Hancock Park Residents File Suit Over Jewish "House of Worship"

October 26, 2003

Source: Los Angeles Times


On October 26, 2003 the Los Angeles Times reported that "Orthodox Jews use of a residentially zoned house in upscale Hancock Park as a synagogue, and their plan to build another nearby, have prompted area residents to file suit... A long-running legal battle continues over Etz Chaim's right to gather in prayer and to build an expansive new house of worship. Beneath the legal briefs and appeals are cultural tectonic plates that have been grinding against each other as two passionate groups struggle over who defines a community. 'This is a very, very special place,' said Larry Faigin, a 30-year Hancock Park resident. 'All I've ever asked is that my neighbors maintain their homes as I maintain mine. This congregation did not move into this neighborhood to invest in it; they moved in to use it in a way that is not intended.' Congregants fume at such words. 'A small group thinks they have a kingdom here,' said Chaim Baruch Rubin, the congregation's rabbi...'The audacity of saying that you can't pray in your own home!' The homeowners say Etz Chaim's building, and another now under construction, aren't homes at all, but synagogues that threaten the pristine, residential identity of their neighborhood. The Orthodox Jews of Etz Chaim insist that they have equal claim to the neighborhood and a legal right to pray where they wish."