PHOTOS: Congressman Chris Smith Visits Lakewood to Meet Jewish Community Leaders

Congressman Chris Smith visited Lakewood onWednesday evening to hold a roundtable discussion with The Lakewood Vaad, LCSC and LRRC (the Kehila’s social service agencies).

He passionately advocated for his decade’s long agenda – widely shared by the Lakewood Kehilla – to fight anti-Semitism and promote traditional family values in a world becoming more and more hostile to our sacred Mesorah and values. He reiterated his two social priorities; upholding the sanctity of traditional marriage and legally respecting and protecting the absolute right to life for all, including the unborn, elderly and medically fragile.

Frankly, it was a breath of fresh air and music to our ears to hear a respected public servant so articulately advocate for Kedusha throughout our nation and for safety of Yidden throughout the world,” reflected Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg.

He went on to share his battle stories and vignettes, including leading the charge in Congress to free Russian Yidden from communist oppression andshmad.

He described how since the 1980’s he has placed a unique focus on issues related to global anti-Semitism, even before there was a significant frum population in his district. Despite the many years – even decades – that have elapsed since some of these endeavors, the passion was evident in the Congressman’s voice.

The group fondly recollected how when Jewish “Refuseniks” were imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain of the former Soviet Union, Congressman Smith made several personal trips to visit them and was instrumental in freeing them. More recently, he traveled to Bolivia to visit Yanky Ostreicher, a frum yid who was unjustly imprisoned, and was instrumental in his eventual release.

These and other bold foreign policy endeavors have earned Congressman Smith disproportionate influencein foreign affairs. Among his many leadership positions, he is a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and Co-Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (where there is R”l growing anti-Semitism across the whole continent).

Askonim thanked him for using his clout to battle anti-Semitism, terrorism and other human rights abuses, and thanking him for always being an unflinching ally of Israel. Within recent weeks, Congressman Smith’s efforts led to the passage of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act, legislation he authored that guarantees the appointment of a Special Envoy whose sole focus is battling global anti-Semitism.

Congressman Smith explained how none of these feats – as logical and agreeable as they sound – come easy. The legislative process and all its political complexities can stretch the process to as long as eight years from inception until enactment, and he has even been subject to credible death threats. “It’s baffling and frustrating at times, but I never give up,” the Congressman explained. As a result of this persistence, Congressman Smith ranks #2 in the entire House of Representatives (435 members) in authoring legislation that is now law.

On the issue of Israel, Congressman Smith shook his head and threw his hands up in the air when discussing the “blood money” that the Palestinian Authority pays terrorists and their families who brutally kill Achenu Bnei Yisroel B’Eretz Yisroel, R”l. He heralded the Taylor Force Act, enacted in March, which cuts US economic aid to the Palestinians as long as these terror subsidies are given. He shared that he is currently working across the aisle to advance even stricter legislation that would hold Palestinian officials criminally liable for the deaths of US citizens in terror attacks as long as these payments continue.

A deeply religious person, Congressman Smith spoke with emotion how he empathizes with the Lakewood community’s religious and family values. He is reliably pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, and is at the forefront of the battle to ensure that America’s religious citizens and institutions are free to remain true to their values.

The askanim shared the community’s concerns over the anti-Semitism prevalent in Lakewood and neighboring communities. When shown a new website targeting in a very derogatory fashion Ocean County’s Jewish communities, Congressman Smith was visibly disturbed and vowed to follow up on the issue.

Lakewood’s Kehilla social service staff members from the LRRC and LCSC thanked Congressman Smith for his longstanding support and noted that despite his focus on major national and international issues, his office has always been stellar in constituent services – helping district residents navigate just about any issue with a federal agency. The Congressman’s staff in the room confirmed that to date the office has handled over 90,000(!) individual constituent services cases.

“It is indeed a pleasure to work with Congressman Smith’s office and staff”, noted a prominent Kehilla caseworker. They take each issue seriously and give it the attention it needs.”

The Kehilla representatives further noted the outstanding response they receive when reaching out to Congressman Smith’s staff on behalf of individual Yechidim in the Kehilla and beyond needing special high level Hishtadlus with problems both huge and small. A sincere Yasher Koach was extended to him on their behalf.

Our community is diverse and there are assortedpolitical opinions,” Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg of The Lakewood Vaad and LCSC told Congressman Smith. “However, the wall-to-wall appreciation that this community has for you is very strong, ongoing and well-deserved. On behalf of all us, we thank you, bless you and wish you health and continued success.”

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  1. If these askonim can fix the Lakewood traffic situation I will have the utmost respect for them. Otherwise, they don’t represent the needs of the common Lakewooder.

  2. There should be representative from every neighborhood in town, or at least fromdifferent general areas with different needs. The current “askanim” are all from the same neighborhood and all represent limited interests.

  3. I think people don’t understand the Vaad’s purpose at this point. Think of it this way…

    There is a small haven in a vast wild jungle. Within this haven, its inhabitants live relatively peaceful. Sure, there are the usual problems, some more severe than others. One issue in particular is becoming increasingly more difficult, that of wild weeds. Some within the haven have taken upon themselves to trim the weeds here and there, though it’s a very temporary fix at best. Frustrating as it is, the inhabitants have had to learn to live with the weeds, for now. Overall, life within the haven has its benefits and life moves on. In fact, the haven is considered by many far and wide to be a safe place to live. The haven is growing by leaps and bounds and still more people continue to move there.

    Outside the haven, it’s a far more frightening situation. Hundreds of wild beast and animals are constantly trying to break in and disrupt the peaceful ways of the haven’s inhabitants. A small handful of original haven inhabitants have banded together to ensure the safety of the inhabitants. While in the early years they focused on internal issues, lately, as the outside threat became an increasingly serious problem, they began to focus their efforts outward. True, the quality of life issues within the haven were serious, however the existential threat from outside was ever more serious. The inside problems would have to be left to others to try and step up to the plate. Of course, there were many who could not understand. Where had this group gone, what of all the problems the inhabitants had deal with on a daily basis? Still, they carried on with their mission, even as only a small number of inhabitant realized the life saving existential work they were doing to protect the haven from the wild beast from without.

    That’s Vaad today. The vast extent of connections, relationships, and friendships they have forged over the years, and continue to maintain and add to, serves to greatly protect our way of life. There is much more beyond the internal workings of our community that behoove addressing in order to allow us to continue to live way we do in an increasingly hostile world. True, the average person on the street does not see the direct benefits of the Vaad’s effort. But to equate the Vaad’s mission at this point to fixing mostly local problems is a misunderstanding. Most will never know the true extent of the Vaad’s efforts on our behalf. But know that much of our relatively peaceful existence and way of life in Lakewood today is due in great part to the efforts of the Vaad.

    • i hear what you are trying to say, but there is the agudah who is usually at the forefront of the greater threat of the exterior. also if they are dealing with the greater external threat and not the internal affairs they should step out of local township elections and boe

  4. Smith voted NO on Obamacare Repeal (after campaigning for years on repeal)
    Smith voted NO on Tax cuts.
    I will vote for Josh Welle for Congress because although I dont agree with him atleast he’s honest about where he stands on issues.

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