New Jersey Town Sued Over Laws Aimed at Deterring Orthodox Jews from Moving In

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Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A complaint filed by New Jersey’s Attorney General Christopher Porrino this week alleges that the New Jersey township of Mahwah has introduced laws that openly discriminate against Orthodox Jews, aimed at deterring them from moving into the area.

A nine-count complaint filed on Tuesday accuses the town’s public officials of using methods implemented by “white flight” suburbanites in the 1950s “to keep African-Americans from moving into their neighborhoods.”

The lawsuit centers on two laws, introduced in the town last summer, that were purportedly created to deter religious Jews from moving to Mahwah from New York.

The first ordinance, which became law in July, bans out-of-state residents from utilizing the town’s public parks and recreational facilities.

The second ordinance, which did not become law, extended a prohibition on placing signs on utility polls to include any “device,” in an attempt to ban religiously observant Jews from using the poles to create an eruv that would enable them to carry items and push strollers on Shabbat.

“The complaint also challenges actions the township has taken to have an existing eruv removed,” reads Porrino’s complaint.

The complaint, filed in Bergen County Superior Court, seeks to block the two edicts and the return of more than $3.4 million that the town received in Green Acres Grants from the state of New Jersey.