JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – As Jackson Township evolves and the Orthodox Jewish community within the township continues to grow, the school board here has sworn in the first ever member of that community as a board member.
At its reorganization meeting on Jan. 6, three board members were sworn in to new terms, including Tzvi Herman, an Orthodox Jewish resident who says he wants the same thing everyone else in town wants.
“Once my name became public, all of a sudden there were challengers,” Herman said in an interview with Forward.com. “Automatically, because I’m a religious Jew, they think my agenda is the same as up north.”
Herman said that’s not the case with him. He has received flak from his opposition because he has no children in the Jackson School District, but for years, many other board members who do not have children in the district have served including some of his fellow board members. Some of Jackson’s longest serving board members have had no children in the district.
In the election, Herman defeated both of his write-in opponents 10,635 in a town where the Orthodox Jewish community carries just about 3,500 votes.
Tara Rivera and Scott Sargent, who were re-elected to the board for three-year terms in November, and Tzvi Herman, who was elected to a one-year term began their new terms after being sworn in by Business Administrator Michelle Richardson in January.
Currnently Jackson is home to 2,400 school age Orthodox Jewish students attending private schools. The public school district has approximately 8,300 students.
“Herman said he ran for a seat on the seven-member Jackson Board of Education to ensure that the board was providing state funding for services like speech therapy and special education to Lakewood yeshivas serving Orthodox students from Jackson, as it is required to do under state law,” Forward.com report.
To win the election Herman had the support of Agudath Israel of America, a Jewish civil rights adovcate group. Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey director Avi Schnall said he supported Herman in the election because he had no opposition on the ballot and wanted to let Jewish residents in the community know he was running and why they should vote for him.
“In the community meetings, it wasn’t, ‘Here’s why you should support Tzvi Herman,” it was, ‘Here’s why it’s important to have an Orthodox member on the board,’” Schnall said. “But it was never a formal endorsement,” Schnall said.
Herman’s campaign was not one that played out on Facebook or in the media to gain traction, but in small community circles and gatherings around Jackson. He didn’t take out expensive advertising in the local newspapers or even run a social media campaign.
Herman’s term will expire on December 31, 2021 and if he wants to continue to serve Jackson, he would have to run in the November general election, this time, most likely, with ballot line opposition.