How the Law Can Stop Those Who Are Keeping Jews from Keeping Shabbat

As Orthodox Jews are forbidden from using electricity on the Sabbath, many who live in high-rise apartment buildings rely on Gentile doormen to press the elevator buttons for them. The Orthodox residents at a New Jersey apartment building, all of whom are elderly and some infirm, did the same—until they discovered that the co-op board had instructed the doormen not to help them. In response, they have sued in federal court. Michael A. Helfand writes:

In the present case, Kurlansky v. 1530 Owners Corp., the plaintiffs have alleged building policies and comments from co-op board members that, if proven true, can only be described as discriminatory. Some of the plaintiffs have alleged hearing co-op board members say that they did not want “too many of those types of Jews” in the building.

How can the law respond to [such] injustices? First and foremost, courts can vigorously apply state and federal laws—such as the Fair Housing Act—that prohibit religious discrimination when it comes to housing services and facilities. In recent religious-liberty cases, the Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that government agents cannot act with bias and exclude religious institutions from government benefits. Federal and state anti-discrimination laws apply that same logic to various private actors with respect to employment, zoning, and housing. Courts must similarly not hesitate when presented with evidence of such animus to call out those who manipulate local power in the name of religious discrimination.

Read more at First Things

More about: American Jewry, American law, Freedom of Religion, Shabbat

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University