Senior Community Agrees to Accommodate Shabbos Needs of Orthodox Residents
Orthodox residents of a senior community will now be able to leave the premises on Shabbos without using the electric security gate as per a settlement announced by state’s Attorney General.
“This settlement should serve as a reminder to housing associations, condo associations and co-ops across New Jersey that being sensitive to the religious beliefs and observances of their residents is not only the right thing to do, it is the law,” said Attorney General Grewal.
In 2017, Nathan Reiss filed a complaint against the Enclave at the Fairways, a 55 and over community near Cross Street and River Avenue in Lakewood. In recent years, an increasing number of Orthodox couples have purchased homes in the development.
The complaint, which was dealt with by the state’s Civil Rights division, alleged that a change in the Enclave’s security measures made it impossible to leave the property without using a card key or fob to open an electric fence, thereby violating Shabbos. Mr. Reiss claimed that the development’s governing board was aware of the impediment the fence created to Orthodox residents, but refused to work towards an accommodation.
As a result, the residents were unable to leave to attend a shul or the leave the area at all on Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim.
The complaint and a similar filing in federal court also said that a change in policy that only allowed entry for guests to be requested on the day of their visit made it impossible for Orthodox residents to receive company on Shabbos.
Last week, in an out of court agreement, the Enclave agreed to unlock the pedestrian gate on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim as well as to allow for exceptions to its guest policy to accommodate Orthodox residents.
“The Law Against Discrimination requires housing providers, including private communities, condos and co-ops, to accommodate their residents’ religious beliefs unless doing so would be an undue burden on their operations,” said Division on Civil Rights Director Rachel Wainer Apter.
Agudah Lobbies to raise State Funding for School Nurses
Raising the per child amount allotted for nurses in private schools will be the key focus of the Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey division in this year’s budget negotiations in New Jersey.
Private schools in the state receive funding for nurses together with other services such as transportation, technology, text books, some special education needs, and security. In Governor Phil Murphy’s budget proposal, unveiled last month, the levels for each nonpublic school funding item was maintained at the levels allotted in the previous year.
Rabbi Avi Schnall, Agudah’s state director, said that a survey of several yeshivos revealed that the present allocation of $97 per student for nurses does not provide sufficient funds for many smaller institutions to hire a full time nurse.
In his testimony to the Assembly’s Budget Committee, Rabbi Schnall stressed the need for a per capita increase.
“What happens to the child that needs his medicine on a day that the nurse is not there?” he said. “He is forced to stay home. What happens to a child that has an allergic reaction on a day that the nurse is not there? These are the scary realities which many of our schools deal with.”
New Jersey began allotting funds for nurses in nonpublic schools in 1991 at a rate of $60 per child and has been steadily increased. The Agudah announced a goal to raise the funding level for the coming fiscal year to $125 per student.
Negotiations on the budget are ongoing and by law must be voted on before July 1.
“We are getting less value for our nurses funding now than when this first began nearly three decades ago,” said Rabbi Schnall. “No child should ever be told that they cannot come to school because they have an allergy and there is no nurse to care for them.”
Lakewood to Receive State Funds to Improve Route 88
Lakewood Township will receipt over a half million dollars from state funds for a pedestrian safety project along Route 88. The allocation is one of 537 Municipal Aid grants issued across New Jersey totaling $161.25 million.
In announcing the grants, Governor Phil Murphy said that “supporting New Jersey’s communities through funding for infrastructure maintenance and renewal is a core component of good government, and stands at the top of this Administration’s priorities.”
Most of Ocean County’s towns also received grants. Jackson will be awarded $375,000 to improve the Brewers Road Bridge and Toms River will receive $365,000 to elevate three coastal spots.
Under the Municipal Aid grant program, each county is apportioned a share of the total funding based on population and the number of local ‘centerline” miles. The grants fall under seven categories: Roadway Preservation, Roadway Safety, Quality of Life, Mobility, Bikeway, Pedestrian Safety, and Bridge Preservation.