Rep. Jerrold Nadler is asking Congress to pass a law to allow Jews to hang a mezuzah on the door of houses that they already own.
A couple of years ago, Lynne Bloch and her husband — senior citizens, and my friend Helen Bloch’s parents — found that the mezuzah kept disappearing off the door of their Chicago condominium. They’d come home and it would be ripped off. They’d buy another one. It would get stolen, too.
Eventually, they found out that the people responsible were not some hoodlum kids trying to get rich quick (mezuzahs are expensive — and, more importantly, desecrating or trashing them is like throwing out a little piece of Torah, one of our most valued values) but the board of their condo association. Although Helen explained the situation to the board, they were too worried that having a tiny piece of parchment would disturb the Aryan design sensibility of…uh, the hallway. And so they kept waiting for her mother to leave the building, and stealing her mezuzah. One of those times was when they left for Helen’s father’s funeral, a resident of the building for decades. They came back and, bam! Condo board struck again.
A federal court recently ruled against the Bloches, and against mezuzot. The only way to overturn this is by enacting a federal law — which is exactly what Nadler plans to do.
Pronounced: muh-ZOO-zuh (oo as in book), Origin: Hebrew, a small box placed on the right doorpost of Jewish homes. It contains a parchment scroll with verses from the Torah inscribed on it, including the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21).