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N.J. keeping info on haredi yeshiva funding under wraps

NEW YORK (JTA) – New Jersey officials refused a newspaper’s request to release information on the state’s decision to fund two religious institutions, including a haredi Orthodox yeshiva in Lakewood.

The Star-Ledger on Wednesday said state officials turned down its request to examine the separate applications for state grants filed by the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva and the Princeton Theological Seminary.

“Public release of the applications at this time could give an unfair advantage to applicants and undermine the integrity of the process,” Colin Reed, a spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie, told the newspaper. “When the process is complete, the secretary intends to make applications public as allowed by law.”

State legislators and nongovernmental organizations have demanded explanations why the state decided to grant money to institutions that are not open to members of all faiths. They said the submission process for grants concluded months ago and information on the successful applicants should be made public.

“For the administration to suggest to the Legislature and the public that the manner in which these funds were allocated is not information we are entitled to have is as bewildering as it is unacceptable,” New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver wrote in a letter.

Beth Medrash Govoha is slated to receive $10.6 million to construct a library and academic center, while Princeton Theological Seminary, which trains priests, has been earmarked $645,313 to upgrade its technological facilities.

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