Jenkintown delays hearing on study center

The Kabbalah Learning Center wants more time to discuss the matter with borough representatives, who are concerned about parking.

Calkins Newspapers, October 1, 1999
By Sarah A. Meisch

Jenkintown -- The zoning hearing for a controversial spiritual center was postponed Thursday night after an attorney representing the center asked for more time.

"The reason for the request is earlier this week I received a call ... advising me the borough had voted to oppose the application," Peter S. Friedman said.

Friedman said his clients, Philadelphia representatives of the Kabbalah Learning Center, would like more time for dialogue and "for all parties to understand each other and their concerns."

The borough council voted 10-1 earlier this week to oppose the application primarily because it asks for relief from the borough's parking regulations, according to council member Barbara Boutcher.

"The borough council has been working very hard to find permanent solutions to parking problems," Boutcher said. "Part of the solution is not giving (parking) away."

The council hoped to send a message to the zoning hearing board— which has different members from the council— that ignoring the required parking spaces for new businesses wasn't OK, she added.

"It does violate our zoning code under assembly, but it primarily was parking," Boutcher said.

The Kabbalah Center, also known as the Kabbalah Learning Centre, has proposed using a vacant building at 104-108 York Road as offices, a bookstore and a place of assembly.

The center bought the building in June and plans to move from its current Philadelphia location if it gets approval in Jenkintown, Friedman said.

The Kabbalah Learning Center, which has locations around the globe, has drawn criticism from cult watcher Rick Ross and from Jewish leaders for its practices.

Moshe Dahan, a teacher at the center, has said the study of the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition, is about spirituality, not a particular religion.

"It's to learn how the world was created, why we are here," he said. "It has the potential to remove chaos from our lives."

The hearing was rescheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at the borough administration building.


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