Trenton, NJ – Rabbi Mendy Carlebach may have spent Monday celebrating the holiday of Shemini Atzeres but some 36 miles away the Chabad emissary was the subject of testimony at the Bridgegate trial taking place in a federal courthouse in Newark.
Rabbi Carlebach was the subject of multiple text messages between the two main players in the Bridgegate scandal, Bridget Anne Kelly, a former aide to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and David Wildstein, a former senior Port Authoity official, reported The Forward.
Kelly testified on Monday that Rabbi Carlebach, the Chabad shaliach to North and South Brunswick, had a knack for showing up uninvited to official events. After receiving a text from Wildstein saying that he was annoyed by Rabbi Carlebach, Kelly responded saying “we cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?”
That text message has become the subject of interest since its wording is eerily similar to the infamous text Kelly sent to Wildstein just one week earlier saying “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” which seemed to indicate that the massive lane closures at the George Washington Bridge that paralyzed the Fort Lee area were politically motivated.
Kelly told the court that Wildstein typically discussed traffic problems and that the text messages about Rabbi Carlebach were nothing more than lighthearted banter.
The 37 year old Rabbi Carlebach said that he is as mystified by the text messages now as he was when they first surfaced in 2014.
“I still don’t have any idea what they are all about,” Rabbi Carlebach told VIN News. “I don’t know what it was in reference to.”
Rabbi Carlebach said that while he sometimes does attend events in New Jersey, he devotes the vast majority of his time to his work as a Chabad shaliach. He traveled with Christie on a 2012 Israel trip and lit the menorah that same year at an official Chanukah celebration at Drumthwacket, New Jersey’s gubernatorial residence.
“I am busy during the day running the Chabad House at Rutgers, one of the largest in the country. There is not much Gemara, Tosfos and Rashi here. This is all just very silly. There is no deeper explanation than that.”