Homeowner associations have all kinds of rules. There’s rules about fences, house colors, pools, sheds and even outdoor decorations. A West Ashley couple is fighting its HOA over a flag—an Israeli flag.
Keith Woodard and his wife Susanna Agrest-Woodard are Orthodox Jews and have lived in Carolina Bay for three years. Like their neighbors, they fly an American flag, but when Woodard put up an Israeli flag to observe a Jewish holiday, he found it’s a violation of HOA rules. Woodard took to social media to vent his frustration.
“I said this was in support of my ethnicity, my religious belief, and my observance of various holiday and festivals that Jews celebrate throughout the year,” he said in a video.
They said HOA letters turned into fines—now $25 a month.
“They said no, this has nothing to do with your religion, we’ve sent other letters to other people,” said Agrest-Woodard. “Look, this is as simple as, this is my property, my right.”
They submitted a request for religious exemption, but said that request was denied. They feel it’s unfair since their neighbors are allowed to decorate for Christmas, a Christian holiday. Agrest-Woodard said the flag is not just a religious symbol.
“This is the point because not only Christians live here,” she said. “This is confusing because some people view Judaism as religion only, but immigrants from other nations don’t, they view it as an ethnic background, as a genetic background. It’s food, it’s family, it’s tradition, it’s a lot of things.”
She said the flag was initially put up on a temporary basis. But now, they’re making a statement.
“I’m from Soviet Union where we were afraid and a lot of people grow up still being afraid,” she said. “But being in America, we shouldn’t be afraid.”
In the end, it’s up to the HOA Architectural Review Board to approve or deny requests. The owner of Community Management Group, which manages 120 communities told us it’s not unusual for an HOA to have standards for things like flags, each owner agrees to a certain set of rules when they purchase a house.