A North Dallas homeowner and his homeowners association have lost round one in a legal battle to prevent a home in their community from functioning as a house of worship.
A Collin County judge denied a request for an injunction against the congregation of Toras Chaim, a synagogue that worships out of a home in the 71-hundred block of Mumford Court.
Plaintiff David Schneider and the Highlands of McKamy homeowners association have filed suit against the synagogue, citing nuisance concerns like traffic and noise. They also say that as a functioning synagogue for Orthodox Jews, the home is in violation of the association's covenant, which its deed mandates that homes be used as "single family dwellings."
The judge disagreed, citing religious freedom and both federal and state law that supports the congregations right to worship.
Signs still line the streets in front of homes all over the block that read "KEEP US RESIDENTIAL ONLY."
Rabbi Yaakov Rich knows it's just another way of saying the synagogue is not welcome.
"This whole synagogue is about being residential," said Rabbi Rich. "It serves the residents of this community, people who are only within walking distance."
Rabbi Rich says his congregation has worked to alleviate parking and noise issues and tried to address any concerns brought by neighbors.
The home has doubled as a synagogue since 2011, but that was under a different homeowners association board who turned a blind eye to the congregation. The new board is trying to hold the membership of Toras Chaim to the same covenant that other homeowners pay into to uphold.
About the ruling, plaintiff Schneider says, "it's now on the record that the congregation Toras Chaim is conducting services twice daily, over 40 persons coming and going daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m." The statement continued, "this is far in excess of any reasonable expectation my family has for this otherwise quiet neighborhood."
Schneider says the lawsuit will continue. He says homeowners won't allow a precedent to be set that lets the bylaws they set as a community to be violated by a single member.
Rabbi Rich understands the fight is a long way from over. "I'm all about mending fences," said Rabbi Rich. "I want very much that we should be one community, a very close-knit community that appreciates each others differences and similarities."