A Connecticut judge has ruled the city of Hartford cannot use its zoning rules to prevent a sect of Orthodox Jews from using a former church as their place of worship, a case observers say had anti-Semitic overtones.
Superior Court Judge Maria Araujo Kahn recently ordered the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to undo its decision upholding a zoning enforcement officer’s initial “cease and desist” order against Chabad Chevra.
The city has opted not appeal, recently allowing its 30-day filing window for the late December judgement to lapse, authorities say.
City officials, through a spokesman, declined comment Thursday.
In 2009, Chabad Chevra bought 100 Bloomfield Ave., which over the years had housed worshiping Catholics and later Baptists, to hold their worship, and to be a study and residence within walking distance of the University of Hartford campus.
”You have to question exactly why, all of a sudden, the ZEO and the ZBA tried to ban religious activities similar to the activities that had been going on in the same location for 58 years,“ said Farmington attorney Coleman Levy, whose firm represented Chabad Chevra in the case.
Among Kahn’s findings in the case was that neighbors claimed that they feared too many ”New Yorkers“ would come to Chabad Chevra.
Farmington attorney Jeff Mirman, who represented the Jewish sect in the case, noted that the term ”New Yorkers“ in this case was a veiled reference to Hasidic Jews and is an anti-Semitic buzz phrase.
”The only apparent distinction between the activities of the prior owner and Chabad Chevra is their religion, Christianity and Judaism,” Kahn wrote.