Yom Kippur showdown in Hancock Park

Tom Tugend in the Jewish Journal has more details on the incident where city building inspectors ordered an Orthodox shul to halt its services on the eve of Yom Kippur, then relented — followed by an apology from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Some essential backstory is that the Yeshivas Yavneh shul and the Hancock Park Homeowners Association agreed, after many years of acrimony, on a conditional use permit that says religious services must end at 8 pm. Someone in the neighborhood tipped the inspectors in advance that the services were likely to run late.

As word of the strange incident spread through the closely knit Orthodox community in Hancock Park, tempers and outrage rose.

The yeshivaworld.com Web site declared that the incident was "reminiscent of the cowardly sneak attack on Israel during the Yom Kippur War," and quoted one woman worshipper, a wheelchair-bound Holocaust survivor, "I was frightened. I started crying. I don't want to go to jail. I want to pray."

By Sunday evening, top aides to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Councilman Tom LaBonge, joined by Councilman Jack Weiss, met with Orthodox community rabbis and officials of the offending department in City Hall for some hasty damage control.

On Monday evening, the mayor and two councilmen released a statement condemning the "outrageous intrusion" on erev Yom Kippur, "which caused great pain and anguish."

The three political leaders promised a full investigation and initiated a cultural sensitivity training program for Department of Building and Safety employees.

The Jewish Journal story went online tonight.


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