Agudah Hails Decision Upholding Legality of Home-Based Synagogue in Toms River

Agudath Israel of America applauds the decision handed down today by U.S. District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson saying that the Toms River Board of Adjustment violated multiple federal laws and the U.S. Constitution when it banned the operation of a township Chabad center without a zoning variance.
Judge Wolfson ruled that it was illegal for Toms River to require Rabbi Moshe Gourarie to obtain a zoning variance in order to run the Chabad Jewish Center and weekly prayer services for a modest number of people out of his township home. These activities, wrote Judge Wolfson, are protected under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Fair Housing Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Judge Wolfson also ordered Toms River to pay $122,500 to Rabbi Gourarie to cover legal fees and damages.
Rabbi Mordechai Biser, special counsel to Agudath Israel of America, said that the decision could set an important precedent for other communities where synagogues and other religious institutions operate in residential neighborhoods.
“It demonstrates that there are protections in federal law and in the Constitution for such institutions to be able to operate without necessarily receiving a zoning variance,” said Rabbi Biser.
Rabbi Avi Schnall, New Jersey director for Agudath Israel of America, proclaimed the decision a victory for religious rights, noting that the Chabad center had been operating quietly for more than a decade without any objections from area residents before agitators moved to shut down the facility.
“This development is yet another demonstration that prejudice will not prevail,” said Rabbi Schnall. “We hope this decision by the court will serve as a reminder to all townships that religious liberties in the United States will not be trampled upon.”



  1. We the residents of Lakewood and it’s surrounding towns owe a big debt of gratitude to the Agudah under the leadership of Reb Chaim Dovid Zweibel aided by R’ Mordechai Biser and R’ Avi Schnall. Yasher Koach! Vchol me shosek btzorchai tzibur…. HKB’H

  2. What you do not say in your report, is that the judge ordered numerical limitations on the amount of people that can attend events there.

    See the judge’s ruling for details.

  3. Buy buy buy
    Now you can get one family homes in jackson and Toms River still cheap. It’s the next Boro park. Buy now

  4. Judge Wolfson is a child of Holocaust survivors and has lived her entire life in Freehold NJ . Her parents came there via HIAS after the war and were farmers . She understands and speaks Yiddish well. We need to thank her for this important decision as it affects small neighborhood shuls across the USA . She upheld RULIPA and made the town pay for what they put the Chabad Shul thru . A decision that will reverberate . Unless Toms River has a lot of money to appeal , this is it .


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