Identity, Religion

Shomrim Come to Lakewood Amidst Growing Black-Jewish Tension

Stories like this pain me to my core.
The Asbury Park Press reported today of the advent of the Shomrim in Lakewood. The largely Chassidic security force has already achieved what the Press refer to as a “built-in trust level” with police in Brooklyn, and is a household term among charedi New York area communities. This will be the first Shomrim force in Lakewood, home of the largest yeshiva in the United States, the venerated BMG, Beis Medrash Ha’Gadol, founded by Rabbi Aharon Kotler after World War II. The Shomrim force’s creation follows three recent violent incidents in Lakewood, including the sexual assault of a young lady six weeks ago.
However, it is one particular case that has gained special notariety as of late. The May 17th
alleged bias crime against one black young man, Jamarr Dickerson.

A private school teacher, Zimmerman was charged with assaulting a 15-year-old black youth who cut through private property on Lawrence Avenue. Police officials say when they arrived at the scene May 17, Zimmerman was kneeling on Jamarr Dickerson’s back.
Dickerson has told officials from the Ocean County/Lakewood chapter of the NAACP that a group of men also ran out of a local synagogue and yelled racial slurs.

Exactly what happened?

Elchonon Zimmerman, a 43-year-old who lives on Lawrence Avenue, told the youth he was on private property and tried to take the boy’s picture with his cell phone camera. A scuffle ensued and when a patrolman arrived, he found Zimmerman kneeling on the youth’s back, authorities say. (from this APP article)
The teen has told NAACP officials that a crowd of Orthodox men gathered around him and uttered a series of racial slurs, including comments about how black youths do not belong in a predominantly Jewish section of Lakewood.
Dickerson was treated and released from the hospital for injuries that he said included cuts on his neck and shoulder and some bruises. Dickerson said he also had a shoe print on his right arm.

For this teenager to have reported what he heard as racial slurs, he must have recognized them as such. The report of a rabbi (“private school”? read: yeshiva) tackling this kid would have been shocking enough. If he recognized what he heard as racial slurs, then I can only come to one saddening conclusion: Some guys ran out of shul after praying screaming shvartzer — or worse, the N word. Having completed a conversation with G-d, they ran out and screamed “you (insert epithet)s have no business being around here.”
The Lakewood township meeting about the crime on June 9th drew about 150 people. Jamarr Dickerson — a high school honor student far from a “thug” — said that all he wanted was an apology for what he went through.
When I heard a racial epithet in yeshiva — when a kid called another black bochur the N-word, which was followed by guffaws and chuckles around the mostly Ashkenazi room, baruch Hashem my chavruta at the time recorded him on his tape recorder — I went directly to the mashgiach of Ohr Somayach at the time, Rabbi Nachman Bulman ztvk”l. He said to me words which echo in my head to this day:

“That young man is a baby, and an idiot, and he’s the reason Moshiach’s not here.”

The Sma”g (Sefer Mitsvot ha’Gadol, early 13th century) writes that one of the reasons Moshiach has not yet come is because of the prayers of non-Jews who were wronged by Jews, they stay in Heaven pleading before G-d that the Jews should be in exile longer for what happened to them.
This is a chillul Hashem tantamount to placing the Holy Tetragrammaton on Kleenex. A clear violation of codified Torah law — causing non-Jews to hate Jews — and not to mention a gross lack of fulfillment of the will of G-d, I can only hope that some rabbi in Lakewood will have the courage to speak like my mashgiach. The Orthodox community needs to begin to seriously address issues like this within itself as issues, and not as “being accommodating to the sensitivity of others” upon chance meetings. I find it hard to stomach that Rabbi Akiva, the same person who said “for the sake of peace no man should say ‘my father was better than your father’…[for all humanity] is descended from Adam”, would be honored to stand up and say — “Praiseworthy is he who taught these people Torah”, these people who can scream “shvartzer” or worse at the same volume at which they scream “Hashem hu ha’Elokim”/”Only the L-rd is G-d” on Yom Kippur.
It is not fitting that such a venerable Torah institution with such an illustrious history as Lakewood should have the N-word screamed out of an affiliated shul. The KKK and frum Jews should not have the same speech patterns — es passt nisht.
Lawsuits get settled and paid off, they don’t change minds. Riots and violence certainly only make the walls of ignorance more impregnable. It is only when racism is shown by the Torah Sages to be what it is — a flagrant disregard for Torah, halacha, and the Will of G-d Himself — that it has any hope of being abated in the religious community.
In the words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, “May it be G-d’s Will that His Living Torah be separated from the schemes of humans.” Amen.

15 thoughts on “Shomrim Come to Lakewood Amidst Growing Black-Jewish Tension

  1. OK – so what was the honor student doing on private property – perhaps shul property, but we can’t tell from your description.
    A reading of the articles you posted gives a completely different picture. There are no Klan-like hordes pouring out of a shul – no evidence that others kicked or abused him after he was immobilized.
    So a few racial slurs from “the crowd that gathered” – and of course we don’t know what Honor Student said in response to the Hymie that stopped him.
    We do know that the police – who haven’t yet caught the (black) abductor/abuser of a Jewish woman – forced Zimmerman to take off his kippah for mug shots. WTF is that?
    The Shomrim have come to Lakewood IN RESPONSE to incidents that have already been perpetrated by black people… and in response to foot-dragging by a suburban police force that may not know or care to respond to hate-based crimes AGAINST JEWS.
    Why do I suddenly feel like this post is merging with the countless times I’ve tried to explain to tunnel-visioned lefties that the roadblocks are in place IN RESPONSE to Palestinian terror?
    Cause it’s the same mentality of knee-jerk, static, instant victimhood.

  2. No one is calling the Lakewood police force even efficient, as the first article noted, this is in response to a long-standing feeling of disenfranchisement vis-a-vis the Police Dept when it comes to the Jews there. In addition, the mugshot photo is also a deplorable case of police discrimination — and does not, as a matter of procedure, happen in Maryland, for instance.
    The “simple assault” charge is being leveled against Zimmerman alone.
    Even if it were 3 people. Even if it were 2 people. I don’t think that I implied a “Klan-type horde”, the KKK parallel was based on the language. Any amount of religious Jews acting like this — speaking like this — begs reprimand from a religious authority. And, in the first article, it stated, he wanted a shortcut.

  3. May it be god’s will that the Lubavitchers do something to help Ethiopian Jews (who, racists that they are, don’t see as Jews).
    Oh, and see what Rashi had to say about blacks. He was another sweetheart.

  4. Isn’t this article one more case of jumping to a conclusion before we know the facts: like the duke “rape” case that is falling apart before our eyes, like the israeli “killings” of 7 beachgoers in gaza that now appears to be caused by the Palestinians themselves, this case based on a participants statement with an agenda should be put on hiatus, with no judments made until we know the facts.

  5. I don’t normally comment on any posts, but I can’t pass up the chance to respond when it comes to my own hometown. There is no mass hysteria among Jews and there certainly aren’t any hordes of any kind running around. This certainly was a terrible chillul Hashem and most of the Yeshiva is ready to admit it.
    Inter-community relations have been fairly tense over the last several months after an incident where a local rabbi stupidly decided to confront a police officer who pulled over his niece. It’s getting downright scary.
    This guy certainly is an idiot and a detriment to a community that I love. That being said it is disingenuous to wring your hands over the orthodox community and its biases while acting as if my friends and I don’t insulted by the black and Hispanic guys when we go to Ocean County Park to play basketball. Obviously this doesn’t absolve the Orthodox in anyway. They have completely allowed this problem to go unanswered for to long. However, it is naive to act as if the problem lies solely with the Yeshiva huys.
    And I would take anything the APP prints with a grain of salt. They may have a nice shiny Pulitzer in their office, but that doesn’t stop them from printing ridiculous stories about the Orthodox community’s secret plan to run the town.
    To respond to Ben-David, first off the alleged abductor is Hispanic and not black. Furthermore you have absolutely no idea how hard it is to be a police officer in a town of semi-fueding minorities who are often both intent on playing the victim in any case. The police do their best in absolutely thankless position, so think before you go off commenting on how they “won’t respond to hate-based crimes against Jews.”
    Also the “G” in BMG stands for Gavoha rather than Ha’Gadol.

  6. slip, about the Rash”i thing, please look at almost every commentary on Rash”i, who will point out that the “ugliness” referred to (because I know you’re thinking of Genesis) was because of their actions. There is no shortage of Torah quotes which could be misconstrued as racist (Bechoros 48b, being “too dark” is a mum/blemish which could disqualify one from service in the Holy Temple). This is why we have commentaries, so that we don’t jump to wrong conclusions about ancient texts. These guys screaming out of a shul, you can’t “learn pshat” in their words any other way 😀

  7. WSell, Ben David, you and I agree on one thing–that it’s outrageous that Zimmerman was forced to take off his kippah for the mug shot.
    But you also write:
    OK – so what was the honor student doing on private property – perhaps shul property, but we can’t tell from your description.
    Well, the June 19 article refers to Dickerson cutting through private property, and the June 6 article refers to him cutting through an alley (which was presumably private). I’d think that you would have seen this, since your very next sentence refers to “a reading of the articles.” Did you miss it in your reading, or did you simply want to imply that Dickerson was up to something sinister?
    Then there’s your reference to “Klan-like hordes,” which distorts what Y-love said. He’s already addressed that, so I’ll just say that I though it was quite clear what he meant.
    But I have to say that I’m most upset by your comment that, “The Shomrim have come to Lakewood IN RESPONSE to incidents that have already been perpetrated by black people.” Perpetrated by black people? What are you basing this on? The June 19 article to which Y-Love links refer to three incidents: the arrest a year ago of a rabbi who was charged with aggravated assault on an officer (later dropped), the abduction and sexual assault six weeks ago of a Jewish woman six weeks ago FOR WHICH NO ONE HAS BEEN ARRESTED, and the Dickerson/Zimmerman incident a month ago. Two of those are crimes in which Jews were charged, and in the otherno one has been charged. Are you just assuming that the assault was committed by an African-American? Are there other crimes that you know about that we don’t? Or are you just reading an assumption into an already charged situation to create an accusation?
    And then you close with a comment about others making knee-jerk assumptions. Want some stones to decorate that glass house?

  8. “OK – so what was the honor student doing on private property – perhaps shul property, but we can’t tell from your description.” – Ben-David
    You sound like Nicholas Minucci – he was Black and he was there (in “our neighborhood”) so of course he HAD to be up to no good.
    Racist – or just stupid if you believe Minucci’s lawyers. Either way not complimentary.
    There are times when I think some flavors of the Jewish people just won’t be truly happy unless they have good thick ghetto walls erected around their neighborhoods with no others allowed in, except perhaps for business. However, because walls around ghettos are illegal today they create virtual walls around themselves.

  9. I had a rabbi who said that if a person makes a racist comment he has to seek teshuva from every member of that group that he spoke about, for he spoke lashon harah about all of them. Good thing to keep in mind next time a person wants to make insensitive comments.
    Dammit, why are there too many Jews who fail to realize that we and blacks bleed the same blood, especially after we each have spent so many years as someone’s footstool?
    Off topic, but Y-love, when does your new album drop?

  10. Lakewood had a brutal sexual assault before this. Rabbi Zimmerman saw a strange teenager behind his property. He tried to take his photo. The teenager pushed the camera phone away and knocked it out of his hand. In the scuffle Rabbi Zimmerman subdued the teenager, yet Rabbi Zimmerman was arrested due to police bias and the teenager’s claims that someone had shouted racial slurs at him.
    This is what actually happened, though the extensive media bias of the APP is such that it has not even attempted to interview anyone on the Jewish side of the incident. Race is not the issue. A homeowner’s right to protecr his property is.
    And to M. Martin. Minnuci may have been a thug but he was right. The man he attacked admitted he was there to steal cars.
    Sometimes truth is more complicated than the self-righteous simplifications of liberalism permit.

  11. this is why i read and love you all. ahem, some of us…pick a term here, speak and read and understand. thank you for your attention JS and Y. because despite what your readers may have heard, it does matter, for all of us. memory, and history, is for all of us.

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