VIDEO: A Path-Breaking Speech by R’ Shlomo Yehudah Rechnitz About Serious Issues Facing Lakewood

Yair Hoffman writes: Every so often a speech comes along that not only has a remarkable impact upon its audience, but it changes the trajectory of where that society is heading.

Churchill gave such a speech in May of 1940 to the House of Commons. England was at the point of yi’ush – giving up hope in light of Nazi victories. Churchill gave his promise of nothing but blood, sweat, toil and tears. The trajectory changed. The British were inspired to a level of resiliency that eventually carried them to victory over the Nazis.

There have been others as well. Patrick Henry’s speech against the Stamp Act of 1764. His speech of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” inspired the colonists to eventually cast off the oppressive British government. That speech too, changed the trajectory of apathy and hopelessness in the face of oppressive tyranny. And America was born.

Last night too, a speech was delivered in Lakewood, New Jersey. It was a powerful, emotional speech that cut to the very heart of a grave and critical problem that is uniquely affecting the Jewish community in Lakewood. It was delivered by Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz.

It was a speech that will, no doubt, change the trajectory.

The problem Mr. Rechnitz addressed was the growing number of rejected children – children that have been excluded or precluded from attending any of the fine mosdos in Lakewood. He addressed the bullet-like blow to the self-esteem of these children – to the instantaneous destruction of the self-worth of our youth, possibly never to be restored again.

He first spoke of almanos and young children who have lost their fathers. He spoke of the daily tzaar of the almanah. How they had lost the man who stood with them under the Chuppa not so long ago.. Who smiled, laughed, and danced before them. He spoke how he had spent Shabbos with yesomos and yesomim. Young boys under Bar Mitzvah, who don’t have a hand to hold onto, when they walk to Shul on Shabbos.

And then, Reb Shlomo Yehudah spoke of our own self-made problem – a problem we ourselves have created because of our attitudes. He spoke of fathers who don’t know where to turn, who were made to feel that they failed their innocent children. Of Mothers who cry themselves to sleep every night. He spoke of the children who at a tender young age, try to put on a normal face, but hide in their room and cry and cry more. This child’s parents have already cried their hearts out to their Rabbanim, to the school administration. “Please, please take our child. It’s six weeks, and he’s still not in school.”

He spoke of a 13 year old girl, who clearly sees that nobody wants her. She’s the town’s Pesoles. “Can you imagine,” Mr. Rechnitz asked, “an innocent Bas Yisroel, putting on a face for her friends, claiming she hasn’t had enough time to decide which school to go to, only to lay her head down on her pillow at night, the pillow which is still wet from the tears of the night before?”

He remarked that just on his drive into Lakewood that day, he receieved three calls from parents who asked him, “I hear you’re coming to Lakewood, can you speak to so and so. And I will address every one of them, because how can I not? We are a nation who is Noseh B’oel Chaveiro. How can we be comfortable just because everything is fine and dandy by us, while someone else is clearly suffering. Forget Ahavas Yisroel. I won’t ask for that much, but another Yid needs us, another Yid is crying out to us. How can we not answer him, yet expect Hashem to answer us, to take care of our needs?”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Lakewood, Orthodoxy, Shlomo Rechnitz. Bookmark the permalink.