Lakewood, NJ – Improper Shaimos Burial May Cost Rabbi Thousands in Fines


    Lakewood, NJ – Rabbi Chaim Abadi, of Lakewood, New Jersey, has found himself on the wrong side of the law after an Ocean County Superior Court judge, Craig L. Wellerson, gave him just 30 days to get rid of “shaimos” or religious articles which Rabbi Abadi buried in two separate locations in New Jersey.

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    The Asbury Park Press reports ( that Rabbi Abadi buried thousands of bags of holy items including books and religious garments on Vermont Avenue in Lakewood in 2010 and on Frank Applegate Road in Jackson in 2009. The Lakewood location is close to a drinking water well, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is concerned that the decomposing bags and their contents could make their way into Lakewood’s water source and cause contamination.

    If Rabbi Abadi does not remove the potential hazards and relocate them to a proper dump site, he will be forced to pay $1,000 a day for each day the items are left behind. The 30-days began on July 27. Rabbi Abadi requested a local zoning variance to render the property a cemetery. His variance request is scheduled for August 27.

    “This is a completely secular issue,” said Larry Ragonese, DEP spokesman. “It is not a cemetery, it is a landfill.”
    As part of his decision, Judge Wellerson said Rabbi Abadi must furnish 48-hour notice to the township before he starts cleaning up the sites. Once he rectifies the situation, Rabbi Abadi must tell the judge he is finished.

    “Environmentally the rules are clear,” said Mr. Ragonese. “You cannot create a landfill on your own without permission. You need approval to create a landfill.”

    Reached by phone for comment, Rabbi Abadi said he could not discuss the case against him without first consulting his attorney.

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    11 years ago

    It’s a wake up call for people to stop scamming the public on Mitzvah Matters.

    Everyone seems to make a business out of everything, on the backs of the poor.

    Earlier this year another scam was uncovered when trucks full of shamos were found, which were just left on the truck and never buried at all.

    Even if done properly the price charged per bag by most of these dealers is a rip-off price. If you burry 100,000 bags of shamos your cost is not $100,000 but far less and that would be, even if you charged $1 per bag. Now just imagine the scope of the rip-off if 100,000 bags are buried and they had charged $25 per bag. Does anyone think it costs a 1/4 million dollars to bury shamos?

    Similar rip-off on mitzvos is done by most people who sell Esrogim as the Esrogim season is fast approaching. People often charge several hundred dollars for a most beautiful Esrog and even a plain looking one, usually can’t be had for less than a bargain basement price of $25.

    Yet few people realize that every single tom dick and harry can freely purchase a huge box of esrogim from any esrogim wholesaler for the price of $5 each. And if it’s a real nice one, sell it for 100 times the price $500.

    11 years ago

    no.1 you need math lessons $25 x100000 is 2.5 million not a quarter million

    11 years ago

    Just as certain communities have acquired funeral homes to insure consistency in adherence to halachah and fair pricing to those in need, I would recommend that every shul buy some gravesites for the extra purpose of burying shaimos. It would remove the incentive for abuse of trust by those few for whom creating a Chilul HaShem carries no weight.

    11 years ago

    Look people, I run an authorized shaimos buriel. You have no idea the expenses. Advertising, renting trailers, trucks, staffing for many long hours, sorting garbage, actual shaimos and good stuff to be saved or given away, then there’s bags, banners, other supplies and the large fees to purchase the cemetary plot and buriel expenses. Its a very expensive endeavor and especially hard duing yontiv time , when erev yontif everyone’s getting ready and you are busy with shaimos. This is a service that’s a lot of back breaking work and a lot of headaches. Sometimes you have to deal with “mais mitzvo shaimos ” that’s moldy from a flood or fire. AND I BARELY MADE A PROFIT! PEOPLE STOP WITH YOUR MOITZI LAAZ ON SHAIMOS PEOPLE! I believe comments 1,2,and 5 owe me an apology.
    As for Rabbi Abadi, it should not be the govts business to intercede on religion, if people decomposing can be buried, why can’t paper. These activist judges should be fired!

    11 years ago

    Most of the items buried as shaimos don’t have to be put there . It’s time for rabonim to explain again exactly what constitutes ‘shaimos’ and what is not.

    11 years ago

    This is one of those issues that the frum culture will always clash with the secular. I know this issue very well as I am a little bit involved with the Beth Genizah project in the mountains headed by Reb Yosef Schwartz, Prager rosh yeshiva, and is supported by all rabonim and askunim.
    They bought a very big piece of land (over 50 acres) a while ago, to store and bury the Shaimos. They did everything the right way from dealing with the local zoning boards, the neighbors and the state environmental agency to get the proper approvals etc.
    However, when it comes to burying it started to become a major problem as the government argues that this is garbage and should only be disposed in a legal landfield which is ok right? Problem is that the cheapest landfield will cost to build at least a hundred million dollars (check landfield clips on you tube)
    So they hired very expensive lawyers to fight for them and to argue 1) that it isn’t real garbage, the only hazardous item is the ink and not the paper (compared to regular garbage) 2) it is only once a year deal 3) they will agree to put the required underlining etc.
    I donno who funds this project but It looks like a big solution is coming to this big problem