Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fight Over Special "Shabbat Elevator" Service Pits Elderly NYC Building Residents Against Orthodox Jewish Neighbors, Leads To Civil Rights Suit

In New York City, the New York Post reports:

  • It’s a lawsuit over a New York minute — a minute and 23 seconds, to be exact.

    The only-in-New-York tale pits elderly residents of a West 65th Street building against their Orthodox Jewish neighbors, who want to operate one of two elevators in a special, slower mode on Friday nights and Saturdays to help them comply with Sabbath rules.

    But rent-stabilized tenants in 33 of the building’s 86 units claim the resulting delay of 83 seconds is an inexcusable convenience.

    The “Shabbat elevator” would stop at each of the six floors automatically, allowing observant residents to abide by the custom of not working or operating machinery on the Sabbath.

    The state authority that regulates rents sided with the old-timers and refused to approve the special elevator service in an April administrative decision.

    So Touro College, the building’s landlord — which rents just under half of the units to observant Jewish students — is suing the agency, claiming the ruling violates civil-rights laws.

    “New York City is a bastion of tolerance — except where the 10 W. 65th Street Tenants Association and Division of Housing and Community Renewal are concerned,” the Manhattan Supreme Court suit states.

    A spokeswoman from DHCR declined to comment.

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