Jackson Mayor Michael Reina appoints two Orthodox Jewish residents to township planning board

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JACKSON, NJ – Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina, without fanfare and hidden from public view, has appointed two Orthodox Jewish men to the Jackson Township planning board. The board is responsible for hearing applications from residential and commercial builders seeking to develop land in Jackson Township.

Reina has appointed Tzvi Herman and Mordechai Burnstein to the board, appointments which are usually done during public council meetings but need no council vote or approval to be confirmed.

Burnstein, currently a township chaplain, to which he was also appointed by Reina has been a leader within the Orthodox Jewish community in Jackson since moving to the township.

Herman was Jackson Township’s first Orthodox Jewish school board member after running in an uncontested election in 2019. In 2020. Herman lost his bid for re-election.

Reina makes history with the appointments as the two men are the township’s first Orthodox Jewish members to serve on a major township municipal board.

Reina is still the lead target in both a Department of Justice civil rights lawsuit and a New Jersey Attorney General lawsuit claiming he and the township purposefully created an environment that sought to deter Orthodox Jewish residents from moving to the town.

He is also facing multiple employment lawsuits in his job as a mayor and at his patronage job with the Ocean County bridge department. In July, Reina listed his Hawkin road estate for sale with a $1.2 million price tag.

With the growing number of Orthodox Jewish residents in the community, Reina took the bold and progressive move to appoint the two men to council despite township backlash over the move. Members of his own Republican party in Jackson, which had been condemned by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel have privately expressed their disappointment in Mayor Reina but did not wish to comment on this story.

The move by Reina signals the township is now moving in the direction to openly welcome Orthodox Jewish members and allow them to have a seat at the municipal decision making table.