READ IT: Orthodox Jewish Resident Pens Open Letter To Toms River Mayor Mo Hill

Dear Mayor Hill,

My 12-year-old son enjoys checking the mail, hoping to find something finally addressed to him. However, after receiving a mailer from your campaign, I worry about what he might find in the mailbox.

As an Orthodox Jew, I am concerned about the overtly biased and threatening communication that you delivered to my home. I question whether it is appropriate for the mayor of our city to send such messages.

Here are just some of the messages that you mailed to your constituents last week:
– Toms River “belongs” to the people who owned homes here prior to 2020.
– Toms River was a thriving community before “people of a different culture “ sneaked in.
– Toms River has closed borders to anyone not born here.
– There is a specific culture that is acceptable for Toms River residents that included Roman Catholic Christians with Italian or Irish heritage.

As someone with their eyes open, I know that these statements are not true. They appear to be a scheme to fearmonger and shift blame for the problems facing Toms River.

After strong growth from the 1970’s to the 2000’s, the population of Toms River began dwindling as stores shut on main street and the town failed to attract families and businesses to the area. Data from the US Census shows a growth of 17.5 percent growth from 1990 to 2000 and then a serious drop to only 1.7 percent growth from 2000 to 2010 as the local population aged and their children moved elsewhere.

The younger generation, like comedian John Poveromo, who born and raised in Toms River and now lives on Long Beach Island, almost all left. His 2016 piece on the sad state of Downtown Toms River shows the lack of vision and energy that the town has suffered for years.

Another former resident wrote a piece brutally titled “The Great Hollowing Out”, also written in 2016, that states “Toms River is no longer the preferred destination for people looking for the next better cheaper place. Many of the kids I went to high school with are now in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Toms River lost its comparative advantage as homes became more expensive, taxes rose, and the general quality of the place peaked and declined.”

And before you, or your desperate council members, point to the Orthodox community to blame, we only began moving here (in very small numbers) in 2015. An Orthodox population that you, Mayor Hill, know very well does not endorse large scale housing developments and moved here precisely to enjoy the quieter pace. This week’s fiasco with the extension of an extra traffic lanes on Whitesville getting pushback from the Orthodox neighborhoods is a perfect example of our commitment to a slower, safer community.

You paint a dire picture of an idyllic suburban lifestyle destroyed by outsiders. Actually, it’s the insiders who have been hurting this lovely town that I’m proud to call home.

Moving forward, I hope that we can work together to find solutions to the issues facing our city, rather than pointing fingers and spreading harmful messages.

From your neighbor and constituent,

Tova Herskovitz

P.S. The letter above is my personal opinion and not necessarily those of the nonprofit I founded, One Ocean County.

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  1. She signed her name and that gives a 100% legitimacy to the letter. Good for you Tova Herskovitz. Thank you.


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