British housing company apologizes for threatening to strip tenants’ mezuzahs

Warwick Estates describes as ‘overzealous’ a letter warning Jews they would be billed if they did not remove religious objects from doors

Illustrative. A mezuzah. (Zeevveez/Flickr)
Illustrative. A mezuzah. (Zeevveez/Flickr)

A housing company in the London area apologized Monday to Jewish residents for threatening to take down their mezuzahs if they did not remove the religious object themselves.

Warwick Estates, located on the northern edge of the British capital, wrote in a statement Monday that it was sorry for its “overzealous” letter last week to residents of Cedarwood Court, near the heavily Jewish London area of Stamford Hill.

The letter said that hanging mezuzahs on front doors breached the terms of the residents’ leases about hanging objects outside company-owned homes, and they could be billed if they did not take them down, The Jewish Chronicle of London reported.

It mentioned specifically the mezuzah, a rolled-up scroll of parchment that Jewish families hang on the frame of their front doors, usually in a decorative case.

One resident said that she had never seen anyone complain about the mezuzahs in 10 years living in the area.

On Monday, the company backtracked.

“We apologize for the letter sent to some of our customers asking them to remove religious items from their property, specifically their mezuzahs,” a company spokesperson told the Chronicle.

“The letter was overzealous in its nature and not in keeping with our business values…. We wish to make it very clear that residents of the block in question are not required to remove their mezuzahs and they will certainly not be removed by Warwick Estates or any representatives working on our behalf.”

In July, a company that manages an apartment complex in France ordered a Jewish family to remove a mezuzah from the door frame. The Foncière Bergé Corp. cited its regulations last week in a letter to the Saada family in Montpelier, in southern France.

During a July 5 inspection of the company’s real estate, “a mezuzah was encountered on your door frame,” Fabienne Nourigat of its rental department wrote to the family in a letter dated July 6. “We remind you that no personal object may be presented in public areas and request you move the mezuzah inside your accommodation. Thank you for your understanding.”

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