Jackson held Sabbath ‘stake out’ of Orthodox Jews, lawsuit states

JACKSON – A religious gathering of Orthodox Jews was the subject of a “stake out” urged by a township council member, according to a lawsuit filed this month. 

In the lawsuit, Pitney Lane resident Isaac Tawil alleges that Council Vice President Rob Nixon prompted township code enforcement officers to observe Sabbath prayer services at his home on Friday nights, an activity he described as harassment.

“The repeated presence of these officers had a chilling effect, was intimidating and became a form of harassment,” Tawil’s lawsuit states. “Mr. Tawil was being denied his right to pray at his home by the actions of the Jackson Township code enforcement.”  

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On the Sabbath, Orthodox Jewish law prohibits the operation of any machinery or turning on or off electricity – including driving a car, even if it is to and from religious services. Since many Orthodox Jews in Jackson do not live within walking distance of the synagogues in Lakewood, they hold prayer services at individual homes. 

The services at his Pitney Lane home lasted about one hour on Friday nights, about two hours and 30 minutes on Saturday mornings and about 20 minutes on Saturday evenings, Tawil’s lawsuit states.

Over the last two years, various complaints were filed with the township over such prayer services. To many longtime Jackson residents, the prayer services are another example of the township’s changing culture as its Orthodox Jewish community grows.