JACKSON-A series of laws and ordinances enacted by the township of Jackson in recent months has led to Agudath Israel of America filing a religious discrimination lawsuit against the town.
In March, the township passed two ordinances aimed at limiting the building of schools and banning the construction of school related dormitories. Township officials cited quality of life concerns for the residents, but Agudath Israel claims the ordinances were adopted to hinder the constitutional rights of the influx of Orthodox Jewish residents to the township.
“The adoption of the Ordinances was motivated by discriminatory animus against the Orthodox Jewish community, they treat religious educational institutions differently and worse than various nonreligious assembly and institutional uses, they unreasonably limit and exclude religious educational institutions from the Township, and they make housing unavailable within the Township based on religion,” Agudath Israel claims in the legal filing.
The organization, which represents Jewish interests nationwide said Jackson Township’s elected officials have been trying to “Build a Wall” around the township to deter Jewish residents from moving there.
“The Ordinances are the latest action taken by the Township in a long campaign to erect a wall on its border with Lakewood Township, where many Orthodox Jews live, in order to discourage them from moving into Jackson,” the lawsuit continued.”
The lawsuit also claims that Mayor Michael Reina told residents not to sell to Jewish residents.
“Its Mayor has told residents ‘Don’t sell’ to the Orthodox Jewish community, its township council president said that a suggestion that Orthodox Jews move into communities such as Jackson was ‘reprehensible,’ and referred to the community as a ‘threat’ to Jackson, and noted that the Township Council ‘is on the same page”’ with a community that harbors substantial hostility toward the Orthodox Jewish community,” the lawsuit claims.
In the meetings Shore News Network has covered, Reina always made it clear that the township has no right to restrict who can and can’t buy homes and said if residents were concerned about the home sales, the only option was to not sell their homes. Reina often told distraught residents that they lived in America and it’s not anyone’s right to tell another who they can and can’t sell their homes to.
The lawsuit also targeted Republican Councilman Robert Nixon who said of the growth of the Jewish population in town, “The threat can be eliminated if people held their ground and refused the offers being made on their properties and remain committed to Jackson Township and their neighbors.”
Nixon has been on the frontlines of the township’s battle against the Orthodox Jewish growth in the township.
Jackson Township officials have not yet responded to the lawsuit.
The 35 page filing released today by the Lakewood Scoop can also be found on our Shore News Network and JTOWN Magazine Facebook pages.