The Forward reports:
LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Officials in this multi-ethnic town of 66,000 have been under investigation on several fronts for allegedly discriminating against racial minorities and favoring the growing ultra-Orthodox population.
The New Jersey attorney general’s office is currently investigating the Lakewood police department’s handling of a case in which a group of Orthodox men assaulted a black teenager, according to local officials. The local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has said that the Orthodox assailants should be charged with bias, due to racial slurs allegedly yelled during the incident. So far, only one Orthodox man has been arrested and charged with simple assault.
News of the attorney general’s probe comes a month after the New Jersey Department of Education announced the results of a separate investigation, which found that the Lakewood School District had discriminated in favor of ultra-Orthodox children — and against local black and Latino children — in the administration of special education programs.
In a third matter, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development completed an investigation last week, which found that a local Jewish apartment owner had given preferential treatment to Orthodox tenants at a housing complex that receives locally-administered housing grants.
One local official, who asked to remain anonymous, said that in addition to the separate individual investigations, the FBI and the state attorney general had been looking more broadly at the situation in Lakewood — a town that has become a living symbol of the growing size and clout of the ultra-Orthodox community in America. Other prominent local figures confirmed that wider investigations of municipal authorities are taking place.…
The US Justice Department is also investigating price fixing and collusion in the haredi-controlled kosher meat and supervision industries and are is also said to be looking at other crimes, as well. Haredim often believe they are above US law, that they can do whatever they wish to whomever they choose. Despite the snake oil Marvin Schick and Rabbi Avi Shafran try to peddle, crime runs rampant in the haredi world. A brief list:
- Rabbi Moshe Rubashkin’s felony bank fraud and other suspicious activity, including byzantine title arrangements for his failed Allentown, PA Montex Mill, and the suspicious fires that finally destroyed it.
- Rabbinic abuse and rabbinic coverup of abuse, including the Kolko, Tendler, Bryks and other cases. These cases all allegedly involve intimidation of witnesses by rabbis, along with active coverups run by rabbinic leaders.
- Welfare fraud, including 18 year old girls marrying in religious ceremonies without a legal marriage license at the direction of rabbinic leaders, then, at the direction of those same leaders, claiming to be unwed mothers, thereby collecting more welfare.
- Haredi schools getting money from government to provide hot lunches but providing no lunch – except on the day the government inspectors come.
- The bait-and-switch digital camera scam.
- The three crimes mentioned in the Forward article.
- Other NYC housing scams.
- Alleged worker abuse at Rubashkin’s Postville Agriprocessors plant.
As one connected source told me yesterday, nobody in government, not the police or social workers or program heads, thinks of Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Boro Park, Flatbush, Monsey or Lakewood as holy communities. When you mention haredi, the first thought is not holy – the first thought is fraud. That, more than anything else, may turn out to be the legacy of today’s Orthodox Judaism.