New York – Lakewood: Let’s Put Things In The Proper Perspective


    FILE - Ezra Friedlander CEO of the Friedlander Group a public policy consulting firm based in NYC and Washington DC. with House Speaker Paul RyanNew York – It’s summertime and once again the headlines are sizzling, this time with unfortunate news from within our own community in Lakewood New Jersey. 

    As always, this forces us to do some soul searching, a ‘cheshbon hanefesh’ if you will, hopefully with positive results. 

    I am not here to comment on the particulars of this specific case or on the alleged misdeeds pertaining to government funded programs.  I’m just offering a fresh perspective.

    Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about the issue at hand, but really isn’t this all about a larger issue?  Isn’t this just a small piece of the bigger conversation about the sustainability of our community?  About creating affordable living , parnassah opportunities, and providing our children with a reasonably priced Torah education? 

    Ultimately, these matters are not for us to decide but for our Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva – our da’as Torah — to guide us.

    My purpose here is to respond to those who criticize and attack the fundamental integrity and trustworthiness of our community.  And to point out how we, the Orthodox Jewish community, contribute to the societies in which we are living.

    In no way am I condoning or justifying any illegal activity or misuse of government funds.  I am merely suggesting that we, the people, have a right to critique how government policies are formulated and how laws are passed when we feel they are not being fair. 

    As a Government Affairs consultant, I often have a front row seat from which I can observe the policy makers at work.  Our laws are not G-d given from Sinai.  They are formulated by mere mortals, and as such are sometimes imperfect and unfair.

    What I find particularly objectionable is the wholesale condemnation and degradation of our community and its infrastructure. 

    It’s an undisputable fact that the Orthodox Jewish community creates a level of vibrancy in every geographic area they inhabit.  We bring with us a flourishing economy in terms of housing, retail, job opportunities, industry, commerce, and investment opportunities.  This is true across the board and the level of wealth and value increases for everyone in the area.

    Yes, there are perhaps those among us who enjoy a sense of entitlement and often allow for overcrowding because of poor planning in developing certain areas.  And yes, there will always be those who bemoan the transformation of rural and peaceful areas with urban density and all the quality life  issues that come along with it.

    But the fact is that demographic changes happen all over. And communities change character.  That’s a fact of life. 

    It’s also a fact that a property bought decades ago for a paltry sum can now be sold for millions in areas where the Orthodox population is growing.  And yet, those who are taking advantage of these opportunities are often the first and the loudest to complain about our community.  At the end of the day, the economic boon to the area is indisputable and benefits everyone in one way or another.

    Now to the issue at hand.  By and large, our community is a net contributor.  What do I mean by that?  For starters, we don’t avail ourselves of public financing for our children’s education.  In the tri-state area alone, hundreds of thousands of children are being educated without costing the taxpayer a dime.  While there are, of course ancillary expenses, mostly in the realm of transportation and special education, in general the burden of paying for our children’s education rests upon us.

    Let’s take this a step further.  We have an endless array of volunteer and non for profit charitable organizations, a huge network of humanitarian aid that reflects our commitment to the most vulnerable in our community.  All of this is being funded privately and not with government funds.  Yet this is never properly acknowledged by government.

    I recall a conversation I once had with Paul Ryan who was then the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and is today the Speaker of the House.  We were engaged in a friendly debate about the SNAP food stamp program. 

    At the time a proposal was being debated to decrease benefits.  I suggested to him that members of our community, by virtue of our lifestyle, are having difficulty making ends meet and many rely on public assistance for sustenance.  I explained how we are a ‘net contributor’ because we don’t take advantage of the public school system. 

    Often government allocates tens of billions of dollars to an aircraft carrier that will never be used, cancelling out any perceived ‘waste’ within social program.  Perhaps they should consider this when deciding whether to direct funding to American families who are struggling to survive but may not be entitled to programs simply because an uninformed Congress has passed legislation that doesn’t make sense

    Today we are faced with condemnation from every segment of society, and the anti semites of the world are smacking their lips with glee.  But as someone who is aware of how public policy is formulated, let me present a different perspective.

    Perhaps it’s time for lawmakers to consider allowing struggling families in a slightly higher bracket to avail themselves of social programs if only because they do not make use of public education and other public services.

    Let’s be more proactive in presenting our arguments.  Let’s put the facts on the table, if only so that we won’t be viewed as an ‘insular’ community whose objective is to ‘rip off’ the government.  Instead, let’s tally up the numbers.  If we consider how many dollars we are contributing to the government, including high property and related taxes, as opposed to how many benefits we are receiving, it paints a whole different picture.  The numbers don’t lie.  They speak for themselves.

    The conversation needs to be revisited, and perhaps a coalition should be built.  Our laws are man-made and that means they can be remade when necessary.  Because right now we are dealing with a very difficult situation where families who are legitimately in need can potentially be in fear of applying for funding. 

    An entire community may now be treated as common criminals based solely on their dress, their zip code, and their appearance because of the negative fallout and the blanket condemnation of many in government and the authorities.  And that’s unfair as well as un-American.

    Government officials are not immune to public perception.  They are out there.  Laws and regulations are passed reflective upon the norms and behaviors of society itself.  What was unacceptable ten years ago in now fashionable, and vice versa.

    We have a fundamental responsibility to engage the opinion makers as well as the man on the street about the inherent goodness of our community.  Let us not cower in fear.  Instead, let us present the truth.  Yes, we are in ‘golus’ and our behavior should reflect that reality.  But we are as American as apple pie and as such we should exercise our rights and engage in the democratic process.

    We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to our community, especially those who are struggling to survive.

    Ezra Friedlander is CEO of the Friedlander Group a public policy consulting firm based in NYC and Washington DC.  He can be reached at Ezra@TheFriedlanderGroup and on Twitter @EzraFriedlander.

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        • “This was an ongoing investigation” That is correct. It was ongoing for over 10 Years. However under the liberal DA in the USA (many of them Liberal Jews, Blacks and other minorities) they were never put it into action. Trump was elected by White Supermacists, Anti-semites etc. (many Yiden voted for Trump) Now The Antisemites are in Power. Hashem Yerachem.

          • Cut the nonsense. Trump’s actions have proven time and time again that he is a ohev yisroel. Stop lying. You guys lied about the vandalism committed by a black and the threats committed by a disturbed Israeli jews, blaming it on the alt-right and you are lying about this too. There is no wide scale Trump anti semtic group just as there was no wide scale Muslim OBama group. Stop your lies and fake news.

            • Cut the nonsense. Stop this Alternate truth narischkeit. Trump is openly trying to cut Medicaid etc. What better way to start than the Jews (First make them look dishonest than…) Interstingly the FBI (Now Trumps FBI started this in Lakewood not in Oklahima, Louisiana, No Dakota, So Carolina, Wyoming, Kansas etc. Are you saying that only the Jews are doing these. he white trash not.

            • Sorry Mr Alternate News, you cant have the cake and it it. You voted for Trump. Lets make the USA Great Again. Drain the swamp. (Not in DC) Lets start it in Lakewood. If you think this is bad wait until they start sending home the illegals from Lakewood. Cleaning ladies, Drivers, Cooks and cleaners in Cheders etc.

        • Many Yiden who are in Kolel collecting Medicaid,Welfare,Food Stamps, Section 8 etc voted for Trump and the Republicans fully understanding that the Republican Party is against all handout. Maybe they were unhappy with their lives and were willing to sacrifice it for the future. Having an Education, good paying jobs is more Tajredig than collecting handouts and sitting in Kollel.

      • “Did we all get conned” This is exactly what was supposed to happen under Trump. Every anti-semite in the USA voted for Trump and now have the jobs to judge us Yiden. Sorry, not to many frumme are qualified to be Prosecutors. On Jan 20 every single District Attorney was fired and replaced by Antisemmites voting and supporting Trump. Now we get what we voted for.

        • Thats pure rubbish. The Trump administration has been great to jews. Even if you choose to hate Trump and despise everything he does or tweets, its time to admit tht this alt-right anti semite Trump theory is complete nonsense and a lie. Trump has appointed Greenbaltt and Kushner. And Haley at the UN has stuck up for Israel far more than the appontiee under obama who refused to veto UN condemnations.
          Its ingrateful on your part to accuse Trump of such nonsense. And I believe this altitude is dangerous. It will only turn Trump off to the point that he will say if they are ingrateful why try. Trump is our friend and you know it.

          • “Pure Rubbish” Alternate facts. Kushner and Greenblatt might be pro Jewish, it doesnt change the facts that all Anti-semitres and Neo-Nazis voted for Trump and they are taking over thousands of jobs at all levels of Govt. Liberal Jews did not vote for Trump. Yeshivah and Kolel guys who voted for Trump are not qualified to take the Jobs of DistrictAttorneys, Prosecutors etc. Old fashioned Antisemites are now running the show. Welcome to Trump world. The frumme who voted for him fully knowing that all Antisemites are for Trump helped to create this

            • Who are all these anti Semites taking over these too offices ? Can you please list them ? ( since I know you’ll lie and claim tillerson is a Texan anti Semite ) , more importantly point to one policy within the trump administration that reflects anti semitism . Are there any anti senetic policies ?

              Sure there are a few anti semeites (or anti Muslims which liberal Jews confuse with anti semitism )But there are as many anti Semetic trump voters as Obamas Muslim and al sharpton YMS kinds .

              Fake news once again

          • “Trump has appointed Kushner and Greenblatt” That is 2 people. . How about the 100.000 jobs he needed to fill to run the Govt. Kolel Chevre are not qualified. Educated Jews are Democrats. White Republican Antisemites got the Jobs. They voted for him so what is the News. Are you trying to convince us that the Anti-Semites voted for Hillary? KKK White Supermacists all voted for Trump. Now they are in power, get used to it.

            • I can’t answer all your five comments as it’s almost Shabbos . But this notion that white supremacists are anti Semites is fake news . It’s nonsense . They are anti Islam and Latinos and believe in a certain Christian identity . They don’t necessarily hate Jews . It’s far more nuanced than you make it or cook it up to be . Sure there are a few haters but not all

              Furthermore that whole movement is pumped by the fake news . How many of those hicks exist out of trumps 60 million or so voters ? Maybe 1000 tops 3000 that make a lot of noise ? To stereotype it as if those are the trump voters is so unsensical .

              And then you cook up some theory that this is all trumps doing ? As if trump orcherastred this Lakewood bust to promote his agenda or bec he is anti Semite? I guess you are the lefts Alex jones . So very sad

              Have a great Shabbos or voch by the time u see this

          • You are ignoring the truth. Trump won with the help of White Supermacist, Antisemites and Lohavdil frumme Yiden. Kushner and Greenblatt are fine Jews and got Great Jobs. Tens of thousands of other Jobs in Prosecution etc went to White Supermacist who voted for him. What better way to drain the swamp than Stop Fraud. What better place to start than Lakewood. Fersteist? It was fully expected.

      • Fakheirt! With Trump, these programs will be cracking down on all those who take benefits illegally. Trump will tighten up the ship and stop all the leaks washing the economy away. (With Hillary it may have been able to continue to be ignored, and with Bernie, the opposite would have come about – expansion of the programs.)
        Trump – Make America Grate Again!

      • “This was not supposed to happen” ???? Every single person in the USA knew it well that Trump and the Republican Party is for taking away from the poor and giving it to the Rich and Super Rich like himself. Not supposed to happen? This is exactly what was supposed to happen. This was a fraud. Unfortunatly the real poor will be suffering soon from Trumps and the republicans cuts to Medicaid, Food stamps etc. Most frumme voted for this to happen. Why is this now a surprise?

    1. Ezra, great point, but not well explained. anyhow, i’ll add to your notion, let’s see if all Jews in Lakewood would move away, how well the economy would be in all the neighbouring communities, it will look like a ghost town, example see how the NY catskills are during winter time.

      there is no doubt the orthodox Jewish community, contributes to society tremendously.

    2. There are major problems with your presentation:

      After all is said and done, at least in the NY/NJ area, we have all known, or have long had substantial reason to know, of the existence of kind of fraud revealed this week. As an attorney who spent some years reviewing and auditing Federal housing programs, and many more years in legislative and regulatory affairs in NJ law enforcement, I may well have a more relevant “front seat” than do you.

      Over the years I have on several occasions heard yungeleit, sons and sons-in-law of friends, boast about how they get on benefit programs…I was once asked by a Rabbi to help facilitate a fraud to get Lakewood yungeleit Section 8 vouchers…a person once asked me a technical housing law question, and in the process casually, as if it were no big deal, explained to me what income she was hiding from HUD…there is no shame in such behavior…it’s all part of a collective, triumphal norm that winks at ripping off a “goyishe” gov’t.

      We can’t play dumb…at some level we all knew about this…and this I am sure applies rabbinical authorities as well. In this context, your piece is a major attempt at inappropriate apologetics.

      • Yes! Just two things are missing from your comment. First, those who would condemn the dishonesty in the name of heaven were condemned themselves until now as negative people and trouble makers. That should also be part of the cheshbon hanefesh. Second, the elephant in the room is the wholesale condemnation by most of the rabbinic figures in the yeshivishe velt of getting a higher secular education or even a technical education in a “goyish” school so as to have the tools to earn a living when the shver, chasune, or other money dries up. Those who do not condemn the anti hishtadlus attitude of the high school mechanchim and beyond are to blame for tolerating such an unrealistic and unhealthy way of life into existence. Enough so enough. Those who point out deficiencies in klal Yisrael before they explode have always been condemned as prophets of doom. Many Nevi’im were killed by Klal Yisrael before Yishaya. It is time for Klal Yisrael to get real and stop quashing the wisdom and attitudes of those who do speak out before the bubbles burst. Cheating the government has been rampant in the yeshivishe and chassidishe communities for years. Why any insider would be surprised, shocked, or traumatized by what we are seeing in the news is absolutely much more surprising.

        • Well said.

          Sometimes things are post facto obvious; what should we expect when a yeshiva education:

          1. Does not teach that we are Americans;
          2. Praises nothing about American society and culture, and in fact denigrates it;
          3. Does not teach any meaningful American history;
          4. Teaches that people who disagree with us, and especially secular Jews, are
          evil or flawed;
          5. Does not teach our children to have respect for other peoples;
          6. Teaches that “all Goyim hate us;” and
          7. Denigrates work…the old joke, imitating a Medrish, that has Lakewood rejecting the Torah because they can’t accept shesheis yomim t’avod doesn’t come from nowhere.

          What is not simple is that the kollel system may owe its continued existence to abuses of public benefit programs.

          This entire episode has done more harm to Jews everywhere than anything else I remember…caused by (a) “frum” people who publicly display all the superficial accoutrements of piety, and (b) people like Ezra Friedlander who act as their apologists.

          For the sake of the Klal, the fraudsters should be shunned. But it’ll never happen; their Rabbis treat skirt length as a more serious issue. Shameful.

      • You left out a vital other point.

        Programs are addictive. They discourage people from working or moving up the ladder. At the same token since so much money is at stake, if people earn even just a little over the legal limit they are tempted to cheat. And then it becomes a culture whereby this year I earned just a drop over but next year I earned tons over and cheat.

        What it all boils down to is people get addicted to free stuff. Most are honest and just will play within the rules. They will ensure that they never work hard enough to make over the limit. Why should they work hard and earn less. Others will take it a step further and cheat.

        You seem to miss the point. Its the free stuff or Johnson’s failed war on poverty that is the cause. This leads to income inequality and cheaters. The solution is to put an end to all these free stuff.

    3. So, Mr. Friedlander, You’re “merely suggesting that we, the people, have a right to critique how government policies are formulated and how laws are passed when we feel they are not being fair.” I pose the following rhetorical question to you: Can you tell me what can be more fair than a government that allows people to drink at the government trough, with all types of programs, even to those that take on a deliberate policy not to earn a livelihood and instead depend on the generosity of the government.? This lifestyle is culturally encouraged and those that refuse to follow it and are looked upon negatively. Yes, Mr. Friedlander, it very fair to those who partake of it, but it’s very unfair to the those of us who work and pay our taxes.

    4. Ezra Friedlander’s article totally misses the point and exposes a dangerous and most harmful attitude that is prevalent amongst all too many. Articles like these take the focus away from what must really be worked on and risk make these type of shenanigans all the more common.

      Some of the highest rates of poverty and government assistance are in Williamsburg, Monroe, and Lakewood so the argument that our community is a great economic contributor as opposed to a takers is highly questionable. Yet even if one would accept Mr. Friedlander’s point it must be made abundantly clear that this is no way justifies stealing and cheating. If one wants to try to get the government to change the rules fine, but it is highly unlikely that any politician would be in favor of changing eligibility requirements tailored to a very specific group so that their children can attend private school. This is all the more so when home values in our neighborhoods are way above the national average and somehow people in our community end up purchasing them.

      The response to this scandal must be inward looking. We must stop the attitude that government is going to provide for us. Mr. Friedlander’s approach

    5. So the solution is to rally in Washington for more funding? Who should we pay to do that? Hhmmm maybe Ezra Freidlander? Ezra, these arrests have nothing to do with the allocation of government funds. The issue here is theft plain and simple. Commititting fraud because our tax dollars aren’t allocated properly does not justify anybody’s misgivings. Ezra your comments are clearly to boost your own ego in an attempt to divert funds to your own pocket. Ezra you don’t fight for the people you are a lobbyist that collects fees to push your “paid” clients agendas and to rally support for politicians in the frum community on Election Day. You are an opportunist that prays on the fears within the frum community. You will push any agenda if it would result in “consulting” fees. Quit misguiding people for your own personal greed.

    6. Ezra, your tryign to argue a good point, however not in this case of Lakewood, these people who were arrested as far I can tell just by reading the Gov. documents had good business with nice incomes, but were greedy to game the system , so what’s your point?

    7. Step 1: Register all Jewish kids in public school.
      Step 2: offer to take them back to a Jewish school under a public funding for the secular studies and they come out school learning a trade.
      Step 3: Get all (who can afford) off public assistance; all “extra” money saved from tuition will go to “reimburse” people for the programs they are no longer on, and for Limmudei Kodesh in the schools.

    8. This article was not at all objective; it minimized the roll of frum people involved in fraud, regarding governmental benefits. It just swept that problem under the rug.

    9. Ezra told us to vote for Hillary, but once Trump won plays the card that he is fighting for the frum. His wife works for the most radical non-minority councilmember Brad Lander.

    10. Poorly written for a govt consultant.
      Sounds a bit like you’re rationalizing THEFT.
      Cut the garbage — many in our community feel above the law. It’s time to stop.
      It’s a medina of chesed. That doesn’t mean we get to rip the govt off — and make others including in our own community foot the bill.

    11. I have one request, since Ezra is talking about changing laws.
      We should all work on tax brackets depending on per capita income, not total family income. So a large family with a somewhat higher income shall be taxed accordingly.

    12. So blame the government that is the first government in the history of the world to take from its treasury and support people who learn full time because it should help more people.

      Bring a bunch of erroneous and largely irrelevant points such as us bringing wealth wherever we settle to distract from the main issue and somehow claim that the trade off for bad behavior is worth it for everyone.

      My only surprise is that it took so many paragraphs till the word “anti-semite” appeared. OK, so government laws are not from Sinai and are therefore optional, the government should help more people, everyone benefits from having Jewish neighbors and we can generalize in our yeshivas about blacks, Muslims and goyim in general but don’t anyone paint us with a broad brush

      Got it.

    13. Thank you Ezra,
      Very nice very true.
      Very Sad that a family of 5 in the orthodox community making a nice middle class income, “Almost” makes ends meet.
      About time the Ppl out there working hard 10 hour days Should be able to cover his month comfortably. Note a lot of the good hardworking ppl are living within their means.

      Question: This being the fact that Government assistance is not being distributed fairly, if one were to accept the assistance and is not qualified,
      Is this Not Timtum Halev?
      is this not serving our children treif?
      Shouldn’t our Dass Toira encourage the people to have emuna and betochon and try to make it work so not to jeopardize the essence of our kids?
      Just a thought, with no hate at all to our brothers and sisters who are living True Honest Admirable lives.
      Like Ezra said “The Net amount we contribute to society is Great”
      Thank you
      Good Shabbos

    14. Logistically and legally the proposal seems untenable. The proposal sounds like defining classes of different groups who will be assigned to “you don’t use public schools” group and others to “you do use public schools” group. No way to make that work. And clearly any definition that pretty-well applies to any particular religion will rightly face constitutional challenges. . And the bad publicity from such an attempt would make the current incidents seems like a hero’s welcome.

    15. It is extremely difficult to explain how wrong you all are, when comments are limited to 1200 characters. My comment must therefore be short and to the point.

      I know some of those arrested and I would sooner believe that Rav Dovid Feinstein Shlita smokes cigars on Shabbos than to believe that this couple is guilty of any wrongdoing. The charges that were made are completely bogus. The U.S. attorney cherry picked facts and omitted crucial evidence that completely exonerated the accused. For example, it was not made public that Medicaid had indeed been informed of their newly earned income, but it took Medicaid over a year to process that information. And that’s just a tiny fraction of the true story.

      Some people falsely claim that frum people are just more ethically challenged than say, Bernie Madoff, and they needed to be made an example of. I say the frum people were falsely charged because of their limited resources, and they are low hanging fruit. Everybody believes the worst about frum Jews, because that justifies there own personal moral deficiencies.

      I could write a full article about how these hapless people were wronged, but I’ve just reached my character allotment.

      • Wow! You must be on an inside track, privy to information that the state and federal prosecutors are not! It must be very comfortable in your reality.

    16. I have issues with people who in the good old days when it was easier lived off the fat of the land with all the benefits and were able to save money to be able to buy a home by living in section 8 and today they’re running their mouth.second thing those who actually have fat wallet a big bank accounts and or playing games . Unfortunately I am myself make just above The bracket and I’m struggling to survive with my family extremely painful

    17. With all due respect to Reb Ezra:

      “Ultimately, these matters are not for us to decide but for our Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva – our da’as Torah—to guide us”

      If that is what you are waiting for, then good luck!

    18. Ezra you going in a complete opposite direction.
      we are talking here about people who have Hundreds of Thousands of dollars under LLC companies and taking away the government dollars from those people you are advocating for….when the Section 8 program runs out of funds for a particular zip code then the poorest who need them are not entitled to subsidies because of NO more slots available.
      Girls can NOT get married in Lakewood unless the girls parents promise 10 years support…From where should they take it?…
      Let those Rabunim and Gedolei hador change the attitude towards those boys that they should go to work like every other chasidishe yingerman does.
      Bottom line as my grandmother used to say: Ess Shtinked fin KUP….

    19. Ezra, you missed the main point. The government’s programs are just not compatible with our old fashioned value lifestyle. They are designed for a lifestyle where people spend their twenties building an education and a career then establishing a family in their mid to late thirties with both spouses working and having just 1.8 children. (Im not even talking about not incurring high lifestule costs such as private tuition etc…)

      Because of our value system we just cannot postpone marriage and children. Nor can both spouses work in most cases. Add to that our higher costs of housing, food, education, etc… and you have an unworkable system.

      The math for qualifying for engorgement benefits is also totally flawed. As an example, a couple earning 14,499.00 can qualify for medicaid. But if they earn 14,500 they are expected to buy health insurance at a cost of 22,800 per year, plus they have to deal with out of pocket deductibles copays dental etc.. It just doesnt make sense.

    20. A long article rationalizing the flabby morality of so many in the ‘frum’ community, which is decadent in its unique way. They live in fancy-shmancy areas but claim poverty; so many healthy boys don’t work; they hate the USA but take subsidies like hot cakes; they evade taxes by claiming their homes are ‘shuls’. Rationalize that…

    21. basically what ezra is arguing in one sentence is:
      we jews pay into the government more then we get so therefore you are entitled to Ganve from them…Hagoynef min haganef..Putter

    22. I would like to address this one point:
      “Ultimately, these matters are not for us to decide but for our Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva – our da’as Torah—to guide us”
      These same rabbonim/RYs are the ones who created this monster. They are the ones who converted out frum education system into the joke that it is today because they want every young man to park his behind in kollel and live off shver/government while BMG rakes in millions (If you don’t believe me, ask Aaron Kotler how he gets to vacation in Hawaii, take yearly ski trips to Utah, etc)
      Because of them, the boys come out of high school with a terrible secular education. In turn, this same issue is what has created our well known shidduch crisis. Many boys are not the talmidei chachomim they claim they are. They are immature. The divorce rate is soaring (please dont compare with goyim and modern orthodox, its not the same). And it all stems from the life style demanded by rabbonim/RYs. Yeah yeah, spare me the “mevayez talmidei chachomim” line.
      if they can screw up so badly, I can comment on it.

      • My friends who are lawyers only wanted shvers who can put them thru law school as well. It has nothing to do with kollel. It has to do with our general spoiled mentality. Sorry you have your facts mixed up.

    23. Ezra,
      If a certain segment of the community who don’t drive, but takes the bus to the post office and notice parking spaces there, which they volunteer not to use. Are they allowed to rob the post office because they are saving the post office from putting in more parking spaces? I don’t get your point!
      How about the Post office has a lot of waste, so we can cheat them out of a stamp??

      • No, they are not allowed to rob the post office. However, if they contributed to the building of the parking lot they can never use, contributed more than people who drive, they are not out of line to ask for redress.

    24. Mr. Friedlander, you are off the mark. Do you seriously believe that “an aircraft carrier that will never be used, cancels out any perceived ‘waste’ within social program.” This is apples and oranges, an illogical comparison. If there is such a thing (and there isn’t) as an “unused” aircraft carrier, it would surely be deterring evil enemies of the US from attacking us. Similarly, the government and our tax dollars pay for numerous things that keep us safe and allow us to live freely as Jews in America. Or what about the National Institutes of Health? Do you think its budget is waste? It supports the medical research that enhances our health and prolongs lives. The underlying implication of your piece is that we need more government welfare programs because of our lifestyle. Nonsense. We need to learn to be self-sufficient. Our “problems” paying tuition, paying for big families, etc, are our problems, not the problem of the government. If this latest Chilul Hashem does anything, maybe it will finally spur on our rabbinic leadership to encourage us to live within our means, honestly, and to educate our children so they can have successful parnassa.

      • ” maybe it will finally spur on our rabbinic leadership to encourage us to live within our means”
        the rabbonim are rabbonim, not leaders. Not one Rav in Lakewood has leadership qualifications. I have total respect for their torah knowledge but that does not make one a leader. Thats also why they cannot deal with child molesters, wife beaters, etc. Much easier to blame the victim.

      • Off-topice, but important: my understanding is that the only people in the Navy who value aircraft carriers are those whose careers depend on them, and that everyone else feels they’re huge wastes of money.

    25. I would like Mr. Friedlander to present numbers. How much taxes are collected in Lakewood and how much is received in benefits. He says the numbers don’t lie. Where are the numbers?

    26. What about secular people who have no children and pay taxes? The government saves money on public education . Should they also be entitled to steal ?

    27. > An entire community may now be treated as common criminals based solely on their dress, their zip code, and their appearance because of the negative fallout and the blanket condemnation of many in government and the authorities.

      No, Ezra, the community may now be treated as criminals because some (arguably many) ARE indeed criminals, and this reinforces the worst of Jewish stereotypes. Make a chillul hashem and the entire community suffers.

    28. Sorry Ezra but a little humility is in order here. Let’s heed JFK’s saying and feel grateful that we live in a safe country where we can practice our religion openly!!! Unfortunately, public assistance is a given and not looked askance when young people get married. We have no busha! Just look at the picture of the frum women who got arrested wearing sheets around their prison issued scrubs. I could just imagine the conversation with the CO.

    29. Very nice article – trying to sugarcoat the HUGE CHILUL HASHEM that these crooks have committed. Do they not realize that their actions harm all Jews no matter where they may be?

    30. You are not puting things in perspective. You are making excuses for gneivah and sheker. If you want to argue that the government should offer more support than it does that’s fine but don’t do it in an article about people arrested for fraud.

    31. Totally irrelevant, Ezra. You make a point that intends us to look away from abuses of the system.
      Not unlike a magician who has the audience looking at one hand while the other is doing dirty deeds.
      Total distraction. You’re better than this.

    32. This is an appalling article. Friedlander is peddling drivel. He is saying “it all works out” because there is a net plus or gain. In this self-justifying masa u’matan — the the truth gets sacrificed. Being a Jew is about being true.– not about some net gain. what rationalizing blather is friedlander up to? A krumer tzugang!

    33. #4 you summarized it.
      Just want to add is why , oh why, do people have to “ask the rabbi” about how to deal with this crises? The rabbonim are included in those responsible for these crimes. I suggest that we all try real hard to figure out what to do without asking the rabbonim

    34. By the way everyone – especially Uneducated Archie – nothing in this story has anything whatsoever to do with Trump or partisan politics. It is about a problem in our community that is decades old.

    35. This is the biggest piece of written garbage I’ve ever read and just goes to support everyone’s negative feelings for the community. First, this community is not a contributor to society, they only contribute to themselves. This was purely evidenced by the shopping plaza that canceled bc they were afraid the “goyim” would open stores and shop there.

      Ezra all this article does it try to justify theft in the name of religion. Just as the Lakewood community used their religion to justify every other act they commit. One of the families that was arrested had an income of 1.9million dollars and yet they stole almost 200 thousand from the government. If what Ezra says is true and these higher class families can’t live off 1.9 million then maybe the way the Jewish community lives and budgets themselves should be rewritten NOT THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT LAWS AND POLICIES!

      • You are very mistaken, as will become clear to all as the case unfolds. I assume your sources are not documentary – and surely you are not objective, as your opening line makes clear as well.

    36. Whitewash. Gibberish. Mr. Friedlander takes the position that the best defense is a good offense. He defends thievery and, ultimateldy, chilul Hashem, as long a tbe community as whole contributes to society. A warped value system.


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