Thursday, January 9, 2014

City Defies Agreement with Liberty Institute, Continues Attack on Local Rabbi


Late last year, Liberty Institute declared victory on behalf of our client Rabbi Gavriel Jacknin and the Bellaire Jewish Center. Just one month later, the city of Bellaire, Texas, has gone back on its word and is again prohibiting the Jewish Center from freely exercising its constitutional rights.

In October, Rabbi Jacknin, contacted Liberty Institute after the city of Bellaire issued him a written citation for holding small religious meetings in his home. The meetings included anywhere from five to 15 people.

Liberty Institute and the Jewish Center’s local attorney, Richard Grimes, met with city officials in November 2012. At the end of the meeting, city officials agreed to dismiss the citation, acknowledging that Rabbi Jacknin did nothing inappropriate and that he could continue holding his religious meetings.

At the November meeting, Rabbi Jacknin informed the city of his plans for a Hanukkah party, and the city did not express any concern. Liberty Institute and the city also agreed that should any other issues arise, the city would first contact Liberty Institute before taking further action.

That agreement apparently went out the window because after his Hanukkah gathering, Rabbi Jacknin received another citation. 

“We are surprised and disappointed that the city went against our agreement and is again infringing upon Rabbi Jacknin’s religious rights,” said Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Justin Butterfield. “We hope to quickly resolve this issue and put an end to the continued harassment of Rabbi Jacknin and his congregation.”

In this situation, Rabbi Jacknin did the right thing in contacting Liberty Institute. As the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America, we are the experts on constitutional law.

Unfortunately, the misleading “separation of church and state” campaign—led by aggressive groups like the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation—has bred a culture of fear that leads to many local governments making hasty decisions that infringe upon religious freedom.

We are here to ensure churches, synagogues and religious organizations across the country are protected from overzealous government officials and anti-faith groups. We just need your help to continue this important work!

Your generous financial support enables us to jump to the defense of Rabbi Jacknin and others who are facing religious hostility. As the attacks increase, we must grow our team to be able to fight back. You can help with that!

Please consider a gift today to join the fight and help protect the future of religious freedom in America! Every dollar donated multiplies in value thanks to the world-class volunteer attorneys that generously give their time to the cause of religious freedom.

About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in the military and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit