2 observant Jews sue N.Y. apartment building over electronic keys


(JTA) — Two Jewish New Yorkers have sued their Queens apartment complex over renovations they claim make it difficult to observe Shabbat.

Sulaymon Ibragimov and Murod Takhalov say that since the Rego Park complex installed motion detectors to trigger the lights, a Sabbath prohibition, they cannot use their electronic key fobs to open the doors to the building on the Sabbath, nor can they use the stairs rather than the elevator, which also is not allowed on the Sabbath, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

In the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, the men alleged religious discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, according to the newspaper.

The renovation at the 20-building complex began in 2012. The LeFrak Organization told the Daily News in a statement that the new systems were installed in compliance with federal Department of Housing and Community Renewal rules and regulations.

The lawsuit calls on LeFrak to have one door in each building accessible with a regular metal key, and for each building to have a Sabbath elevator that stops on every floor without having to push buttons.

According to the suit, one of the men who complained to building management about the problems was told to “go live somewhere else if you don’t like it.”

The men said they often have to stand outside their building for hours waiting for someone to enter so that they can follow them in, and to wait until someone pushes the button for their floor on the elevator since they cannot enter the stairwell.

Hundreds of observant Jewish families are living in the buildings, which have more than 4,000 apartments, according to the lawsuit.

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