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.
The Asbury Park Press reports (http://on.app.com/Os4zvc) 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.