LAKEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — A housing community on the Jersey shore comprised of mostly Orthodox Jews has sharply limited the time men and women can swim together, angering some homeowners.
The board at A Country Place in Lakewood decided men and women can swim together from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday. There is also open swimming on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. But swimming is restricted by sex the rest of the time in observance of Jewish law that prohibits men and women from bathing together.
Of the 91 hours the pool is open each week, 73 percent is confined to single-sex swimming.
Resident Steve Lusardi, 69, told the Asbury Park Press (http://on.app.com/2aiEkIL ) he was fined $50 for swimming with his wife, Diane, 70, last month after the open swim time expired. Lusardi said he doesn't plan to pay the fine.
"I know the Jewish protocol — the men and women can't swim together. I'm aware of that," he said. "I just don't like following it."
He and other non-Orthodox residents say their requests for a more accommodating schedule have been unsuccessful.
"I've been told, 'This is a Jewish community. Get used to it,'" Lusardi said.
Orthodox Jewish resident Jerry Fried, 65, has asked the board to consider expanding coed hours, but the board declined. He said the dispute isn't between Jewish and non-Jewish residents — it's between residents and the board.
"The main thing I want to stress is I don't want (anyone to think) there's a war going on between the Jewish people and the non-Jewish people," Fried said. "That's absolutely not true."
The Fair Housing Act, a federal anti-discrimination law that applies to condominium and homeowner associations, bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin. It covers access to housing and the "provision of services or facilities" connected to that housing.
Board members declined to comment.
Information from: Asbury Park (N.J.) Press, http://www.app.com