A Rumored Meeting Between Legends in Chabad and the Satmar?

kinus.

Rubashkin and Mirilashvili to Meet in Rockland County with Unknown Satmar Heads and Maybe Others?

This year’s Chabbad Kinus is proudly featuring the Reb Yitzchak Mirilashvili as the keynote speaker to speak before thousands of ultra-Orthodox, at an event which is scheduled to take place during the first week of November at Rockland Community College, Rockland County, New York.

Sources close to the Kinus have told us that it is attended by thousands, not only members of Chabad but also members of other sects, including the Satmar whose leaders are usually present. This year is expected attract the largest attendance of any thus far and security is expected to be tight. While we had hoped women were also invited, we have been advised that this is a G.O.L.F. (gentlemen only, women forbidden) event.

As to the keynote speaker, while we cannot diminish the importance of the  donations that Reb Mirilashvili has made to Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Mikvahs, Torah Scrolls, etc), we can’t quite shed the feeling that the providence of that money can’t possibly be cleansed within the waters of a Mikvah (or several).  Reb Mrilashvili’s father Michael, it is said, “has an unusually colorful history” so too, we would guess does the family fortune. Be that as it may, the Chabad movement has been proud of it’s donors (think Mark Nordlicht, Lev Leviev, etc.) and we cannot forget about Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, another darling of Chabad, along with Rabbi Berel Lazar, who is quick to tell us how much Putin loves Mazoh. We cannot begrudge Chabad the fame and fortune of such a legendary list of “Philanthropists.”.  

Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, if you will recall, was welcomed home with open arms, singing and dancing after President Trump provided him with a promised Presidential Pardon, something we understand came as a tradeoff for Chabad support of Trump’s election. Whether or not the current investigation into Russian meddling has any connection is a matter of speculation.  That said,  after Rubashkin’s return, “Rubashkin spoke enthusiastically in a mix of English and Yiddish, thanking President Trump for commuting his sentence, describing him as a messenger of G-d.”

Sources close to the community have told us that Rubashkin, whose pardon was supported by thousands both online and elsewhere, is enjoying his fame and good fortune; and as a pardoned man has a significant measure of perceived untouchability. So, it would not surprise us to learn that he is allegedly the bridge between warring Jewish factions, particularly where discussions of financial  matters are concerned.

Sources close to the organization of all of the events have told us that there is a planned meet sometime during the weekend of the event to be attended by the heads of Chabad and Satmar and, while we were unable to verify with certainty, there may be other sects represented at that clandestine meeting also.  

In our opinion and given the entire Kinus operation is intended to raise money, it sounds like something out of a Francis Ford Coppola or a Martin Scorcesi movie.

 

Guest Keynote At The Banquet: Mr. Yitzchak שי׳ Mirilashvili 

We are honored to share that Reb Yitzchak Mirilashvili will be the guest keynote speaker at this year’s Gala Banquet.

Through his Keren Meromim Foundation he supports dozens of revolutionary projects spreading Torah learning, Chessed and outreach while supporting hundreds of Shluchim in Eretz Yisroel and throughout the world.

The Mirilashvlili family have become exemplary partners to Shluchim and communities around the world, committed to perpetuating and expanding the Rebbe’s vision accross the globe.

New York – From Monsey To Brooklyn, Rubashkin Greeted By Thousands On Street In Joyous Celebrations

New York – Just hours after word broke that President Donald Trump had commuted his sentence, Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin received a hero’s welcome at his family home in the New Hempstead section of Monsey.

Thousands took to the streets in Brooklyn and revelers packed Lubavitch world headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, where cases of Smirnoff were rolled in to celebrate the good news, an unexpected gift from the White House that came in the final moments of Chanukah.

But the level of joy in Monsey was off the charts as throngs of people packed the two block long South Gate Drive where the Rubashkin family has been living for the last several years in order to be the first to greet the 57 year old after his release from the federal penitentiary in Otisville.

Police blocked off streets in all directions to accommodate the sudden influx of cars to the area, with some drivers abandoning their vehicles and walking because traffic had come to a complete standstill.

Photographer Shimon Gifter was the first member of the media to speak with Rubashkin after his release in an exclusive VIN news interview that took place aboard a coach bus as he prepared to leave Monsey for a trip to Brooklyn to visit his parents in Borough Park, Lubavitch world headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway and the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens.

Free of Otisville and its orange prison garb and surrounded by family members including some grandchildren that he had never met,  Rubashkin was dressed in a black jacket, pants and hat and a white shirt as he spoke about the importance of being “b’simcha” at all times.

Asked what message he would like to send to President Trump, Rubashkin said that he prays for Trump every day.

“G-d should bless him and the United States of America,” added Rubashkin.

 

ABOUT MICHAEL MIRILASHVILI

The Russian-Israeli Billionaires Embroiled in Israel’s Latest Corruption Investigation

His life and business career suffered a lengthy interruption when he spent eight years in prison on charges related to the kidnapping of his father. In August 2000, his father, Moshe Mirilashvili, a prominent member of the Jewish community who served as president of the Congress of Georgian Jewry, was kidnapped in broad daylight on a main road in St. Petersburg. He was released just two days later, and a month and a half after the abduction, the bodies of two of the kidnappers were found.

Michael Mirilashvili was arrested and charged with several offenses, including attempted murder. In August 2003, he was convicted of kidnapping and lesser charges but acquitted on the charge of attempted murder, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The conviction sent “shock waves” through the Russian Jewish community, the Jewish press reported at the time, saying it was widely believed that Mirilashvili was being targeted, either by rival businessmen or by powerful politicians.

Mirilashvili’s legal team fought his sentencing, calling it “enormously unjust” and “enormously severe.” In 2004, Mirilashvili appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, arguing that his rights had been violated and that he did not receive a fair trial. He was vindicated in 2009, when the European court ruled that his conviction and sentencing was unfair. That year he was released from prison and he moved his home base to Israel, where he continued his business activities in Russia and began investing heavily in Israel and elsewhere.

Since his release, Mirilashvili has held an annual party with rabbis and politicians to celebrate his freedom. Attendees this year included Dery, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and former cabinet ministers Gideon Sa’ar and Ariel Atias.

Mirilashvili’s close ties to politicians were also seen in 2010, when businessman Ofer Nimrodi threw Mirilashvili a party for his 50th birthday at his house in Savion – one of Israel’s richest communities. Some 350 people attended that party, which was said to have cost some $1 million, including Edelstein, lawmakers Tzachi Hanegbi and Meir Shitrit, as well as former chief rabbi Yona Metzger.

The indictment filed against Metzger alleged that Mirilashvili gave Metzger $250 thousand in for the wedding of the former chief rabbi’s son. Mirilashvili wasn’t indicted and Metzger was ultimately convicted in a plea bargain and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

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Isn’t this Rich? Cuomo will Let his Ultra-Orthodox Donor Contingent Run Circles Around the Law and Nixon Will Not.. We Call that SCRUPLED, not anti-Semitic…

 

Cynthia Nixon calls on Andrew Cuomo to apologize for campaign mailer calling her soft on anti-Semitism

(JTA) — New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called on her primary opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to apologize for a mailer paid for by the state Democratic Party that questioned her support for issues important to Jewish voters.

Cuomo, who heads the state Democratic Party, has said that he had no knowledge of the mailer and said through a spokeswoman that the language was “inappropriate.”

“I am the mother of Jewish children,” Nixon, who is raising the children of her first marriage as Jews and attends Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in Manhattan, said in a statement late Sunday.

Nixon questioned how Cuomo could not know about the mailer and called on him to apologize, urging him to record a robocall to go out to voters apologizing for “calling me an anti-Semite,” The New York Times reported.

The mailer was sent Saturday, five days before the primary, to some 7,000 Jewish households.

“With anti-Semitism and bigotry on the rise, we can’t take a chance with inexperienced Cynthia Nixon, who won’t stand strong for our Jewish communities,” it said.

The mailer also said that Nixon is “against funding for yeshivas,” supports “BDS, the racist, xenophobic campaign to boycott Israel” and has been “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.”

In an interview Tuesday with Times reporter Lisa Lerer, Nixon said of the mailer, “I thought it was disgusting and cynical and really surprising that Andrew Cuomo’s New York state party would stoop to this kind of fear-mongering and lies. To use this in this nasty and untruthful way — it’s really Trumpian.”

She added that she thinks Cuomo knew about the mailer despite his denials.

“I think he’s a micromanager and it’s his Democratic Party,” said Nixon, an actress who gained fame on the hit TV show “Sex and the City.” “The idea that he did not know about it is patently ridiculous.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and her wife, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a joint statement Friday saying that the charge that Nixon was soft on anti-Semitism is “a baseless lie.”

A poll released before the issue of the mailer went public showed Cuomo leading Nixon by 63 percent to 22 percent.

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported Tuesday that a Cuomo campaign official had pitched a story to a reporter at the newspaper about Nixon’s opposition to Israeli settlements and her support of the BDS movement against Israel a day before the mailer was delivered.

The email pitch included excerpts of news reports from 2010 detailing how Nixon was among about 200 American celebrities — including many Jews — who signed a letter supporting a boycott by Israeli actors, directors and playwrights of a new theater in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Chofesh H’Betui – The Right to Convey Free Thinking – at Stake PART II

The Word “Philanthropist” and the Services Money Can Buy –

Taking Aim at Free Speech

We have stated many times that we really do not like the word “Philanthropist.” Those self-proclaimed philanthropists, in our view, who riddle these pages have not given freely. They have not given anonymously to a beneficiary and taken no credit for the gifts, one of the highest forms of giving in the Jewish faith. Instead they have boasted philanthropy as a badge of alleged honor. Philanthropy, as such, is not a gift but a justification or a remediation of whatever sins have been committed.

And at this the holiest season on the Jewish calendar, we are taught that giving money to repent for our sins is simply not enough.

We are not philanthropists. We are supporters of a cause-accountability. We take on issues involving children, education, the treatment  of our elderly, honest business practices, human decency, mutual respect for our neighbors, integrity and most importantly, the right to free speech.

Nearly each page we have published contains the name of someone, whose ‘Wikipedia” page would call a philanthropist, as self-described. These alleged “Philanthropists” have learned to game a system, whether by greasing the palms of politicians, sending police officers to Israel, making friends with the appropriate corrupt officials in the Congo, purchasing a nursing home by manipulating zoning laws and then treating the patients reprehensibly or altering the zoning laws to suit their fancy. And, all of this under the guise of “Philanthropy.”

To our valued readers, these same self-proclaimed “Philanthropists” filed a lawsuit against a blogger, served on a Saturday which will require a response of one form or another in the middle of the holiday season. It will require funding and time. And in the greatest of ironies, the Plaintiffs refer to themselves as “Philanthropists.”

This lawsuit is an effort to silence the blogger and presumably silence this blog. The stakes are high. We have a readership of well over 1.5M views in the last few years and if we are forced to shut the doors to this site, it will send a message to each of our readers that it is too risky to speak up, something which runs counter to our very system of beliefs. A victory by these Plaintiffs would be the destruction of society’s ability to hold bad actors accountable for their actions, a horrifying result.

The law firm handling the suit is well connected in Kings County and is well known for its political connections and for its support of so many of the members of the community that grace our pages. The law firm has as great an interest in this case as its clients.

We will be asking for your support in the coming weeks. We have never asked for financial assistance to keep these pages running but a crowdfunding site is being established by friends of this page.

In the meantime, the findinglostmessiah@gmail.com address is up and running after some maneuvering. We are happy to answer questions and we could use any help you may have.

Finally, insofar as WordPress has a set of standards they follow, we encourage posting and participation. We remain faithful to the trust placed in us by you, our readers.

With many thanks. With kindness and immeasurable gratitude.

L’Shana Tova – LM and all of those who make this endeavor possible.

 

 

Malka Leifer – The Queen of Molestation Still Evading Justice

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/jewish-community-adass-israel-investigated-over/9078210

Malka Leifer

Members of Jewish community Adass Israel investigated over accused principal’s escape

 

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: When the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school fled to Israel in the middle of the night, the students she was alleged to have abused were devastated.

That was nine years ago and Malka Leifer is still evading justice.

This afternoon Victoria Police confirmed it is investigating members of the Melbourne community who assisted her escape.

Reporter Louise Milligan met one of Leifer’s victims, who today landed in Israel to campaign for her extradition.

(Footage of Dassi Erlich with a friend at a cafe in Elsternwick, Melbourne)

DASSI ERLICH: I haven’t had any coffee yet today. (Laughs)

LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: It seems like a pretty ordinary scene: a 30-year-old woman out for coffee with her friend.

DASSI ERLICH: How old is Kes now?

FRIEND: Twenty.

DASSI ERLICH: Twenty. Yeah…

LOUISE MILLIGAN: But even though she has spent her entire life in this neighbourhood, for most of that time Dassi Erlich was strictly forbidden from doing anything as simple as this.

DASSI ERLICH: I didn’t know how to really exist in the outside world. I didn’t know how to do kind of the normal, everyday things that everybody else does outside of the community.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi grew up in the tiny Jewish community, Adass Israel, here in Melbourne’s Ripponlea.

DASSI ERLICH: We didn’t grow up with any TV or that type of stuff. So, yeah. Just going to the cinema and watching a movie: that’s not something I had ever done before.

NICK MAZZEO, LAWYER: The Adass community is an ultra-Orthodox community, so it’s a very closed community. It involves about 200 families.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi’s sheltered existence extended to the classroom. She went here, to the Adass Israel Girls’ School.

DASSI ERLICH: That’s all I knew. That was, you know, growing up and going to school and learning how to be a good Jewish mother; learning Jewish studies. That was my life.

Leaving school: I think I left school with a year seven maths and a year seven English.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Young Dassi was incredibly isolated and naive and was also struggling with a difficult family life – which made her a perfect target for school principal Malka Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer: she knew that I came from an abusive household. And she approached me with the intention of a person of support: someone that could help out with what was going on at home; someone that could listen and care.

And over time she molested and then raped me.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Two of her sisters were also allegedly targeted by Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: There was no-one to tell. There was literally no-one to tell.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Did you know it was wrong?

DASSI ERLICH: On some level I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t – at the time I couldn’t state why it was wrong, because I didn’t have the words for it. But definitely it felt wrong.

NICK MAZZEO: The abuse was horrific and included penetration.

It’s a credit to her that she’s able to continue day by day and get through this trauma that she’s gone through.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi was married off into the community while still a teenager, but the trauma resurfaced when she had a baby.

(Photograph of Dassi Erlich and her child at the beach)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: The day after this photo was taken, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

DASSI ERLICH: I was quite suicidal and I was self-harming.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi told a psychologist about the abuse and later, while in hospital, reported to Victoria Police.

The Adass Israel School learned about Dassi’s complaint to a psychologist. In the heat of the moment, they made a very poor decision about what to do about Malka Leifer.

NICK MAZZEO: A meeting was held and – we’re talking within hours – airline tickets were booked and Leifer, along with her husband and children: they were flown out of the country to Israel.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: What does that say to you?

NICK MAZZEO: It’s disgraceful that people, knowing that a crime had been committed, would take those steps to remove someone from the jurisdiction.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: There are thought to be up to 15 alleged victims. Victoria Police eventually laid 74 charges against Malka Leifer.

But Dassi Erlich was treated as a traitor to her community and her parents.

DASSI ERLICH: By going forward to the police, my reputation was shot. So I left the community.

TED BAILLIEU, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: She’s been through terrible times. To think she’s been abused by her principal, she’s been shunned by her community and she’s been chopped out by her own parents.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Forced to seek a new life, Dassi sued the school board and in 2015 Supreme Court justice Jack Rush awarded her $1.2 million: the largest Victorian damages payout to a victim of institutional abuse.

The judge said:

NICK MAZZEO: That the school’s conduct was “deplorable,” “disgraceful.” They are just a few of the words the he used.

He was very scathing of the way that the school conducted the case. There’s no doubt about that.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Leifer, meanwhile, is still in Israel. She has fought extradition, arguing she is too mentally unwell to face trial in Australia.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer is living a free life in Israel. She has absolutely no restrictions on her movement. She can go and come as she pleases.

(Dassi Erlich and her sister Elly meet Ted Baillieu in a Melbourne side street)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: So Dassi Erlich has embarked on a campaign to press Israel to extradite her former principal.

TED BAILLIEU: Hello.

DASSI ERLICH: Hi.

TED BAILLIEU: How are you, Dassi?

DASSI ERLICH: Good.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: She has some formidable supporters, like former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

TED BAILLIEU: I said to her, “Dassi, I’m happy to stand beside you on any public platform you like.” I said it a number of times and she took me up on it. And I’m very pleased to be able to help her.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Last month Mr Baillieu accompanied Dassi and her sister Elly, also a Leifer victim, to a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Prime Minister has today indicated he will raise the case with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: What I’ll say is that justice demands that she be brought back to Australia to answer the charges.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi Erlich has been negotiating for some time with the new Adass Israel School board to get a public apology to her and the other alleged victims of Malka Leifer.

The school had promised a lengthy statement to 7.30 today, but it never arrived.

Victoria Police this afternoon confirmed it is still investigating some members of the Adass community who helped Malka Leifer flee Australia nine years ago, in the middle of the night.

Dassi Erlich is taking her plea direct to the Israeli Government. Late yesterday she flew to Israel with her sisters.

For now, Malka Leifer remains protected inside a closed ultra-Orthodox community in central Israel.

DASSI ERLICH: I want to achieve justice. I want to ensure as well that there is awareness in Israel about this case, because Malka Leifer is living in a community around people that are as naive and as ignorant of these kind of issues as I was when I was growing up.

And if I can do anything to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anybody else, that’s definitely a big goal of mine.

 

Ultra-Orthodox Community is Expanding, Blockbusting, Lakewood, Jersey City

Photo

A woman and boy in the Greenville neighborhood in Jersey City, where several dozen Hasidic families from Brooklyn have settled. They are part of a major movement of ultra-Orthodox Jews into communities around New York City in search of more affordable places to live.CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

JERSEY CITY — To the gentrifying stew of bankers, artists and college graduates who are transforming this once blue-collar city across the Hudson River from Manhattan, add an unexpected flavor.

In a heavily African-American neighborhood, 62 families from a number of Hasidic sects based in Brooklyn and rarely seen here have bought a scattering of faded but roomy wood-frame rowhouses whose prices are less than half what homes of similar size would cost in New York — roughly $300,000 compared with $800,000.

These families are pioneers in a demographic and religious shift that is reshaping communities throughout the region. Skyrocketing real estate prices in Brooklyn and Queens are forcing out young ultra-Orthodox families, which are establishing outposts in unexpected places, like Toms River and Jackson Township in New Jersey, the Willowbrook neighborhood on Staten Island and in Bloomingburg, N.Y., in the foothills of the Catskills.

The influx, however, has provoked tensions with long-established residents, as the ultra-Orthodox seek to establish a larger footprint for their surging population. Residents complain that investors or real estate agents representing the ultra-Orthodox community have been ringing doorbells persistently, offering to buy properties at “Brooklyn prices.” Jersey City, Toms River and Jackson have all passed no-knock ordinances barring such inquiries under the threat of fines or have banned solicitations altogether.

The mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, said his town took pride in its diversity but had been concerned about “very aggressive solicitation.”

“They literally go door to door and can be very pushy trying to purchase someone’s house,” Mr. Fulop, a grandson of Holocaust survivors and a graduate of yeshivas, said in an interview. “It’s not the best way to endear yourself to the community, and there’s been a lot of pushback.”

Photo

In Jersey City, a Hasidic influx has provoked some tension among longtime residents who complain of aggressive tactics from buyers seeking to purchase homes for Hasidic families. The city now prohibits door-to-door solicitation. CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

New York City and the surrounding suburbs are home to the largest concentration of Jews in the country and because of their high birthrate — five or six children are common — Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox Jews represent the fastest-growing subset. They are now estimated to number about 330,000 in New York City alone — one-third of the city’s overall Jewish population.

They have become a more muscular political and social force and have turned the generally liberal profile of the area’s Jews more observant and conservative. Lakewood Township, near the Jersey Shore, voted for Donald J. Trump last year by the largest margin — 50 percentage points over Hillary Clinton — of any New Jersey community, according to an analysis by NJ Advance Media.

Squeezed out of their traditional neighborhoods, ultra-Orthodox Jews have taken steps that have raised concerns as they settle into new communities.

Michele Massey, a former Jersey City councilwoman who is the executive director of an organization that oversees a commercial corridor along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, said Hasidim had opened a synagogue on the avenue despite a recent zoning change forbidding new houses of worship.

“It’s not because they’re Jewish,” Ms. Massey said of her opposition. “It could have been any other religion or group. It was simply the zoning law. I’m a person of color. Obviously I don’t care who lives where.”

The Hasidim contend that they have been primarily buying boarded-up or vacant homes and that solicitations have come from outside investors, not from the families that have moved in. They support the city’s no-knock law and point out that the Hasidic families that have moved into the Greenville neighborhood are a minuscule fraction of the area’s 47,000 people, half of whom are black.

“We’re not looking to push out anybody,” said Mordecha Feuerstein, a volunteer for a Hasidic organization that helps people find new homes in affordable places like Jersey City.

What Hasidim have opened in a boarded-up dry cleaner on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, he said, is not a synagogue but a small community center that, like many Jewish institutional buildings, is also used for prayer and study. Next to it is a narrow grocery stocked with kosher foods and Yiddish newspapers. Some Hasidim point out that within a few blocks along the avenue are a Catholic church, a mosque and a storefront church called the Sanctified Church of Jesus Christ. Those were grandfathered in under zoning rules and officials are weighing whether the community center violates the rules.

Underlying the objections of many municipalities is an often unspoken worry that ultra-Orthodox Jews will transform the character of their communities. The ultra-Orthodox may not explicitly raise the specter of anti-Semitism, but they do see a bias against their unconventional lifestyle, modest dress and customs. Orthodox Jews, in general, live in tight-knit communities because of their need to cluster around an infrastructure that includes a synagogue within walking distance, kosher butchers, yeshivas for boys and girls, and ritual baths.

One community that is rapidly changing is Bloomingburg, on the edge of Sullivan County. A developer, Shalom Lamm, started building a complex of 396 townhouses that he marketed to Hasidim. Opponents claimed the development would quadruple the village’s population of 420 and significantly alter its tranquil, rustic ambience. Thirty homes are occupied and another 70 or so are in various stages of building. Vacant homes nearby have been bought for Hasidic tenants, while a boys’ yeshiva, a ritual bath and a kosher store have opened.

What the village will look like is in limbo, however, because Mr. Lammpleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process by signing up ineligible voters to elect a village government friendly to his project. He will face sentencing in September.

Lakewood is also feeling the impact of a fast-growing minority group. Decades ago the area was rural, filled with hardscrabble egg-raising farms owned by Jewish Holocaust refugees, a few grand hotels and an estate that had once been owned by John D. Rockefeller.

TO CONTINUE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES STORY, CLICK HERE.

Lakewood’s Civic Leaders, Negotiating Better Treatment – Amnesty for the Orthodox

From the Asbury Park Press:

Lakewood fraud: Vaad met with N.J. officials before amnesty deal

LAKEWOOD – Jewish Orthodox civic leaders had exclusive access to state officials during the planning of a controversial county-wide Medicaid fraud amnesty offer — a program critics say caters to Lakewood’s Orthodox community, the Asbury Park Press has learned.

State officials on Thursday said the only community group they met with as they formed the amnesty program was the Vaad, Lakewood’s politically influential council of local Orthodox Jewish religious and business leaders. Local African American and Latino groups told the Asbury Park Press that they were not asked for their views on amnesty.

The meeting’s disclosure comes as criticism has intensified about the amnesty program that was launched after 26 in Lakewood were charged in June and July in a public assistance fraud sweep.

The defendants — accused of taking more than a combined $2 million in public assistance they weren’t entitled to — include a rabbi and his brother, business owners, students and housewives from the township’s religious enclave.

After plans were announced to rent out the 3,200-seat Pine Belt Arena in Toms River to hold an amnesty “informational” program, the Vaad publicly endorsed the program.

But fewer than 40 people showed up for that Sept. 12 session, and State Comptroller Philip Degnan, who is overseeing the program, demurred when asked by an attendee if he had “reached out to rabbis” for their support.

“We have reached out to a number of community groups. We have had meetings with a number of community groups. I’m not going to talk about which ones,” Degnan replied.

More: New APP columnist: Why not use Medicaid amnesty for immigration?

More: Lakewood Medicaid cheats stay home; amnesty meeting attracts few

More: Lakewood fraud arrests spur amnesty program for Medicaid cheats

More: Lakewood schools looking to reduce special ed litigation spending

On Thursday, Degnan in an emailed statement said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Division “was solely responsible for conceiving of and developing what has become the Ocean County Medicaid Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Pilot Program.”

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Degnan said officials met with the Vaad and also had meetings with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, and representatives of other prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies.

No religious restrictions

The Medicaid amnesty reprieve doesn’t have race or religious restrictions but is only open to residents of Ocean County.

Leaders of non-Orthodox groups in Lakewood say the amnesty opportunity came as a surprise to them.

“Nothing to us at all. No one reached out,” said Alejandra Morales, president of La Voz Latina, which supports immigrant rights.

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Pastor Glenn Wilson, whose church in Howell has a congregation of largely black and Latino worshipers who come from neighboring Lakewood, said state officials didn’t contact him nor church members – and he called the amnesty “a slap in the face to all people of all groups.”

Wilson also heads Lakewood UNITE (United Neighbors Improving Today’s Equality), a group that advocates for the township’s public school students.

“Amnesty is something you give to people who don’t know they were making a mistake. I have the same sense that the general public has that Medicaid fraud is probably not often done by mistake,” he said. “I know of people who were denied services for programs just by being over an income limit by a few dollars. The rules weren’t bent for them or by them.”

Degnan in his statement said his office “is willing to attend informational meetings with interested community groups in Ocean County at any time during the 90-day program.”

Vaad leaders in an emailed statement didn’t address questions about the group’s role in planning.

“The program continues to have the Vaad’s support as another tool to encourage greater compliance with the program’s rules,” said Vaad spokesman Rabbi Moshe Weisberg.

State officials concede it’s the first time such an undertaking has been targeted to a specific area.

“We’ve offered this program because, based on our Medicaid fraud investigations in Ocean County, we believe there may be a larger problem in that county,” said Degnan, a 2015 appointee of Gov. Chris Christie. “This is an opportunity to bring a significant number of people into compliance. That’s our goal.”

“We have not seen it in any other state,” he said. “As far as we know, it’s a fairly unique program.”

Degnan’s office audits government finances, programs and contracts and has a Medicaid Fraud Division.

‘We would be hung’

Lakewood resident Mami Quinonez, 61, is among critics who say the program selectively gives a pass to Orthodox Jews at a time when New Jersey has the nation’s highest racial disparity in incarceration rates.

Quinonez, 61, a native of Puerto Rico who describes herself as a “community activist,” said allowing others in the township who’ve wrongly received Medicaid benefits to avoid criminal charges is being done “because there are so many of them and their votes give them influence.”

“If an Afro-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican or Caucasian did what they did, we would be hung,” Quinonez said. “We would have went straight to the federal prison.”

Lakewood’s population topped 100,000 in the most recent U.S. Census estimate and Orthodox residents now account for more than half of that figure, community leaders say, though no official statistics are available.

The offer runs until Dec. 12. Degnan said it’s a “pilot program” and that it could be available in other counties in the future.

Last week the Root online magazine — a popular black news and culture site — posted a story titled: “White People Commit Welfare Fraud, State Creates Amnesty Program so They Won’t Go to Jail.”

Author Monique Judge wrote, “Religious leaders in the town support the program because it will let participants avoid prosecution. … Will this happen in a predominantly black town in New Jersey as well, or nah? Asking for black people everywhere.”

The Forward, another online site that says it offers “news that matters to American Jews,” also weighed in with a story titled, “Lakewood Medicaid Fraudsters Get Amnesty – Proving Jews Are On The White Side Of The Law.

Author Helen Leshinsky wrote that reactions to the program on social media “seemed to come in three categories. There were those who decried the program on ‘Law and Order’ grounds, claiming all criminals should be charged. Then there was the downright anti-Semitic response, clamoring that Jews are getting preferential treatment.

“Finally, there was the double standard argument coming from people of color, to whom the law has never been this lenient and humane. The first two can be dismissed, but the latter cannot be ignored.”

Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey’s population but more than 60 percent of the state’s prison population, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project.

There were 3,803 arrests for fraud in New Jersey in 2015 — the latest year available from the State Police Uniform Crime Report — with 55 percent of persons arrested white, 42 percent black, and 3 percent other races. The Hispanic ethnic origin accounted for 20 percent of the arrests.

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Residents of Newark, Camden, Paterson and other cities “where the racial makeup of the populations are very different” could use a similar boost with “not amnesty, but stepped-up state support for things like prisoner reentry programs and transition shelters,” said Fred Rush, president of Ocean County’s NAACP chapter.

“In the cities where you have a different racial makeup, they might have gun buyback programs, but those are open to anybody,” Rush said. “To be honest, when I heard there was Medicaid fraud amnesty for Ocean County, I thought it was a scam. Why would they do that? And why does it seem it’s geared to one religion?”

Self-reporting vs. court cases

NJ FamilyCare, a Medicaid insurance program funded by both federal and state dollars, covers children 18 and under who have no other insurance in families with incomes up to 355 percent of the federal poverty level – as an example, in a family of four the income limit would be $87,336 year, but the income limit for parents to qualify is $33,948.

Degnan said having public assistance cheaters self-report makes more sense than pursuing court cases, which can tap the government’s limited manpower for investigations.

The amnesty terms of settlements call for full restitution payments, plus additional penalties, and voluntary withdrawal from Medicaid for a one-year period. After the amnesty offer expires Dec. 12, prosecutions will resume as needed, Degnan said.

The Office of the State Comptroller’s Medicaid Fraud Division says it opened 407 cases for investigation and made 32 referrals to law enforcement agencies last year. The division also said it received 1,962 telephone fraud hotline tips.

Degnan noted that prosecuting public assistance cheats doesn’t typically result in jail time. First-time offenders in many instances are offered pre-trial intervention, a probationary program that results in dismissal of charges upon completion, he said.

On Sept. 12, at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, an information session on how to apply for amnesty attracted only about three dozen people. Degnan spokesman Jeffrey Lamm said applications to the program can be submitted online, but information about the number of applicants won’t be available until the program is over in December.

LAKEWOOD – Jewish Orthodox civic leaders had exclusive access to state officials during the planning of a controversial county-wide Medicaid fraud amnesty offer — a program critics say caters to Lakewood’s Orthodox community, the Asbury Park Press has learned.

State officials on Thursday said the only community group they met with as they formed the amnesty program was the Vaad, Lakewood’s politically influential council of local Orthodox Jewish religious and business leaders. Local African American and Latino groups told the Asbury Park Press that they were not asked for their views on amnesty.

The meeting’s disclosure comes as criticism has intensified about the amnesty program that was launched after 26 in Lakewood were charged in June and July in a public assistance fraud sweep.

The defendants — accused of taking more than a combined $2 million in public assistance they weren’t entitled to — include a rabbi and his brother, business owners, students and housewives from the township’s religious enclave.

After plans were announced to rent out the 3,200-seat Pine Belt Arena in Toms River to hold an amnesty “informational” program, the Vaad publicly endorsed the program.

But fewer than 40 people showed up for that Sept. 12 session, and State Comptroller Philip Degnan, who is overseeing the program, demurred when asked by an attendee if he had “reached out to rabbis” for their support.

“We have reached out to a number of community groups. We have had meetings with a number of community groups. I’m not going to talk about which ones,” Degnan replied.

On Thursday, Degnan in an emailed statement said his office’s Medicaid Fraud Division “was solely responsible for conceiving of and developing what has become the Ocean County Medicaid Recipient Voluntary Disclosure Pilot Program.”

Degnan said officials met with the Vaad and also had meetings with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ocean County Board of Social Services, and representatives of other prosecutor’s offices and law enforcement agencies.

No religious restrictions

The Medicaid amnesty reprieve doesn’t have race or religious restrictions but is only open to residents of Ocean County.

Leaders of non-Orthodox groups in Lakewood say the amnesty opportunity came as a surprise to them.

“Nothing to us at all. No one reached out,” said Alejandra Morales, president of La Voz Latina, which supports immigrant rights.

Pastor Glenn Wilson, whose church in Howell has a congregation of largely black and Latino worshipers who come from neighboring Lakewood, said state officials didn’t contact him nor church members – and he called the amnesty “a slap in the face to all people of all groups.”

Wilson also heads Lakewood UNITE (United Neighbors Improving Today’s Equality), a group that advocates for the township’s public school students.

“Amnesty is something you give to people who don’t know they were making a mistake. I have the same sense that the general public has that Medicaid fraud is probably not often done by mistake,” he said. “I know of people who were denied services for programs just by being over an income limit by a few dollars. The rules weren’t bent for them or by them.”

Degnan in his statement said his office “is willing to attend informational meetings with interested community groups in Ocean County at any time during the 90-day program.”

Vaad leaders in an emailed statement didn’t address questions about the group’s role in planning.

“The program continues to have the Vaad’s support as another tool to encourage greater compliance with the program’s rules,” said Vaad spokesman Rabbi Moshe Weisberg.

State officials concede it’s the first time such an undertaking has been targeted to a specific area.

“We’ve offered this program because, based on our Medicaid fraud investigations in Ocean County, we believe there may be a larger problem in that county,” said Degnan, a 2015 appointee of Gov. Chris Christie. “This is an opportunity to bring a significant number of people into compliance. That’s our goal.”

“We have not seen it in any other state,” he said. “As far as we know, it’s a fairly unique program.”

Degnan’s office audits government finances, programs and contracts and has a Medicaid Fraud Division.

‘We would be hung’

Lakewood resident Mami Quinonez, 61, is among critics who say the program selectively gives a pass to Orthodox Jews at a time when New Jersey has the nation’s highest racial disparity in incarceration rates.

Quinonez, 61, a native of Puerto Rico who describes herself as a “community activist,” said allowing others in the township who’ve wrongly received Medicaid benefits to avoid criminal charges is being done “because there are so many of them and their votes give them influence.”

“If an Afro-American, Puerto Rican, Mexican or Caucasian did what they did, we would be hung,” Quinonez said. “We would have went straight to the federal prison.”

Lakewood’s population topped 100,000 in the most recent U.S. Census estimate and Orthodox residents now account for more than half of that figure, community leaders say, though no official statistics are available.

The offer runs until Dec. 12. Degnan said it’s a “pilot program” and that it could be available in other counties in the future.

Last week the Root online magazine — a popular black news and culture site — posted a story titled: “White People Commit Welfare Fraud, State Creates Amnesty Program so They Won’t Go to Jail.”

Author Monique Judge wrote, “Religious leaders in the town support the program because it will let participants avoid prosecution. … Will this happen in a predominantly black town in New Jersey as well, or nah? Asking for black people everywhere.”

The Forward, another online site that says it offers “news that matters to American Jews,” also weighed in with a story titled, “Lakewood Medicaid Fraudsters Get Amnesty – Proving Jews Are On The White Side Of The Law.

Author Helen Leshinsky wrote that reactions to the program on social media “seemed to come in three categories. There were those who decried the program on ‘Law and Order’ grounds, claiming all criminals should be charged. Then there was the downright anti-Semitic response, clamoring that Jews are getting preferential treatment.

“Finally, there was the double standard argument coming from people of color, to whom the law has never been this lenient and humane. The first two can be dismissed, but the latter cannot be ignored.”

Blacks make up about 15 percent of New Jersey’s population but more than 60 percent of the state’s prison population, according to a report from the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project.

There were 3,803 arrests for fraud in New Jersey in 2015 — the latest year available from the State Police Uniform Crime Report — with 55 percent of persons arrested white, 42 percent black, and 3 percent other races. The Hispanic ethnic origin accounted for 20 percent of the arrests.

Residents of Newark, Camden, Paterson and other cities “where the racial makeup of the populations are very different” could use a similar boost with “not amnesty, but stepped-up state support for things like prisoner reentry programs and transition shelters,” said Fred Rush, president of Ocean County’s NAACP chapter.

“In the cities where you have a different racial makeup, they might have gun buyback programs, but those are open to anybody,” Rush said. “To be honest, when I heard there was Medicaid fraud amnesty for Ocean County, I thought it was a scam. Why would they do that? And why does it seem it’s geared to one religion?”

Self-reporting vs. court cases

NJ FamilyCare, a Medicaid insurance program funded by both federal and state dollars, covers children 18 and under who have no other insurance in families with incomes up to 355 percent of the federal poverty level – as an example, in a family of four the income limit would be $87,336 year, but the income limit for parents to qualify is $33,948.

Degnan said having public assistance cheaters self-report makes more sense than pursuing court cases, which can tap the government’s limited manpower for investigations.

The amnesty terms of settlements call for full restitution payments, plus additional penalties, and voluntary withdrawal from Medicaid for a one-year period. After the amnesty offer expires Dec. 12, prosecutions will resume as needed, Degnan said.

The Office of the State Comptroller’s Medicaid Fraud Division says it opened 407 cases for investigation and made 32 referrals to law enforcement agencies last year. The division also said it received 1,962 telephone fraud hotline tips.

Degnan noted that prosecuting public assistance cheats doesn’t typically result in jail time. First-time offenders in many instances are offered pre-trial intervention, a probationary program that results in dismissal of charges upon completion, he said.

On Sept. 12, at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, an information session on how to apply for amnesty attracted only about three dozen people. Degnan spokesman Jeffrey Lamm said applications to the program can be submitted online, but information about the number of applicants won’t be available until the program is over in December.

Religion is Not the Issue in Lakewood – Why Whitewashing is Damning to All Jews

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/becoming-every-brothers-keeper/

Becoming Every Brother’s Keeper

All humanity descended from one family.

“And in this original familial relationship resides our profound responsibility to one another. The recitation of the generations of Adam trumps the golden rule as the “greater principle” because it clarifies the subject of the ethical imperative. “Let there be no mistake,” the begetting seem to say. “The ‘neighbors’ for whom you must care are not only the people around you, but the entirety of this large, unruly human family from which you are a lucky, and burdened, descendent. Each member of this family is your ‘brother.’ And none, therefore, are you free to abandon.”
This section of the Torah, the recitation of the generations of Adam, thus challenges us to allow God’s question to Cain–“Where is Abel, your brother?”–to reverberate throughout the millennia. It demands that we pose this question with the awareness that, in the eyes of Bereshit, all humanity is descended of one family. It compels us to pay attention to the words of the question itself–to recognize that it is not only a query about Abel’s whereabouts, but also an insistence that he is our brother.
As common descendants of Adam, we are not free to shed our brotherhood with Abel. We are simply not at liberty to allow the gulfs created by national, cultural, linguistic, religious, or racial differences to obscure our responsibility to those who are hurt or violated. Instead, we must step up to this haunting question whenever it is asked and answer resolutely: “I am my brother’s keeper.””

Dear Reader:

The following is a comment received by one of our readers. We are bothered by the comment because, whether intentionally or otherwise, it defines all ultra-Orthodox Jews by the actions of those who chose to defraud the system.

It then by association defines all Jews by those very same ultra-Orthodox criminals and the various Rabbis, websites (OJPAC) and other Jewish spokespeople who try to justify or whitewash the criminal behavior. It is our belief that if you paint the truth and the lies with the same white paintbrush you taint the good while you are trying to shade the bad.

To the author of the initial post below: there are exemplary, devout, honest and descent members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Simply because they dress the same as those accused of committing crimes, does not mean that they themselves don’t find those very same crimes unthinkable and the very same people reprehensible. Your commentary makes broad generalizations, that we agree are difficult at times to avoid.

While sadly we can’t disagree with much of it, we would be remiss if we did not point to a religion which, when not taken to extremism, when taken as written is rich in charitable random acts of kindness, laden with spectacular cultural history, sincere in its piety and actively trying to achieve a high moral standard and ethical character. 

We are here because we believe that we must be our brothers’ keepers. That means reporting the good with the bad. We may miss our mark on reporting the good, but it is there nonetheless.

Finally, you are right in commenting that religion is not the issue. Criminal behavior is the result of those committing the crimes. Judaism does not allow it. As such, please do not view the entire community by the acts of some.

 

Religion not the issue in Lakewood welfare raids: So much for ‘Thou shall not steal’

by Steve Trevelise June 28, 2017 12:26 PM
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So much for “Thou shall not steal.”
As more and more arrests come out of Lakewood’s Jewish community for people accused of cheating the government out of various benefits, it makes you wonder how adherent these people are to their religion in the first place — as opposed to the “golden calf” of government.
LAKEWOOD WELFARE RAIDS
NEW:Hundreds attended Lakewood meeting warning of welfare fraud risk
Lakewood welfare fraud raids: Six more people scammed another $700,000, authorities say
‘Hundreds’ of Lakewood residents scrambling after welfare fraud raids, report says
Deminski: Zero excuse for any welfare cheats in Lakewood
Lakewood welfare fraud: It’s too easy, and not just Orthodox Jews to blame
Isn’t the belief of any religion to trust God that he will provide for you? What happened to Psalm 23 — “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want?” As someone who grew up in Hudson County, I’ve seen people cheat the system all my life, but you wouldn’t think that members of a religious community would be cheating the government out of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Don’t they answer to a higher authority?
So why would religious residents of Lakewood cheat the government? To maintain the expense of their religion, of course. Or so says Duvi Honig of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce to the Asbury Park Press:
“The pressure of the community overhead — especially the (cost of) private schooling is unsustainable,” “People are forced to find ways to bend the system.”
He later told New Jersey 101.5 he was talking about using legal loopholes, not breaking the law. But no religion should force you to find ways to bend the system — and the truth is, this isn’t about the religion. It’s about the people who broke the law. To blame the religion is an insult to all those people who worship and who don’t steal.
What these people are accused of doing had nothing to do with their religion, and hopefully their religion will have nothing to do with it at their trials.
What’s going to be interesting is if they are convicted and must serve time. How much will the prison system conform to their beliefs? I’m guessing the government will find ways to get it done much cheaper.
More from New Jersey 101.5: