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To resolve a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Orthodox Jews, NJ Township will pay $575,000

By 08/30/2023 10:18 AMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff


After agreeing to settle both a federal complaint and a private lawsuit based on comparable claims, Jackson Township in New Jersey has settled a state lawsuit alleging that it utilized local ordinances to discriminate against Orthodox Jews.

According to the agreement reached with the state attorney general, Jackson Township will pay $575,000. It will also repeal the claimed anti-Orthodox Jewish regulations and implement new policies and procedures to safeguard religious freedom.

Additionally, a multicultural committee made up of locals will be established and hold quarterly meetings to combat bigotry. Additionally, local authorities will participate in anti-discrimination training.

Matthew Platkin, the attorney general of New Jersey, said in a statement that “no one in New Jersey should experience discrimination for their religious beliefs.” We expect local officials to uphold our strict anti-discrimination legislation because we are steadfastly committed to eliminating prejudice and bigotry throughout our state.

After being accused of attempting to drive out Orthodox residents for years, the government and community organizations in and around Jackson reached a deal. Lakewood, which is mainly Orthodox, is next to Jackson, and as Lakewood’s population has increased, Orthodox Jews have migrated to the other communities.

Activists banded together to protest the newcomers, and one group used a well-known anti-Nazi poem to portray Orthodox Jews as a danger to the neighborhood’s quality of life.

There were several cases of swastika vandalism on Jewish-owned property in Jackson in 2019 and 2020.

Local Jewish groups accused both the protestors and the authorities of antisemitism, and in 2014, a synagogue filed a lawsuit against Jackson for preventing it from constructing a girls high school.

The US will do so in 2020. Jackson was sued by the Justice Department on the grounds that it had outlawed religious boarding schools to keep Orthodox citizens out.

In exchange for $200,000 and the elimination of the boarding school restriction, Jackson resolved the federal lawsuit last year. It paid $1.35 million to resolve the synagogue’s lawsuit in January.

The township allegedly implemented discriminatory zoning and land use policies, as well as enforcement methods that singled out Orthodox Jews, according to the lawsuit brought out by the state attorney general in 2021. According to the lawsuit, their actions were against New Jersey’s anti-discrimination law.

The township allegedly conducted discriminatory surveillance of Orthodox Jews’ homes in an effort to find prayer meetings that were against local laws, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the former state attorney general and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. (The Florida city of Miami Beach recently consented to pay a single congregation $1.3 million after being sued for related claims.)

According to the complaint, the township unfairly enforced zoning and land use laws to prevent the building of sukkahs, the temporary huts used for the Sukkot festival in the fall, as well as dormitories and yeshivas. Additionally, it claimed that the community had effectively outlawed the construction of an eruv, a string border that permits observant Jews to transport objects outside on Shabbat.

The settlement stipulates that Jackson must inform the state of any decision or rule that could have an impact on local religious land usage or practice. For three years, the state will keep an eye on the township’s adherence to the settlement criteria.

“Religious freedom is a bedrock principle of American democracy, and we are deeply committed to protecting it here in New Jersey,” said Sundeep Iyer, director of the state Division on Civil Rights.

It is crucial that we call out religious prejudice when we see it and that we hold public authorities accountable when they treat people differently based on their faith, as bigotry and bias, notably towards the Jewish community, continue to rise.


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bobby bracros

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