Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Crowds come to Lakewood to learn about Orthodox 

The featured speaker was a professor and author who’d come to talk about the facts and fallacies surrounding the Orthodox Jewish community.

But the main attraction Monday night might have been the audience that turned out to hear Ali Botein-Furrevig speak.

A capacity crowd of more than 100 people showed up at the Lakewood branch of the Ocean County Library, most of them seniors from adult communities in Lakewood and surrounding towns.

They weren’t there to debate — about property taxes or busing or the yeshiva being built up the road. Not on this night. They were there to listen, and ask questions.

Some of them had to stand, there were that many people. Among those squeezed in the back of the room was Larry Pollack.

Seventy years old and disabled, he’s still recuperating from injuries he suffered in a fire in October that burned down his home at Leisure Village West in Manchester, along with all his possessions.

What prompted him to come, he said, was the chatter about the Orthodox community he’s heard on the senior shuttle he takes to his doctor appointments, most of it pretty unflattering.

“I’m hearing extreme things,” he said, “and I know that’s not the way life is.”

So he got a friend to drive him to Lakewood Monday night, hoping to educate himself about a group he knows little about, despite being Jewish himself.

“I said, ‘Let me go and find out what’s going on in my community,' ” he said.

Pollack listened as Botein-Furrevig, an associate professor of English and Jewish studies at Ocean County College, discussed her book, “Heart of the Stranger: A Portrait of Lakewood’s Orthodox Community” (ComteQ Publishing, 2010.)

Much of her presentation concerned the “myths and stereotypes” about Orthodox Judaism.


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