A property management company has issued a public apology to Jewish residents of a Hackney estate after backing down on a request that traditional Mezuzahs be removed from their door frames.
Mezuzahs are scrolls of passages from the Torah held in protective casing, which Jewish people traditionally attach to their outer door frames.
Residents of Cedarwood Court in Stamford Hill received a letter from Warwick Estates last Sunday which claimed the Mezuzahs were “against the terms of the lease.”
The letter went on to say that if residents did not take down their Mezuzahs they would effectively be billed for their forcible removal.
Complaints from shocked residents to the Jewish Community Council of North London (JCCNL) and to Philip Glanville, the Mayor of Hackney, led to Warwick Estates issuing a full apology for the “overzealous” actions of Cedarwood Court’s property manager.
Cedarwood Court is situated at the heart of Stamford Hill, home to the largest population of Charedi Hasidic Jews in Europe.
In an email to a concerned resident, Warwick Estates wrote: “We are deeply sorry for any offence we have caused to the residents of the development and indeed the wider Jewish community.”
“The letter was sent by the property manager who was attempting to perform his job in line with his interpretation of the lease. It was overzealous in its nature and not keeping with our business values.”
Ivana Bartoletti, a resident of Cedarwood Court and head of privacy and data protection at Gemserv, was deeply concerned after receiving the letter on Sunday.
She immediately tweeted a picture of it, with Glanville and Jewish weekly newspaper The Jewish Chronicle copied in. This prompted a swift response from Warwick Estates, and the assurance that Jewish residents could keep their Mezuzahs.
Bartoletti said: “The times we are living in are very worrying. It was originally flagged as a health and safety issue. In this case, you write to Jewish residents and say, ‘let’s talk about this’. If the Mezuzahs were a fire risk, residents could have replaced them with metal ones. I felt I should use my platform to share this story,”
Levi Shapiro, Director of the JCCNL, said: “This letter is telling us to hide our identity…this reminds us what Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust.”
He added: “We have called for the Mayor to get to the bottom of this and find out the intentions of the property manager.”
The incident follows the findings of a 2018 report, which shows a record-high of anti-Semitic hate crimes.