Dispute Over Sukkah at Trump Place Condos Goes to Court - The Jewish Voice
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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Dispute Over Sukkah at Trump Place Condos Goes to Court

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When Zev Geller erected his twenty-foot-long sukkah on the third-floor terrace of his home at Trump Place Condominiums on New York’s Upper West Side, he knew he was complying with the halachic directive to reside in a temporary dwelling for one week every fall after Yom Kippur. But he apparently did not know that he was going to upset his neighbors two floors below, who have filed a lawsuit to prevent any future such perceived threats to their well-being.

According to Thomas Tagliani and Leslie Lucas, who are suing Geller – as well as the condominiums’ owner and board – for $500,000, the sukkah is a genuine fire hazard. Moreover, Tagliani and Lucas argue that since Geller engages in barbecuing right next to the structure, he is creating a dangerous “tinderbox condition,” as the couple’s Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit states.  They are also asking Trump Place to evict Geller from the building.

“I’m Jewish. I built a sukkah. I didn’t think much of it because it’s temporary,” Geller told the New York Post. “I’m literally just a Jewish person living in New York City, but I guess my neighbor doesn’t like that.” But the ticked-off neighbors’ lawyer, William Perniciaro, denies that the lawsuit is connected to any religious issue. “It’s about fire, period,” said Perniciaro.

Geller claims he researched the law and discovered that New York City’s fire code does not cover sukkahs. “I guess they take it personally that I’ve done anything on the terrace of my own apartment,” he said.

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