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Charlottesville

If you have taken the time to read my bio you will see that before I became a lawyer, I studied history and obtained a Master’s Degree. I had a professor in graduate school who always pushed me to NOT engage with racists, anti-Semites, bigots, etc. After all, we were in the deep South. In his opinion they were not worthy of the effort to convince them that they were wrong. In my 20s, I had even more piss and vinegar than now and I would literally shout at them. As I got older, I found more creative ways to make my point and I try to move people away from views of exclusion and hatred. I went on to learn the law and take much of my faith in what this country can accomplish rooted in the law.

The events in Charlottesville speak to some of the fundamental problems we have in the United States, but they also speak to a far more local issue. I watched the posts yesterday in many of the local groups and read many of the comments. I also waited, desperately hoping that Senator Robert Singer would make some type of comment. After all, he must be concerned about what is going on in Lakewood and some people locally do, in fact, hate members of the community solely because they are Jewish. What I saw was that our local leaders were silent.

They were silent because they are either afraid to speak out to discuss these difficult issues. Or they are afraid to lose the votes of one segment of the population over the other. Or they are simply at a loss for words because they would rather say nothing than say the wrong thing. Or, they too, do not believe that it will accomplish anything to condone racism, anti-Semitism, bigotry, etc.

I’m not afraid.

What we saw in Charlottesville can happen anywhere when we allow fear to overcome reason, when we allow lies to replace fact, and when we forget the fundamentals of the laws upon which this country was founded. When our leaders fail to lead, fail to speak out, fail us by allowing division rather than preaching unity, we allow terrorists to have a voice.

Now let me explain why this is important here in LD30. We have a community of approximately 100,000 Hassidic Jews. They live in Lakewood. They are insular. That is their right to be. They are allowed to have their own community and choose to exclude others. We all have that right. In that respect they are no different than the Amish. Then there are the people that surround Lakewood, in the towns of Brick, Jackson, Howell, Toms River, and others. They see some of the problems that have arisen from the rapid development in Lakewood, the crisis in the public schools of Lakewood, the control of city, county and even state political offices, which they perceive to be bought by a voting block in Lakewood and money from Lakewood. These concerns are legitimate and these concerns are borne out by fact.

What is not factual is that all Jews are bad. What is not factual is that anyone who criticizes Jews is an anti-Semite. The failure of any of our local leadership to address these issues at this level of dialogue means that we may well end up with our own version of Charlottesville. I would hope that we don’t see the Klan marching with torches here in New Jersey. I fled the deep South almost 20 years ago to come to the Northeast where people are fair minded and not filled with fear and hate based on religion and color. I’m no fool, there are racists everywhere, but there are far fewer here in New Jersey.

What are we doing to fix the actual problems that may ultimately lead to men marching with torches? Nothing, because we have no leadership.

Although most of the people in Lakewood will never see this post, I strongly urge you to share this. Ask #WhereisBob? But more importantly, take the time to consider a solution to these problems that will serve the needs of everyone, not just the few. That is what community is supposed to be about. The more we draw lines of distinction the closer we get to conflict.



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