UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – Daniel Grand says he never thought his idea to have a prayer group in his home would lead to him having to file a federal lawsuit.

“Praying. It’s something that the Jewish people have been doing every week for the past 3,500 years,” Grand told the FOX 8 I-Team. “I just want to have friends over my house to pray.”

Grand, who lives in University Heights, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of University Heights and Mayor Dylan Brennan.

Grand and his attorney, Jonathan Gross, say the mayor and city officials violated Grand’s constitutional rights.

“It is the most egregious infringement of religious liberties that I have ever seen,” Gross said. 

The lawsuit alleges that the mayor and city officials accused him of starting a synagogue and threatened him with legal action.

“A synagogue? I mean, it’s like asking someone if they ever planned to have a baseball stadium in their garage,” Grand said. “I don’t know what people think a synagogue means, but I don’t think it’s possible to  have a synagogue in my house.”

Grand said in January of 2021, he was thinking of having a prayer group at his home. He says, as part of his religion, on Friday’s at sunset until Saturday night, he must pray three times per day with at least nine other men.

He said during this time, they are not allowed to travel by car. The closest synagogue is about three-quarters of a mile from his home, which means he must walk several miles per day.

The lawsuit also alleges the mayor ordered police to patrol near Grand’s home and on one occasion, friends of Grand’s were stopped by police asking them if they were there to attend the synagogue.

“I wanted to have a few people over my house and we were going to pray,” Grand said. “Basically you open a prayer book and you read from it.”

We reached out to the mayor asking to discuss the lawsuit but have not yet heard back.