We are saddened beyond words by the arrests of seven couples in our town. As firm believers in the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ we suspend judgment until the disposition of these charges, and are comforted knowing that our judicial system is an able arbiter of justice.
Regardless of the outcomes of these cases, we have, in our view, a valuable teaching moment that cannot be wasted.
There is no such a thing as “justified” theft. Federal and State social safety-net programs are meant for those in need, even those in need have rules and criteria that must be strictly followed. To deliberately bend a safety-net eligibility rule is stealing, no different than stealing from your friend or neighbor.
We would all do well to redouble and triple our efforts in our communities, reminding each and every one of us that there is never any excuse for dishonesty in any form. Let us take this moment to speak openly of these matters, from the pulpit, in the classroom, and by parents at the dinner table, so that this tragic but necessary learning moment is not lost.
In the days ahead we will help launch a set of intensive educational programs that can ensure that such does not happen again, and will invite the public to participate in these timely programs.
Rabbi Moshe Zev Weisberg on behalf of The Lakewood Vaad