The clearing is part of a dump site near an active water well off Vermont Avenue that was first discovered in 2010 by residents who reported suspicious activity in the woods. The landfill was created by members of the Orthodox Jewish community to dispose of discarded religious items, known as shaimos, such as sacred scrolls and religious clothing. The Orthodox tradition forbids burning of certain items or throwing them in the trash.
The land now belongs to Congregation Minyan Shelanu Inc., which is owned by Rabbi Chaim Abadi of Miller Road in Lakewood. For two years, Abadi and the state Department of Environmental Protection have been battling over the dump site. The DEP has ordered him to remove the items because the agency contends it could contaminate a township drinking well.
In April, Ocean County Judge Craig L. Wellerson issued Abadi a 60-day notice, which expired June 18, to remove and relocate the bags to an appropriately prepared dump site that meets DEP standards. However, the religious items have not been moved, officials said.
Now, Abadi is due in court this morning in Toms River before Wellerson.
DEP officials contend Abadi is in “blatant defiance” of the court order to remove and relocate the materials, according to the lawsuit filed in Ocean County Superior Court in Toms River. Named in the DEP’s complaint are defendants Abadi and Hard Maple Realty LLC, Vincezo Metee, Champion Subcontracting, and Congregation Minyan Shelanu Inc.