Brick, NJ asks judge to shut down illegal high school at former temple
BRICK — A lawsuit was filed against the owners of a former temple now being used as an unauthorized Jewish boys high school.
The township earlier served the owners of the former Temple Beth Or on Van Zile Road with a written warning after a code inspector found the property being used as a private school.
Until an application is submitted to the Planning Board, the current operation must immediately end or face daily fines of $2,000, summonses and mandatory court appearances.
The lawsuit filed in Ocean County Superior Court on Friday asks the judge to shut the school.
New owners of a temple
Congregation Kehilos Yisroel took ownership of the property on March 2, 2021, and was granted a zoning permit on March 22 to rehabilitate the exiting house of worship, according to the lawsuit. The permit stated any change in use of the building would require site plan approval.
Brick Zoning Officer Christopher Romano began receiving calls in May that the building was being used as a school and notified Samuel Pum, the applicant on the zoning permit and a representative of Congregation Kehilos Yisroel, according to the lawsuit. Pum told Romano the building was still be used as a house of worship, according to the lawsuit.
Congregation Kehilos Yisroel attorney Adam Pfeffer and Ronald Cucchiaro, special counsel for the township, had "multiple telephone conversations" about the high school, the lawsuit says.
Warnings against school growth
The school continued to operate despite warnings from the township and continued to grow its enrollment to 100 students, according to the lawsuit.
"Brick has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to force the unauthorized school on Van Zile Road to immediately cease and desist operations. In Brick, all property owners are required to obey our zoning regulations and we will enforce the law," Mayor John Ducey told New Jersey 101.5 in a written statement.
Pfeffer on Monday morning did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
Temple Beth Or has temporarily moved into St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Brick, according to its Facebook page.