Thursday, January 05, 2006


Drivers entering this central New Jersey township pass block after block of new housing developments — many so fresh that the front lawns have not fully grown in. In the front window of most of these houses is a menorah.

Lakewood, home to the nation's largest rabbinical school, has seen a population explosion, fed by ultra-Orthodox students and families who have flooded into the town over the last two decades. Ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, Jews now constitute almost half of Lakewood's population of 70,000. Until this week, however, the community never has had a mayor from its own ranks.

That changed on New Year's day, when Meir Lichtenstein was sworn in for a one-year term — becoming what appears to be the only ultra-Orthodox mayor in the United States responsible for governing a municipality with a significant non-Jewish population. Perhaps only Jerusalem, with haredi Mayor Uri Lopoliansky, can be seen as a precedent.

Lichtenstein's inauguration is especially notable because it comes soon after the Lakewood Jewish community took a high-profile step to insulate itself from the outside world. This fall, the Jewish schools in Lakewood issued a ruling that all houses with Jewish children had to disable or lock up any computers with Internet access. In the township, the ultra-Orthodox have avoided many forms of civic involvement — there are no haredi employees in the police department or department of public works. But the sheer numbers of Jews in Lakewood have forced the community to step into the civic spotlight after avoiding it for years.


The way to go!

Now when will a shomer shabbos president????


wait till they have a heimishe police man and the rebbes can fraske them when they get pulled over all they want


You are making a mistake. Lakewood has the council/manager system. The municipal manager governs the town. Most students of political science prefer this form of government in small to medium town in which strong leadership that bring groups together is not needed. The mayor of such a municipality is not a real mayor, but simply the chairman of the council. Like all members of the council, his job is part-time.
A Lang


has anyone heard of a recent kosher issue with Flams cartering lakewood?


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