LAKEWOOD-Last month, he had his house egged by his fellow Orthodox Jewish neighbors. Last week, he was accosted while in his vehicle driving through Lakewood by his fellow Orthodox Jewish neighbors. The punishment for speaking out against the leadership in the Orthodox Jewish community sometimes has long-reaching effects against those who commit the crime of speaking their mind and asking for answers.
Punishments can include barring their children from prestigious private schools to essentially being blacklisted in the community. Now, when those tactics don’t work, outright harassment has taken over.
He is known as the “First Amendment Activist“. His crime? Uncovering illegal activities and political corruption in Lakewood Township at the hands of the ruling elite. About three years ago, he began filming Lakewood Township government meetings, hoping to educate people in the community about the rapid overgrowth in the township. His name is Shlomie Klein and he has been fighting the power brokers that control Lakewood Township and give the growing city a bad reputation in neighboring communities. He’s even being sued by some for his political activism as a means to silence him.
Klein is not alone in his fight to put Lakewood back on a more reasonable political and cultural path. Hershel Herskowitz, another outspoken opponent of the status quo in Lakewood has also been the target of backlash from the community for speaking out against the Lakewood power structure.
“A person from one of the magazines asked me, can tell me what all the corruption is going on in Lakewood,” Herskowitz said. “There is so much on so many different levels, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
Herskowitz said that the powers controlling the community blame people like Klein for the backlash against the Orthodox Jewish community, but it is instead the corruption from the top down that is damaging Lakewood’s reputation in surrounding communities. Herskowitz said the Lakewood ruling establishment is naive to think that the reason groups like Rise Up Ocean County exist is because of blog postings by Klein, saying it is their own actions that have caused the backlash.
Herskowitz mentioned powerful Republican power brokers by name, including former Mayor Manasche Miller, Mayor Ray Coles and Senator Robert Singer as the facilitators of corruption within the community.
“When did it become a crime for somebody who’s trying to stop other people from taking advantage of taxpayers or residents of the town?” Herskowitz asked. “You think you’re fooling the Rise Up Ocean County people?”
“This has to stop,” Herskowitz said. “We’re going to put an end to this because we’re going to prove that we’re good people.”
Herskowitz described what has become a vicious cycle of anti-semitism in Ocean County that he feels in part is caused by the actions of the ruling elite in his own community, asking his fellow Orthodox Jewish residents to stand behind the efforts to put an end to the corruption in Lakewood. He said that if the community can prove to the outside world that they are not all behind what is happening in Lakewood, they can prove to groups like Rise Up Ocean County that they are indeed good people, led by a corrupt regime.
“What it all boils down to is that there are some extremely dangerous and corrpupt people in this town and they think they can control everybody and do what they want,” Herskowitz said. “When somebody speaks up and says ‘this is wrong’, they think that they can threaten them, try to manipulate them, hurt their children…maybe even beat them up in their home…we can’t live like this.”
After Klein’s home was egged, an anonymous good samaritan donated a brand new powerwasher to him.
In this video, volunteers show up at Klein’s home to clean the egg off.
His home was recently egged once again.
Klein has been verbally assaulted while driving through Lakewood.
In April, Klein’s home was egged.