Sunday, May 1, 2016

"Kh'vil shpilen mit Yidishe kinder"

 Article about Lakewood growth posted in 
LAKEWOOD, N.J. - A crowded city like nothing New Jersey has ever seen is rising over this once sleepy Ocean County township, and its neighbors are on edge.
There is no need for concern, says Rabbi Aaron Kotler, the rosh yeshiva, or dean, of the Beth Medrash Govoha school for Torah study in Lakewood, the nation's largest yeshiva. "If you really get to know us, we are warm, friendly, open, and understanding - fantastic neighbors," he said.In adjacent Toms River, those tensions started in late 2014 when bearded men in wide hats began knocking on doors. They had friends in Brooklyn, they said, who would pay top dollar for the houses.

"The guy who came around our street called himself 'Charles from Brooklyn,' " homeowner Laurie Venditto recalled.

He "must have been here 20 or 30 times" to tell her and others on Hunters Court that his fellow Haredi Jews were moving in.

"He said we wouldn't want to live here when he was done," Venditto recalled, speaking in the ground-floor office of her corner home.

One block north sits Lakewood. Home to the nation's largest population of ultra-Orthodox Jews outside of Brooklyn, it's scrambling to meet demand for synagogues, yeshivas, and housing that have made it the fastest growing municipality in New Jersey.

But its streets have grown crowded, its public schools are struggling, its minority population is declining, and demand for homes anywhere nearby has spawned such aggressive solicitation that in December, Toms River called a town meeting.

More than 1,000 irate residents showed up, telling of sales agents parked in their driveways before dawn, or peering into windows, or even asking children how many rooms were in their houses, according to a 37-page report issued in February by the township attorney.

Then the controversy blew up when Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said the actions felt "like an invasion" and appeared to be "blockbusting" - using ethnic fears to provoke panicked home selling.

Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller denounced the remarks as anti-Semitic and demanded an apology. He didn't get one.

High-pressure real estate marketing also has been reported in neighboring Jackson, Howell, and Brick Townships, prompting the townships to strengthen their "no-knock" ordinances in response to homeowner complaints.

For seven decades, Lakewood has drawn the Haredim, many from New York, large families in tow. Haredim comes from the Hebrew for "those who tremble before God," a reference to their piety.

They now constitute more than 60 percent of the town's population of 100,000, and members of the community - distinctive for the women's modest dress and the men's black suits and broad fedoras - are beginning to look beyond its borders.

There is no need for concern, says Rabbi Aaron Kotler, the rosh yeshiva, or dean, of the Beth Medrash Govoha school for Torah study in Lakewood, the nation's largest yeshiva. "If you really get to know us, we are warm, friendly, open, and understanding - fantastic neighbors," he said.
Only Brooklyn, with 300,000, has a larger Haredim population in the U.S. than Lakewood.

Kotler's yeshiva and the Haredim's abundant presence have made the town so attractive to Brooklyn's Orthodox Jews that this 25-square-mile township is projected by 2030 to rival Newark and Jersey City in population.

And since Haredim don't drive on the Sabbath, demand for homes in walking distance of its more than 80 synagogues has grown frenzied even in surrounding towns.

At December's town meeting in Toms River, a doctor residing on Crystal Mile Court told of real estate agents coming knocking every Sunday "for weeks and months," according to the township attorney's report.

A woman on Brentwood Avenue told of "a tremendous amount of drive-bys" and of agents taking photos of her home. "It's very threatening," she said.

" 'We're ready to buy the whole neighborhood,' " one homeowner said he was told, and many reported being coaxed to sell by Haredi sales agents with the question: "Why would you want to live with us?"

The report did not identify the speakers by name. In recent interviews around Toms River's North Dover section, homeowners declined to give their full names, citing concerns they would be accused of bias.

"You've validated, even stoked, awful stereotypes of your Lakewood neighbors, and, by extension, Orthodox Jewish residents of Toms River," Miller wrote Kelaher in an open letter to local news media.

But Kelaher called Miller's accusation of anti-Semitism "scurrilous." His use of the word invasion "had nothing to do with religion," he said in an interview.

Miller did not respond to requests for interview.

Mary Ann Wissel, president of the Ocean County Board of Realtors, said her organization had begun "training sessions" to better acquaint area sales agents with proper business practices.

Such tensions are being fueled by the fact that Lakewood, once shabby and crime-ridden, is now the fastest-growing major municipality in New Jersey, with about 4,000 births a year - more than in some entire counties.

In 1990, its population was 45,000. Ten years later it was just over 60,000, and the 2010 census counted 92,843. It is home today to about 100,000, and the township projects that will rise to 225,000 by 2030. That would put it in league with Newark, which has 277,000 residents, and Jersey City, with 247,000, to make it the state's third-largest municipality.

It's a surge driven by city dwellers looking for affordable space, quiet streets, greenery - and traditional Judaism.

"We have a two-bedroom, 700-square-foot apartment in Borough Park," said a man who gave his name as Sol.

Bearded, wearing a yarmulke and a lightweight black silk bekishe, or topcoat, he was standing with four of his five young children on the front lawn of the large brick home on Toms River's Crystal Mile Court that he and his wife had just purchased.

A moving van was in the driveway. The children squealed when a turkey vulture flew overhead.

Home prices in Borough Park were beyond his reach. "If you want a four-bedroom, it will cost you $1.4 million," he said.

"Here," he said, gesturing to his new house, "you get that for $400,000."

And being in a Jewish neighborhood fosters Jewish identity in children.

At that his 9-year-old daughter glanced down and plucked shyly at her fingers. "Kh'vil shpilen mit Yidishe kinder," she said, Yiddish for "I want Jewish children to play with."

In Lakewood, civic leaders defend the growth.

"That's how cities start," longtime Councilman Raymond Coles remarked. "Lakewood will become a city, if we're not one already," he said, and predicted that office towers and tall apartments one day will dot the skyline.

Coles, a Catholic, defended Lakewood's opening its doors to the many Orthodox who want to live there, saying it is right to accommodate a community for whom Torah study is "life's highest callings."

But some residents disagree.

"This is not natural growth," said Harold Herskowitz, a toy store owner critical of the township's expansive ways despite being Haredi himself.

In his opinion, Lakewood's municipal leadership - now majority Orthodox - is too accommodating of the influx from Brooklyn. Herskowitz moved to Lakewood from Los Angeles 30 years ago to study at Beth Medrash Govoha. It has been a magnet for the Haredim since its founding in 1943.

Starting in 2001, he said, the newly elected township council "put the people they wanted on the planning and zoning boards, and they've given the developers carte blanche."

Lakewood's zoning code now permits construction of schools and houses of worship virtually anywhere in the township.

But since traditionally observant Jews must walk to Sabbath services, that has led, in Herskowitz's view, to a "chicken-and-egg" demand for yeshivas, synagogues, and housing with no end in sight.

In 2014, Lakewood approved 10 synagogues, eight yeshivas, and 517 new residential units. Last year, it approved 10 synagogues, nine yeshivas, and 1,175 new residences. So far this year, it has reviewed plans for the construction or expansion of six Jewish schools and seven synagogues.

Records show no similar applications for religious facilities of other faiths.

"I'm not angry at the developers," Herskowitz said. "But why are they [elected officials] letting them do that?"

Some non-Jewish residents are also apprehensive that the Haredim "don't want to assimilate," Kelaher said, echoing a complaint from some non-Haredi in Lakewood.

Nowhere is Lakewood's Jewish population more self-segregated than in its schools. More than 20,000 youngsters attend private, tuition-based K-12 yeshivas, whereas just 6,000 children - mostly African American and Latino - attend public schools.

But because the Haredim do not permit boys and girls to sit together, the township has long provided gender-separate "courtesy busing" for all pupils - a major factor in the public school district's current $12 million deficit.

Critics also allege that the district gives preferential treatment to Jewish children with special needs. Most are sent to the private School for Children with Hidden Intelligence (SCHI) in town, at $93,000 per pupil, whereas most non-Jewish special-needs children are schooled within the district at far lower cost.

"SCHI was supposed to be a school for all children," said the Rev. Glenn Wilson, a leader of the township's African American community and president of the activist group United Neighbors Improving Today's Equality. "It actually became an Orthodox school."

UNITE's aim "is never to target the Orthodox community as people," he said. "What we target are the disparities in the ways moneys are distributed."

Unless residents approve a whopping tax increase in November, the school board says it will lay off 68 teachers (9 percent of the total) and slash middle school sports.

Such a move would likely hasten the decline of Lakewood's already shrinking black and Hispanic populations, according to Wilson. With homes in town selling at high prices, he said, many parents are selling so they can "relocate their kids to better school districts."

Jorge Rod, a leader of the area's Latino community, said Lakewood voters have repeatedly rejected bond referendums to fix the public schools' infrastructure, which includes "leaky roofs."

Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel, a Manhattan-based group that speaks for the nation's Haredim, said he advises them to be "friendly and helpful to all their neighbors."

But "to those who say, 'They're taking over,' I say: 'This is natural growth. Neighborhoods are always changing.' They should learn to live with it - and be happy we don't come with a high crime rate."

In Toms River, Venditto said she and her husband had gotten past their initial resistance to last year's "threatening" message of "Charles from Brooklyn," and had recently listed their home for sale - with an Orthodox-owned real estate firm.

Eleven of the 23 houses on Hunters Court and two adjacent cul-de-sacs have sold since 2015 at an average price of $631,000.

Venditto said she will miss her home of 19 years.

"We raised our children here." But with their children grown, and the housing market hot, it seemed a good time to move on. "It's the circle of life," she said with a shrug.

Her new Orthodox neighbors across the street are "lovely," Venditto said. But the real estate agents bearing what she called " 'suitcases of cash' . . . gave me the feeling I was not welcome."


  1. "Lakewood's zoning code now permits construction of schools and houses of worship virtually anywhere in the township."

    The above statement is not true look at Westgate they are not allowing shuls to be built there, more so the newly appointed master-plan committee has members that are opposing the building of shuls.

    1. And that is precisely why they used the word "virtually"

    2. almost the entire article is not true. do you really believe real estate agents go door to door wearing "wide hats"

    3. Why wouldnt i believe that?
      Would you believe that most were wearing white shirts and black pants ? Or that also made up?

  2. My daughter who was the same age as a non-Jewish girl on our block always used to play with her. We weren't stand offish with our non-Jewish neighbors.

  3. WG has a very diverse population, Jewish and non Jewish, Hispanic African American

  4. Yidden and Eirav Rav

  5. Unbelievable how low the kelmwoods will stoop..calling another yid Eirav rav...

    1. hmm.. why do you feel the eirav rav was directed at you? guilty conscious anyone?

    2. Is the torah also stooping LOW for calling others eruv rav?

  6. Why "the kelm wood"? Each person is an individual. Ropschitz gets all defensive when they're blamed collectively. Why do they think kelm woods is any different. Guilty conscience supreme

  7. The misnagdim to the shul claim they are not bound to any psak din issued by the Bais din that looked into all the issues. they claim in the name of r Gavriel Finkel and R shea Krupenia that they dont have to follow any psak- meaning they have full permission to go ahead and hire a lawyer to stop a shul!!

  8. Its amazing how none of these rabbonim contacted the Dayanim who actually heard the case and were in touch with both sides. The Dayanim Rav Shachar and Rav Shulgasser are open to discuss any issues or concerns why are they not contacted?

    1. No reason to reach out to anyone when you dont want the shul built period. NO negotiations no compromises no shul.

    2. old problem in Lakewood. Rabbonim allowing themselves to be lead into traps by chashuve bullies, making statements and decisions before hearing the full story.

    3. Hissiger claims that R' Krupenia gave him the green light. LOL.
      R' Krupenia definitely did not hear the other side, and did not discuss it with the dayanim who did. I therefore cannot accept that R' Krupenia would take responsibility for such a huge fiasco. A talmid chacham of his stature would know better.

  9. NO kiddish Hashem, NO fargining others, NO mentschlechkeit, NO ehrlichkeit, NO kovod Shaim shomayim, YES kinah, YES sinah, YES gaavah, YES kovod!

  10. Another yom tov goes by, and needed to tell my boys that they should daven at another shul because there is no place available for them.
    Shame on you haters of G-d and his children!
    You let your defective hearts guide your bird brains, into committing infantile actions, with huge permanent consequences.
    You claim you have annonymous rabbonim who allowed you to ignore a bais din. Did they tell you that you should disobey a bais din, or that you dont need to listen to the bais din? that you should refuse to sit down and discuss the issues? ...BIG difference. Even if you arent bound by the psak, are you ready to take responsibility for the irreparable damage you are causing? The anony rabbonim didnt take responsibility, they left the decision in your hands.
    I daven to Hashem that I should never get close enough to see your share in Olam Ha'emes, and that my children should never need to be educated by rabbeim and maggidai shiur of your kind. And I await the day when Rabbi Helberg can be told that he can go ahead with his beautiful project Ki Meisu Kol Ha'am Hamvakshim es nafshecha.

    1. "Ki Meisu Kol Ha'am Hamvakshim es nafshecha.".. Hey buddyI know you are upset but that comment is way too harsh you dont write that about other frum yidden

    2. Is there is mesira involved....just sayin

  11. Greenspan who was the first to go publicly against BM of Kelmwods aho is also CM Mandels( who runs the mikva) shvugger, learns by Rav Krupenias chaburah wonder if he is feeding him biased info on the goings on. and R Gavriel Finkel is an uncle to mandel so no surprise there.

  12. If Hissiger, Hess, Weiss and co, tried to stop a shul with the claim that the land does not belong to the shul how can you expect a compromise or to negotiate? Who is the Rav who permitted the ropshitz maffia to hire a lawyer who they put under a name vogel while its others that are going around shnorring to pay for the legal fees (while mishpachos in westgate cant put bread on the table)

  13. as we read in haftorah this shabbos.
    וְסָרָה קִנְאַת אֶפְרַיִם וְצֹרְרֵי יְהוּדָה יִכָּרֵתוּ אֶפְרַיִם לֹא יְקַנֵּא אֶת יְהוּדָה וִיהוּדָה לֹא יָצֹר אֶת אֶפְרָיִם:
    very soon will come the day when jealousy will be removed and westgate residents will have where to daven.

    1. besides jealousy its the desire and sickness of "control". A few mishpachos early on had a fantasy of controlling the entire development of WG. No one asked for it but they pushed and bullied their control idea onto the masses forcing (at least trying to)everyone to adhere and pledge alligience to the self appointed vaad. They searched for a Rav who they can control, they forced and stopped others from opening shuls. they chased other Rabbonim and chashuvim away. Anyone who dear open a shul must sign to be under the auspices of their control you can not make a move without their approval. And so as time went on and this dream did not materealize the jealousy and kinah kicked in as they watched other kehillos flourish and grow while they haven't gotten any further from their initial dream. The click got older and outsiders are not welcomed or shall we say dont feel welcomed. None the less there is still a major shortage of seats and shuls in WG but instead of looking to help others build they choose the תמות נפשי עם פלישתיםץ Even Rabbi Zimball has said many times there is a great need for shuls and he was happy Rav Helberg was contributing by looking to build.

    Car accident caused by car leaving Ropshitzer shtiebel. Accident happened at the safest intersection in Westgate, right by the mafia run shul!

    In consideration of traffic and safety, mispallelim are now being asked to put reflectors on their cars, since the mikvah doesn't allow street lights in that whole vicinity

    1. Mandel wont let better endanger an entire neighborhood by keeping it pitched black than shter the privacy of the private mikva

  15. By the way Rav Helberg was told from the first day "come sit with us to plan the Westgate Kehila, become part of the VAAD and we will live peacfilly"
    They agreed and there was a Kelmwoods repersentitive in the vaad, but he stopped coming after a few sesssions and the kelmwoods Kehila never replaced him.
    What a shame. If they would give in and work together the whole Machlokes would've not happened. They chose to be alone "Bodod" it was their choice it would be extremely difficult to go back to the early days. Who can reconcile a community with 2 camps with over 500 individual families on each side. Eizehu Chochom Haroeh es Hanolad

    1. 500 families on each side. LOL
      only yechidim are causing the trouble and bezras Hashem they will be defeated, vehakadosh baruch hu matzileinu miyadom. At least 90% wants the shul project to go ahead, or at least doesnt mind.

  16. Translation in English:
    "Come and let us tell you when you can daven, when you can give a Shabbos Hagodol drashah, that you may not sell chametz, may not collect tzedakh for your mispallelim, how much of your membership has to go to us, etc.."
    I am sure they did not ask him to come aboard, so that they can ask his opinion about how they should run their shul.
    As a side the 'Kelmwood Representative" was chosen and appointed by Ropshitz, it never had anything to do with Kelmwood. The intention being to continue the facade of them being in control that they even have a represenative of Kelmwood... But that didn't fool anybody and obviously it did not last.
    Your idea of achdus is come listen to me, nothing new here. It seems that at least you are admitting that the resistance is being caused by your dream of "achdus" not matearalizing, all in the name of sholom of course.Clearly it has nothing to do with safety, tznius, etc.
    What is really interesting is, that you failed to see the foolishness of such an attempt and what a machlokes it would make. As you said so elquently,
    "Eizehu Chochom Haroeh es Hanolad"

  17. Lets see how far the call for achdus by the vaad is?
    Early mikva appointments only for those who sign up for membership with ropshitz. Mispalelim at Kelmwoods do not get this perk.
    Only vaad approved shuls are allowed to be opened anyone else must daven at home or walk outside westgate we will not let you have a place for you and your children to daven.
    Tzedaka for aniyim goes only to those who are members of your kehilah anyone else let them starve we wont let others collect for them either.
    Give it up! Give up your taahveh of control you dont have it anyways and let others live there is bh enough for everyone.

  18. As always follow the money trail the misnagdim fighting against the shul expansion are either directly on the payroll of the vaad or get a financial or other benefit with their connections to the WG mafia. Some have services that are contracted by the mikva, Ropshitz shul, or receive other perks. Some are paid to recruit, to run an Otzar, to give shalom bayis counseling, to sit at the mizrach of various satellite basement shuls, to provide landscaping and snow removal services, the list goes on and on more to come.

  19. Rabbi Zimbal also told rabbi Helberg that he should close some of his minyonim after they were already operational. So much for achdus and representatives on the vaad!

  20. How ironic you claim to makee a movement to enhance sholom. But it has made nothing but strife and machlokes for 12 years.

  21. Do they also pay to deliver a Daf Yomi shiur or is that a privilege onto itself.

  22. mispallelim of kelmwoods never joined the vaad because they knew it was all just a ploy to make it look on the stationary that all shuls are united under one rav. Of course they would invite the kelmwoods vaad member to the important meetings (e.g. decisions regarding coffee brands, if yotzros should be said, if yom Kippur Kattan should be said, etc.). But they wouldnt be invited to the unimportant meetings (e.g. deciding if Rabbi Zimbal is allowed to daven in Rabbi Helberg's shul Mincha on shabbos mevarchim and Yom Kippur kattan, deciding if R' Reuven Halperin, Rabbi Rubelow... need to be threatened out of being seen davening in BM Kelmwoods, deciding how to sabotage Rabbi Helberg's hachnosas sefer Torah campaign, deciding who and when other shuls may have minyanim, deciding who and when shabbos Haggadah deroshos can be given, who can sell chametz, who gets priority membership in the mikvah....etc. and etc...).

  23. The kelmwoods vaad member was appointed by none other than the westgate maffia, mispalelim at Kelmwoods had nothing to do with it. Rabbi zimbal himself removed the sign in his own shul that referenced the newly appointed vaad members. BTW there has not been new democratic elections for vaad members since the last rigged ones over 12 years ago.

  24. B"H after 12 years of redifos the truth is coming out. There's a reason why only Rav Helberg is able to talk about Internet and other troubling issues and people actually listen. There's a reason why Rav Helberg is asked for his advice on many matters and people actually listen. There's a reason why Rav Helberg is able to have a positive influence on his mispallelim and they listen. The reason, rabbosai, is that people RESPECT Rav Helberg. Everyone knows that Rav Helberg and his chashuve brother R' Pinchos, are the address for chessed and non threatening, "no strings attached" help. These 2 tzaddikim have EARNED people's respect, not commanded it.

  25. Dont tink for a second the Redifos have stopped tey are going on to this very day. Maybe more behind the scenes than previously but the westgate mob is not letting up. They are discouraging WG residents from davening at Rav Helbergs shul, people are threatened if they are seen walking in the shul to... daven or learn. Kelmwoods mispalelim can not get the perk of early appointments for the westgate Mikva Ohel Blima if they dont pay membership to the ropshitz kehila.
    The WG mob is very connected to the establishment they have reached out to the planing board members and fed them lies and distortions. The maffia has members who work for yeshiva and have fed lies and misinformation to the roshei yeshiva and Rabbonim. Its a crucial time and people should be mechazek The BM of Kelmwoods be it attending the various minyanim, learning and if possible financially as the damage of the misnagdim has resulted in thousands of dollars in legal fees that the Mispalelim and the Rav can not afford.

  26. Annon at 9:50. If Rabbi Helbergs people listen to him about the internet, who are those that are posting here?

    1. Do you think its only people in westgate that know whats going on?? I have some news for you the entire Lakewood and beyond are watching this chilul hashem unfold. Rabbi Helberg can speak about internet and many other issues and his mispalelim can either listen or ignore. He has no control of the many former westgate residents or outsiders that are sick of this despicable saga. The web is actually a dirty place but when your dealing with mushchasim you have to stoop to their level just to be fair.

  27. It's unbelievable how people refuse to back down even when it's been proven to them time and again that the Bais din paskened that everything is ok and the shul can go ahead.

  28. its even more shocking that Reb Shea Krupenia would only listen to Greenspan and not hear or reach out to both sides and than when approached refuses to discuss the issue.


  29. There are elections for the Westgate Vaad? I'm living there for over six years and never heard of any such thing.

    People are threatened when entering Rabbi Hlebergs shul.See above.

    Rabbi Helberg isn't allowed to collect for his Mispalilim. What then is Zichron Chana Leah? (I don't think he limits his distributions to mispalilim) I will note that this is the first year since I moved to Westgate that neither Kimch D'Poscha fund asked me for Tzedokah. My guess is that has something to do with this Machlokes

    Maybe I'm missing something because I daven in (super overcrowded)Rabbi Vershliser. I would love to daven elsewhere-In a shul with room and a Mora D'asra etc. but where is Westgate can I find that? Those who prevent shuls from opening or expanding in Westgate are worse then the goyim in Jackson and Toms River who fight them

    1. Perhaps as a mispalel by R vershiliser you could speak to Avi the Askan ask him not to fight against BM of Kelmwoods maybe every one would gain and be able to expand.

    2. why would the WG vaad maffia let Rav Versheliser shul expand it has the same traffic and tznius issues that they claim about Kelmwoods. Why is there 2 sets of rules here.

    3. ...... went around calling the Helbergs "middas Sedom" for not being willing to sell them part of their property so they can expand. He claims that all permits would be approved and the only issue is that they cant get a piece of the property.
      Tznius and traffic concerns, if valid, would be far greater in his location.
      I guess if your name is ..... and you are sitting on a Master Plan board, you are above all these little technicalities.

  30. To Vershleiser Mispallel:
    In regards to Rabbi Helberg not being allowed to collect for ZCL. To clarify: B'H so far the mafia is not using guns so they can not physically stop him. What the writer meant was the standard mafia techniques e.g. pressuring gaboim to stop collecting for ZCL, making a tumlt and going around saying (I say this with tears in my eyes but it is the sad truth) that he is using the death of his daugter CL A'H to build up his shul. If I wouldn't of heard it I would not believe it but these are the kind of sychos and mushcasim that we have had to contend with for more than a decade now. They will do anything and everything to further their cause.

    It brings to mind the vort from Reb Elchonon Vasserman Z"L. We say in Al Hanisim, Reshaim Beyad Tzadikim, what is the nes in that? Giborim beyad Chaloshim, ok. Rabim beyad meatim, ok. But what is the nes in Reshaim Beyad Tzadikim? Answers Reb Elchonon, the rosha has all avenues open to him. There is no depth of hashcasa he will not sink to for his cause, as oppose to the tzadik.
    How True!

  31. Boys stop fighting Im gonna call 323

  32. Please do. Tell him to call his uncle to finally stand up and be a man.

    1. Good luck with 323 He is a Nephew of Rav Zimball, Avi V.. introduced him to the big speech and Chaim CM Mandels shver from LA is a good buddy.

  33. Please daven for Rav Zimbal although he is BH out of the hospital already.

  34. His mispallelim stopping to fight the Helberg shul should be a zechus for a refuah shelaima for him