Lakewood, NJ and an Expose – Who is Imposing Views on Whom and Is it Anti-Semitism or Justified Resentment?

Lakewood in Ocean County has become a destination for Orthodox Jewish families. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Race, religion, corruption and politics: A guide to the crisis in Lakewood

Lakewood is home to a huge Orthodox Jewish community and the rapid growth has engulfed the town, igniting tensions between the religious and secular societies on many levels.

Each day, we will explore some of the major issues in the community, including the welfare fraud investigation, housing problems and the strains on the education system.

LAKEWOOD — The drive into Lakewood from the Parkway could be confused with any other stretch of county road near the Pinelands. There are farm stands, strip malls, modest neighborhoods and an occasional open field.

Then, you cross the border into Lakewood and the landscape changes immediately. There are suddenly crowded townhouse developments, new multifamily houses going up and members of the Orthodox Jewish community on every sidewalk.
 
Lakewood represents the convergence of almost every issue in New Jersey – race, religious freedom, discrimination, corruption, local politics, school funding, overdevelopment and transportation woes.
 
What makes it unique is the unprecedented growth of the town combined with the complex issues surrounding the booming Orthodox Jewish community.

While tensions have been rising in Lakewood for years, the turmoil has escalated in recent weeks with a showdown over school funding and a high-profile welfare fraud investigation.

The town thrust into the spotlight this summer with the arrest of 26 members of the Orthodox community accused of lying about their income to collect more than $2 million in public assistance.

The arrests brought renewed attention to Lakewood and highlighted what residents of the Ocean County town already know – Lakewood is changing. This once-faded resort community has become the most complex town in New Jersey.

What makes Lakewood unique?

Lakewood is booming. Thanks to an influx of Orthodox Jews, it has been New Jersey’s fastest-growing town over the last 20 years. It has one of the highest birth rates in the world. Housing is going up at an unprecedented pace.

“It’s probably the most attractive place in the United States today for a young Orthodox Jewish family,” said Rabbi Aaron Kotler, one of the leaders of the Orthodox community. “That’s a phenomenon that certainly didn’t exist when I was growing up, 20 or 30 years ago. But it’s a reality today.”

Why are there so many Orthodox Jews in Lakewood?

Lakewood had long been a popular resort for Jewish vacationers when a refugee rabbi fleeing Nazis in Lithuania arrived in the 1940s to start Beth Medrash Govoha, a higher education institution where men could study the Talmud, one of the religion’s sacred text.

The yeshiva, known as BMG, grew over the years into one of the largest schools of its kind in the nation, with more than 6,500 students. A thriving Orthodox Jewish community grew around the yeshiva, which included many Jews from Brooklyn’s Orthodox community looking for less costly housing and a more suburban setting to raise their families.

Who else lives in Lakewood?

The population exploded from 45,000 in 1990 to more than 100,000 now, making it New Jersey’s fifth-largest city.

The town is 84 percent white, 17 percent Hispanic and 4 percent black, according to the U.S. Census. There is a growing Mexican immigrant community and a large community of seniors in sprawling retirement communities, including Leisure Village. The African-American community has been shrinking in recent years.

The downtown is a microcosm of the 25-square-mile town. In one stretch of Clifton Avenue there is a kosher Chinese food restaurant, a Pentacostal church and a Mexican taco restaurant where the workers only speak Spanish.

Minivans full of children stop in front of the Orthodox-run frozen yogurt shop, just blocks from where Mexican immigrant day laborers gather to be picked up for day jobs. Leisure Village, the sprawling gated retirement community, is a few miles south.

What makes the Orthodox population in Lakewood different from other Jewish communities?

Most of the members of the Jewish community in Lakewood practice Haredi Judaism, a form of the religion that tries to strictly observe Jewish law, rejects some aspects of modern culture and maintains strict modesty rules that keep men and women separate in many public areas. Its members are often referred to as ultra-Orthodox, though some consider the term offensive.

The men often wear distinctive black hats, white shirts and dark pants. The women often wear modest clothing and cover their hair with wigs.

A copy of one of the indictments of a Lakewood couple accused of lying about their income to defraud the government of Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits for the poor.

Why is Lakewood in the news? 

A total of 26 people – nearly all couples – were arrested in a series of raids by federal and state authorities this summer. Those charged, who are all members of the Orthodox community, were accused of defrauding the government by submitting false applications to collect Medicaid, SNAP food assistance, housing assistance and other benefits for low-income residents.

The town has also been the subject of debate in Trenton, where lawmakers have been pressured to increase funding for the troubled school system.

Nearly 1,000 members of the Orthodox Jewish community attend a meeting in Lakewood to learn about eligibility rules for government benefits. The meeting was held after 26 members of the community were arrested following a welfare fraud investigation. (Aristide Economopoulos | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

How has the Orthodox community reacted to the arrests? 

The Vaad, the committee of elders who lead the Orthodox community, has said it is “saddened beyond words” by the arrests.

Earlier this month, nearly 1,000 people attended a community meeting organized by the Vaad with a panel of experts who explained who was eligible for government benefits – and what to do if a family has been collecting government assistance they did not deserve.

Many of those in attendance took notes and made appointments to meet with financial and legal experts offering free counseling.

“This is a time to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Am I eligible for these programs?,'” Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, a member of the Vaad, told the crowd.

Why is there a school budget crisis?

Lakewood sends about 30,000 of its kids to private Jewish schools and about 6,000 mostly Hispanic and black students to its public schools. The town provides busing for all children, including those going to the private schools, which strains the taxpayer-funded school budget.

The state has appointed a fiscal monitor to help oversee the school district. This year, the state gave the town extra funding to help cover the budget shortfall and the town government had to pitch in extra cash at the last minute to save Lakewood’s school sports programs.

Members of the Orthodox community make up the majority of the school board and have been accused of steering public money to the Jewish private schools at the expense of Hispanic and black students — a charge they deny.

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2 thoughts on “Lakewood, NJ and an Expose – Who is Imposing Views on Whom and Is it Anti-Semitism or Justified Resentment?

  1. A YOUNG JEWISH CHILD ASKED WHY NON- JEWS HATED JEWS & THIS IS WHAT HE WAS TOLD:

    THE JEWISH BANKER WHO FINANCED THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION, & BOTH WORLD WARS

    Jacob Schiff proposed that the First World War be the war to end all wars, which became an international mantra after the war. The absolute end of all war heralded the Jewish Messianic Era in which the Jews would be “restored” to Palestine, where they would rule the world from Jerusalem. Jewish bankers deliberately created the First World War in order to artificially fulfill Jewish Messianic prophecy by staging the “Battle of Armageddon”, by creating a World government run by Jews known as “The League of Nations”, by “restoring” the Jews to Palestine, by destroying the Empires and Monarchies, by enslaving the Gentiles with Bolshevism, by placing the wealth of the World in Jewish hands, etc. etc. etc.

    Schiff believed that the First World War fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 2:1-4, which states,

    “1 The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

    THE JEWISH ZIONIST/BOLSHEVIK MESSIAH:
    “The mashiach [Jewish messiah] will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people by bringing us back to Israel and restoring Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 23:8; 30:3; Hosea 3:4-5). He will establish a government in Israel that will be the center of all world government, both for Jews and gentiles (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:1). He will rebuild the Temple and re-establish its worship (Jeremiah 33:18). He will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15)…The world after the messiah comes is often referred to in Jewish literature as Olam Ha-Ba (oh-LAHM hah-BAH), the World to Come…In the Olam Ha-Ba, the whole world will recognize the Jewish G-d as the only true G-d, and the Jewish religion as the only true religion (Isaiah 2:3; 11:10; Micah 4:2-3; Zechariah 14:9).”
    — From “Mashiach: The Messiah”, Judaism 101 —–

    “The Jewish people as a whole will become its own Messiah. It will attain world dominion by the dissolution of other races, by the abolition of frontiers, the annihilation of monarchy and by the establishment of a world republic in which the Jews will everywhere exercise the privilege of citizenship. In this New World Order the “children of Israel” will furnish all the leaders without encountering opposition. The Governments of the different peoples forming the world republic will fall without difficulty into the hands of the Jews. It will then be possible for the Jewish rulers to abolish private property and everywhere to make use of the resources of the state. Thus will the promise of the Talmud be fulfilled, in which is said that when the Messianic time is come, the Jews will have all the property of the whole world in their hands.”
    –Baruch Levy, Letter to Karl Marx, ‘La Revue de Paris’, p.574, June 1, 1928

    “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid Galilee of its Arab population.”
    — David Ben-Gurion (Founding Father of the State of Israel and First Israeli Prime Minister), from Ben-Gurion, a Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar (May 1948)

    THE JEW, JACOB SCHIFF, IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATHS OF OVER 200,000,000 PEOPLE

    • What utter rubbish, 200 million people dead because one man opined that WWI would open up a messianic era for Jews. Get a grip on yourself.

      That said, there is little doubt in my mind that the resentment the black hats engender among those already living in communities to which they move is that they don’t move in the way others might, a few at a time. They invade, like army ants until their numbers and their bloc voting enable them to destroy publich schools and to make the town so uncomfortable for those who are not like them that those people flee. It’s no less than an invasion, a tide that overwhelms. Their brand of religion makes them immiscible with those who believe otherwise or not at all and there you have it – East Ramapo, Bloomingburg, Monroe, Lakewood and on and on. One day they’ll try this in the wrong town and instead of resentment all h*ll will break loose and it will be 1938 all over again.

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