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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Siegel files harassment charge against local rabbi

 Wednesday, November 23, 2011    Last updated: Thursday November 24, 2011, 1:50 AM
Teaneck Suburbanite
A well-known local activist for Palestinian causes has filed harassment charges against a River Road rabbi, who allegedly stood in front of his Elm Avenue home shouting obscenities.

The complaint filed by Rich Siegel against Rabbi David B. Schwartz is scheduled for a probable cause hearing in Teaneck Municipal Court on Dec. 7 at 9:30 a.m.

Police responded to a call from Siegel at 7:55 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5 complaining that a man in his 60s, walking a large grey dog, was standing in front of his house yelling at him.

Police stopped a man, later identified as Schwartz. who matched the description. According to the police report, Schwartz acknowledged that he had been yelling at Siegel's home, but said he was exercising his right of free speech. He said he has the same right to yell at Siegel's home as Siegel has to display pro-Palestinian bumper stickers on his car.

Siegel's car has two rear bumper stickers: "Free Palestine: End the Occupation" and "Stop US Aid to Israel."

In an interview, Siegel said after receiving the police report, he did an Internet search of Schwartz and discovered that he is a rabbi who serves on the board of directors of the Union for Traditional Judaism located on American Legion Drive.

Reached by phone on Sunday, Schwartz declined to comment. Rabbi David Bauman, executive director of the Union for Traditional Judaism, did not return a voicemail message seeking comment.
Siegel said that he has frequently observed Schwartz standing outside his house.

"It became clear that he was coming to stare at the house and the bumper stickers," he said.

On one occasion, Siegel's wife and 6-year-old daughter were outside when Schwartz walked by with his dog.

"My daughter asked if she could pet the dog. He stood there and glared at them," Siegel said. "There is a segment of the Jewish community that is simply unwilling to tolerate free speech on the Palestinian issue," Siegel said said, noting that his car has been vandalized on numerous occasions and hostile notes have left on it. "Obviously these people disagree with me, but they use violent means to attempt to stop me from expressing my point of view."


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