Orthodox Jews Win County Committee Elections in Jackson, NJ, GOP Club Officials Pushed Out

By Matis Glenn

Elections for Jackson’s County Committee seats resulted in a big win for the frum community June 7, as two figures seen as opposed to the development of the Orthodox community were deposed of their positions in the influential Jackson Republican Club.

Following last month’s landmark approval of the construction of three long-awaited Jewish schools in Jackson NJ, the community has succeeded in taking another significant step forward, in electing many representatives to the town’s County Committee.  

The County Committee of Jackson has 34 districts, and two representatives are elected for each one. Republican Club President Todd Porter and Chairwoman Clara Glory were voted out of their districts, which eliminates them from their Republican Club posts.

The club has the authority to nominate candidates for the township committee, mayor, and other local offices on the GOP line.

Out of 68 district representatives, a staggering 24 who were elected were members of the frum community.

Glory was particularly outspoken in her attempts to thwart the Orthodox community’s growth, sources tell Hamodia; she would meticulously attend any event that could potentially result in a favorable outcome for Jackson’s Jewish community. This included meetings which proposed the creation of shuls, mikvaos, yeshivos, and even a Department of Education meeting that aimed to address the bussing needs Jackson children, most of whom attend Lakewood schools.

“We have needs, and they’re not currently being met,” Rabbi Avi Schnall of Agudath Israel of America told Hamodia. “While we’re very happy with the approval to build yeshivos last month, there have still not been any changes in other important issues – the shul zoning ordinance, the yet-to-be determined zoning status of mikvaos,” he said.

Elaborating on the shul zoning issues, Rabbi Schnall explained that frum people in Jackson currently daven in small shuls located in people’s houses; full-scale shuls which would accommodate the growing families of Jackson are tied up in zoning laws that make them nearly impossible to build. Mikvaos are not banned, but they have not been able to be constructed because city officials have dragged their feet on deciding how to classify them in zoning laws.  

Seven years ago, the burgeoning community – mostly people moving from neighboring Lakewood – was slapped with restrictions barring them from building schools and eiruvin, and severely limiting their ability to build shuls and mikvaos. Proposals made at board meetings were invariably shut down by vitriolic Jackson residents and elected officials.

Change has been slow, but steady. Numerous councilmembers have resigned over the past three years after their uncontrollable antisemitic behavior was publicized; lawsuits were filed by Agudath Israel of America and later by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights that accused the town of blocking yeshivos due to blatant antisemitic bias.

 Those efforts bore fruit. In May 2021, Judge Michael Shipp of the federal District Court for New Jersey, issued an injunction that temporarily blocked Jackson’s bans on yeshivos and eruvin. “Defendants maintain that the Township Council’s decisions were not motivated by the anti-Semitic animus exhibited by others,” read his statement. “But the record suggests otherwise.”

On May 17, the planning board approved two elementary schools with a maximum capacity of 600 students each, as well as a high school which could admit 255 students.

The consequences of the election aren’t limited to Jackson. Positions of authority in the Ocean County Republican Club, which includes Lakewood, Tom’s River, Howell, Manchester, and many other areas with large and growing Jewish populations, are decided based on the individual town’s County Committees. Aside from Jackson, Lakewood filled many vacant seats in its County Committee, 10 frum Jews were elected in Tom’s River, bringing the total number of Orthodox representatives to nearly 70.

“It’s a tremendous development” Rabbi Avi Schnall said. “The bottom line is that it shows how every vote counts. It literally came down in some districts to a one-vote win; that made all the difference in changing the landscape of local politics in Jackson,” he explained.


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