Connecticut condo owner told to remove Jewish religious ornament or face fines


Published March 30, 2012


A Connecticut condominium owner has been told by the complex's management association that she must remove a Jewish religious symbol or face fines, advocates told

Barbara Cadranel, an internationally-renown harpsichordist living in Stratford, Conn., contacted the Connecticut Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League earlier this month to report that she had been told by the California Condo Association to remove the mezuzah -- a small object inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah placed on the doorpost of a Jewish family's home -- or face fines of $50 per day, according to ADL's Connecticut Regional Director Gary Jones.

"It's pretty rare," Jones said of disputes between condominium association and owners involving mezuzot. "The obligation to place a mezuzah on the doorframe or doorpost is a right in the Bible. Jewish people everywhere, including those in condominiums, post a mezuzah as a reminder of their religious obligations."

Jones said Cadranel, 60, who could not be reached by for comment Friday, has retained Nathan and Alyza Lewin of Lewin & Lewin, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that has notified the condominium association that its actions are in violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Cadranel told The Hartford Courtant she received the mezuzah as a gift last fall. She now feels "violated" after being told to remove it, she told the newspaper.

"I'm bullied and I'm saddened," she told the Courant. "It's changed my whole existence here." 

Cadranel, who "travels the world" playing harpsichord and other classical instruments, travels so often that "she doesn't have a real home," Jones said.

"For the first time in awhile, she's had a place to call home," he continued. "So it's very disconcerting to her that this would be an issue.

"It's not a decorative choice, or a choice at all when a condo association or anyone says that a mezuzah can’t be put on a doorpost or doorframe. Basically, they are telling the Jewish person that he or she cannot live there."

Attempts to reach representatives at the California Condo Association were not successful Friday. According to an agreement with its condo owners, the display of items like Christmas wreaths and crosses on doors is allowed, but the display of other items such as mezuzah on doorposts is not, the Jewish Ledger reports.

The association's attorney has said that Cadranel was well aware of the bylaws when she purchased the unit on Aug. 31, 2010, the Courant reports.

"The declaration expressly prohibits unit owners from hanging or displaying anything on the outside windows or outside walls of any building, and also prohibits any sign from being affixed to or placed upon the exterior walls … without prior consent of the association's board of directors," attorney Kurt Ahlberg, said in a March 21 response.

Jim O'Neill, spokesman for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, said his office had not received a complaint on the matter.

"If she files a complaint, we'll certainly look into it," O'Neill told

Similar disputes have occurred at condominiums around the nation. 

In the most well-known case, a Chicago couple sued after being told they couldn't put the symbol on their door. The case dragged on from 2005 to 2009, eventually making its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals before the parties settled. The couple was permitted to keep the symbol in place. 

The case led city officials and Illinois state Legislature to pass laws barring condominium associations from banning the symbols. Some states have enacted laws specifically protecting condo residents’ rights to put up mezuzahs.

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