An Open Letter Regarding the Recent Toms River Election

Dear TLS Editors,

As a frum Toms River resident with many acquaintances in Town Hall and thus well-informed on internal proceedings, I would like to present a clarifying message regarding this past primary election.

To begin, the turnout of our community was extraordinary. Although if every member had registered and voted, we would have had at least twice as many votes, it still was nothing less than exceptional. We demonstrated loudly and clearly that we are one community with a singular voice. We have achdus. It showed the township and county a clear message that we are a united voting voice and intend to show up and vote, as long as our country affords us the freedom to do so.

Regarding why Rabbanim and community leaders chose not to endorse candidate Mo Hill, allow me to say the following: The Rabanim in my town are more involved than in any other town I know. They are available and engaged for the toeles of our community. We have more than 30 Rabbanim in Toms River, and they have demonstrated a readiness to serve their respective shul members and the klal at large in an unprecedented fashion. They are constantly informed about what is happening inside Town Hall and are genuine leaders. We are truly fortunate to have them as our Rabbanim.

The Toms River leadership did not back Mo Hill because he did not come through for our community over the last four years. There is nothing more to this position than this straightforward fact. Our township is an enormous bureaucratic mess with red tape that entraps businesses and homeowners everywhere. We are sure Mo Hill is a lovely person with good intentions, but he is unquestionably not a leader, as evidenced by his blatant failure to help our community continue to grow and thrive. Although we are not looking for shuls on every street corners, to presently not have a single legal shul in Toms River is unacceptable. On four separate occasions, four different shuls were shut down (and in one instance, congregants were marched out by code enforcement officers), all because of Mr. Hill. Our community needs more than just a nice guy in office. Our Rabbanim and Askanim know this, and that is why Toms River chose not to back Mr. Hill.

We did not back candidate Dan Roderick for obvious reasons revolving around his hateful campaign rhetoric; therefore, candidate Geri Ambrosio was our best option. While a win for Geri Ambrosio would have been ideal, we do not always get what we want. We do not always win. Whoever does eventually win the general election will know that almost 2000 voters live here, and by the time they are up for re-election, more than twice that.

It is also vital to note that Dan Roderick would have won this primary election no matter how our 1700 votes went since he won by more than 2300 votes. This means that in reality, we did not shift the outcome of this election. However, we did show up and changed the notions of those political skeptics who perceived us as a lazy unengaged community. On this, we won on a grand scale.

Baruch Hashem, our community leaders are engaged with many leading Jewish organizations and maintain an open dialogue with our Lakewood and Jackson neighbors. While our interests do not always align, our community leaders comprehend the bigger picture, which is essential for our Toms River and Ocean County communities. This assures that we have a solid united front on a county level as well.

In conclusion, our town is fortunate to have a vibrant and engaged community whose Rabbanim and Askanim understand the nuance of politics and, more importantly, that filling the needs of our kehila is the primary objective. With the help of Hashem, I wish our community continued bracha and hatzlacha. In the name of my friends and family, I publicly thank our Rabbanim and community leaders for tirelessly and strategically investing their time and energy to improve our kehila kedoisha.


Heshie Dembitzer


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  1. i second that. Our community leaders have a very challenging job. They do it with utmost diplomacy and stay true to our values. I am so grateful for all of their efforts.
    Ultimately, Hashem is our Master. He wants us to daven in shuls that are respectful and achdusdig. He wants His children to connect to Him in our shuls.
    Hashem will help us reach our goals.

  2. Kudos to Mr. Dembitzer. I live here for 2 years now and feel really fortunate to have such an amazing community with doers who care.
    Thank you for sharing such clear and honest thoughts openly.

  3. It seems that it was obvious that the candidate they backed would lose.
    So while I could appreciate your disappointment in Mr. Hill, why would you take a route that virtually guaranteed a much worse result?
    I don’t think many people in Jackson are in love with Mike Reina, but the community recognize that they would be worse off if one of his challengers won, so they backed him (holding their noses in many cases).
    Seems to me tolerating through another Hill administration would be better off than this guy.

  4. It is not right to push out an incumbent in an ugly way but if it is done respectfully and with the hope and intent of fostering neighborhood development and community growth then that is the correct thing to do above any consideration of gratitude owed for the past. But respect must be maintained. And, as soon as the campaign is over, gratitude must be shown.

  5. How can Rodrick be worse than Hill? Hill also espoused anti-Semitism and there were zero legal shuls under Hill in 4 years. I fail to see a downside here.

  6. With all due respect, all that you have succeeded to do is show a new, even more anti-semitic mayor that not only are we actively opposed to him, our voting power is insufficient to unseat him. You want shuls approved? Try not speaking during davening instead of kicking a wasp’s nest because the community will face a far worse challenge with Roderick.

    • I think you’re comment make a lot of sense
      Our askanim need to feel where the wind go!.as last option we need to make àclear message to the winner.we will vote in upcoming election in November for Democrats party in order to block sure now it’s our best time to make a deal with him.! Hope our community leader’s will understand the matzav !

  7. Thank you so much to all the rabbonim and askonim who so selflessly gave of themselves for the community and expect nothing in return. Ashreichem!

  8. I agree 100% .it’s time to reach out to the winner and support him against his democrat opponent if he is willing to work with us.

    • that would make sense, except for the FACT that Roderick is a Democrat, who changed parties because Toms River doesn’t have any Democrat voters.

  9. I live in TR and voted for Mo.
    I know many that did the same. We saw through some of the personal negius of “the council”. I think if Mo had the Jewish endorsement, he would have won. Now we have to deal with the consequences of “the council”.

  10. Why did Rodrick get double the votes that he got last time? It is the actions of the TRJCC that made Rodrick stronger.
    Moe looked at the numbers, and saw that with the jewish vote alone he cannot win. He needed to attract others as well. He can only do so by trying to balance the issues to the best of his ability. The vaad’s attempt to force him would have been political suicide of his own doing. The vaad for years has been very public about their relationship with Moe, and Rodrick used that to clearly put Moe in our pocket and garnered a huge number of votes because of it, that made it impossible for us to win. Had we not been so brazen and worked with him quietly, we would have eventually succeeded. It is because of our relationship that 30+ shuls exist. Those shuls that were shut were quickly re-opened because of our relationship. The vaad should have kept a low profile, and we could have gotten him re-elected.
    The vaad also did a lousy job explaining how Moe did not deliver. The only non-delivery was the lead vaad member trying to make a business out of his connections to the building department, and they refused to rubber stamp his shenanigans. He tried the good old Brooklyn tactic of reassigning a cop to the Bronx if he gave an “askan” a ticket, and it backfired.
    The politics in Lakewood has always been one of hakaros hatov for the incumbent, something that was clearly ignored here. Had we played our cards correctly, we would have had Moe re-elected and thankful to us.

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