Ohio Jews applaud new state penalties for disrupting religious services

Under the bill, which passed the Ohio House in April by 95-1 and is up for approval currently in the state’s Senate, disrupting a religious gathering would become a first-degree misdemeanor.

 Ohio state flag (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Ohio state flag
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Jews in Ohio are applauding new state legislation that administers harsher penalties to persons who interrupt a religious service. The measure passed the Ohio House in April by 95-1and is up for approval currently in the state’s Senate.

Under the bill, disrupting a religious gathering would become a first-degree misdemeanor. The heightened punishment would apply within a house of worship or elsewhere on its property, as well as in a virtual gathering held over a platform like Zoom.

 Park East Synagogue (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Park East Synagogue (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Could the law deter antisemites? 

“It is simply unacceptable that there are Jewish communities where things like funeral services, shared digitally with those who mourn at a distance, are sometimes interrupted with things like Nazi symbolism, pornography and racial slurs.”

Rabbi Ballaban

Rabbi Aryeh Ballaban from the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati told the Ohio Capital Journal on Monday that he is a proponent of the law because often Jewish prayer is interrupted by antisemites. 

“It is simply unacceptable,” he told the Ohio Capital Journal, “that there are Jewish communities where things like funeral services, shared digitally with those who mourn at a distance, are sometimes interrupted with things like Nazi symbolism, pornography and racial slurs.”

Other supporters of the legislation cited protestors who interfered in a local Respect Life Mass at Columbus’ St. Joseph Cathedral last January.