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ADL Praises CA Gov’t for Enacting Mezuzah Bill

[additional-authors]
August 2, 2019
Photo from Wikipedia.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) praised the California state government for enacting a bill permitting Jewish residents to hang mezuzahs on their doors.

The bill, SB 652, passed the State Senate on May 6 and unanimously passed the Assembly on July 8. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed it into law on July 30. Sen. Ben Allen (D-Los Angeles), who chairs the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, authored the bill and every member of the caucus signed onto the bill as co-sponsors.

ADL California Legislative Director Nancy Appel said in a statement, “An observant Jewish person would be unable live in a home where placement of a mezuzah on an entry doorframe is not allowed. Enforcement of otherwise neutral and generally applicable rules that prohibit altering the appearance of an exterior doorway has posed a unique hardship for some Jews in California who have been ordered to remove their mezuzahs or face a daily fine.  Although ADL has successfully advocated for affected Jews to enable them to post their mezuzahs, this bill guarantees that they won’t have to face this impossible dilemma in the first place.”

The California Legislative Jewish Caucus tweeted on August 1, “Our ‘Mezuzah Bill’ was signed into law by Governor @GavinNewsom this week! California will no longer be a state that tolerates banning religious items on doors. Big thanks to the @ADL and all others for their support.”

The bill will officially become law on January 1, 2020. Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island and Texas are the only other states that have such a law.

According to the Jewish News of Northern California (J), both Allen and the ADL had received myriad complaints “over the years” from Jewish residents that their building owners ordered them to take down their mezuzahs “because of a building or apartment complex policy.”

Allen told the J on July 10 he thought it was “pretty outrageous” and showed “incredible insensitivity” that Jewish residents were being forced to take down their mezuzahs, stating, “We are obligated as Jews to put a mezuzah on our door. It’s part of the v’ahavta.”

According to the bill, “A property owner shall not enforce or adopt a restrictive covenant or any other restriction that prohibits one or more religious items from being displayed or affixed on any entry door or entry door frame of a dwelling.”

The law does provide some exceptions, including instances where the item is “obscene;” prevents a door from being opened or closed; or when the item “threatens public health or safety.”

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