Yesterday, we reported on an article posted on the “Take Back Lakewood” website in which a post on the page claimed to show 1,200 signatures in opposition to a retail mall project in the Cedarbridge office park.
Along with the petition was a letter from an unsigned resident highlighting their opinions against the development, citing things like teenagers hanging out, boys and girls co-mingling, gentile (non-Jewish) owned shops and other reasons.
The letter also referred to non-Jewish residents as “goyim”, those who are not Jewish, many non-Jews feel it is a derogatory term. The letter referenced the potential presence of goyim within the shopping plaza as “terrifying”.
Today, Take Back Lakewood is walking back its claim that the letter and the petition were connected and the original article was pulled from the website.
“We have now spoken with the organizer of the petition who clarified to us that the petition had 2 simple lines on it – as written on the text of the petition page – it reads (in a mixture of hebrew and english) : ‘We are requesting from Cedarbridge Corporation to withdraw from their involvement in making a shopping center in our town’.”, TBL, stated.
“The intention of the organizers of the petition related to the fact that the Yeshiva (BMG) was founded upon and espouses certain values. Those values include living a life of austerity and shunning materialism in the pursuit of living a life dedicated to the service of God. Many in the yeshiva community choose not to eat out in restaurants (yes even kosher ones) choose not to indulge in nice cars or name brand clothing and instead dedicate their time and efforts in the service of God. Most do not have a TV in their home and many do not have internet. Some don’t even own a cell phone. They are entitled to choose to live their lives in that way the same way America allows individuals to choose how to live their lives. While they would not tell others how to live their lives and indeed many many people in Lakewood do live a more luxurious lifestyle with nice houses, cars and nice strip malls, they felt that it was unbecoming of BMG to tarnish it’s name by suddenly changing gears and promoting materialism since in this case, BMG/Cedarbridge was the applicant and developer. If a private developer were to apply for a mall that they would not object. The reality is that private developers have been building stores all over Lakewood and the BMG students have not objected to that. Their concern related to what they felt was a weakening of the yeshiva’s values and a lack of practicing what they preach in regard to materialism,” TBL continued.
“Furthermore, the intent of the letter which was written by an individual, was not to say that non Jewish stores should not be allowed in Lakewood. When BMG was initially accused of promoting materialism through a shopping center that would be built in the middle of a predominantly jewish area, some of the concerns related to the fact that there would surely be tenants who served non kosher food, draw traffic to the area on Sabbath when most stores in the area are generally closed, and possibly have stores like Victoria Secret etc which would display pictures of scantily clad women that would generally not be preferred by the ultra orthodox. Again, the primary objection related to the fact that BMG was the developer. It would be analogous to a Catholic Church building an abortion clinic,” the statement continued.
“No one in Lakewood is trying to deny business opportunities for gentiles,” TBL added.
You can see the full post on Take Back Lakewood’s website.
Although the letter and the petition are now alleged to be disjoined from each other, the letter highlighted the deep cultural divide between some in Lakewood’s Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and the surrounding communities which must be overcome as the Orthodox community expands into neighboring towns.
The original letter is published below: