Accusations of anti-Semitism in Toms River turf war

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There are complaints of aggressive realtors and accusations of anti-Semitism. (WPVI)

A turf war of sorts is underway in Toms River, New Jersey. There are complaints of aggressive realtors and accusations of anti-Semitism.

Parts of north Toms River border Lakewood, which has a larger and growing Orthodox Jewish community. And as realtors look to find new houses for those families, they're aggravating some families in Toms River, who say they're being too aggressive.

Now signs saying "Toms River Strong" can be seen on lawns in the area.

Toms River residents like Barb Silvi says they don't want to be intimidated by strong-arm tactics.

She explains, "They'll drive down the street, they'll knock on all the doors."

The township recently enacted a no-knock ordinance in neighborhoods that border Lakewood.

Silvi tells us, "Everybody wants to live peacefully. We don't need to have to walk out our front door and be hounded to ask us to sell the houses."

But Shmuel Katz of Lakewood says, "If their only reason not to sell is because they're Jewish - that's wrong. That has nothing to do with, that's against the freedom of religion we practice in this country."

Some have called the push to find homes for the Orthodox in Toms River an invasion.

Lakewood Deputy Mayor Albert Ackerman dismisses that, saying, "I don't think anybody's trying to take over Toms River, but there will be people who will be moving there and other townships, but I'm assuming in a very peaceful way."

Ackerman says real estate agents should not make people feel like they're being chased from their homes.

Some Toms River residents object to the signs you see on some lawns.

Michele McNeill is one of the residents who believes the signs are offensive. She explains, "Do they want Muslims not to live here? Do they want blacks not to live here? Or is it just the Orthodox Jewish culture? To me it's racist."

Meantime, for the second time this month anti-Semitic graffiti has been found at Toms River's Riverwood Park. This past weekend a bench was discovered defaced with the words "Jews go back to Lakewood"

Mike D'Elia is a Lakewood Committeeman. He says, "You can't fix stupid. There are always going to be those type of people around us."

Toms River police say they are investigating the graffiti, and if they find who's responsible they could be charged with a bias crime, which upon conviction means stiffer penalties.
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religionn.j. newsreal estateanti-semitismToms River
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