Letter: Dear voter

Dear Lakewood Voter, My name is Yitzchok Wagschal. Some of you may know me from my work at ZMAN Magazine.

I moved to Lakewood about a decade ago. I have never taken an interest in local municipal politics, nor have I been involved in them at all, until now.

I was sipping coffee in shul this morning, glancing at the posters, when I overheard someone saying that he will not vote for Meir Lichtenstein because he doesn’t care about the people of Lakewood. This shocked me. I happen to have had an experience with Meir Lichtenstein, which I will share in a moment, so I decided to chime in and attempt to follow up on his statement. As an experienced investigative journalist, it took me less than sixty seconds to realize that this fellow had no material backup for that statement. It did, however, strike me that although I have always kept my personal life very private, I should share with the Lakewood public my personal experience with Meir Lichtenstein.

Before moving to Lakewood, I was told that it is very hard to get kids accepted into schools. That’s why I first applied to a good school, and only after they accepted my children did I make the move. After my oldest twin daughters graduated 8th grade, it was a very different story. As a fairly new resident in town, without any family history here, or any connections, my daughters—who were straight A students—did not get accepted into a high school. That summer was the most depressing time of my life. It is very hard to explain in words the feeling of parents when you know that your teenage girls’ lives are at stake and there is nothing you can do about it. I had no one to turn to. I kept calling various people at various schools daily but all I got was rejections.

The summer went by. Schools opened, thousands of girls went to school… but my twin daughters, who had been at the top of their class in every grade, were home. Unless you are one of the unfortunate people who have experienced this, you cannot imagine the pain, stress, and strain this puts on a family. Two weeks after schools opened, a lady asked my wife if she had reached out to Meir Lichtenstein for help. My wife said, “Meir who?” The friend told my wife that he had helped her with a similar situation.

When my wife told me about the exchange, I figured that, although I had no connection with Meir Lichtenstein, at this point I had nothing to lose. I looked up Lichtenstein’s home phone number and left him a voicemail. Not only did he call me back that night, but he invited me to come over with my wife to his house right away. We had an honest discussion about the situation, he explained to us that he has no power over the owners of the schools, but he does have a relationship with them and that he would get on the case immediately. Before we left, Meir asked for my cell number and he shared with me his cell and said, “Never hesitate to call me no matter what time of the day.”

Meir began calling people the next morning and constantly updated me. I’d rather not get into the details that ensued after Lichtenstein’s involvement, but I will share with you that Meir was a lifesaver for our entire family. One evening he called me and asked if he could stop by with his wife to speak with my children. Meir came over with Mrs. Lichtenstein to tell my daughters that in the process of trying to help us, they had learned that they were special girls and it was not their fault that they were not in a school. That visit was the biggest shot of chizuk to my children.

After Meir ultimately got my girls into a school, I made him an offer that whenever he runs for reelection, I would gladly place advertisements or other forms of PR in ZMAN, which is extremely popular in Lakewood. Meir said to me, “I helped you because I cared, it’s not politics and I don’t want anything for it.” I reached out to him a few years ago again to remind him of my offer and he gave me a similar response. He never took up my offer for free publicity.

After my experience in shul this morning, I figured I must share with the public my very private and personal story. I’m sure you know for certain who my family is voting for in this municipal election.

Yitzchok Wagschal

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  1. I agree he is always ready to help the klal without any fanfare and with all the bizyonos it comes with. May Hashem continue to give him the koach and ability to continue his tremendous work on behalf of klal yisroel and the entire Lakewood Township!
    I know for a fact he is there for all his constituents.

  2. Just the tip of the iceberg. A friend of mine was helped tremendously by Meir without fanfare, and outside of family and close friends the story was never told. I’m sure there are many many more….

  3. I will echo the statement made by Mr Wachschal. I’ve had many interactions with Meir Lichtenstein both on private matters as well as our interactions through out my time in public office. He cares about individuals and communal issues alike. He deserves your vote.

  4. A personal story. I once was arrested for not appearing at court. It was a total misunderstading but the arresting officers came to my house and arrested me in front of my children. When Meir Lichtenstein heard about this, he called me and asked if he can come over. In walks Meir with one of the chiefs of police. They sat my kids down and explained to them that it was a mistake and that their father was a good person. The chief even gave the kids some souvenirs. I thought that Meir is a real Mentch. Meir is up for elections tomorrow. Let’s get out there and show him Hakaras hatov for all that he does for our community. Chazak v’ematz!!!

  5. Meir helped me so much when I was in dire need of help with one of my children. Besides anyone willing to give up their valuable spare time to run on Hatzolah calls, gets my vote

  6. I have reached out to Mr. Lichtenstein numerous times and always got a call back the same day with positive results on my concerns. He gave me all the time in the world in explaining all the ins and out of resolving my concerns. So I will definitely we voting for Mr. Lichtenstein on voting day!!!! May he have the strength to continue in all his work for the Klal.

  7. Being on the Township Committee is not about who does favors for who, it is about being competent and serving the needs of the public.

    In the last 4 years, my property taxes went up $4,000. That is $4k annual increase, over 10 years that’s $40k, over my lifetime, who knows how much, and that is assuming it doesn’t keep increasing at the same rate.

    Multiply that by all the homes in the town and that is 10’s of millions of dollars annually. A lot of chested can be done with that kind of money, and no, it is not only because of the State funding formula, and the BOE, has no control over the policies that lead to these deficits. The committee does.

  8. I recently had a project halted by the LPD because of a safety issue. I reached out to R’ Meir and he called the sergeant to work out a creative solution which worked for me and was deemed safe. And it wasn’t the first time he’s helped me.Truly selfless.

  9. I agree he goes out of his way to help people but the building in this town needs to be controlled the traffic is out of control …. the builders get whatever they want .. the focus has to be what’s best for the yenim mentchin just living here not the people building or builders of the town …

  10. Yitzchok thank you for sharing! Like you and many others I too have reached out to Meir many times with a similar response. Meir is a true mentch and works tirelessly for the people of Lakewood!

  11. To @”Tree in the forest”: have you ever looked at the breakdown when you get your property tax bill? I don’t think so. Because if you had, you would have seen that the municipal portion of the tax rate, which is the ONLY part of the tax bill that the Township Committeemen such as Meir and a Menashe have ANY control of, has stayed pretty consisent over the past 10 years, and has not really gone up at all. If your tax bill has gone up by $4000, either the County portion or public school portion has been the part that went up. In addition, the town did a reassessment recently, which it has to do by law, which brought property values across Lakewood up to date, which may have also had an impact. None of that has anything to do with Meir, Menashe, or any of the other Township Committeemen. I don’t see you rallying against the Ocean County Freeholders for their portion of the taxes growing over the years.

  12. He is a tzadik not only did he get my child into school, he did it in such an unassuming way. He goes above and beyond and continues to be involved to assure the success of my child at school including giving many hours of his time on the phone and in person with wanting nothing in return!!

  13. I’ve been working with Meir for quite a long time. I’m not surprised to hear all these wonderful stories about Meir. I’ve witnessed it first hand. Not only was I impressed with how he dealt with others, but everyone I work with have told me the same. Meir Lichtenstein deserves your vote 1,000%

  14. Lakewood is in bad shape and needs drastic help. It’s not a referendum on Meir personally or his help with Mosdos. The current committee has allowed (helped) the town deteriorate terribly. Not voting for them sends a message “we are disgruntled and demand change”

  15. R Meir and R Menashe are so special and help so much you dont begin to think you can understand what will happen if they leave office. I am disgusted to see someone call them ‘politicians’ and use the Heileger Pirkei Avos as proof against these two Tazadikim. They live and breath the Pirkei Avos!

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