Update: Mezuzah Controversy Sparks Legislation

The Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League will join State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and Barbara Cadranel, a Stratford condominium owner who was prohibited from displaying a mezuzah on her doorpost, to announce legislation to protect residents’ rights to display mezuzahs and other religious symbols at a press conference on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.

The press conference will take place at ADL’s Connecticut Regional Office, at 1952 Whitney Ave., Hamden.

Cadranel had been ordered to remove a Jewish religious symbol affixed to her door frame. Last week, the condo association’s attorney issued an apology and said the mezuzah may stay.
“The mezuzah, of course, shall remain upon the doorpost, and no penalties or fees shall be assessed or levied upon Ms. Cadranel,” attorney Kurt M. Ahlberg, who represented the condo association, said. “In addition, henceforth, any resident may place a mezuzah or other religious symbol upon their doorpost without prior approval from the association board of directors.”

A mezuzah is a small piece of parchment inscribed with Hebrew verses that is placed in a small container and fixed to a doorframe as a sign of faith and in conformity with Jewish law.

The condo board initially insisted the religious symbol had to be removed or Cadranel would be charged a $50 fine each day, as it was violating condo bylaws.

Cadranel argued that other units had displayed crosses and other religious symbols on doors.

The story caused outrage from Cadranel and the Jewish community.

“We are very pleased that we were able to resolve this matter without having to resort to litigation,” Alyza D. Lewin, Cadranel’s attorney, said. “The outpouring of public support for Ms. Cadranel was extraordinary.

“The chorus of criticism of the condominium association and the expressions of support for our client not only provided Ms. Cadranel with much appreciated comfort but also brought about the dramatic turn of events we witnessed today.”

The Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League supported Cadranel last week and urged the condo association to allow the mezuzah.

“A mezuzah is not a decorative choice for Jews, or a choice of any kind. Requiring its removal is tantamount to requiring a Jewish person to move,” ADL Regional Director Gary Jones said. “Thousands of condominium owners throughout Connecticut display mezuzahs on their doorposts without any issue.”

Ahlberg said the dispute arose out of a misunderstanding.

— Kate Czaplinski contributed to this story.

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