Rabbi Shea Harlig oral history interview, 2014 March 05. OH-00792. [Audio recording]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1fn13b9w
Standardized Rights Statement
And describe the neighborhood when you first moved here. I wasn't really welcomed by some of my neighbors. And I'm not going to say really because I was Jewish. We converted the original house. Now it doesn't exist anymore. You'll see it. It's on the other side of Vista Drive. It was a home. It was a ranch style home. It was an acre lot. And I thought it would work perfectly for us for a little synagogue and a little preschool. My neighbors weren't thrilled about it. We were two properties south of - there was one residential home north of us before Charleston. So there was a commercial, a house and then there was us. We came in there and we had a huge - we first had a lease with an option to buy the house. When we went for the zoning, we had a huge zoning fight. My neighbors were not happy. Until today they're not happy. I believe the mayor was Jan Jones at that point. I could probably pull out some of the letters. I think our councilman was Frank Hawkins, if I'm correct. This is going back in like '91, '92. And I have some of the letters. I didn't know; you know I'm a guy from Brooklyn and I don't know. I went to the zoning and they all came and they all wrote all these letters that we don't want; we have the CC and Rs in this neighborhood and it doesn't fit in with our...One of the things that they said is - if you want, I can pull out those letters if you need. I think I saved some in the file. We've lived here on this block from 1940 when there were carriages over here or horse and wagons and we don't want you to bring in traffic and all that type of stuff. They weren't thrilled. So they gave us our zoning first and then they gave us a limitation with the preschool, only 21 kids and then 35 kids. I believe what really turned - I think it was Frank Hawkins who did it for me if I remember correctly. They said, well, the CC and Rs do not allow churches or preschools. Then when we went through and read through the CC and Rs, it also says that they don't allow any blacks and they don't allow any Jews in this neighborhood. I think until today in the CC and Rs in this neighborhood it says that. So when we pointed it out to the city councilmen, I think they couldn't say much about the CC and Rs anymore. I'm pretty sure I have them all, but this is going back to '92 and '93. So we ended up having the synagogue on Vista Drive, which is the first property. My biggest opponent was my neighbor just south of me. And I wouldn't say because it's Antisemitism. I really didn't believe that. I don't believe he wanted to have the school, a small school and a synagogue and all that. He don't like it, even though. For years whatever you do he would complain to the city. And eventually - you know what happened - we bought him out and he sold us the property. Then we bought the next property. So we have - I don't know if you saw our school - closer to three acres. I'll show it to you. So we have the three acres. Even when I came to get this property, the neighbors fought me; they didn't want. It's going increase traffic. It's ridiculous. It's very little. It's a private school. It's quiet. They enforce me that I can't make any rights, only make a left. And we did some traffic studies. There's no traffic whatsoever. And people who were complaining were - streets and the cars don't even go through. But the worst thing is to go to a city council meeting when people have too much free time on their hands and they're fighting everything. So Lois Tarkanian, she had to balance it to appease some of the neighbors. I believe ultimately she agreed that it was ridiculous, some of the stuff what they wanted. But she gave me more or less with some restrictions to build it. Since we're an orthodox synagogue, many of the members, we don't drive on the Sabbath; we walk; we don't use cars on Sabbath. So I'd say we have probably about 30 families live within a mile of this and the only reason they came here is because the synagogue is here. I guess more people that come now don't move here because it's an older part of town. They would move to Green Valley. They would look to Summerlin. The latest one we opened up was in the southwest. But people still come. It's cheap here. I like the neighborhood. So when they first came to complain to us, well, your outside is coming in. But we have a bunch of the houses around here; some of them belong to synagogue, some of them belong to us. So we live here. We're part of the neighborhood.