What to Know
- Religious rules prohibit Orthodox men and women from swimming together
- An attorney told one resident at the complex that as long as individuals aren't denied access to the pool completely, the rules are legal
- City-owned pools in Brooklyn went through a similar controversy and expanded their mixed-sex swim times
A 69-year-old former postal worker and his wife are among the non-Jewish residents of a New Jersey condominium complex frustrated by rules that limit mixed-sex swimming to two hours per day Sunday through Friday.
Jewish law prohibits men and women from bathing together, and the rules at A Country Place were implemented to accommodate the majority of Orthodox Jewish homeowners at the 376-unit Lakewood adult community, according to The Asbury Park Press. Anyone who violates the rules on mixed-sex swims faces a $50 fine, which was what Steve Lusardi encountered when he went for a swim with his wife earlier this summer, the newspaper said.
During the summer, the pool is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, but mixed-sex swimming is permitted only 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Friday. There is open swimming on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.
Lusardi and the few other non-Orthodox residents in the community have protested the pool rules, but Lusardi says the board won't listen.
“I’ve been told, ‘This is a Jewish community. Get used to it,’” Lusardi said.
Another resident who got fined for swimming during men-only hours told The Asbury Park Press she spoke with a lawyer who told her that, under state housing non-discrimination laws, the board's rules were acceptable as long as they did not deny pool access to anyone based on sex or religion altogether.
The board declined comment to The Asbury Park Press.
City-owned pools in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, another area densely populated with Orthodox Jews, came under fire this summer over similar sex-specific swim schedules. The city added more mixed-sex swim times as a compromise.