Jewish Couple Sued by Housing Board for Charging for Shabbat Parties
A New York Jewish couple are being sued by the housing board of the apartment complex in which they own two living units after it was discovered that they were charging people to attend Shabbat dinner parties and were renting the spaces out to tourists.
The board at the Olmsted at 97th and Central Park West say that Jodi and Gavin Samuels violated the building’s bylaws — and they want the couple to pay $500 for each documented rental.
It also says the Samuels “hosted frequent — at least one a month — Shabbat dinners, for approximately 40 people, within their apartment units for which they charge an admission fee” of $25 to $30, and “hosted other special events — including a cooking class — for which they charge admission.”
Gavin Samuels told the New York Daily News that they were surprised by the lawsuit. “It’s very disappointing of the board,” he said.
Samuels also asserted that the Shabbat meals were in no way a profitable venture, “We don’t get any money,” he said, “In fact, we donate.”
The filing says the Samuels aren’t allowed to use their apartments for “commercial purposes” and the parties are “a burden on the condominium’s staff and elevators.”
The board gathered much of their evidence from the Samuels’ online activity. Jodi Samuel blogged about the apartment rentals and the couple advertised their apartments on numerous websites and Jodi’s own Facebook page.
“Last year we spent 110 days away from home,” Jodi Samuels wrote in a blog post last year.
“Best of all, we rent our apartment out while we travel and, New York being New York, we make good money.”