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Judge Says Township Broke Law in Chabad Denial

A federal district just faulted the Township of Toms River, saying they broke the law in denying a religious use variance to Chabad of Toms River, granting the center permission to operate in the residential home and awarded them a judgment against the township for $122,000.

Chabad Jewish Center can continue to operate in a home on Church Road after a federal judge ruled that Toms River wrongly required the Chabad to acquire a variance to operate in a residential zone.

U.S. District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson said the township’s Board of Adjustment violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the U.S. Constitution in  barring Rabbi Moshe Gourarie from operating the Chabad without a variance.

“I’d just like to say that our clients are very pleased with the result and look forward to many years of a productive relationship with the community in Toms River,” said Roman P. Storzer, of Storzer & Greene in New York and Washington, D.C., who represents the Chabad Jewish Center.

Wolfson also required Toms River to pay $122,500 to Gourarie, who operates the Chabad in his house. She also dismissed several pending zoning violations that the township had filed against Gourarie.

The judge’s ruling concludes a lengthy dispute that inflamed tensions between some longtime Toms River residents and Gourarie, who began operating the Chabad from his home in 2011.

Gourarie’s lawsuit, filed in March 2016, claimed the Chabad became a target for “anti-Semitic hostility” in spite of its “negligible land use effect on the local community and its existence at this location and another residential home in Toms River for 12 years without negative impacts.”

The suit, citing both state and federal civil rights protections, alleged the center had fallen victim to religious discrimination and arbitrary treatment.

The Religious Land Use Act prohibits governmental entities from implementing land-use regulations that impose “a substantial burden on the religious exercise of a person, including a religious assembly or institution,” unless the government can demonstrate that the regulations further “a compelling government interest.”

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7 Comments

  • 1. Go-do righthand man wrote:

    Thank go-d for Chabad ! Defending constitutional rights for Americans is a noble cause ! Thank go-d for Chabad !

    Reply
  • 2. Anonymous wrote:

    B”H , very happy for them. Much hatzlacha and brocha in the future!
    For readers information the Rebbe didn’t want a chabad house in England to be bought on a road with the same name.

    Reply
  • 4. Full picture wrote:

    From app.com article

    The judge placed some limits on the Chabad’s operations: no more than 35 people will be allowed at the Church Road property for events held there, except for on six holidays — Sukkot, Simchas Torah, Pesach (Passover), Purim, Lag b’omer and Shavuot — when a maximum of 49 people will be permitted there.

    No parking will be allowed on Church Road for Chabad events, and any sign placed on the Chabad property must comply with Toms River ordinances.

    In 2011, Gourarie purchased a home on Church Road, where he has testified that he’s operated a Jewish community center and weekly prayer services, which draw about 15 to 20 people. A 2009 revision to the township’s zoning ordinance banned churches in the residential zone that includes Gourarie’s property.

    Reply
  • 5. Izzy wrote:

    Re: #4

    So basically they curtailed him and he cannot grow.
    Limited amount of people. No parking.
    What is the great simcha?

    Reply
  • 6. shliach wrote:

    re #2,4 and 5

    he can use the money awarded him to put down a downpayment on another property in the area, on a different street, without those limitations!

    Reply
  • 7. Anonymous wrote:

    The money is going to pay the lawyers fee.
    But maybe he could sell present location and buy another.

    Reply

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