An Open Letter to our Jackson Neighbors:
To our dear Jackson neighbors, I feel that it is my personal duty, as a member of the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish Community, to protest a gross misrepresentation of our community as a whole, and Judaism in general. Considering that our Jackson neighbors may not be familiar with Shlomie Klein and his cohorts, I feel obligated to debunk some of the more ridiculous and egregious accusations and misrepresentations that Mr. Klein recently made against all of us in the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish Community at a recent Jackson Township Committee meeting.
Klein began his speech tamely enough by insinuating that all of Jackson residents are being labeled as anti-Semites and that it is very understandable and reasonable for Jackson residents not to want members of the Lakewood Orthodox Community to move to Jackson.
To paraphrase Klein’s statements: “So, regarding the takeover of this town…if I would be an Orthodox Jew living in Jackson and the gentiles are coming in and taking over, I wouldn’t like it and nobody would like it and I assume that nobody in Jackson Township likes it. But because you don’t like it you are all being labeled as anti-Semites…. the facts on the ground is that you are
taking the beautiful people of Jackson and labeling them anti-Semites because they don’t like the influx from Lakewood…not necessarily [if] they don’t like some of the changes that are happening in their community do they have to say, oh, thank you very much [and just accept it].”
Mr. Klein then raised the stakes and made assertions that can make your hair stand on edge. To quote Klein as closely as I can: “As an Orthodox Jew, the law, and some sages say you can do it, you are allowed to bribe public officials; including Zoning Board members, Planning Board members, and Council members. Now, this is very important: If an Orthodox Jew sees someone bribing an official, and he goes and reports it – in Siman 388 [it] says that it is a mitzvah to kill him. You have to kill him. He is a moser, that’s what it’s called.” Klein then added, “That’s the reason why in Lakewood there’s corruption—because you have two factors. Religious law [says] you are able to do it and under religious law, if you do it you just get threatened with your life. So it is a recipe for corruption to be able to thrive.”
I will address Klein’s deranged rant with the following points.
- No, the Orthodox Community does not consider all Jackson residents to be anti-Semites. We want to be
- friendly neighbors!
- No, it is not acceptable for anyone to stop an Orthodox Jewish family from moving to Jackson.
- No, Judaism does not sanction bribing government officials. Period.
- No, Judaism does not sanction the killing of any other person; Jew or non-Jew
To our dear Jackson neighbors: I hope you will recognize a troublemaker’s rant for what it is. Klein does not represent anyone other than himself. He does not speak for anyone in the Orthodox Jewish Community. He is doing everyone a disservice by constantly searching for ways to stir the pot.
To be clear, the Jewish families that are moving to Jackson do not want high density housing either. They are looking for tranquil neighborhoods to raise their families—just like you. A smarter strategy is for the entire population in Jackson to work together to pursue peace, prosperity and happiness.
Ari Berkowitz – Lakewood resident, member of the Jewish community, and Jackson’s friend and neighbor.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of GreaterLakewood.