Friday, January 23, 2015
When two neighbors erect a wall, whether it's a social wall or a physical wall, hate and evil can usually be found in the shadows on both sides.
A series photos of a teenager from Jackson Township dressed as Adolf Hitler is rightfully causing a stir this week in nearby Lakewood Township, home to one of the world's largest Hasidic Jewish population centers outside of Israel.
The photos posted by the teen show her wearing a uniform with a swastika, Adolf Hitler style mustache and rendering a nazi salute. In one photo she is shown holding a lit cigarette lighter, an apparent reference to the burning of Jews. In another photo she is wearing the cover of a New Jersey State Police officer, but it has not been verified who owns the cover.
Lakewood blogger and former GOP political challenger Harold Herskowitz highlighted and commented on the photos on Twitter saying, "And we wonder why we are not welcome to live in Jackson. We need to invade that town en masse. Show them some jew love."
An attempt was made to reach out to Herskowitz on the issue to discuss with him that a few photos or tweets from a few teens do not represent an entire community of 54,000.
Several of Herskowitz' followers replied, identifying Jackson residents as "they" and "them", an equivalent to some disrespectful comments Jackson residents had tweeted calling Lakewood's Jews, "they" and "them".
Herskowitz responded, "equivalent? You idiot nothing. Own it and shut up."
Other photos posted by Hersokwitz on Facebook included a photo of members of the Lakewood community walking down a street, with the comment, "I really wanna drive around Lakewood and run over every Jew with my car."
On Thursday, Yankel Wenger, a Jewish chaplain for the Ocean County Sheriff's Department and editor of the Lakewood Shopper alerted Jackson Township authorities at the police department and the Jackson School district of the anti-semitic photographs which were possibly posted by students within the district, although one student appears to have already graduated.
The Jackson School District said they are aware of the situation, but could not comment further on any matter involving students.
"We were made aware of this report Thursday and immediately informed the proper law enforcement authorities,'' said Allison Erwin, the district's coordinator of communications.
The photographs, while important and horrific in their own right, exposed the ever-growing rift between two neighboring communities.
This rift was widened in 2014 when Jackson and Lakewood residents squared off in a legal battle over the construction of an all-girls Orthodox high school, which was ultimately rejected by Jackson Township over code and safety concerns.
While some Jackson residents expressed their discontent with the Lakewood Hasidic population, in the end, the board rejected the plan due to lack of fire sprinklers, insufficient traffic safety planning and other items that did not conform to Jackson's strict zoning ordinances.
Tensions have been high between the two communities since the hearings as the growth of the two communities has overlapped in recent years.
In 2013, Herskowitz challenged New Jersey State Senator in a Republican election primary, but was trampled in a landslide win by the incumbent who was sent back to Trenton with a 65% margin.
Herskowitz continued his verbal assault on the Jackson community, saying, "That person is a typical jackson person she is not a radical muslim . She is creme de la creme. Troopers kid."
New Jersey's penal code, 2c:16-1 covers bias intimidation and "hate crimes".
2c:16-1(1) defines a bias crime as one "with a purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals because of race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, or ethnicity;"
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