New Jersey – Lakewood Arrests Prompts Hundreds To Gather To Learn More About Government Regulations


    Lakewood, NJ – Over 1,000 men and women filled the Fountain Ballroom on Vassar Avenue in Lakewood for the largest ever Lakewood community event to guide locals regarding the intricacies of tax law and regulations of various family support programs.

    This unprecedented standing-room-only turnout at the symposium, which is the latest step in the extended “Community Conversations Series,” underscored how the Lakewood community’s grassroots and leadership have joined forces to promote maximum compliance with the law and an adherence to the principles of ethics at every step. The success of this event was a result of the coordinated efforts of The Lakewood Vaad, Agudath Israel’s New Jersey office, the Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC) and the Lakewood Community Services Corporation (LCSC). The Lakewood Police Department and Chaveirim worked together seamlessly on security and logistical coordination.

    Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg, President of the LCSC and member of The Lakewood Vaad, chaired the symposium. He warmly welcomed attendees and thanked the high level presenters for taking the time and effort to guide and encourage the Lakewood community amidst much confusion. He led the recitation of Tehillim on behalf of a refuah for Chaim ben Rochel Leshkowitz, the noted CPA and tax attorney who was originally scheduled to present at this event but unfortunately suffered a medical episode several days ago. Tehillim was followed by the Tefillah of “Acheinu Kol Bais Yisroel.”

    The Lakewood Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Dovid Schustal shlit”a, delivered opening remarks, expounding upon the beracha that our blossoming Torah community has merited over the decades. Rav Schustal stressed America’s status as a benevolent nation and the importance that his father in law, the Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Shneur Kotler zt”l, placed upon the need for full honesty and transparency when it comes to benefitting from public funds.  “Dina D’malchusa Dina and ehrlichkeit, along with bitachon in Hashem, brings beracha,” the Rosh Yeshiva exclaimed. “There are many ways how Hashem can provide beracha to a family.”

    A visibly pained Rabbi Weisberg decried the vicious anti-Semitism that the Lakewood community has endured in recent weeks, when much of the mainstream media and social media has been filled with venom and even calls for violence against Jews. Rabbi Weisberg pointed to the large, attentive crowd that has gathered to raise the bar of ethics and legal compliance as a clear testimony to how false those stereotypes are. Rabbi Weisberg concluded by voicing the unequivocal dedication that the Roshei Yeshiva and various community askanim, and entities such as The Lakewood Vaad and LRRC, have for each individual in the community. “This is not the time for fright,” he stressed. “We are here to guide you and assist you in any way we can.”

    One of the nation’s leading white collar defense attorneys and former Assistant US Attorney Mark Harris Esq. of Proskauer Rose LLP shared his perspectives on legal compliance. He touched upon various principles, particularly the need to act in good faith and keep clear records of all financial transactions. One key aspect of “good faith” is to consult with a professional throughout the applications and renewal process, and at every other point necessary. He marveled at how fortunate Lakewood is to have an agency like the LRRC, which has a staff of experts who are familiar in all these areas, and is equipped to answer questions in an efficient manner.

    In the month of June alone, the LRRC answered the questions of nearly 3,000 residents. On every seat at the symposium was a packet of clear, concise LRRC brochures detailing the guidelines and frequently-asked-questions related to a host of major programs. (These are also available at the LRRC office.) Attendees were urged to call the LRRC hotline at any time, at 732-942-9292.

    Zachariah Waxler, Partner at Roth and Company CPA firm, expounded upon the concept of income for both tax and social program purposes. The burden falls upon the taxpayer/beneficiary to prove that a particular deposit or paid expense is not truly income. In the event of an investigation, authorities typically will examine all applicable expenses, including tuition, and will demand written records for everything from work and business logs, to loan repayment agreements. Mr. Waxler reiterated the importance of meticulous record keeping.

    Rabbi Avi Schnall, Director of Agudath Israel’s New Jersey office, informed the audience that in the weeks ahead there will be additional resources made available to community members to ask questions related to their personal situations. This will include the opportunity for community members to hold brief consultations with noted professionals, who have committed to help the community on a pro bono basis.  It was announced that appointment requests for professional consultations can be made via text message, at 732-806-5516; please specify the area of expertise you are looking for.

    Rabbi Schnall then moderated the key highlight of the symposium, a panel of professionals that answered various frequently asked questions. The panel consisted of Mr. Harris; Mr. Shea (Abe) Roth CPA, Founder of Roth and Company; Mr. Waxler CPA; and Mr. Menachem (Mark) Berkowitz, LNHA, COO of CHEMED Health Center. The panel discussed income criteria and reporting requirements for various programs, as well as topics such as tuition, barter, deductions, rental income, seasonal businesses, new businesses and profit and loss reports. The most important advice offered was that each personal situation, and each program’s regulations, are different. A knowledgeable professional must be consulted.

    Throughout the hall, attendees listened intently and took notes, and assessed how the details discussed relate to their personal family situations. Every individual learned lots of pertinent information and, perhaps more importantly, clarified the questions they need to ask. By the time the event was over, organizers, and the LRRC in particular, already fielded hundreds of requests for follow up questions and professional consultations. Additional details about these resources will be publicized.

    The symposium and the follow-up it encouraged are an incredible Kiddush Hashem. “This is a testament to what kind of community we are – honest and sincere,” Rabbi Schnall observes. “We will continue working together to provide valuable information and resources through the continuing ‘Community Conversations Series.’”


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    1. Simple solution guy the welfare state, get jobs, have less kids. Problem solved. Ditto for the ghetto and the barrio and definitely in mosques.

    2. It sounds like they were getting lessons on how to stay dependent on gov’t programs. They should be told to not rely on other taxpayers hard earned money and try to fend for yourself.

      • Yonasonw sees no problem with LBJ’s great society and war on poverty. This is the nature of govt programs. The logic is why work hard if I can earn more working easily. And obama expanded that concept.

    3. “when much of the mainstream media ….has been filled with venom and even calls for violence against Jews” – If we go this route nothing then will be learned from this sorry episode. It’s time to stop this paranoid nonsense. R’Weisberg should know better and not throw around wild baseless accusations that play into the hands of those trying to play the victim card. Mainstream media is not filled with venom against Jews and has never called for violence against Jews. Comments on a website are not mainstream media.

      • When it’s the biggest web sites in Ocean County then for all intensive purposes, it is mainstream media. And yes, those web sites did cause more vitriol for Jews than there already is by skewing a lot of facts and posting incorrect data.

        Don’t get me wrong… I live in Lakewood and am completely embarrassed by recent events as these are our brothers.

        I was laid off a few months ago (have a new job now) and I didn’t go on or apply for any programs… It’s not something I wanted to be associated with or a crutch I wanted to use. Gave me a bit more urgency to get out and find another job. I wasn’t exactly in the same position as many of these people as I was able to live without it and didn’t have the same desperation, but that extra money sure would have helped.

          • I’m #11

            I understand that. When you say that who these programs are intended for, that is true. The issue is, while getting this temporary relief a person can get very comfortable with it and it may be hard to let go of once a person gets a job… Most of these people I’m sure did not intend to go and rip off the government – It’s a a gradual process where a person gets more and more comfortable. I didn’t want to fall in to that trap or put myself in to a situation where I would need to resist temptation.

            Fyi, most of the recent attention was not from people who are in kolel, but things like this are nothing new… the anti-yeshiva people will always have an agenda and paint whatever picture suits them & their agenda. I am not and never was in kolel, but I can assure you that their “job” is more difficult then both yours and mine. I am envious of them, but it’s not the same envy that half the people on this board feel – my envy doesn’t lead to hate, quite the contrary.

            • Most people who truely look at it as you do and only use it when out of a job don’t fall into the trap.

              These guys caught while no longer in yeshiva, got used to it because while in yeshiva they were on it. They never held a formal job and just lost their legs. True even they did not intend to rip off the government but they intedned to be on it for the long term, which leads to ripping off the government as you use it for something you are accustomed to.

              I respect your honesty but I get a feeling that you would not have fallen into the trap and probably should have taken those programs.

            • There you go labeling those who voice critiscm as being anti kollel and haters. Shame on you. I have been zocheh to be in kollel for many years and it is obvious that the system needs some serious change. And no, learning in kollel (where accountability is usually minimal) is not necessarily a harder job than working.

        • The Asbury Park Press has not produced antisemetic content or called for violence against Jews nor has it skewed relevant data. The APP gave ample coverage to Rabbi Weisberg and the Vaads response. The APP ran an article covering this gathering. There coverage is pretty accurate even if it sometimes unfortunately portrays us in a bad light. Its time to stop blaming the media and start taking responsibilty for our society. Enough with this constant paranoid nonsense.

        • It is not so easy to get on “programs”.

          You may have been eligible for unemployment and since this is an insurance policy that you pay premiums into while employed, you should collect from this program when you are umemployed.

          Many States have frozen Medicaid benefits due to lack of funds and new recipients cannot get Medicaid.

          Also those who have earned above poverty level in the previous year, are usually not entitled to Medicaid. In an emergency situation, Medicaid might make an exception.

          If you have any savings or assets (ie. a car) you might also not be entitled to Welfare, Food Stamps or Medicaid depending upon your state’s laws.

          Welfare, Section 8 housing, Food Stamps and Medicaid are not programs that provide “a little extra money” or a “crutch”.

          These benefits are designed to prevent the truly impoverished from starving to death or to help the truly destitute and homeless get housing.

    4. Why wasn’t there enough time for the professionals to address the participants?
      It’s orchestrated that by the vaad, lrrc, Weisberg etc.
      So first went the tilim (which is said in yeshiva by every tefillah)
      Then came the Mussar shmuez from Reb Dovid, etc.
      All on the expense of not allowing the professionals sufficient time to address the participants-
      Shame again on them.
      The Vaad, Igud, etc, don’t care to mislead the oilum, for their own financial benefits.

      • You and all the other low lives who came out of the woodwork to bashmutz all Yidden are going to have to answer for your terrible aveiros. This is exactly why the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, and even during the three weeks, you don’t eVen know enough to stop your Lashon hara and stop accusing others of sinning when you are clearly sinning yourself…feh you disgust me.

    5. Must get rid of the “fake askonim” Vaad, Igud moisdois, Weisberg, etc.
      They are causing all of Lakewood’s problems.
      The fox is guarding the hen house.
      Everyday more hens are eatin alive.

    6. Unfortunately, this is all for show. The Lakewood community would not be able to function or even exist without government handouts. When you have so many men not working and so many mouths to feed there is no alternative than to commit fraud. Homes are owned by nominees so that the residents may qualify for Section 8 benefits as tenants. Income is understated so that they qualify for food stamps. Fraud is the business model. That’s the reality. If the Lakewood leadership really wanted to do yosher they would have educated the residents about the law years ago. This is only damage control. Once the pressure is off they will go back to doing what they do best. Geneivishe shtick.

      • You couldn’t possibly know that what you’re saying is true for everyone, with the hateful generalization you just made. Do Teshuva. You should be giving crEdit to everyone how showed up there and to the organizers and presenters instead of spreading Lashon hara about all the Jews in Lakewood. People like you are more harmful to our community than the goyim are.

        • Unfortunately, I do know what I am talking about. I am a practicing attorney in NY for the past 45 years. I represent chassidic Jews. I have never, I said never, represented a chassidic Jew who was yosher in business dealings. I have fired clients who have taken liberties with the law. I have been asked to put Lakewood property in my name and rent it out to a Yeshiva family, the beneficial owner, who would then get Section 8 benefits.. My father, A”H, a talmid of Rav Aharon Kotler,zt”l, Rav Elchonon Wasserman, HY’D and Rav Boruch Ber Lebovitz, zt”l, called most of the yeshivaleit in Lakewood “laydegayers”. Rav Frand once said:” there is only one mitzvah in the Torah, וְלֹ֤א תְחַלְּלוּ֙ אֶת־שֵׁ֣ם קָדְשִׁ֔י. Every other mitzvah in the Torah is to protect against Chillul Hashem.” The Lakewood community’s leadership’s failure to educate and police its residents is a Chillul Hashem.

      • The reason you’re a self proclaimed “wannabe” and not a real Gadol is because of the Lashon hara you just wrote about Klal Yisroel in your post.

    7. I certainly do not follow the local media as closely as others may. That being said, the Orthodox community has come into the spotlight of late for a number of crimes. It is not antisemitism to report on crimes and criminals. Many non-Jews (like me) know little of the Orthodox and I am sure some say dumb things. Even that is more ignorance than hate.

      • There have been several local anti-semitic incidents here in Lakewood. Besides for the incidents reported locally, I personally know of a few people who have been subject to it.

        You are correct in that when the incidents are reported in the local media it’s not anti-semitic, but when the media reports involve incorrect data or skewed information, it’s a problem. People in the comment section there are taking that info and using it to bash all Jews. These sites are getting the exact reaction they intended. These sites also have the ability to moderate these comments, yet some of the comments are… Let’s just say “untastefull” – the word “oven” was/is probably the most used word in those comments.

    8. “This is a testament to what kind of community we are – honest and sincere,” Rabbi Schnall observes”.
      If you were so damn honest and sincere, you would not have those arrests and then 100s of people calling up to get off the programs. Seems to me that Rabbi Schnall is as blind as a bat. Or as typical as every other rav in lakewood, has his head deeply entrenched in his behind. The lakewood lifestyle created this monster. You reap what you sew.

    9. to: #16- It is anti-semitism to call for the killing of Jews, or to harass Jews on their way to Synagogue. However, I have to agree with you, as you do say dumb things, at times. Where you live, in Saudi Arabia, the place is judenrein. During the First Gulf War, the Saudis did not want any American Jewish troops sent, and prohibited the holding of any religious Jewish services in Saudi Arabia.


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