Jews have no right to put up Mezuzahs in the USA.
Posted on July 10, 2008 by Aaron Shaffier | 1 comment
That is what the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week. The ruling came in a case where Lynne Bloch of Chicago, put up a Mezuzah on the door to her condo. The home owners association at Shoreline Towers said that it was a violation of their rule against displaying items on the doors in the hallway. It seems that a game of cat and mouse followed with the association removing the Mezuzah and Ms. Bloch replacing it and so on. The jist of the decision was that the association has the right to make rules of this sort, as long as the are not specific to any religion. You can read more about the decision here and here.
My question is, why can't a home owners association in say a gated community do the same thing? They would essentially be able to make a no Jews allowed rule in this way. You can almost understand the logic in a condo where the association maintains the hallways and they are saying that they want a uniform look etc. But the fact is that when you live in a gated community or even in many planned communities, there is also a home owners association that tells you which colors you can paint your house and how tall you can let your grass grow etc. I would love to hear the opinion of some lawyers out there if they think that this ruling could also apply to the communities that I mentioned.
This whole thing raises a greater issue. We as Jews throughout history have lived in communities that were centered around Jewish observance. In ancient times we lived in Israel, and throughout the exile we have lived in shtetls and the like. America is one of the first places where Jews have had complete equality. This has caused a phenomenon where Jews feel that they don't need the benefit of a Jewish community.
We can see what this has caused to Jewish life in America. Intermarriage rates are well over 50%. Many Jews don't have any idea what it means to be Jewish. When something like this comes up, we all get very mad and say how dare they tell us that we can't have a Mezuzah. We take it for granted that we should be able to live in whatever kind of environment that we want and be able to express our religion.
While that is certainly the ideal, stories like this one have to make you think twice. One of the reasons that I moved to Israel a year ago is because I wanted to live in a country where we are in the majority and issues like this don't exist.
In any case, for all of you Jews still living in America, I would like to point out that the Halacha (Jewish Law) rules that if you live in a place where it is dangerous to put a Mezuzah outside your door do to anti-semitism and the like, you can put it up on the inside.