Montreal Hasidim eyeing lawsuit over rezoning that bars new houses of worship

Julie Wiener

MONTREAL (JTA) — Hasidic Jews in a Montreal neighborhood vow they will sue over a rezoning bylaw they say aims at keeping them specifically from building new synagogues.

Although the bylaw passed Dec. 7 bars all religious groups from building new houses of worship on three prominent commercial streets in the Outremont borough, the Hasidic Jews say the bylaw  targets them.

For many years, tensions have flared periodically between the borough’s mainly French-speaking population and its Hasidim, who make up one-quarter and a rising part of the population.

Only Mindy Pollak — one of five borough council members and a Hasidic Jew – voted against the bylaw. She tweeted she was “very disappointed that councillors did not see the merit in studying the file further.”

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Hasidim say the rezoning bylaw will relegate them to building new synagogues in a part of the borough inconvenient to walk to on Shabbat.

“We’re being pushed into a corner,” spokesman Mayer Feig said. “That’s exactly how we feel.”

Critics say the bylaw goes against the spirit of Canadian and Quebec human rights charters.

Hasidic Jews are also going to court over tickets given to community members for transporting children on Purim in prohibited vehicles, charging religious discrimination that contravenes human rights charters.

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