Agudath Israel of America welcomed last week’s announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the “Place to Worship Initiative.”
Through this initiative, the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Offices will act to strengthen awareness of protections afforded by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. Agudath Israel helped craft and has promoted the act, litigating cases involving its application.
Agudath Israel applauded DOJ’s filing of a lawsuit against the Borough of Woodcliff Lake, NJ, in which it alleges that the borough and its zoning board violated the act when it denied zoning approval to Valley Chabad to build a synagogue on its property.
Zoning and land use rules that restrict where houses of worship may operate are “among the most formidable obstacles to the free exercise of religion today,” Agudah said. “This is particularly true in regard to the Orthodox Jewish community, whose Sabbath laws require synagogues to be within walking distance of its adherents, and therefore within, or close to, residential areas
“The knowledge that ‘if you zone out Orthodox synagogues, you zone out Orthodox Jews’ has been an ugly reality that our families and communities have had to face,” Agudah said.
“The Department’s action in bringing the Valley Chabad lawsuit shows that it is serious in backing up words with action when the law is not being followed.”
Source: Agudath Israel of America