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Meet Chabad of Irvine

Located in Irvine, California, Chabad of Irvine is deeply committed to serving the local Jewish community. The synagogue has served the area since 1979, offering ministries like counseling, hospital visitations, clubs for young children and adults, religious education and more.

Every year in preparation for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Chabad of Irvine follows Jewish tradition and performs the kaporos ceremony, where the atonement of sins is contemplated through prayer and the kosher killing of a chicken, reminding participants of their own mortality.

Such kaporos ceremonies are common among Jewish communities across the nation and the world and have been a core aspect of celebrating Yom Kippur for at least 1,100 years.

A Religious Practice Attacked

On September 29, 2016, the Maryland-based animal rights organization United Poultry Concerns (UPC) filed a lawsuit against Chabad of Irvine in an attempt to stop the synagogue from performing the kaporos ceremony.

Days later on October 7, a California federal district court issued an ex parte Temporary Restraining Order that banned Chabad of Irvine from holding their kaporos services. The Court set a hearing date for October 13. Yom Kippur ended on October 12.

First Liberty Legal Action

First Liberty Institute appeared as Chabad of Irvine’s legal representation on October 11, 2016, filing a brief with the federal district court on behalf of the synagogue. Read the brief.

“This drastic judicial measure has prevented people in the Jewish community from fully exercising their faith on Yom Kippur,” said Hiram Sasser, Deputy Chief Counsel for First Liberty. “We cannot allow a special interest group to trample on the religious rights of the Orthodox Jewish community.”

In the brief, First Liberty and synagogue leaders ask the court to lift the temporary restraining order and allow members of Chabad of Irvine to practice their faith during Yom Kippur.

Last Second Relief

Less than three hours prior to the start of Yom Kippur, First Liberty and its volunteer attorneys with the international law firm of WilmerHale appeared on behalf of Chabad of Irvine before a federal district judge, asking the judge to lift the Temporary Restraining Order. After a lengthy argument, and with less than twenty minutes before the start of Yom Kippur, the judge lifted the order, freeing Chabad of Irvine to perform the kaporos ritual.

“Since being retained by Chabad of Irvine on Monday evening, our legal team has literally worked around the clock to preserve the free exercise of this Jewish community,” said Hiram Sasser. “This is a significant victory for people of all religious beliefs.”

This year, as in the past 1,100 years, the Jewish community remains free to observe its religious rituals.

Case Dismissed

On May 12, 2017, a U.S. District Court judge granted a legal victory to the Chabad of Irvine. The judge dismissed the lawsuit brought against the synagogue. Read the full order here.

“We are overjoyed that the judge saw the wisdom of protecting our ability to practice a cherished tradition of our faith,” Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum, the rabbi of the Chabad of Irvine, says. “We hope this victory will encourage everyone to live in peace and tolerance of everyone’s religious beliefs.”

“No one should attack a synagogue for peacefully practicing a tradition they’ve observed for over 1000 years.” Hiram Sasser, Deputy Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute and co-counsel for the synagogue, says. “This is a great victory, not only for the synagogue, but for all Americans who value our constitutional freedoms.”

On May 15, 2017, United Poultry Concerns (UPC) filed for an appeal on the dismissal on the case.

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2017

  Contact: Abigail Doty, adoty@firstliberty.org
Cell: 469-237-9102, Direct: 469-440-7598

JUDGE RULES TO PROTECT MILLENIA-OLD ORTHODOX JEWISH CEREMONY


Los Angeles – On May 12, 2017, U.S. District Court judge André Birotte, Jr. granted a legal victory to the Chabad of Irvine, a small Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Irvine. The judge dismissed a lawsuit brought against the synagogue by animal rights activists, who sought to end a 1200-year-old Orthodox Jewish ceremony practiced by the synagogue

Read the full order here.

“We are overjoyed that the judge saw the wisdom of protecting our ability to practice a cherished tradition of our faith,” Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum, the rabbi of the Chabad of Irvine, says. “We hope this victory will encourage everyone to live in peace and tolerance of everyone’s religious beliefs.”  

The synagogue was represented in the legal case by international law firm WilmerHale and national religious freedom law firm First Liberty Institute. 

“Today’s ruling sends a clear message – the law protects the rights of all Americans to practice their religious traditions in peace,” Matthew Martens, partner with WilmerHale and lead counsel for the synagogue, says.

“No one should attack a synagogue for peacefully practicing a tradition they’ve observed for over 1000 years.” Hiram Sasser, Deputy Chief Counsel for First Liberty Institute and co-counsel for the synagogue, says. “This is a great victory, not only for the synagogue, but for all Americans who value our constitutional freedoms.”

Read more about the case at FirstLiberty.org/Chabad

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Abigail Doty at adoty@firstliberty.org or by calling 469-440-7598 (office) or 469-237-9102 (cell).


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