A Hard Truth

There has been much talk lately about the highly anti-Semitic website Rise Up Ocean County, which was featured in your publication (“Zachor,” Features, January 30, 2019). For my family and me it came as no surprise, unlike others who sounded shocked at the thought of such an anti-Semitic website. My family and I have been aware of the rampant anti-Semitism in Lakewood for many years now. (I am in no way agreeing with the people behind this website.) Therefore, this letter is long overdue. Its point is to bring awareness to people that we are constantly being watched and judged.

I have lived in Lakewood, New Jersey, for over 20 years, and since I don’t drive I depend on taking taxis, car services and NJ Transit buses to get around. I am horrified and frightened by the outright hatred and anti-Semitism that I see.

When riding to a doctor’s appointment on a NJ Transit bus in Lakewood, there were a bunch of non-Jews on the bus. I was the only Jew. As the bus made its way down Route 9, a yeshivah bachur rode his bike against the light in front of the bus. The bus driver, a black woman, said loudly, “If I hadn’t slowed down, he would be on the floor, and his hat would be smashed flat as a pancake!” All the non-Jews laughed and jeered loudly. One man then piped up, “Yeah, and his jacket would be flat too!” which was greeted by more laughter, after which a lively conversation ensued, with all the non-Jews adding their comments on how the Jews take over everything, have money, build houses, cause traffic, etc.

I literally was shaking and felt like a sheep amongst 70 wolves as I looked around. Not one person came to my defense, but only smirked at me.

I should’ve taken down the bus number to report the incident, but I was too shaken up to think clearly and got off as soon as I could.

(This bachur who rode his bike against the light most likely has no idea that his riding was the cause of a great chillul Hashem.)

A different time riding the NJ Transit bus, we were waiting to turn left on Route 9 at the light in front of the Lakewood Courtyard. The driver said, “Wow! They need everything of their own — their own nursing home, ambulances …”

Both on the bus and riding in non-Jewish taxis, I have heard, “Oh, so how many houses do you think they’ll stick in here?” Or a non-Jew will be silent, but his eyes are full of hate as he looks at all the houses being built and woods being cut down.

There was basically never a time when I rode the bus and Jews were not the topic of conversation.

People, please realize that when you cut off a bus, your actions will most likely be the topic of conversation for the next few minutes.

When I ride non-Jewish taxis I always hear the driver comment over the radio or to non-Jewish passengers in the taxi, “The Jews take over the town. They are building, building, building. This is not the Lakewood I grew up in,” and ask, “How can the Jews afford all these houses?”

One non-Jew once pointed out a bank which had been built a few years before and commented, “Who needs another bank?” Then the other smirked and said, “Oh, you know why! They have all the money,” and looked at me.

Jews who don’t use public transportation and drive their own cars, or who frequent Jewish stores, don’t realize how every move they make in driving and behavior is being watched and judged.

We have to remember that we don’t own the communities we live in. We have to be thankful that we live in a medinah shel chessed and that the city officials are nice to us, but we are still in galus and have to constantly be on the lookout to make a kiddush Hashem.

If this letter results in even one person making a kiddush Hashem, or at least avoiding a chillul Hashem, then it will be worth it. And yes, if you see a NJ Transit bus, please go out of your way to be courteous.

Sincerely, KSC