Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Packed crowd at library event, Lakewood is mostly Yeshivish

APP reports on Lakewood Library event. Watch VIDEO
 LAKEWOOD - The featured speaker was a professor and author who’d come to talk about the facts and fallacies surrounding the Orthodox Jewish community. A Common misconception that all members of the Orthodox community in Lakewood are Chasidim only about 20 percent belong to that sect of Orthodox Judaism, she said, while the vast majority are Yeshivish Orthodox Jews.

"A capacity crowd of more than 100 people showed up at the Lakewood branch of the Ocean County Library, most of them seniors from adult communities in Lakewood and surrounding towns" APP reports They weren’t there to debate — about property taxes or busing or the yeshiva being built up the road. Not on this night. They were there to listen, and ask questions.


Some of them had to stand, there were that many people. Among those squeezed in the back of the room was Larry Pollack.

Seventy years old and disabled, he’s still recuperating from injuries he suffered in a fire in October that burned down his home at Leisure Village West in Manchester, along with all his possessions.

What prompted him to come, he said, was the chatter about the Orthodox community he’s heard on the senior shuttle he takes to his doctor appointments, most of it pretty unflattering.

“I’m hearing extreme things,” he said, “and I know that’s not the way life is.”


So he got a friend to drive him to Lakewood Monday night, hoping to educate himself about a group he knows little about, despite being Jewish himself.

“I said, ‘Let me go and find out what’s going on in my community,' ” he said.

Pollack listened as Botein-Furrevig, an associate professor of English and Jewish studies at Ocean County College, discussed her book, “Heart of the Stranger: A Portrait of Lakewood’s Orthodox Community” (ComteQ Publishing, 2010.)

Much of her presentation concerned the “myths and stereotypes” about Orthodox Judaism.

Among them: that Orthodox women have to shave their heads before they get married (not true, she said); that the reason Orthodox men won’t shake a woman’s hand is because they think women are inferior (the actual reason has to do with ritual purity laws, she said), and the common misconception that all members of the Orthodox community in Lakewood are Hasidic (only about 20 percent belong to that particular sect of Orthodox Judaism, she said, while the vast majority are Yeshivish Orthodox Jews, affiliated with the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva, here.)


William Ball, 66, of Howell, said the talk was enlightening, but what most impressed him was the turnout.

“I wanted to see how many people cared about the community,” he said. “I was dumbfounded, and I didn’t hear much negative stuff.”

He didn’t always feel so kindly disposed to the Orthodox community, he added.

“I got caught up listening to people (talk.) I didn’t take the time to learn,” he said.

After the presentation, Ball struck up a lengthy conversation with David Spinrad, 19, one of only a handful of local Orthodox residents at the event.

“I really respect someone who has an open mind and just wants to find the truth,” Spinrad said.

“If you want to talk — or as we call it, ‘schmooze’ — I’m glad to talk,” he said.

5 comments:

  1. Headline: Packed crowd at library event, Lakewood is mostly Yeshivish.

    Article: "A capacity crowd of more than 100 people showed up at the Lakewood branch of the Ocean County Library, most of them seniors from adult communities in Lakewood and surrounding towns"

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  2. Assuming for one minute that lakewood does consist of mostly chassidim ,what was the point of this meeting. ? If i say that most students in our public schools are mexicans does that also sound odd enough to have a meeting in the local library to discuss this? My point is why should a meeting be held about the "types" of people living in a town?
    Should we discuss about the amish living in PA? Or Iranians living in queens? What is the agenda here?

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    Replies
    1. There are many misconceptions about us in the media and elsewhere its nice to reach out educate and do some bridge building. A big Thank you to the author.

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    2. I would say this was a way for the author to have publicity to help sell her book.

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  3. Unless you plan on integrating with others nothing will be changing. We live insular just like the amish ,arabs , mexicans and others. Telling people who you dont consider them as *your circle* that they shouldnt judge you because you are religious is not going to help any. The arabs do the same explaining and it goes no where.

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