After a resident of Brick Township in central New Jersey complained on Twitter to mayor John Ducey on Tuesday about the city’s parks and beaches being “invaded by the hasidic and orthodox jews,” Ducey’s response was to recommend that she call the police.
A constituent tweets at the Mayor of Brick Township, New Jersey about parks and beaches being “invaded by the Hasidic and Orthodox Jews and being ruined.”
The Mayor responds about parks security but makes no mention of the tweeters anti-Semitic tone. pic.twitter.com/p2KblpeQzF— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 24, 2019
Ducey was the subject of criticism from people who said he should have condemned her prejudice - which he later did, adding that no police were ever called.
But this is not the first time local leaders in New Jersey have tacitly or officially worked to remove a growing population of visibly religious Jews from city parks and other public areas.
In 2017, the city of Mahwah, on the state’s norther border, was the subject of controversy after it passed an ordinance banning out-of-city residents from using public parks - which many believed to be targeting Orthodox Jews living in neighboring towns.
The city also banned eruvs - strings often tied to utility poles, creating an artificial boundary within which religious Jews can carry things on the Sabbath.
A year later, after pressure from the state government, the city repealed the park law and overturned its eruv ban.
The more recent incident occurred around 90 miles south in Brick Township, which neighbors the majority-Orthodox and fast-growing township of Lakewood, home to one of the largest yeshivas in the world. Complaints about the growing visibly religious population in Lakewood have spread on social media, including comments like “We need to get rid of them like Hitler did” - leading the state’s attorney general to request that Facebook investigate such comments and groups that hold them.
Aiden Pink is the deputy news editor for the Forward. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org