Jewish Couple Sue Neighbors for 'Imprisoning' Them
By Daily Mail Reporter - 17th June 2009

A Jewish couple are suing their neighbors in a block of flats, saying an automatic security light is keeping them prisoner in their home because it forces them to break their Sabbath rules.

Dr Dena Coleman and husband Gordon claim they cannot leave their holiday flat on the Sabbath because when they do they automatically trigger the light in the communal hallway - contravening a religious ban on turning on electrical items from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday because it constitutes 'creating fire'.

They say their human rights are being breached and are now suing the flats' management company - their neighbors - for failing to accommodate their religion.

The other 35 owners of the seaside flats are liable to pay court costs if the claim is successful.

Dr Coleman, a 56-year-old headteacher at a Jewish orthodox school in London, has been visiting the £200,000 holiday flat in Bournemouth, Dorset, with her husband for six years.

The management company fitted the motion-sensing lights six months ago in a bid to save energy and money.

The Colemans have offered to pay for an override switch to disable the light sensors during the Sabbath.

But the Embassy Court Management Company - which represents all residents and whose three directors also live in the block - said this would set an 'unacceptable precedent'.

In a letter sent to occupants of all of the other 35 apartments in the block, the Colemans said: 'Faced with a situation where we could never again have full use of our flat, we were left with no alternative but to seek legal advice.'

The couple said they would drop the case if an override switch was installed and the management company paid their legal costs and compensation.

The argument has sparked controversy between the other residents.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: 'It has caused quite a stir here, there have been a lot of arguments.

'There has been a meeting about it and many of the residents aren't happy.

'There's a feeling that things shouldn't be changed just to suit people in one flat when everyone else is happy with it.

'I don't think the rest of us would think twice about the lights but they're going to great lengths to get it changed so they must feel very strongly about it.'

The couple say they only moved into the flat in spring 2003 on the understanding that movement sensors would never be installed in communal areas.

They have now issued a county court writ against the management company, saying they have discriminated against them on the grounds of religion.

The claim also accuses the company of breaching their rights under the Equality Act 2006 and Human Rights Act 1998.

In a statement the company said: 'The directors believe that almost all lessees at Embassy Court support the actions taken by the management company to reduce communal lighting electricity costs, and to reduce repair and maintenance costs by preventing heat damage to light fittings and prolonging their life.

'The directors further believe that almost all lessees support the installation of movement sensor controls in the hallways and have no personal problems with their installations.
'Unfortunately correspondence between directors and lessees concerned failed to resolve the dispute.

'Clearly the lessees [the Colemans] felt so strongly that their rights may have been infringed by the management company that they decided to take legal action. That is their prerogative.
'A key allegation in this claim is that the movement sensors installed in the hallway discriminate against the claimants, who are orthodox Jews, on the grounds of their religion and belief.

'The lessees also allege in the claim that when they purchased their flat in the spring of 2003 it was on the basis of assurances from selling agents that that movement sensors would not be installed at Embassy Court.

'Although other lessees are innocent parties in this legal dispute, in accordance with the lease, the Management Company's expenses reasonably incurred in these legal proceedings with be recoverable from all lessees in the service charge, to the extent that these expenses are not paid by the other parties to the proceedings.'

The case is due to be heard at Bournemouth County later this year.

Dr Coleman is the headteacher at Yavneh College in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, the author of several books on education.

Tags: Orthodox-Jew, crazy, law-suit, sabbath

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Who would be so willing to alienate every one of their neighbors? If they win the case, the neighbors have to pay the legal fees; at which point they will truly be the hated tenants of the community.

Only religion makes you so crazy that you consciously choose to quibble over something so small, knowing full well it will make you the target of so much spite.
Yea... In Religilous when Bill is talking to some of the orthodox jews, they had all kinds of creations to do things for them on the sabbath. What's wrong with an automatic light? /shrug/
I laughed quite heartily after reading only the first sentence. I pictured a mime who became convinced his invisible box was real. Hahaha.
What... do they live in a cave? Since when does the word 'fire' translate into 'energy saving florescent lights?'
Unless the neighbors have torches on the wall and force them to strike a flint every time they walk by....
Grrr.
First off, they aren't 'turning on a light' The sensor that pick up movement,- theirs or that of someone else is-. Auto timers for other devices are perfectly ok, so why not this one?
Secondly, if they want to honor their laws and light translates into fire, then they shouldn't be allowed to have light at all, no matter how it's triggered. Creating a loophole for a law (no matter how stupid it is) is still undermining your god. What, is their almighty too slow to figure it out? "Blast those humans, I've been foiled again!" Come on.. the only thing worse than a fundy is a hypocrite! Put them both together and they should have to wear a cowbell so you can hear them coming and take evasive maneuvers.
My disgust isn't even that they've caused problems with the neighbors, took up court time over something so dumb or expect money in return.. it's simply for the fact that they don't want to live by their own laws, so they find ways around them and then cause a scene while playing the poor victims of persecution. It's really a combination of irritation that sets me off.
Couldn't have said it better myself, in fact, just before I read your reply I was almost going to say the same exact thing. What people do when they try to create a new law over things like this is try to force their beliefs on everyone around them. So don't go in the damn hallway on the sabbath. Go on the balcony or something. I wonder if they use any type of electricity on the sabbath. Oh well, I guess they don't realize that unless they hit the switch with their own finger they're not actually turning it on.

Just another rediculous scam to get money for "discrimination". Its not like someone told them "Jewish people aren't allowed in the hallways on the sabbath, and to make sure it doesn't happen we've installed sensors for the lights"
completely agree! Great Points!
I was born in to a Jewish family and am disgusted with people like this who are so full of themselves not believing others have rights. Why dont they move. It makes me ashamed as my mother and father never bought us up to believe religion overrides all just to be a good person and love they neighbour whatever religion. This is why I am an atheist who believes in free choice .We all are born the same and die the same.
Just move out as it seems they have plenty money, or give their money to the poor starving children and then I might believe in their religion.
Money to people think it makes them different.
Religion is stupid telling people how to behave,noone can tell me to have lights on or off it is my decision.
I think their form of orthodox religion is idiotic. However, I feel in some ways I do understand their annoyance because it is forcing them to break a rule that they're trying insanely hard (and I mean that in a semi-pun kinda way, because they are literally insane to some extent) to follow. Being the motion that causes the light to turn on (aka walking by) I could definitely see as being considered them turning on the light. Honestly they should be considering logically how old-fashioned and pointless the rule is and how at least some non-Orthodox Jews have Midrash that applies more sensibly to a modern world. Then again, we all, as atheists, are using logic, which ALL religions, however fundamentalist or orthodox they are, lack at least to some degree. The more insane pointless rules you simply follow because you for some reason believe you must, the less logic you are able to use, because every time you've tried to think critically or use logic before in your life, your parents and religious teachers have said, "no, your gut feelings and logic are wrong. Sorry. Just mindlessly follow these rules". So they try their best to follow them... which includes doing whatever they can to get the motion-detecting lights removed.
I look forward to the day when this kind of claim would not only be laughed out of court, but might earn the complainants a visit to a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
So, if I concoct a religion forbidding the comfort of heat for a week, then the centrally heated dorms are discriminating against me, I insist that all heat be turned off for all residents.

This is crazy, outside of law, you are allowed to follow whatever bizarre rules or ritual you want, but you can't expect the whole world to go out of its way to accommodate you. How arrogant can they be, to assume that they should get special treatment because of their own choice of restrictions, that the whole building should have higher electricity bills for that week or no light at all. Besides, how much of a night life can they possibly have on sabbath anyway?

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