Ateres Bais Yaacov Academy of Rockland County Files Federal RLUIPA Complaint Against Town of Clarkstown, New York


Ateres Bais Yaacov Academy of Rockland (“ABY”) has filed a federal complaint against the Town of Clarkstown, New York, alleging that the Town violated ABY’s constitutional, civil, and statutory rights through the Town’s calculated and discriminatory efforts to prevent ABY, a registered Orthodox Jewish school, from closing on its purchase of Grace Church Baptist Church and utilizing the property as a religious school. As detailed in ABY’s Complaint, this is but the latest example in the Town’s pattern of wreaking havoc on religious property applicants and buying properties to prevent their engagement in the Clarkstown community. In addition to the Town and its Supervisor, defendants include a citizens’ group called “Citizens United to Protect Our Neighborhood,” or CUPON of Greater Nanuet, which was formed for the express purpose of preventing ABY from operating its school.

The complaint seeks relief under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), multiple federal civil rights laws, the U.S. and New York Constitutions, and New York State law. Weil represents ABY on a pro bono basis, and partner Yehudah Buchweitz is available to speak to you about the matter. Weil litigators have secured several landmark religious liberty settlements—also on a pro bono basis—and most recently secured one of the largest-ever recoveries under RLUIPA on behalf of Congregation Shomrei Torah of Clifton, New Jersey.

The firm has also obtained settlements for pro bono clients with the Bergen County, New Jersey, towns of Mahwah, Upper Saddle River and Montvale. In 2017, each of those towns attempted unsuccessfully to halt or preclude construction of an eruv – a near-invisible demarcation that allows observant Jews to carry outside of their homes on the Sabbath and Yom Kippur. Weil’s representation of Jews facing religious discrimination in eruv cases dates back to the early 2000s in Tenafly, New Jersey, and spans two decades, including a more than five-year-long battle in the Hamptons section of New York that successfully concluded in 2016.

The Weil team representing ABY in the federal suit is led by Yehudah L. Buchweitz and includes counsel David Yolkut and senior pro bono counsel Robert G. Sugarman.

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