If you live in a community of observant Jews and you’re a non-Jew, it’s not unusual to be asked to turn on or off a light if it’s on a Friday evening.

In my old neighborhood, we did it all the time.

In other words, doing a solid for someone whose religion prevents them from doing on the Sabbath.

So with that in mind, Ocean County law enforcement held a forum to better understand the culture of the different communities that included lending a hand in case someone needed a light turned on, a hearing aid battery replaced – things like that.

The end game, according to Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson is to cultivate a better sense of cooperation between the Orthodox community and the cops.

Lawson had this to say to APP.com:

"They've made the officers much more culturally sensitive to the customs and practices of the Orthodox citizens of Lakewood." "There could be something involving an arrest situation, or a where we have victims involved, they'll do things differently and they will be very accommodating to the Orthodox population because of those things."

"As chief, I've tried to change the culture of the police department to be more friendly." "Not only to the Orthodox community, but the various cultures in Lakewood, whether it be Latinos, African-Americans and I've reached out to leaders of those communities and built relationships with them."

Ocean County Prosecutor’s spokesman Al Della Fave was taken aback by the response, which, from other members of the community, was that preferential treatment was being given to the Orthodox community at the expense of the others.

Specifically there was major concern that special service calls would be made to homes, to which Della Fave answered that was not the case.

He said it would be no big deal if a policeman were to be asked to turn on a light switch. That – in his estimation – is part of community participation.

Here’s one response from APP.com:

"Police officers shouldn't be 'sensitive' to anyone's culture," commenter Laurie Curtis said. "They have a job to do, enforce laws and protect the citizenry and shouldn't be having to do domestic chores for people because their religion won't allow them to do it.

"Perhaps these people should hire someone and pay them to do these things for them on an on-call basis but not the police. I think what's happening in Lakewood is completely out of hand."

(Funny, my wife who’s Jewish said the same thing!)

Others were too profane to print.

But you get the idea.

Frankly I don’t see anything wrong with someone approaching a cop and asking him or her to do something as mundane as turning on or off a light.

The “Shabbos goys” if you will.

However, if the cops were to be at the Orthodox community’s beck and call for anything outside of emergencies would be completely unreasonable.

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