Lakewood, NJ – Jewish Leaders’ Vaad Sees Clout Diminish On Political, Development Issues

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    Hershel Herskowitz (pictured), was an unknown until the Lakewood Scoop began posting his videoed and written diatribes against the establishment, Herskowitz is largely credited for breaking up the establishment.Lakewood, NJ – For a man who had lived here only one year, Bill Hobday felt remarkably secure as a candidate for Township Committee in early 2002. He already had Republican Party backing and faced no opponent in the June primary.

    The only matter left was a meeting … a courtesy, he thought … with local Orthodox Jewish leaders who called themselves the Vaad.

    Hobday wasn’t prepared for what followed. Within a week of that interview, the Vaad issued a newsletter telling the Jewish community to write in another candidate’s name on Election Day, that of 28-year-old Air Force chaplain Menashe Miller. The bulletin was headlined, “We MUST Knock Out Bill Hobday!!!”

    Five days later, 3,732 ballots were cast for Miller, defeating Hobday by a 60 percent margin. It was one of only a handful of times in Ocean County history that a write-in challenger ousted an official candidate in a municipal election.

    “I was unfamiliar with the power structure here,” said Hobday, now 68. “It was a terrible shock to us.”

    Scroll forward eight years to 2010, and it’s the Vaad that’s now experiencing a jolt … one so intense a local official likened it to an “Orthodox Tea Party” backlash.

    Known as a potent political force able to steer entire voting blocs, this body of rabbis, businessmen and government liaisons was unable in recent months to muster enough Orthodox community support for its most established darling.

    In this bubble of rigid customs and clear hierarchies, a consensus has formed that the grip of the old order is slipping as technology and new thinking take hold.

    It is struggling, they say, to keep up with an expanding Orthodox population as fresh voices speak out and the economy shifts personal priorities.

    “We’re at a point where the community has minds of its own and does not just follow recommendations without understanding them,” Vaad member Avrohom Moshe Muller said. “It puts us in a different position.”

    Some Lakewood leaders argue that a splintered Orthodox constituency may hurt the town’s influence at the state level. Others see the diminished leadership role as a healthy swing toward an open political system.

    Continue reading at The Asbury Park Press

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    11 COMMENTS

    1. Most of us would be in favor of an informed daas Torah serving to guide us in our political clout in the voting booth. Speaking for myself, I have grown to distrust such efforts. They have evolved into mini political parties with specific self interests that may often not jive with those of the constituencies and even with morality. We have all observed efforts to push through a candidate specifically for the handouts of money, in the face of other positions that are detrimental to the frum community. What I would expect as the direction that serves Torah best has been redefined as that which serves yeshivos best. And I have not seen this addressed by our gedolim from the position of having complete information. This dilemma exists in Eretz Yisroel, and is to be found all over America, especially where there are strong concentrations of frum populations. How would such a vaad decide on a candidate that would sell Israel down the river but would extend funding for vouchers, or other monies that benefit yeshivos? The perception is that money talks, and louder than any other issue. Are we joining the ranks of those who are swayed by single issue politics?

    2. perhaps this will bring in some normalacy to lakewood for to long a small click has run it its politics its government as their own people are tired and want tolerance brought back what they old guard is learning is that as more people move in with little connection to the yeshiva they are lossing power

    3. Its a shame but every vaad is known to have their own interest in mind forgetting about the rest. Whether they’re other yidden or even goyim living amongst them, they are totally ignored except when it comes to taxes and tzedaka. I don’t know if this hershkowitz is another one which has his own agenda but from experience it seems that just about anyone loud enough to speak out has been that way. We need a system where the individual should be picked from those which are simply people which have always been Moser Nefesh to help the Tzibur. Unfortunately, those with the money and power running just about everything from wall street to walmart, would never allow such a thing.

    4. Ackerman, please ask the defunkt Vaad “not to endorse” just let them fade into oblivion. If you their endorsement, you’ll lose votes from the ones that looking the Emmes.

      You only want to be endorsed by the taxpayers, which of course the Vaad represents the exempts & their own pockets.

    5. The only Halacha approved method to represent a TZIBUR is by having free elections by the taxpayers (porei-mass) and electing a “Tuvei”. The time is now. Rav Eliyashev Shlita has recently asked The Lakewood Kolel Choshen Mishpat to set up a Bais-Din for such elections.

    6. It took the people of lakewood a while to figure out that the so called Vaad is corrupt , change is finally coming to Lakewood ! I yearn for the day when True daas Torah will dictate our daily lives not a few power hungry individuals. A tremendous Yashar koach is owed to R hershel hershkowitz for opening our eyes !

    7. As a non-American, I have never seen so many Rabbis trying to influence how people vote. Politics have NO place on the bimah. If people cannot figure out who they should vote for then your country is in a very sad position. The right to vote is a precious one and not available everywhere – a vote should only be cast after studying the issues and making an informed decision. If a person cannot do that, then they should stay home on election day. One’s vote should never be for sale nor should anyone’s Rabbi be coaching them on political issues.

    8. B’ezrat HaShem this should also happen in Passaic.

      For years, the “Da’as Torah” of Passaic, i.e. a certain Rosh Yeshiva; a certain School Menahel; and the pulpit Rabbis, have been endorsing certain candidates for re-election year after year after year. And what do the ba’al ha-batim receive? A 75% increase in real estate taxes over the past 10 years; reduced services; and a severe drop in the quality of life in the Orthodox areas.

      And when the “Da’as Torah” is inquired as to perhaps new leaders should be elected, their response is a defintive “No!”.

      It’s time for Passaic’s “Da’as Torah” to stick to Halachic matters and allow the Frum community to make decisions about politics on their own!

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