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Jackson Township Agrees to Settle Lawsuits, Allow Orthodox Group to Build Public Eruv

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JACKSON-Days after the town of Pomona lost a $3,000,000 case in court against the Orthodox community there, the Jackson Township Council has announced it will now settle the disagreement it had with the Jackson Eruv Association.

The settlement, however, was decided weeks before the Pomona decision was delivered to to the public.  According to the township, a settlement memorandum was drafted prior to  November 28, 2017, nearly two weeks prior to the landmark Pomona hearing.

The township has agreed to a settlement, but it is up to the township council to ratify that settlement Wednesday night.

Earlier this year, the township enacted an ordinance change that would prohibit Orthodox Jews in the township to build eruvs on the public right of way.   A code enforcement crackdown led to hundreds of violations against homeowners who constructed eruvs or had basketball hoops in the right of way, an action that the Orthodox community here said was intended to infringe on their religious freedoms.

At tonight’s town council meeting, the township is expected to vote on a measure that will allow the public eruv to be built utilizing existing utility poles owned by JCP&L and Verizon.

According to the resolution posted by the township, the town will allow, “for the placement of eruvim/lechis on poles erected by utilities that have the lawful right to maintain the poles within the public right-of-way in the Township of Jackson provided the utility company consents to such placement and there is compliance with all applicable Federal, State and Local laws regarding safety requirements related to the use of the public right-of-way.”

Eruvs allow observant Orthodox Jews to “carry” during the Sabbath.  According to Wikipedia’s definition, “An eruv is a ritual enclosure that some Jewish communities, and especially Orthodox Jewish communities, construct in their neighborhoods as a way to permit Jewish residents or visitors to carry certain objects outside their own homes on Sabbath and Yom Kippur. An eruv accomplishes this by integrating a number of private and public properties into one larger private domain, thereby avoiding restrictions on carrying objects from the private to the public domain on Sabbath and holidays.”

The eruv decision is tied to an agreed upon standstill in lawsuits filed by Agudath Israel  over the township’s ban on dormitories and rejection of an all-girls high school on Cross Street several years ago.

The township council will host a meeting Wednesday night at 7:30pm at town hall where it is expected to approve the resolution upon council vote. The measure, if approved would then need to be signed by Mayor Michael Reina.

Edited: Story edited to reflect the proper timing of the acceptance of the settlement and Pomona hearing.

 

 

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