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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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The City that has Problems with Synagogues

If only my city were to treat me with the same courtesy they accorded Kaddafi.
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Englewood has an unfortunate history of making life difficult for Houses of Worship receiving proper zoning. The highly successful East Hill Synagogue, for example, had to sue the city in Federal court just to be built.  It then had to sue again for the ability to put up and use outdoor tents for Jewish celebrations like Bar Mitzvahs, which presumably are not as dangerous as Kaddafi being your neighbor.

The City of Englewood’s 2013 master plan, contained on its official website, actually states that it will look in depth at “how many,” “where,” and any new “plans for expansion (including in people’s homes)” of any and all houses of worship. It will also study what the “impact on City revenue” will be based on places of worship.

The city, one might presume, is concerned about its revenue base being compromised by Houses of Worship. But then, why was it not similarly concerned at the immense loss of revenue from the Libyan house of terror for three decades? Why did the city not sue Kaddafi to pay his taxes even after he started slaughtering his own people and was declared to be an illegitimate government by the Obama Administration?

Then there is this. On November 15, 2011, the Englewood City Council actually voted (you can’t make this stuff up) on whether to take nearly a million dollars of back taxes owed by the Libyan Mission in Englewood – which accumulated from 1985 to 1998 – off its books. For now, due to a tie-breaking vote cast by the Mayor, the debt has not been canceled, pending a further meeting of the city council.

Our Synagogue has another hearing coming up with the Board of Adjustment. Our Attorney has told us that, given the hostility to date, we should not expect much fairness. But for the people who attend our services, many of whom are new to regular Synagogue attendance now that they have found a more intimate environment within which to worship, the fight goes on for religious liberty and expression, whatever the obstacles.

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.


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2 Responses to “The City that has Problems with Synagogues”

  1. Arie Rosenrauch says:

    Dear Rabbi:

    Not surprising that Englewood, like other cities and townships in that area have no issue with taking tax payments from residents who happen to be Jewish and at the same time refuse to address the needs of the community. Churches and mosques on the other hand get immediate attention and approvals.

    That said, may I suggest Parsippany: take your money, and LEAVE the Jew haters of Englewood! Parsippany, actually Morris County in NJ as a whole, has a growing and thriving Jewish community of all stripes – Reform Conservative and now a growing orthodox and Chasidic community.

    I assure you you would be welcomed with open arms in what has now become one of the most diverse and culturally/economically growing Townships in the State. With a short commute to New York, we are prepared to service all the needs of the Jewish community.

    Please reach out if you would care to discuss. After decades of Jews fighting for the rights of others in the US (let's not forget it was Jews that founded the NAACP, not members of the Black community and that it was Jews that were murdered in the US South during the Civil Rights struggles of the 50s and 60s) time has come for the Jewish Community to stand up for OUR rights!

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