Have you read or heard the lies about Jackson Township New Jersey? Well I am about to dispel those lies with the absolute facts. Before moving to this community after living in Brooklyn for 65 years we looked at other towns in different areas of NJ and about 75 houses online before coming here and physically viewing at least 25 of those homes, but this house we chose was the very first house we ever saw that both of us fell in love with. We were both retired and believed this would be the home we would spend the remainder of our days in.
We looked around the community and saw how diverse it was, very much like the diversity we were used to in Brooklyn. A neighborhood made of all different races, creeds and colors. After 3 years here we really believed we found our haven. But in the past few months we have seen a big change. All of a sudden a number of homes were selling. At first we thought it was all the original owners who became empty nesters and were moving due to retirement or perhaps downsizing. However, what was really happening was a Hasidic real estate company was soliciting and selling the homes to young people looking for a new town outside of Lakewood to create a new Hasidic community town and Jackson Township was their choice. We were not against the idea of change and so waited to meet our new neighbors. However, we soon came to realize our new neighbors didn’t want to meet us. We had been seeing articles in the local newspaper accusing us (meaning folks here for 20 years or so and like us newcomers) of being Anti-Semitic. My husband and I laughed at that since my son converted to Judaism to marry his wife of 15 years and 2 of our grandchildren are being raised in the Jewish faith. So of course as we read more and more and also saw news programs spouting this fake story as well it started to get under our skin, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was when the State Attorney formed a bogus case against the town of Jackson because a few biased individuals started a website. We were insulted and felt we are not being represented by the State we chose as our new home. As I said earlier, we believe in diversity, we believe in individuality and letting people alone to do as they will in their own homes as long as there was no violence or any type of abuse, or hate or anything negative to our American values. And so far, we have never seen anything like that in this community until very recently. We started to notice that the new folks who moved here were not watching their young children when they played in the front of these homes and in the middle of a public street where cars come to pull in driveways, or visitors do, or delivery and mail trucks travel all around at all hours. First thing we thought of was the safety and well being of those young children outside without adult supervision. Nor were they removing strewn about toys and things from their driveways and front lawns, but we kept to ourselves and said nothing.
Just today after yet another home was sold on the court where we reside, a number of small children were riding tricycles and scooters while others were throwing a ball while standing and playing on the public street (gutter in Brooklyn), a very dangerous habit to allow since many trucks and cars make u turns on our court to travel back around the community or to the main thoroughfare right outside it. We are not young anymore and I am disabled so my fear for these children was enhanced. Even when our own grandchildren visit we never allow them to play in the street or even out front because we wish to keep them safe and if they are out there for any reason we are with them every minute. They play in the yard as do many of the long term homeowner’s children and grandchildren do. We think it’s a protective guideline for all the children and peace of mind for us. If they have friends or young relatives over the same guidelines apply… they play together in our backyards.
It seems however that the new group of homeowners are assuming they can do as they may have done in the communities they once lived in and have no interest or regard for those of us who have lived here for years before them. I also noticed on the holy evening they do not attend a nearby temple or synagogue cause there isn’t one near this community so they hold religious services in one of the garages of the newly bought homes. Again, this is America and we value freedom of religion, we just didn’t know a home’s garage classified as a place of worship until recently. Another surprise was the gathering of Hasidic elder gentlemen on the corner of our homes. Something we are not used to seeing because people don’t “hang out” on corners here or at least we never saw that since leaving Brooklyn 3 years ago. I am guessing that’s fine even though it may disturb a neighbor who isn’t part of their religion whose home they are outside of. I just don’t think that is a fair and neighborly thing to do either. I think it would be better to gather inside a common home to have their conversations. I do not consider myself biased or anti-Semitic for wanting the safety of children, respect for community guidelines, or just common courtesy.
I can’t help but feel since all these changes are going on around me everyday that I am being nudged out of our dreamed about haven after just arriving ourselves three short years ago. Or thinking that the new folks want this community to be exclusively theirs and consider us outsiders even after we were here before them. Calling us these awful labels by our own state officials is one of the biggest forms of injustice I have ever come across. I was raised on the belief that politicians such as governors and all official State appointees were to be objective and represent All members of a community regardless of race, religion or color of skin. Not choose to call an entire town biased especially when the bias seems to be coming from those wanting us to leave. I almost forgot this also happened. A young Hasidic couple was driving around our court the other day, stopped one of our neighbors and said to him, “If you know of anyone willing to sell their home here, he is our number please call us and we will make it worth your while.” When I first heard this from the neighbor I was skeptical, but soon realized it was for real! I think this is probably done everywhere, but taking into account all that I have seen happening here, I have come to the conclusion that the new folks want my community to become an exclusive community strictly with only their own religious people in it. How can this be okay?
If Irish, German, Polish, Italian, Russian,Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, or Buddhist, et al were to do this it would be outraged. It would get that awful prejudiced label on them, and be all over media as a biased town. But the Hasidic and Judaism religions are exempt because of their religion? How does this make any sense to anyone? How is this even remotely fair? All of Lakewood has been a religious town for years and years predominantly only all Jewish sects. So has Borough Park and Greenpoint, and half of Crown Heights in Brooklyn been the same. Russian people have done the same with Brighton Beach. Asian people are doing the same in other parts of Brooklyn. No longer do we see Middle class Irish, Italian, or other Christian based people in entire communities but we do see them in diverse communities. Trying to be inclusive; accepting; live and let live people; sharing the same streets, neighborhoods, and communities with peace and kindness toward all their only agendas. Yet we in this small town who want to live with diversity and who did live in diversity are painted as the “bad guys” cause we don’t want only one religion, one culture, one ethnicity to be our neighbors, we want everyone to be our neighbors and to live in peace and harmony by following the rules of the town and guidelines of the community as a whole. Why is that all of a sudden the “wrong” way to live? Guess I am sadder still because I know this won’t matter to anyone but me and maybe a few of my great neighbors and I will have to leave my beloved home because no one cares. It hurts my heart to have to give in to this unfairness and yet I know that day will come much sooner than I ever thought it would. I can only pray the children here now will be safe and protected for they are innocent and they are the future. Not much else matters more than that. My one remaining wish is for our country that it remains free and inclusive to all who love it and come here legally or as true refugees who wish to become Americans. So then maybe one day the diversity I dream about will be the true reality.
And that is how I see it here in Jackson!