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June 27, 2013 11:03 am
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‘Anti-Semitic’ Elevator Causes Friction at New York City Apartment Building

avatar by Zach Pontz

Shabbat candles. Photo: wiki commons.

A dispute over a “Shabbat-friendly” elevator has deteriorated into a civil rights battle at an Upper West Side apartment building, The New York Daily news reports.

Touro College had planned to make one of two elevators automatically stop at every floor in the six story building from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, as a way to observe the Orthodox law barring observers from operating electric switches on Shabbat.

Touro is asking in papers filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal that denied the request. The college said its Jewish students occupy more than half of the building’s apartments.

The building’s other tenants objected, however, saying that the longer wait would be an inconvenience on a day when many are busy coming and going from the apartment.

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“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.

In court papers, Touro said the delays would be minor — at most 1 minute, 23 seconds — and accused the tenants association of setting a “discriminatory and anti-Semitic tone.”

James Berry, tenant association president, rejected the claim, saying, “This is not about civil rights. The problem is that Touro has made this building into a dormitory in violation of the building’s certificate of occupancy.”

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