Judge Denies Jackson Township’s Request to Ban Minyan in Private Home

Jackson Township Municipal Building (googlemaps)

Jewish residents of Jackson Township, NJ were granted a victory Tuesday afternoon when Superior Court Judge Francis R. Hodgson denied a motion by Jackson Township for an injunction to prevent Jewish residents from gathering for minyanim in a private home.

Jackson Township claimed that no one was residing in the home, and it therefore was an improper use of a residence for a public gathering. In addition, the township claimed that illegal construction had taken place in the house, and the plaintiffs asked the court to issue a cease-and-desist order to the minyan gatherings that were taking place there.

Local Jewish residents retained Roman P. Storzer of Storzer and Associates in Washington, D.C., one of the top religious land use attorneys in the country, to defend them in this case. The defendants responded to the claim that no one lived in the house by showing that someone indeed resided in the home, and the residents had a right to use the residence for prayers. In addition, the defendants claimed that the allegations forwarded by the township were part of an ongoing campaign of harassment of Jewish residents by local officials.

The court session was held Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. via Zoom, and after hearing the claims and counter claims, Judge Hodgson sided with the Jewish residents and denied the motion to issue the injunction that the township requested. The judge ruled that the use for prayer gatherings is considered a legal primary or secondary use of the premises, and the township had no right to ban it. The judge did state that the town had the right to make sure the premises is safe.