Lakewood, NJ – DEP Sues Rabbi to Clean Up Shaimos Grave

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    Lakewood, NJ – The state Department of Environmental Protection, after what it said were its “best efforts” to have the defendants remove thousands of bags of religious artifacts it contends were illegally buried in Lakewood and Jackson, wants a judge to order the cleanups.

    In a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court, the DEP says that a Lakewood rabbi, Chaim Abadi, illegally buried some 15 truckloads of discarded printed materials in thousands of black plastic garbage bags in March and April of this year in an undeveloped lot off Vermont Avenue in Lakewood, (as was reported here on Vos Iz Neias). He created a similar disposal area in Jackson last year, according to the suit.

    Abadi charged a $15 fee from customers in numerous Jewish communities in New Jersey and New York to dispose of the artifacts, the DEP said in a court brief.

    The Lakewood site created an uproar last spring among residents who saw the burial as an illegal dump. It also put pressure on the DEP, which found itself conflicted between environmental concerns and religious sensitivity. The items, or shaimos, are Jewish texts considered sacred to Jews that are buried usually over Passover.

    The DEP brief argues, however, that the buried items fall under the Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA): “The materials buried at the Jackson disposal site and the Lakewood disposal site constitute solid waste because they were discarded and buried with the intent to finally dispose of them at those locations.”

    Environmental officials said they also were concerned that the material was buried within 100 yards of a New Jersey American Water well.

    Abadi could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Named as defendants in the suit are Abadi, Hard Maple Realty LLC, Vincenzo W. Mettee, Champion Subcontracting and Congregation Minyan Shelanu Inc.

    In April, the DEP had ordered Abadi to relocate the materials to an approved dump site.

    “Despite the department’s best efforts to compel defendants to comply with the SWMA by properly removing and disposing of the waster materials currently at the Jackson disposal site and the Lakewood disposal site, all of the material remains unlawfully disposed of at those two locations,” the DEP brief says.

    State officials have suggested the Orthodox Jewish community proceed with a landfill permit, so one day it can have a lasting and legal space to bury its holy items.

    Questions still surround the ownership of the Lakewood site.

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    8 COMMENTS

    1. We have been through this issue many times before. Most of what are called “shaimos” are not really pages from seforim etc. but rather are papers, ads, etc. dumped in shuls eruv shabbos and simply thrown together because they don’t want to take the time to sort our the real shaimos with hashem’s name or from religious seforim. They should take the real shaimos and bury them legally at a proper sanitary landfill rather than dumping them illegally.

    2. In my estimate 15 truckloads of sheimos that were charged $15 a bag, cashed in almost a million dollars. I’m sure he can spare a few dollars to find a legal place to bury them

      • Do you know any math? For him to clear a Million it has to be 66,666 bags and there are 15 trucks so you are telling me they fit 4,444 bags on a truck?!!!! You sir are an imbecile.

    3. In the community that I live in, once a year these items are buried – with a respectful ceremony – at one of the Jewish cemeteries. The local Jewish High school sends students to assist and help make up a minyan.

    4. Why does this type of Chillul Hashem seem to happen in of all places — Lakewood? Never heard of it in NYC, Monsey, Teaneck, or out of town communities. Maybe a little less arragance and the realization that even in Lakewood we are a people in golus.

    5. First of all the halacha is that if someone pays you to bury something you can’t decide what’s shaimos or not you must bury the entire thing and also don’t bash lakewood bec this shaimos is from the entire tri state area and besides the fact that in previous years they found abandoned trucks in the mountains from people who didn’t even bury your shaimos that you payed them to and that was from brooklyn and monsey, so at lease abadi buried your shaimos

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