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Religious Law

Retired Lawyer’s Menorah Suit Against Homeowners Association Settles in Time for the Holiday

Posted Dec 22, 2011 11:02 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A retirement community in Leesburg, Fla., now has a 6½-foot-tall menorah inside its social hall as a result of a lawsuit filed by a resident who is a rabbi and former lawyer.

Rabbi Arthur Grae had a practice in New York focusing on labor and constitutional law before his retirement, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Grae and three other plaintiffs sued the Legacy of Leesburg after the homeowners association refused to replace a small menorah with a much larger one to match the size of a larger Christmas tree. According to the newspaper, “The case threatened to turn the Festival of Lights—another name for the Jewish holiday—into the Festival of Fights.”

Grae saw the refusal to buy and display the larger menorah as a violation of the plaintiffs' right to freely exercise their religion, the story says. His suit settled when the plaintiffs agreed to buy the large menorah, and the association agreed to display it in the social hall.

On Tuesday, about 60 people attended a Hanukkah celebration at the community, the Daily Commercial reports. One of the plaintiffs told the newspaper that Grae was asked not to attend because of concerns there would be protests or trouble. A police car was initially stationed outside, but left a half hour into the peaceful celebration.

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