To hear Robin Zoll tell it, the story of the Chabad House next door comes down to one sentence, spoken by Rabbi Menachem “Mendy” Rivkin, which she relayed under oath in court: “I was as honest as I could be to get my permit.”
Rivkin remembers that conversation, too. But in his telling, the emphasis changes. Zoll, he said, accused him of dishonesty. Exasperated, he said he replied, “Robin, I was as honest as I possibly could be.”
One event, two interpretations — such is the story of the tangled legal battle between Zoll and the local neighborhood association on one side, and Hasidic Jewish organization Chabad on the other — over the addition at 14 Aigburth Road in Towson.
Since 2016, the two sides have been, in Circuit Court judge Kathleen Cox’s words, “locked in [a] battle” of appeals. Chabad wants to keep the addition; neighbors want it gone.
Late in 2018, as its available appeals seemed to dwindle and the prospect of a tear-down order loomed, Chabad raised the stakes. The organization launched an international social media campaign, soliciting thousands of letters and donations. On Jan. 10, Cox granted Chabad a pause on the tear-down order until another yet appeal is heard in the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland’s second-highest court. Separately, last month, the group filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against Baltimore County and the Circuit Court for their roles in the case.