Some frightening facts I missed about the explosive growth of the ultra-Orthodox community surrounding the Kotler Yeshiva in Lakewood

Published by carolyn on Fri, 2017-07-21 23:16

Yeshiva students fill the sidewalk as they walk toward another day of Torah/Talmud study in Lakewood, New Jersey. Credit Laura Pedrick for The New York Times

By Carolyn Yeager

What we require is simple: that we control everything necessary for our own good.” … the Jewish philosopher Spinoza

In 2013, Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news and culture, published an article in praise and recognition of the rapidly expanding Orthdox community in Lakewood, New Jersey. Written by David Landes (naturally a Jew) from a Jewish point of view that growth is good, there was no mention of the dissatisfaction and displacement of the established Goy population of Lakewood. The thrust of the article is 'What is good for the Jews is good', period. The only criticism mentioned was coming from “the more hardline Israeli Haredis” who have an even more “uncompromising stance” toward the larger society in which they live.

The following is what I culled from Landes' article.

Rabbi Aharon Kotler, founder of the Beth Medrash Govoha (BMG) yeshiva in Lakewood, N.J., believed that the sole purpose of Jews on this planet was to observe the commandments, and above all, to study Torah. Kotler’s bold idea was to establish a yeshiva for adult men on the model of the elite Lithuanian yeshivas (from whence he emigrated to the U.S. In 1943), where Talmud would be studied day and night for its own sake, without any ulterior career motivations or concerns for social advancement.

Students in Kotler’s yeshiva would not be allowed to attend college at night. An even more radical idea of his was that even after marriage, young men should receive community support to continue their life of study.

Community support” morphs into government support in America, where that is possible because of the tax-free status given to religious institutions. The whole scandal revolves around how these able-bodied orthodox Jewish men manage to get the non-Jewish taxpayer to support their religious lifestyle via government programs available ostensibly only to “the needy.” Even though what they're doing is fully their own choice, not a need, they can qualify as 'needy.' Is this the fault of our government's design of its programs or their manipulation by the Jews?

Here are some of the facts so you can better judge:

  • The Lakewood Orthodox community’s birthrate: 4,000 babies were born in the past year alone [2013].

  • A typical family consists of a mother, father and seven children, with around 70% of Lakewood’s Orthodox community receiving some form of government assistance.

  • The Orthodox population in Lakewood is projected to rise to 220,000 by 2030 from 100,000 today. [from an American Free Press article in 2014]

  • There is a high percentage of special education and autism students among the children of the Orthodox. “. . . the public school district, by law, must finance special education for everyone.

  • The Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva has been growing at a 7 percent annual rate in recent years, and that rate is expected to rise.

  • The annual budget of BMG, including certain of its affiliate programs, is approximately $35 million, while the capital budget is “huge.”

  • Every incoming student at Lakewood Yeshiva is expected to sign a voter registration card. The Vaad notifies the community of its candidate endorsements before every election, detailing the benefits the community received from each candidate.

  • The current mayor of Lakewood is a BMG alumnus, as was his predecessor.

  • Nearly all yeshiva students get married soon after they begin study, usually around age 22.

  • Of the 6,600 students currently [2013], approximately 1,200 are single and 5,400 are married.

  • Married students receive a small stipend from the yeshiva of $85 a week.

  • Most get by financially through a combination of the income of the wife, who typically works [part-time] while her husband studies, the yeshiva stipend, government support, and support from parents.

  • BMG is an accredited college and grants undergraduate and masters degrees, making students eligible for student loans, Pell grants, and work-study pay. [Even though it's a four-year college, students can continue studying there indefinitely.]

  • Students and their families are entitled to inexpensive or free health care from the state of New Jersey, as well as food stamps.

So the U.S. government as good as pays their tuition (reported to be around $17,000 annually) through Pell grants and student loans, then the yeshiva, from that, gives each married student $85 a week ($4420 annually) support money. A good deal for the yeshiva.

The government also helps with housing costs through various programs from HUD.

At we learn that "Approximately 100% of those attending Beth Medrash Govoha receive financial aid." 

Criticism from other sources

From the 2014 American Free Press article:

Mayor Menashe P. Miller is an Orthodox Jew, and the boards and committees are filled with people named Meir, Yechiel, Avraham, Moshe and Judah.

The non-Jewish residents of Lakewood have been screaming foul for years, blaming the tight-knit, insular community for a variety of things, from downright rudeness toward non-Jews, to attending a “school” for life to remain at the poverty level to committing welfare fraud. Some current and former residents are convinced that Orthodox Jews do not marry under local laws so they can collect the maximum public assistance payout. “An unwed, uneducated mother of six kids will get top dollar,” groused a former resident, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Claims of blockbusting are common, as well. Blockbusting is the illegal practice used by realtors and developers “to encourage white property owners to sell their houses at a loss, by fraudulently implying that . . . blacks, Hispanics [and] Jews . . . were moving into their neighborhood.”

A synagogue, with separate entrances for men and women, within the massive West Gate 2,000-unit development, along with its own shopping mall and supermarket, where Orthodox Jews occupy almost 100% of the Housing and Urban Development-subsidized facility. The units all have double sinks, to accommodate the Kosher requirements of the residents.

Large homes are sprouting everywhere. One development [federally funded], called West Gate, will have room for 900 families when it is completed, along with its own shopping mall with businesses including Sinai Dental and Kosher West, a supermarket. While it was promoted as being open to everyone, only one non-Jewish family lives there.

Back in 2007, the New York Times wrote about Lakewood:

Black residents charge that new housing is being built only for Orthodox Jews, who, they say, are pushing black residents out and taking over the town. Members of the Jewish community say such accusations sometimes cloak anti-Semitic sentiments.

The wider yeshiva community includes more than a hundred temples, and about 50 schools.

Last year (2006), Meir Lichtenstein became the town’s first Orthodox mayor. The majority of the school board members are Orthodox Jews.

This summer, when the State Department of Education ordered the district to correct the special-education disparity and the district appealed the order to the education commissioner, a big rift in Lakewood grew bigger. It is a rift that has deepened in recent years as a group (Orthodox) that once had little to do with public institutions began to join them, electing its members to a majority of school board seats and two of the five township committee seats.

Warren A. Sherard, the president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Orthodox Jews were now “using taxpayer dollars to educate their children the way they want.”

“They’ve put folks on the board of ed,” Mr. Sherard said. “The result of that is the board is less responsive to the community at large.”


Carolyn,  I've been enjoying your posts on Lakewood, NJ.  I'm surprised I haven't seen other bloggers covering it  But maybe no one is surprised at what's been going on there.
I think it only scratches the surface of how they feed off the host both legally and illegally.  I have friends who live close by Lakewood and say it is like a separate country.  One particular story I was told was how someone got into a fender bender with a hasidic woman driver. The hasidim had no license or insurance.  The other driver was dumbfounded as the cop just shrugged and let her go saying "if their husband gives them permission they can drive" (evidently it's in the torah).
Also there is the matter of Lakewood only having 3% sales tax while the rest of NJ pays 7%.
Most telling about these news items coming to light is the outrage of the rabbis - not at their tribe's malfeasance, but it getting reported.  They lack a shame gene.  From Winona (Horowitz) Ryder's shoplifting to Bernie Madoff's mega ponzi - among themselves it is to laugh. Swindling is as natural as breathing.  What they can't stand is the goyim knowing.

"... the cop just shrugged..."

Just curious, are these Jews also serving on other types of boards, chambers of commerce or town councils and such, other than local public school boards, to extend their influence? Does the town have a Jewish mayor or town manager?

Another issue is that many fundamentalist Christians are indoctrinated to be very deferential to, and even pedestalize, Jews. These non-Jews are very naive and ignorant to what Jews are capable of doing to society unfortunately.

Sinclair - Why don't you read the articles to find the answers to your questions, rather than just the coments?

I've written that the last two mayors of Lakewood were graduates of the BMG Yeshiva ... and that goes back to 2006! Also, I quoted the American Free Press (2014):

Mayor Menashe P. Miller is an Orthodox Jew, and the boards and committees are filled with people named Meir, Yechiel, Avraham, Moshe and Judah.

But when it comes to law, all city officials are pledged to follow the law.

You're right that what we've seen so far is only scratching the surface. A woman who says she lives about 20 minutes away from Lakewood, wrote to me "it's more than a mess." And that  "non-tribal residents are disgusted with their continual evasion of the law and the filth around them."

It's shocking and wrong that our law enforcement and judicial authorities look the other way simply because they're Jewish and have their own laws. I think they are bought off, and not always with money.

There hasn't been a word written in the media since June 6 ... after that big blast for about a week. It's like someone put a halt to it. This woman said she would keep me posted from the local newspapers, but ... nothing so far.

And yes, so true: it means nothing to them (shame-wise) ... only if we start talking about it. And that's why we should not stay quiet!!!!