Against the backdrop of rising Anti-Semitism in America, I was surprised this week when Dr. Richard Roberts, a major GOP donor who gave over $1 Million to the Trump campaign sent me an open letter he sent to the Mayor of Jackson, New Jersey (which is next to Lakewood) where he accused the township government of Anti-Semitism.
Roberts served as Vice Chair of the Israel Advisory Committee for the Trump campaign and has donated to the political campaigns for South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Rand Paul, Governor Scott Walker and former Congressman Allen West. This isn’t someone crying wolf – he’s a political veteran.
Roberts produced documents via Freedom of Information act requests, where local Jackson Township employees and elected officials conducted “surveillance of Orthodox Jews gathering for a minyan.”
As Roberts told me, “Township employees looked into home windows to see if Orthodox Jews were praying, walked into the backyards of residential properties to see if Orthodox Jews were praying in a swimming pool hut or garage, checked license plates, and followed Orthodox Jews who were carrying ‘bibles’. The actions of Jackson Township have been atrocious. We don’t need to pray in a synagogue. We can pray in a parking lot, office, home, airport, or wherever else we are. The idea that Jackson Township officials were performing organized surveillance on Orthodox Jews, to stop us from praying in homes, is obnoxious. Jackson Township emails reveal that Jackson Township officials, and other employees knew Jewish praying times and staked out multiple blocks to count Orthodox Jews going into homes to pray at those times.”
The outrage of Anti-Semitism in New Jersey comes as the result of increased Jewish presence in the area.
The reality, as Roberts noted is “When Orthodox Jews move in, the basic principle of supply-and-demand results from the nature of the Orthodox Jewish religious lifestyle. We need to be clustered together because we need the infrastructure of kosher food, religious schools, praying with at least ten men three times per day, and not driving on the Sabbath. Since we must live in close proximity to each other, the demand for houses rises sharply in such areas so house prices spike upward and non-Jews make a lot of money for themselves by selling their homes. These factors are also what Jackson Township is attacking – praying together, schools, and other aspects of Orthodox Jewish life (eg. eruv).”
Of course, if someone doesn’t want to sell their home, they don’t. It’s called supply and demand.
Simple racism and shameful behavior in Jackson, New Jersey.
Ronn Torossian is a New York City based entrepreneur.