Friday, September 19, 2008

Bringing Back the Mezuzah

A bipartisan group of US Congressmen have introduced a bill which would generally prohibit landlords or homeowners associations from banning the display of religious symbols outside one's domicile.
The bipartisan Freedom of Religious Expression in the Home Act was introduced Wednesday evening by U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas.).

It was sparked by a June federal appeals court ruling that upheld the right of a condominium association to ban the affixing of mezuzahs on doors. The ruling addressed a Chicago-area case, but there have been similar cases elsewhere, including Florida.

The bill would outlaw rules that ban the display of religious symbols on the outside of homes unless the rule is "reasonable and necessary to prevent significant damage to property, physical harm to persons, a public nuisance or similar undue hardship."

I remarked on the case that sparked this law here, and I am glad to see Congress stepping in to try and remedy that decision. No Mezuzot means no observant Jews, and since there is nothing dangerous or harmful about putting a small insignia on one's doorstep, I do not find it unreasonable to be given a little protection here by the government.


PG said...

How do observant Jews manage in rentals? Do they have to constrain themselves to ones that will permit the mezuzot on the exterior of the doorway, or is it OK to have it on the interior of the doorway? (Though if the latter is OK, that would seem to avoid the condominium problem -- presumably the association can't bar you from doing what you want in the interior of your apartment.)

Unknown said...

Better yet. Put Mezuzot on everybody's doors. The provision comes from the Five Books of Moses and therefore would be in good order for Christians, Moslems and Jews who all hold that book as holy. Therefore, the legal violation involved here would be from Halacha (Jewish religious law) and not constitutional.

PG said...

Er, "everybody" doesn't believe in the holiness of the Five Books of Moses.

-- Resident agnostic Hindu.