Imagine you live in Toms River and you're not Jewish. Let's say you're Christian, Muslim, or of no religion at all. Then imagine you find out about this letter that went out to the Jewish community from the police department.

"I would like any residents who are going away for Rosh Hashanah to know that they can contact me through email to provide their name, address and cellphone number so that the police department can keep an eye on your house," Stocco wrote. "You should also make sure that you lock all doors and set your alarms. For the residents that are home for Rosh Hashanah we want you to know that we will be having additional patrols at the times of prayer services."

If you never received a letter like this around Christmas time when you would be traveling and leaving your house vulnerable you might feel a bit put off. Mayor Thomas Kelaher says you shouldn't. He issued a statement reassuring residents no favoritism was being extended to Jewish communities and that the police department would be happy to provide patrols and house checks for members of other groups if they ask for it.

If they ask for it? So in other words no letters offering such patrols are sent to those other families like they were for the Jewish community. But if you know to ask for it on your own without the police department offering it then they'll comply. In other words, this statement was pure damage control.

The public doesn't seem to be buying it. A local firestorm erupted on social media and resulted in angry phone calls from residents. The mayor's full statement was posted on Toms River's Facebook page and a cursory examination of comments shows it's done little to quell people's bad feelings.

I have no issue whatsoever with patrols and house checks being offered to the Jewish Community as long as these same types of letters would be sent to all communities in Toms River. If you disagree, imagine the reaction the other way around. Imagine letters went out to predominantly Christian areas offering to keep an eye on houses around Easter and Christmas but no such letters were sent to Jewish areas regarding Rosh Hashanah. The cry of anti-Semitism would be loud and long.

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