LAKEWOOD - The largest Orthodox Jewish yeshiva in the United States is expanding further onto 42 acres of land sold by Georgian Court University.

Beth Medrash Govoha is an Orthodox Jewish institution with over 3,000 undergraduate students and another 4,100 men in graduate programs, or Kollel. Commonly known as Lakewood Yeshiva, it is the second-largest yeshiva in the world behind Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

And it's only getting bigger thanks to a new deal with another religious titan in Lakewood.

Georgian Court University has 150 acres to spare. The Catholic university is, geographically, the largest private religious educational institute in the Garden State.

A sunset at Georgian Court University. (Georgian Court University)
A sunset at Georgian Court University. (Georgian Court University)
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"All the legal paperwork has been signed, but this will not happen overnight," a spokesperson passed along to New Jersey 101.5. "There is a multi-year plan that includes a phased-in approach to the transfer of ownership which is anticipated to begin this summer."

The deal is a symbol of religious cooperation and economic health for the quickly expanding community in Ocean County. Lakewood was the second-fastest growing city in New Jersey last decade thanks largely to a ballooning Orthodox population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“As a Catholic university, we are called to be responsible for each other and care for the common good,” GCU President Joseph Marbach said. “This mutually beneficial partnership reflects our commitment to our core values and the Mercy tradition. It enables both communities to forge ahead to a better and brighter tomorrow.”

Missing from the public record is the price tag of the sale. The religious schools issued a joint statement.

"At this time, Beth Medrash Govoha and Georgian Court University are not currently disclosing the price of this sale."

Whatever funds Georgian Court acquired will go toward several expensive projects.

The facade of Georgian Court University's Casino, constructed 1899. (Georgian Court University)
The facade of Georgian Court University's Casino, constructed 1899. (Georgian Court University)
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The Catholic university plans to construct a new nursing and health sciences building, remodel the 19th-century Casino building into a student center, and update its historic Mansion. GCU is also looking to upgrade its student housing.

Meantime, Lakewood BMG plans to use its added land to build entirely new student housing units. The yeshiva has only grown since the outset of the pandemic.

While other colleges saw declining enrollment in 2020, Asbury Park Press reported BMG grew by over 300 students in a single semester.

"After many months of careful thought and planning on all parts, we are pleased to see this initiative moving forward," said Howard Friedman, Chairman of the Board of Beth Medrash Govoha. "It's a win-win and great next step for the future of Lakewood."

A conceptual rendering of Georgian Court University's coming nursing and health sciences center. (Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site, Inc.)
A conceptual rendering of Georgian Court University's coming nursing and health sciences center. (Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site, Inc.)
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Rick Rickman is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at richard.rickman@townsquaremedia.com

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