(JTA) — A Dallas-area rabbi who uses his home as a synagogue is being sued by a neighbor who says it has lowered his property values.
David Schneider, who lives across the street from the home-based synagogue of Rabbi Yaakov Rich, is seeking $50,000 in compensatory damages from Rich.
Rich told the local Fox affiliate Fox4 in a video posted Wednesday that his 3,700-square-foot home is a synagogue with about 25 members. A website identifies the synagogue as Congregation Toras Chaim, with the tag line “An intimate space … Grow at your pace.”
The website also said the Liberty Institute, a conservative Christian advocacy and legal defense organization, has agreed to represent the congregation in the lawsuit.
Rich asserts that property values rise around Orthodox synagogues because adherents have to be able to walk to their places of worship and will pay more to buy a home in the area.
The rabbi said he recently filed with the city, at its request, for a certificate stating that he runs a congregation in the home. The city can then ask him to adhere to its building codes along with those of the state.
“We just want to have our religious freedom to be able to pray and to study in this house,” Rich told Fox.