In The Church

Liberty Institute Protects Rabbi’s Religious Freedom

Opulent Life Church; Telsa DeBerry v. City of Holly Springs, Mississippi | Liberty Institute

At Issue: Right to Meet for Religious Exercise
Case Status: Closed

The Big Picture

The city of Bellaire, Texas, issued a written citation to Rabbi Gavriel Jacknin of the Bellaire Jewish Center for holding small religious meetings in his home. Knowing this was a violation of his religious liberty, Rabbi Jacknin contacted Liberty Institute, and we quickly stepped in to help.

Why this Case Matters

Churches, synagogues, and religious organizations across the country are facing growing religious hostility from local governments that have been greatly misinformed about the so-called “separation of church and state.” That is why Liberty Institute is fighting for the Bellaire Jewish Center and working to ensure churches, synagogues, and religious organizations across the country are protected from overzealous government officials and anti-faith groups.

The Facts

  • In October, Rabbi Jacknin contacted Liberty Institute after the city of Bellaire issued him a written citation for holding small religious meetings in his home. The meetings included anywhere from five to fifteen people.
  • Liberty Institute and the Jewish Center’s local attorney, Richard Grimes, met with Bellaire city officials in November 2013.
  • At the end of the meeting, city officials agreed to dismiss the citation, acknowledging that Rabbi Jacknin did nothing inappropriate and that he could continue holding his religious meetings.
  • At the November meeting, Rabbi Jacknin informed the city of his plans for a Hanukkah party, and the city did not express any concern.
  • Liberty Institute and the city also agreed that should any other issues arise, the city would first contact Liberty Institute before taking further action.
  • However, after his Hanukkah gathering, Rabbi Jacknin received another citation.
  • Liberty Institute was surprised at the city’s action in light of the city official’s prior commitments.
  • The matter proceeded to trial before a municipal judge on the City’s citation.
  • Liberty Institute and its volunteer attorneys defended this matter so that Rabbi Jacknin can freely exercise his constitutional rights.

What You Can Do

In this situation, Rabbi Jacknin did the right thing in contacting Liberty Institute. As the largest legal organization dedicated solely to defending and restoring religious liberty in America, we are the experts on constitutional law.

Your generous financial support enables us to continue to fight for Rabbi Jacknin and others who are facing religious hostility. As the attacks increase, we must grow our team to be able to fight back. You can help with that!

Please consider a gift today to join the fight and help protect the future of religious freedom in America! Every dollar donated multiplies in value thanks to the world-class volunteer attorneys that generously give their time to the cause of religious freedom.

Also, if you know of any church, synagogue, or religious organization facing this type of hostility, please have them contact us at 972-941-4444 or through email at


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