Jackson Township to Settle Eruv Lawsuit

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JACKSON — Jackson Jews will now be allowed to build an eruv using the town’s utility poles. Tonight, the township council is scheduled to ratify an agreement with Agudath Yisrael, and settle the lawsuit that was brought against the Township.

The council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at town hall on West Veterans Highway.

“We made serious efforts to communicate with the Township Council and even after bringing 300 people to the last township meeting to show how important this is to us, they continue to ignore,”  Avi Schnall, director of Agudath Yisrael of New Jersey said in October. “At this point, we reluctantly concluded that our only recourse would be in a court of law.”

Eruvin already exist in Jewish neighborhoods of Lakewood, Deal, Long Branch and the North Dover area of Toms River, as well as most major cities in the United States.

The utility companies will need to approve the use of their poles for the eruv. However, this should not be a problem as permission was already received prior to the lawsuit from Jersey Central Power & Light, and Verizon approval was always contingent on township approval.

“Our goal was to have an eruv. If this gets us an eruv without going to court, we’re all for it,” remarked Burnstein, a member of the Jackson Eruv Association.

When the Eruv Association publicized their plans to build an eruv, Jackson township  officials began enforcement of a little known law that made it forbidden for objects to be placed  in the public right-of-way (ROW) lawn, including eruv lines, and basketball hoops. After an OPRA was released to the public it became evident that the ROW was enforced strictly to prevent the building of the eruv.  In addition, the law was amended from previously allowing items to be in the ROW with approval from the township on a case-by case- basis, to completely disallowing anything to be placed in the public ROW.

.Eruv construction has been a hot-button issue in towns with growing Orthodox Jewish populations. The issue famously came to a head in Mahwah, where officials have made similar attempts to block eruv construction.

Toms River officials have previously said they would not object to Eruvin.

In October, the state filed suit against the township of Mahwah. In a sharp statement, Attorney General Christopher Porrino issued a warning to other towns about making such gestures.

“Our message to local officials in other towns who may be plotting to engage in similar attempts to illegally exclude, is the same: We will hold you accountable as well,” Porrino said at the time.

(Photo: Mike Davis)