We are all familiar with the saying “closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.” The “oh my what just happened?” Why wasn’t I more vigilant?
Tonight in Lakewood, New Jersey an event was cancelled due to pressure from the powers that be. It was to be an evening of song and merriment with food and wine,starring two very popular singers from the frum Jewish world. It was decided by the hanhala that this event would possibly attract the wrong element, become rowdy and then possibly turn into an evening of mingling even though it was a kumzitz for men only.
In “What Has happened to Lakewood,” I outlined the premise of the Torah town and how the nouveau riche have had a snowball effect on the community. It is no longer just a Torah town. The big wheels have moved in. They want the glitz and glamour of city life in the suburban setting of Lakewood. The town has evolved. A new generation resides there now. The change started slowly with a few city dwellers moving in and building their mansions but like a train gathering speed as it leaves the station it has taken on a life of its own. We cannot expect this new city influx to adhere to the standards of kolel folk. They are cut from a different cloth.
Now that we have established that the community’s wants and desires have taken on a whole new dynamic we cannot really admonish them for being angry when this musical event was cancelled. The laissez-faire attitude should have been nipped in the bud years ago. Rules should have been laid down by the Yeshiva who started the community and presumably run the town. Unfortunately, the horse has bolted and he isn’t coming back. Many youths in Lakewood would have attended this event which was arranged by religious singers. The food was glatt and the venue was kosher. Alternative places to “chill” will be sought after and not always in the most desirable of locations.
One of the singers spoke and graciously accepted the Rabbis’ Psak because he is from the old generation where Rabbonim are listened to and their word respected.
I think it’s time for all concerned to assess the community in the cold light of day. Getting together with Rabbis, teachers and leaders and try to steer the ship on an even keel by not being too drastic or too lenient. A keen understanding of all types is needed now to keep some semblance of achdus in this ever-changing booming community, which few will remember as the sleepy, seaside town of Lakewood, New Jersey.