JACKSON-Last week religious leaders from Jackson and Lakewood met at Jackson Liberty High School with Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Mayor Michael Reina. Today, Reina announced an initiative to begin open dialog between Jackson Township officials and members of different cultural and religious backgrounds in the form a new advisory board to discuss issues that Jackson faces.
“The Mayor and Council Members of the Township of Jackson work hard every day to ensure that Jackson is the best place to live, work and raise a family. Over the last month, I have been invited to a series of outreach and resilience meetings with various groups and individuals,” a prepared press release read. “We discussed multicultural and religious information from around the County.
These meetings included members of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General. I had the opportunity to meet and interact with the diverse contingent of residents, local leaders and members of religious faiths. What I took away from these hours of workshop groups, discussing all sides of cultural importance- is that we as the Township need to do much more- we need to do more to get to know each other, to understand each other, and to appreciate each individual’s point of view.”
This is a turn of events from Reina’s “Gloves are off” email regarding the township’s ongoing legal battle against the Orthodox Jewish Community and comes in the midst of pressure from a top-ranking Republican donor at the national level, Dr. Richard Roberts. Roberts has condemned Reina and Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank B. Holman, III for what he describes as a culture of anti-Semitism within the Jackson Republican party that has gone unchecked.
Holman and Roberts are scheduled to meet in private regarding the issue sometime next week, upon Holman’s request.
“I plan to put in place a Citizen’s Multicultural Advisory Committee here in Jackson to do just that. Community leaders and residents, folks of different religions and ethnicities, will be able to come together and discuss amongst each other the truth- that by living together as one community we improve everyone’s quality of life. The well-being of all can be one of the most important lessons and gifts that we pass on to our children and grandchildren,” Reina said.
He tapped Councilman Barry Calogero who has faced scrutiny by the Orthodox Jewish community for comments and actions they deemed were anti-Semitic to lead the new committee.
“In the Citizens Multicultural Advisory Committee, I plan to ensure that there is wide participation from interested parties. Naturally, we are looking to involve our religious leaders from all faiths, law enforcement, first-aid and fire representatives, local organizations, clubs, committees as well as anyone else who has a genuine desire to contribute their knowledge and life experience to help Jackson continue to be a leader in community development and cultural understanding,” Reina said.
The issue was first proposed by members of the Orthodox Jewish community to Reina and Calogero in 2018, but both never acted upon the recommendation. At December’s public meet the mayor public session, Mordechai Eichorn, developer of Jackson Trails proposed a similar concept before Reina and a room full of residents.