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Californian Jewish legislators celebrate ‘Mezuzah Bill’ by hanging Mezuzot in State Capitol building

The bill to allow the ‘display of religious items’ on doors and door frames was recently signed into law by the Governor

    A mezuzah hanging outside of Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg's office in the State Capitol building.
    A mezuzah hanging outside of Senate Majority Leader Bob Hertzberg's office in the State Capitol building. (Image: CA Jewish Caucus)

    Members of the Jewish Caucus in the California State Senate have celebrated the signing into law of the ‘Mezuzah Bill’ by affixing mezuzot to their office doors in the State Capitol building.

    The California Legislative Jewish Caucus said SB 652 – nicknamed the ‘Mezuzah Bill’ – enshrined the rights of Californians to hang mezuzot on their doorframes, though it “also has the support of secular organizations, as well as Catholic and Hindu groups”.

    Jewish legislators celebrated on Monday by affixing mezuzot to their office doorways in the State Capitol building.

    The bill was co-authored by every member of the Jewish caucus, and was passed unanimously.

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was the bill's lead sponsor, after receiving a number of complaints from Jewish renters and condo owners who were told to remove their mezuzot because of landlord policy.

    “Enforcement of otherwise neutral and generally applicable rules that prohibit altering the appearance of an exterior doorway has posed a unique hardship for some Jews in California who have been ordered to remove their mezuzahs or face a daily fine,” ADL California Legislative Director Nancy Appel said.

    “Although ADL has successfully advocated for affected Jews to enable them to post their mezuzahs, this bill guarantees that they won’t have to face this impossible dilemma in the first place.”

    Senator Ben Allen, Jewish Caucus Chair, was also a lead sponsor of the bill. He worked with several faith-based organisations, including the Hindu American Foundation, which requested an increase in the minimum size to meet religious needs.

    California Jewish Caucus Chair Senator Ben Allen (right) hangs a mezuzah outside his office with the help of Rabbi Mendy Cohen
    California Jewish Caucus Chair Senator Ben Allen (right) hangs a mezuzah outside his office with the help of Rabbi Mendy Cohen (Image: CA Jewish Caucus)

    The bill was signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom during the summer recess, with Jewish legislators celebrating on their returned to the state senate.

    Five other US states — Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island and Texas — already have similar laws in place, the ADL said.

    Last year the JC reported that residents in an apartment block near Stamford Hill were told by their management agency to remove their mezuzot.

    The management agency later apologised.

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