TLS EXCLUSIVE: Local officials Condemn Toms River Mayor’s Statement Calling influx of Jews “An Invasion”

toms river mayor kaLakewood and other local officials today are strongly condemning statements from Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher, who was quoted as saying “It’s an invasion,” while allegedly describing the Orthodox Lakewood Jews moving into the neighboring township.

During the Lakewood Republican Club meeting last night, officials made a motion condemning the statement, and called for an apology. Letters condemning it will also be sent to all the Republican clubs in Ocean County, and to the County Freeholders, officials said.

Ocean County Freeholder Ginny Haines said she was disturbed to hear the comment by the former Ocean County Prosecutor, calling it “unacceptable.” Freeholder Haines also supported the motion condemning the statement.

“I can’t apologize for him as he has to stand up on his own,” the Freeholder said.

Lakewood Township Committeeman Michael D’Elia also fully supported the motion.

“It’s not right, it’s not proper, and it’s concerning,” D’Elia told TLS. “I don’t why he’s taking this attitude and inciting such an anger,” he said. “I think by being silent I would have erred.”

Justin Flancebaum, the Municipal Committee Chairman, also condemned the remarks.

“As a resident of Lakewood, lifelong resident of Ocean County, but most importantly as a Jew and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, this type of inflammatory rhetoric is completely unacceptable,” Flancebaum told TLS. “As a Jew, I’m used to getting targeted,” says, Flancebaum, but says he always blamed it on ignorance. “But this is a Mayor of a neighboring town.”

Flancebaum continued to condemn the remarks of Kelaher who allegedly stated the Lakewood population “is expanding beyond their boundaries.”

“What does that mean? There’s some sort of ghetto wall that surrounds Lakewood? And now Jews are breaking through the ghetto? What does that mean?” said Flancebaum. “Enough is enough,” the Chairman said.

Rabbi Avi Schnall, the Director of Agudath Israel New Jersey also had some strong words for the Mayor.

“The remarks made by the Mayor of Toms River are very disturbing,” Rabbi Schnall told TLS, “especially on the backdrop of the recent hate messages that were found in Toms River. We should expect the leaders of the community to be extra cautious. Saying such negative remarks, fuels those ill feelings. The Mayor, who recently released a statement condemning those hate messages, needs to be mindful, that referring to Orthodox Jews as invaders is not in sync with his statement.”

State Senator Robert Singer, who also attended the meeting last night, tells TLS this type of talk is unacceptable.

“This is certainly nothing that a mayor should be saying – it’s 100 percent wrong and he should know better,” Senator Singer told TLS. “He’s a former prosecutor, when he was an attorney he did work for Lakewood Township, he was saying how wonderful these people are, now all of the sudden there’s something wrong with us,” the Senator said. “He didn’t turn down Lakewood Township’s work – he didn’t say I don’t want to do work here, now suddenly Lakewood is terrible. How dare you say that?” Singer said.

But perhaps the most harsh words last night came from someone who took the words all too personally.

Helena Sininsky, a Holocaust survivor and former employee of Lakewood, got up and spoke to the crowd and emotionally described how she came out of Europe under the grips of the Nazis, only to hear an American mayor speak like this, and said this was 100 percent anti-Semitism.



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  1. This is a disgrace that a elected official can talk like this? Just imagine the other way around, Lakewood Mayor says no more toms river residents allowed in Lakewood? does toms river mayor not see all the crime in Lakewood from toms river residents? did he not see toms river graffiti saying burn the Jews?

    He should stand up and fight hate not create it!!

    I would sentence the mayor to hours of community service if i was in charge!

  2. I think Joey hit it head on. And that’s why we can’t dismiss an antisemitic incident from a child as well. It’s the tone at the top folks.

  3. I think protests should be held outside of the toms river town hall building asking the mayor to resign as this is open unmasked anti semitisim and shouldnt be tolerated in any form especially from an elected official this remark should disqualify him from holding public office if hes not in control to mask his true feelings and beleifs to himself he isnt qualified or fit to hold an elected office position
    this is no different then what the politicians and news channels are speaking out against trump riling up the crowds why isnt their an outcry from politicions from the president down??

  4. Please call the Toms river mayor
    tel # 732 341-1000 ext#8255 executive asst we should flood their switchboard with phone calls and RESPECTFULLY requesting mayor Thomas kelahers resignation for his openly anti Semitic remarks

  5. Regardless of what one may say- this man is completely unfit to be a public servant in the great country, The United States of America. His words go against the very fabric this great country was built upon. It goes against the inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty. It goes against everything American. He should find himself a more suitable position; he may find his place somewhere in Europe.

    Apologies do not help for such statements. The horrible Anti-Semitic incidents are a direct result of such “leadership”. It filters down…. Time to go, Mr. Kelaher.

  6. A statement of this nature from a former “prosecutor” should immediately call into question his past behaviors as a law-man and any long-standing biases he may have been secretly harboring while serving in that capacity..
    Very troubling indeed.

  7. I know I am a single voice but I’m going to say it anyway. I am assuming it won’t get passed commentators but I’ll try. Maybe he does have a point? Bottom line is that although we have tremendous mailos (good attributes), we also have a lot what to work on. Toms River is a beautiful town and I totally hear their concerns. Instead of being babies and crying anti-semitism, maybe a meeting can be arranged between Avi Schnell and toms river leaders to address their concerns. I am a frum Lakewood resident and I totally agree for example with their don’t lock rules. If I spent a half a million dollars building a beautiful home, in a beautiful neighborhood I wouldn’t want people knocking on my doors in the ways it was reported. I think the issues are being left to the blogs and dirty allies of either side while I believe an open meeting where all can raise their concerns in a democratic, safe, and courteous meeting would be very productive.

  8. i know the town and its population i am very well connected and jackson and tomriver strong groups are purelly 100 percent anti semetic and if you dare argue with them they call the cops on you as they did to me they wont hear the truth

  9. Who does Kelaher thinks he is making incendiary statements like that Donald Trump, or something?

    And are Orthodox Jews illegal immigrants, or something? We’re as American as you are Tom boy from Toms River. Y’better start lookin’ for a new job ’cause you ain’t gonna be Mayor much longer.

  10. #11 Deena
    Congrats on making it past moderation.
    You are not alone, when one looks around and does the math the Lakewood model does not always travel nor make sense to surrounding communities.

  11. answer to #11,15
    your right lkwd has issues that need fixing indeed so does every other town perhaps being lkwd is the quickest growing township in all of new jersey , we have more issues to deal with then other towns
    this in no way explains away and answers why an elected official express himself with “open anti semetic remarks
    theirs a pattern emerging
    1)running on a platform of stopping orthodox jews from moving into toms river
    2)being quiet not responding until forced to talk out about the BURN THE JEWS etched into a public playground 3 days too late (then blaming it on no one coming forward so “he wasnt aware” uh huh) funny the way the rest of america saw and heard it on the news
    being mum and quiet instead of shouting out immediatly against such hate and bigotry
    3) then we hear him being quoted saying ON NATIONAL NEWS FOR EVERYONE TO HEAR “theirs an invasion in toms river by orthodox jews
    thier is no place in our country the great USA for any such hateful language all the more so from an elected official who’s elected by the public to represnt the public and should be a rold model and example of tolerence and peace instead of fomenting and planting seeds of hate and bigotry
    and to date hasnt even appologized this is very troubling
    and thats what has gotten everyone upset lest i remind you of a similar episode in 2012 see the scoop
    4 years ago in toms river this isnt just worry of toms river looking like lkwd
    call it what it is ” Anti Semitism”

    see other instances of toms river coming out against orthodox jews

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