Los Angeles, CA – Cultural awareness and improved communications with building owners could help avoid situations like one last year when city inspectors interrupted a Yom Kippur service in Hancock Park, according a letter made available by the mayor’s office.
The letter is a follow- up to an incident that occurred at Yavneh Hebrew Academy on Sept. 21, 2007. Families were marking the beginning of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, when two city inspectors arrived at the Jewish day school to determine whether the facility was in violation of its permit.
The visit was prompted by a resident’s complaint.
The law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom reviewed the incident at the request of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office. “As a result of its review, Skadden Arps found no evidence that the (Department of Building and Safety attempted to single out the Orthodox Jewish community in connection with the Yom Kippur inspection,” Villaraigosa wrote in his letter to the department’s general manager.
“Skadden Arps did conclude, however, that the inspection process could be improved upon so as to avoid a repeat occurrence of the events that took place on Yom Kippur 2007.”
To avoid a similar situation this year — Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Oct. 8 — attorneys recommended training to increase awareness of religious and cultural traditions and suggested that Building and Safety implement a process to contact building liaisons before an inspection.
Skadden Arps also suggested that the city review its practice of accepting anonymous complaints.