Jewish Congregation Sues for Right to Use Former Convent

February 10, 2002

Source: The Jerusalem Post

On February 10, 2002, The Jerusalem Post reported that "the state attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking a suburban community to let a congregation of Reform Jews turn a former Roman Catholic convent into a synagogue... Congregation Kol Ami has been trying to move into the Abington Township site for two years. The group hopes to start a synagogue and school in the community north of Philadelphia... Its efforts have been held up by neighbors and officials, who argue the plan would bring excessive noise and traffic to the residential cul-de-sac shared with million-dollar homes... In March the Abington zoning board denied Kol Ami's request to move into the former convent, which is owned by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth... The 210-family congregation sued the township, arguing that the decision violated a 2000 federal law designed to prevent religious discrimination in local zoning... In July, US District Judge Clarence Newcomer ruled that the township violated the congregation's constitutional right... The board reversed itself and voted to allow Kol Ami to move into the building. That hasn't happened because appeals are still pending in the federal courts."