‘Fight to observe religious rights’

‘Fight to observe religious rights’

A Bondi Junction resident has finally been permitted to keep his mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of his apartment.

Hymie Eisman's mezuzah outside his fifth floor apartment.
Hymie Eisman's mezuzah outside his fifth floor apartment.

After an unexpected battle with both his building manager and strata committee, Bondi Junction resident Hymie Eisman has finally been allowed to keep his mezuzah affixed to his apartment doorpost.

A few months after he moved into the building, Eisman put up a mezuzah. It wasn’t nailed into the doorpost of his fifth floor apartment, instead Eisman used tape, but he soon received an email demanding it be removed, with the assistant building manager claiming he was in breach of two of the building’s by-laws.

“I told the building manager you have to careful here about possible indirect discrimination because the definition is having a set of rules for everyone that specifically disadvantages one group’s rights,” Eisman said.

“This isn’t a decoration, this is a religious and cultural thing that Jews are supposed to do.”

The building manager then referred the matter to the strata committee and after more back-and-forth, Eisman was permitted to keep his mezuzah up.

But he told The AJN that the drawn-out episode has caused him a fair amount of mental anguish, particularly as he has been told he remains in breach of the building’s by-laws with the committee entitled to revisit the matter at a later stage.

“You’ve got this Jew in the building that’s being problematic and he’s in breach of these by-laws, which I don’t believe is true,” Eisman said.

“They think this matter is concluded, but I don’t think any Australian Jew should have to deal with that kind of stuff and have to fight to observe their religious rights in Australia in 2023. Even more so, in a building in one of Australia’s most densely populated Jewish suburbs.

“Why would you fight for so long on that and claim I’m in breach of something? No one has offered me an apology.”

The issue of putting up a mezuzah does come up from time to time, but acting CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Michael Gencher told The AJN that it is unfortunate when it does.

“Without having any knowledge of the overall issue and specifics of the matter, I think it’s unfortunate that anyone in this day and age is feeling that they are unable to practise and follow their religion over a mezuzah on a door,” he said.

“In my experience the best way through is conversation and education with the building manager, the strata managers and find a way that allows for the display of the mezuzah without any detriment to the aesthetic of the building.”

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