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As Jackson bans dormitories, officials swear they’re not targeting Jews

The audience at Thursday night's Jackson Township Council meeting
The audience at Thursday night’s Jackson Township Council meeting (The Lakewood Scoop)

JACKSON — The Township Council unanimously approved a ban on dormitories on Thursday night.

The Asbury Park Press reported more than 200 people at a coucil meeting cheered after the vote was taken. Councilman Barry Calogero said the vote was not directed at a particular race or religion and was intended to preserve the township’s “suburban culture” and limit over development, according to the report. But several residents mentioned concern over growth in Lakewood’s Orthodox Jewish community spilling over.

Opponents of the new ban say it is anti-Semitic and Jewish residents question why dormitories are singled out.

“Tonight’s vote was a severe setback in the relationship between a growing portion of Jackson residents and the town council,” Rabbi Schnall, director of the Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey division, told The Lakewood Scoop. “Over the past few weeks, hundreds of emails were sent to the council members asking to have a conversation, all these requests were ignored. It’s a very sad day for Jackson and for religious liberties.”

The Township Council last August asked state officials and the Justice Department to investigate videos in which it says Orthodox Jewish leaders were encouraging “blockbusting” while advocating for housing opportunities around Lakewood.

In one video, Rabbi Shmuel Lefkowitz speaks at the Agudath Israel convention in Connecticut in the fall of 2015, urging young home buyers to be “schtickle pioneers” by buying homes within a 2-hour drive of the five boroughs of New York City. He specifically names Jackson and other Ocean County communities around Lakewood as places where there are opportunities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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