Jewish German wives were held.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”

Guess who's behind the door?

Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?

Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.

The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.

A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.

Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent

Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.

While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.

Carter developed a fondness for Arafat believing “they were both ordained to be peacemakers by God”

If Hamas is ISIS, the world asks, why didn’t Israel destroy it given justification and opportunity?

That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.

We have no doubt there are those who deeply desire to present themselves as being of a gender that is not consistent with their anatomy, and we take no joy in the pain and embarrassment they suffer.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/freedom-of-religion-denied/2012/12/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: