New York Daily News

‘Anti-semitic elevator’ suit

- Barbara Ross

WHAT STARTED as a dispute over an elevator has evolved into a civil rights battle between students and tenants.

Touro College had planned to make one of two elevators at its upper West Side apartment building a “Shabbat” elevator that would automatica­lly stop at every floor in the sixstory building from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday, as a way to circumvent the Orthodox law barring the observant from operating electric switches on Shabbat.

Touro is asking in papers filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal that denied the applicatio­n. The college said its Jewish students occupy 43 of the building’s 82 units.

The building’s rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants object on the grounds they will have to wait longer for an elevator on a day when many do shopping and laundry chores.

In court papers, Touro said the delays would be minor — at most 1 minute, 23 seconds — and accused the tenants associatio­n of setting a “discrimina­tory and anti-Semitic tone” by suggesting the students are young and should be able to climb the stairs on the Sabbath.

“This is not about civil rights. The problem is that Touro has made this building into a dormitory in violation of the building’s certificat­e of occupancy,” tenant associatio­n President James Berry shot back.

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