We don’t even know how to explain this secret that has surfaced…..and it looks right on track.
It’s 11 PAGES OF CHANGES FOR JACKSON land use rules.
Story has it there was a secret meeting between Ken Bressi and Agudath Israel of America back in November; and behind closed doors decisions for Jackson Township/Lakewood were made. As you can see from the document the new developments are being designed, the Kapparot Ordinance which would allow the ritual slaughter of fowl during the High Holy Holidays was presented along with the Eiruv Ordinance. It is all in the documents.
I ask you thiss?
WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON WITH THE REST OF THE COUNCIL???
Are they to busy too working for Jackson because it seems it’s all Ken Bressi.
Dormitories, schools, mikvahs, synagogues, community centers, parking waivers, eruvim…all discussed in a closed door meeting between representatives of Agudath Israel of America, Jackson Township Attorney Jean Cipriani and Jackson Township Councilman and Planning Board member Ken Bressi. No one else. No other councilmen…just BRESSI! Why is this guy neck deep in all of this?
Anyhow, when civil litigation is filed there is a requirement for mediation and settlement discussions before an actual trial. There is no requirement that you bend over, grab your ankles and prepare for the worst and yet…last November, as part of that process, this meeting took place to establish common ground and areas that might become common ground. As a result, an eleven page notice of surrender, there is no other way to describe it, was drafted. You can read the entire document by clicking the link below.
In short, these terms of surrender, if approved, would make Lakewood look tame compared to Jackson. Special provisions for almost every orthodox Jewish demand and, you are starting to see some of these being put into place on Tuesday night. A township wide eruv and an ordinance that PROTECTS the ritualistic slaughter of chickens during Kaporos are just the first two steps of capitulation. In essence, your government has given up.
Remember when Mayor Reina said “the gloves are off” signaling that he was ready to fight? How about the announcement that Jackson Township had hired religious land use attorney Marci Hamilton to help guide the town through the lawsuits, fight for home rule and to provide counsel on future ordinances? Well the gloves are back on, Marci Hamilton has left the building and only one thing stands between Jackson staying a rural, blue collar and family friendly town and Lakewood 2.0. YOU!
So let’s all put on our big boy/girl pants because quite literally it is time to take the fight to town hall.
Land Use and Shuls Front and Center in Toms River Election
A recent Asbury Park Press article highlighted the prominent place that issues surrounding Toms River’s Orthodox population have taken in its local elections set to be held this November.
Most prominent is a proposed zoning change that would significantly reduce the amount of acreage needed to build a house of worship. The 10 acre requirement, has stymied the development of shuls in the North Dover area which is home to several hundred Orthodox families.
The proposal was released last month, but was quickly pulled from the agenda by retiring Town Council President, George Wittman Jr. He and Council Vice President Maurice “Mo” Hill said they would not support the change. Yet, later, Mr. Hill, a Republican, said that he would approve it if it would satisfy federal authorities who are presently investigating the town’s land use laws amid accusations of bias.
Mr. Hill’s Democratic rival, Jonathan Petro, has increasingly seized on the issue, in attempt to paint his opponent as sympathetic to the needs of the Orthodox community. Mr. Hill has vehemently denied that he has been influenced by any special interests.
Toms River is one of the state’s largest Republican strongholds, but in 2017 elections three Democrats won seats on its council largely with rhetoric criticizing what they portrayed as the council’s accommodation of the Orthodox community’s growth. Some of their campaign literature was criticized as anti-Semitic. One of the group’s most outspoken members, Daniel Roderick, who was recently censured by his fellow council members, re-registered as a Republican shortly after the election.
Toms River election: Growing Orthodox Jewish population is campaign issue again
Toms River election: Growing Orthodox Jewish population is campaign issue again ….. TOMS RIVER – A simmering dispute over zoning for houses of …. in the 2017 campaign that used “Lakewood” and “Lakewood-style …
A last-minute move to pull a zoning change that would have eased stiff restrictions on building houses of worship in Toms River boiled over into a public squabble among the township’s Council members.
Township documents reveal that under pressure from the federal Department of Justice (DOJ), the Council had acquiesced to amend an ordinance that required a 10-acre lot in order to build a house of worship, along with a set of related bylaws that have stood in the way of applications from both shuls and mosques in the past.
Yet, last week, when changes appeared on the agenda of a Land Use Committee hearing, they were suddenly pulled. Council President George Wittmann and Council Vice President Maurice “Mo” Hill both questioned how the amendments had found their way to meeting and stated that they would oppose such moves.
Shortly after the Council leaders’ statements appeared in the Asbury Park Press, Councilwoman Laurie Huryk called them out in a press release.
“Council President Wittmann knows exactly how the zoning changes ended up on the Land Use Committee agenda; the Township had committed to the Department of Justice that Toms River would be brought into compliance with Federal Law this year,” she said. “These corrective actions had been discussed many times, and needed to be enacted in a timely manner in order to save the taxpayers of Toms River untoward fines and penalties resulting from the current Federal Investigation.”
Neither Council President Wittmann nor Vice President Hill returned requests for comment from Hamodia.
The DOJ initially opened an investigation of Tom River’s land use regulations vis-à-vis religious organizations in 2016. At the time, a lawsuit was before the courts from the town’s Chabad house, which claimed restrictions on its operation were motivated by a spillover of efforts to block an influx of Orthodox Jews to the town’s North Dover section, which borders Lakewood.
Chabad won the suit and the investigation was closed in April 2018. However, according to a township report on land use rules affecting houses of worship, in December of that year the DOJ announced it was reopening investigations.
Months earlier, the township hired Marci Hamilton, a legal expert specializing in religious land use and a well-known advocate against the expansion of rights for faith groups to advise the Council.
Over the past four years, Mrs. Hamilton’s clients have suffered a string of losses in clashes with Orthodox groups, including attempts to stymie construction of a new Chabad center in Boca Raton, an eruv in Westhampton Beach, Long Island, and a kollel and affiliated housing in Pomona, New York.
The Council, Mrs. Hamilton, and other township officials met with both the DOJ and on at least one occasion with representatives of Toms River’s Orthodox community to appraise the legal viability of its ordinances. The result was an agreement to several changes, most notably a reduction from 10 to seven acres in order to build a house of worship. According to media reports, a clause was also accepted that would lower that to two acres in North Dover, but this is absent from the released documents.
Baruch Sandhaus, now 52, claims Falk “would inappropriately touch” his penis in 1980, shortly after he started ninth grade at age 13, according to the lawsuit.
Falk, 74, who still lives in Brooklyn, now serves as the principal of Hebrew studies at Toras Zev, a Lakewood, N.J. yeshiva.
Sandhaus, a Florida businessman, said he is horrified that Falk is working with boys.
“It is devastating for me to hear that Falk is still working at a yeshiva. This man should not be around kids. I don’t want any children to suffer the way I did,” Sandhaus told The Post.
While in the ninth grade, Sandhaus confided in Falk that he had been abused by fellow Rabbi Joel Kolko in elementary school. Falk spent time counseling the troubled teen — and then abused him as well, he alleges.
Sandhaus complained at the time to the Midwood yeshiva, but a dean warned the family to keep quiet about the allegations or he “could not guarantee the safety” of the boy and his siblings, he contends.
The yeshiva kept Falk as a rabbi and principal until 1989. He was never criminally charged.’
But it settled with two other former students who alleged abuse by Kolko, paying them a total $2.1 million in 2016, The Post reported. Sandhaus also names Kolko in his suit.
Reached at the Lakewood yeshiva, Falk refused to discuss the allegations, telling The Post, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to take this call.”
Sandhaus filed suit in Brooklyn Supreme Court under the Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year window for people of any age to seek damages against their alleged abusers, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.
Survivors for Justice, an NYC-based advocacy group, sent a copy of the lawsuit to the Lakewood yeshiva — and urged it to take precautions.
“It would be unfortunate if Toras Zev joined a long line of ultra-Orthodox yeshivas covering up allegations of child sex abuse and protecting the reputations of child molesters in their employ,” said spokesman Ben Hirsch.
Inzelbuch, 52, also will be reimbursed $29,000 to pay for a health insurance plan and can earn $350 an hour for litigation services for certain cases. The contract specifies that Inzelbuch is a contractor, not a district employee, making him ineligible for pension system credits.
According to the Asbury Park Press’ Data Universe, the highest-paid school employee in the state has been Diana Lobosco, who has a $297,625 salary as chief administrator/superintendent for the Passaic County Vocational District.
Inzelbuch’s pay also blows away the amounts made by Gov. Chris Christie ($175,000) and top federal government lawyers Attorney General Jeff Sessions ($207,000) and FBI Director Christopher Wray ($172,000).
The board voted 6-0 Thursday to hire Inzelbuch, a special education attorney who graduated from Lakewood High School and who served as board attorney from 2002 until 2012, gaining as many detractors as he did supporters.
In his previous tenure, Inzelbuch was at the center of controversies over sharply increased spending on private religious schools, charges of racial bias, a cheating scandal and regularly poor testing results, but on Friday he said, “It’s a privilege for me to be back.”
“It is my hope to make public school kids and all children a No. 1 agenda item, as opposed to needless and unnecessary distractions the district has endured of late,” he said.
Lakewood is home to a huge Orthodox Jewish community and the rapid growth has engulfed the town, igniting tensions between the religious and secular societies on many levels.
Each day, we will explore some of the major issues in the community, including the welfare fraud investigation, housing problems and the strains on the education system.
LAKEWOOD — The drive into Lakewood from the Parkway could be confused with any other stretch of county road near the Pinelands. There are farm stands, strip malls, modest neighborhoods and an occasional open field.
Then, you cross the border into Lakewood and the landscape changes immediately. There are suddenly crowded townhouse developments, new multifamily houses going up and members of the Orthodox Jewish community on every sidewalk. Lakewood represents the convergence of almost every issue in New Jersey – race, religious freedom, discrimination, corruption, local politics, school funding, overdevelopment and transportation woes. What makes it unique is the unprecedented growth of the town combined with the complex issues surrounding the booming Orthodox Jewish community.
While tensions have been rising in Lakewood for years, the turmoil has escalated in recent weeks with a showdown over school funding and a high-profile welfare fraud investigation.
The arrests brought renewed attention to Lakewood and highlighted what residents of the Ocean County town already know – Lakewood is changing. This once-faded resort community has become the most complex town in New Jersey.
What makes Lakewood unique?
Lakewood is booming. Thanks to an influx of Orthodox Jews, it has been New Jersey’s fastest-growing town over the last 20 years. It has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Housing is going up at an unprecedented pace.
“It’s probably the most attractive place in the United States today for a young Orthodox Jewish family,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler, one of the leaders of the Orthodox community. “That’s a phenomenon that certainly didn’t exist when I was growing up, 20 or 30 years ago. But it’s a reality today.”
Anyone familiar with the late Reb Shlomo Carlebach, the famous Jewish composer and singer, is aware that he managed to attract countless followers. His influence reached all corners of the Jewish world, Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike, and his tunes and hymns are used to this day by many congregations around the world to welcome the Jewish Sabbath every Friday evening.
With Carlebach’s eclectic approach of bringing Jews closer to Jewish practice through song, a myth and legend developed. It became accepted throughout much of the ultra-Orthodox world that Carlebach had himself kicked out of the prestigious Lakewood Yeshiva, formerly known as “Beth Medrash Govoha,” founded by Rabbi Aharon Kotler in 1943. It was also said that Carlebach had composed his inspiring but quite somber song “Lulaei Torascha” while sitting on the steps outside the yeshivah after his expulsion.
As poetic as the myth may be, Rabbi Kotler’s grandson, whose name is also Aharon, shattered it to pieces in a recent interview.
“Shlomo Carlebach was never kicked out of Lakewood,” said the young Rabbi Kotler, now president of the Lakewood Yeshiva. The yeshivah is an accredited institution of higher education in the state of New Jersey, and has approximately 7,000 students and 13,000 alumni, many of whom are leaders and builders of Jewish communities all over the world.
“Rav Aharon loved him,” said Rabbi Kotler. “He was, as we all know, exceptionally musically inclined … I can imagine that at some point in his life, his musical interests and drive exceeded his desire to learn inyeshivah.”
In fact, Reb Carlebach maintained a close connection with the elder Rabbi Kotler’s family.
“He played guitar at my parents’ sheva brochos [“Seven Blessings,” a Jewish wedding tradition],” said Rabbi Kotler. “They made a kumzits [evening gathering]. They closed the lights in the room, he sat on the floor.”
“One of the important things to remember is that Lakewood is not a life system,” he added. “Neither is kollel [an institute for full-time, advanced Talmud study] a life system for everybody, and certainly in Rav Aharon’s days people were in yeshiva for a number of years and then they eventually left. That was the norm. So I have never checked the enrollment records of Shlomo Carlebach, whether he stayed longer than the norm or shorter than the norm—but he certainly was not kicked out of Lakewood.”
Lakewood, a Test Case for Other Areas of New York and New Jersey, but Not Unique
The below article is being reposted without permission, in its entirety from New Jersey.com. We ask that you kindly click here to view the post in its original format as well as to avail yourselves of the advertising of that paper. We have not reposted the video which starts the article.
We note that NJ.com is a subscription service so, if asked to remove this post or any portion of it, we will do so. There is no intent to violate any copyrights. It should be noted that the author of the article is Mark Pfeiffer, a non-Orthodox Jew. He is assistant director of the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers. The rest of the credits for the article can be found at the end of the post.
We make one single criticism of the article. Lakewood is mentioned as a unique situation, one not contemplated by our government’s founding fathers. We believe that Lakewood is not unique. A similar pattern can be seen throughout New York and New Jersey and likely in other parts of the country, like areas of Pennsylvania with students who attend the Lakewood Yeshiva. Insofar as Kiryas Joel is now the first religious town in the country, it also should be viewed in terms of a possible endpoint for Lakewood, except perhaps to the extent that Lakewood straddles a finer line between modernity and insularity.
Kiryas Joel or “Palm Tree, New York” has been for many years one of the poorest towns in the country. It is and will continue to represent one of the heaviest burdens on public resources throughout the United States.
Editor’s note, Part 9: Over the past nine days, NJ Advance Media has been taking a closer look at Lakewood, one of New Jersey’s fastest-growing and most complex towns. Lakewood is home to a huge Orthodox Jewish community and the rapid growth has engulfed the town, igniting tensions between the religious and secular societies on many levels.Each day, we have explored some of the major issues in the community, including the welfare fraud investigation, housing problems and the strains on the education system. Today, a look ahead.
Newcomers move in. Old-time residents leave. Stores open and close. Politics shift.
Such is Lakewood, fast growing and changing faster, dramatically transforming the Ocean County township that’s already eclipsed many New Jersey cities in population.
But where is it headed?
A pair of Orthodox teens share a ride on a bicycle on the sidewalk outside of Georgian Court University in Lakewood. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
Lakewood found itself in the glare of unwanted attention this summer after 26 members of the Orthodox community were accused of lying about their income to collect more than $2 million in Medicaid and other public assistance.
Even before that, however, there has been turmoil and controversy, from a financial crisis brought on by school busing to private yeshivas, to unchecked growth and development that chokes the town daily with traffic, to basic questions about the separation of church and state.
Nearly 1,00 members of the Orthodox community listen during a meeting organized by the Vaad, Lakewood’s religious council. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
1) Why is this place different from all other places?
Marc Pfeiffer, the assistant director of the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University and a former deputy director of the New Jersey Division of Local Government Services, said what is happening in Lakewood is unique.
“It is effectively a religious community bound together by religious and social traditions that basically started small and has exponentially grown and is now large enough and powerful enough to assume control of the political process,” he said.
The effect of that, he said, “has created circumstances that arguably our laws and rules did not contemplate.”
A flyer that put out by Lakewood’s Vaad prior to the recent primary election, telling members of the Orthodox community how to vote. (Photo courtesy of Lakewood resident)
2) Can a religious community take over a town?
“There are lots of communities in New Jersey that you could call insular and who vote the same way. Newark is one that comes to mind,” noted Matthew Hale, who teaches political science and public affairs at Seton Hall University. “A Republican couldn’t get elected in Newark if he was standing on a corner handing out $1,000 bills. You could argue places up in Hunterdon and Warren counties are pretty insular with similar voting patterns also.”
The Orthodox community in Lakewood votes as a block and represents more than 50 percent of the population. It effectively controls the votes to hold sway over the township council and school board.
“The fact is, New Jersey is a machine politics state,” said Hale. “Little machines control votes and voting lines all over the state.”
Students of the East Ramapo School District hold a sign during the One Voice United Rally in Albany in 2013, protesting about the decade-long control of the East Ramapo public schools by the Orthodox community, which do not use the public schools but made deep cuts in teachers and programs. (Shannon DeCelle | AP file photo)
3) Have the issues in Lakewood played out anywhere else?
The East Ramapo Central School District in New York, 30 miles north of Manhattan, has gone through a similar transformation.
There, the Orthodox turn out to vote in strong numbers to defeat school budgets that could increase taxes, while electing members of the Orthodox community to the board. Parents of children in the public schools have accused the school board of making cuts in classroom education and extracurricular activities, to divert public resources to private Orthodox schools.
As in Lakewood, Ramapo residents opposed to the Orthodox control complain about the forces propelling what was a quiet New York suburb into a one of high-density living.
The fight in East Ramapo was documented on This American Life, the public radio show, which described a “volatile local political battle” that erupted after Hasidic residents, who have to pay local property taxes like everyone else—even if their kids did not attend the local schools— took control of the school board.
Elsewhere, there is similar anger over the influx of Orthodox families into parts of Toms River and Jackson Township in New Jersey, Bloomingburg in New York, and a group of Hasidic families moving into an African-American neighborhood in Jersey City.
Lakewood Mayor Raymond Coles, left, sitting alongside Deputy Mayor Menashe Miller. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
4) What are the politics of Lakewood?
Lakewood swings Republican. Trump won with 74 percent of the vote. Christie won with 84 percent. The town is run by a five-member committee serving three year terms. Three are Orthodox Jews. There are three Republicans and two Democrats. All are white men.
But some believe the true power in town is the Vaad, a religious council of Orthodox men, headed by Rabbi Aaron Kotler, which serves as an unofficial advisory group to the community. They unofficially endorse candidates and push for town policies to benefit yeshivas, school owners and private developers.
Critics say Lakewood has outgrown the five-member town committee form of government, which appoints its own mayor and has at-large members. They say it needs a city government (like Newark and Jersey City), with a direct-elected mayor and wards, so one dominant ethnic group can’t dominate the government and smaller neighborhoods get representation.
Students get off the bus at the Yeshiva K’tana on 2nd St. in Lakewood. (David Gard | For NJ Advance Media)
5) What has been the impact of the Orthodox community on Lakewood?
The biggest hit has been on the school budgets. Under New Jersey law, communities are required to bus kids to private schools more than two miles away. But with 30,000 kids in private yeshivas in Lakewood, the costs of busing have grown out of control.
The state is giving $2.4 million a year to Lakewood until 2018 to solve the busing problem under legislation signed by Gov. Chris Christie. In 2014, the state appointed a fiscal monitor to oversee Lakewood’s school district and its budget deficit. But the cost of courtesy busing is keeping the district in the red, say critics.
Questions have also been raised about whether local construction and housing ordinances have been ignored to make room for Orthodox growth, in a town where the government is also controlled by the religious community. Lakewood has approved 1,200 new houses and 400 units in two years.
6) If others in the township are being affected, why doesn’t the state step in?
New Jersey law does give the state the ability to go into a district like Lakewood, and it has appointed a monitor who has oversight and ultimate say on how the money is spent.
“The problem in New Jersey is even when you have the monitor, the politics are intense,” said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center, which advocates for the education rights of public school children.
With a board that is controlled by a constituency that supports private education, he said Lakewood should not have control of busing and special education expenditures. At the same time, he complained that the Christie administration has been “hands off” on Lakewood, even though the monitor is there.
“The monitor might exercise his authority, but he has to have the backing of the governor and legislature. There’s going to be political pushback,” he said.
The Lakewood Board of Education provides courtesy busing to private schools, but with 30,000 kids in those schools, costs have spiraled out of control. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
7) What, if anything, should the state do?
Sciarra said Lakewood needs to stop diverting funds to pay for an extraordinary number of children using private school transportation.
“The monitor should stop the subsidization of transportation out of the schools’ budget because it’s diverting funds out of public education,” he said.
If the state wants to subsidize private transportation, then the state should provide state funds, Sciarra suggested.
Michael Azzara, the fiscal monitor appointed by the state to oversee Lakewood’s finances, did not return calls to comment.
The next step, Sciarra said, depends on the political will of the next governor, noting that the state Supreme Court has made it clear over and over again that the state has the final say in insuring that children receive a “thorough and efficient” education.
“The state has the ultimate responsibility, which cannot be undermined by local school boards and the local political process,” he said. “In Trenton. That’s where the power lies.”
A new housing development off Broadway Ave. in the south part of the town. The town has approved 1,200 new houses and 400 units in two years. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
8) How will Lakewood’s rapid development growth play out?
Pfeiffer said continued tensions among the communities, both within Lakewood and the surrounding municipalities, are likely.
“The outcomes of the current law enforcement investigations, school interventions, and land use concerns may contribute to new policies that respond to the pressures the yeshiva has introduced on the region,” he said. “Yeshiva leadership may feel it necessary, that despite its influence, to reconsider its growth plans as public resistance to continued growth may come at too great a disruption to the region’s civic environment and risk to the institution’s reputation.”
That said, he said it seems clear that continued, unabated growth will create new challenges for the region that will continue to stress political, civic, economic, and cultural institutions and systems, “the outcomes of which cannot be predicted today.”
In the hallways of Beth Medrash Govoha. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
9) How does the Orthodox community see the future in Lakewood?
What brings so many Orthodox families to Lakewood is Beth Medrash Govoha, which opened with 15 students in 1943 and has grown into one of the biggest yeshivas in the world, in part because of its distinctive teaching style.
Rabbi Kotler, president of the yeshiva, sees parallels to the Orthodox presence in Lakewood and to Princeton University.
“We kind of watch what they do and how they do that. What has really changed for us here in Lakewood, unlike Princeton, is that so many of our alumni and their families are living in Lakewood and setting up their businesses here,” he said. “Lakewood kind of became a destination in and of its own way.”
(Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
10) Where is the next Lakewood?
While many see parallels of Lakewood in Rockland County’s East Ramapo, where many of the same issues have played out in recent years, the community in Lakewood is expanding beyond the town’s borders.
People in Toms River, Jackson, Howell and Brick have complained about getting harassed by Orthodox real estate brokers who knock on their doors and encourage them to sell their houses because Haredi Jews are moving in. Several towns have “no-knock” ordinances because of it.
Further to the north in Mahwah, meanwhile, residents are fighting the installation of an “eruv.” A physical line that is often a line or thin piping along utility poles, an eruv symbolically extends the private domain of Orthodox households into public areas, allowing activities within it that are normally forbidden in public on the Sabbath, such as pushing a baby carriage.
Comments on a petition circulating on-line, some overtly anti-Semitic, suggest the opposition is not so much to the presence of the eruv, but that Mahwah would be transformed into another Orthodox-dominated community, such as nearby Monsey, N.Y.
Staff writer Kelly Heyboer contributed to this report.