I need to preface what I’m about to say by stating that I do not practice Judaism. However, my father was Jewish and he was one of the best, most thoughtful and honest people I’ve ever known. Only his mother was Jewish but of course he was raised Jewish. He was a proud Jew. My uncle is Jewish and is also a great dude. My paternal grandma was an Eastern European Jew and thus I am ethnically part Jewish. I identify with many Jewish values, have multiple Jews in my family, have close Jewish friends and just generally support Jewish culture.
Having said all of that, I am looking for some insight into why the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, NJ is objectively a truly awful place. It is a town full of inconsiderate degenerates. I will admit, despite having close relationships with several Reform and Conservative Jewish friends and family, I don’t have relationships with any Orthodox Jews. Not by choice, but just because I’ve never been a part of that culture.
I live in Ocean County, NJ. I live a short drive from Lakewood, NJ. Lakewood’s entire population is made up roughly 75% Orthodox Jews. I have witnessed firsthand the town of Lakewood, NJ devolve into something resembling a garbage dump. The town is FULL of literal trash lining the streets. None of its residents pick up this trash. NONE.
I have witnessed, over and over and over again, Orthodox Jewish residents pollute in broad day light as if it’s simply routine for them. In fact, I’ve gotten into multiple confrontations over it. I loathe polluters. I’ve received the same reaction multiple times. I’ll approach the polluter after watching it happen and say something along the lines of – “You know, that’s not cool. You couldn’t wait until you got home to throw your trash in the garbage?” And then the response I receive, without exception, has been denial – “I don’t know what you’re talking about. That is not my trash.” And then I get annoyed and say – “Asshole, I just watched you throw it out of your car window. Now pick up your fucking trash before I throw it back into your car.” This exact scenario has played out probably a dozen times over the years.
I understand Orthodox Jews generally have zero interest in assimilating into everyday American culture – completely fine by me. America is an amazing place when it comes to religious freedom. I’ve also encountered (at a much higher rate than the general American population) Orthodox Jews in Lakewood who won’t hold the door for you or won’t even look at you when you smile and say thank you. It’s a little odd, but does not bother me whatsoever. I chalk it up to me lacking an understanding of their culture. And to be fair, I’ve had a few nice conversations with Orthodox Jews at some of the restaurants I occasionally patronize in the area.
However, and I hate generalizing, the vast majority of my interactions with Orthodox Jews in Lakewood have been abysmal. They don’t seem to follow or acknowledge the existence of the Golden Rule.
I cannot wrap my head around why Orthodox Jews in Lakewood feel it’s okay to relentlessly pollute. Of course polluting can happen anywhere by any person from any background, however, in 30+ years on this planet I’ve ONLY seen Orthodox Jews in Lakewood pollute CONSISTENTLY firsthand. Furthermore, driving around Lakewood is like entering a demolition derby. The Orthodox Jews in the area have no regard whatsoever for the well-being of pedestrians or other drivers. They routinely cut off vehicles at high speed, recklessly race up to stop signs, cause accidents CONSTANTLY, and hit or nearly hit pedestrians. The term “yield” simply doesn’t exist in Lakewood.
Lakewood also suffers from rampant insurance fraud… and welfare fraud… and healthcare fraud.
My fiancé is a hospitalist MD and even she acknowledges the Lakewood Orthodox Jewish patients are very often incredibly rude. Not without exception, but close. Even her Reform and Conservative Jewish colleagues are like – “Yeah, these Orthodox Jewish patients are absolutely brutal.”
Did Lakewood just get extremely unlucky by having a bunch of scumbags from Brooklyn (who just happen to be Orthodox Jews) move into and ruin the area? Why does the Lakewood Orthodox population suck so badly? Why can’t they follow the Golden Rule? It’s incredibly sad but their obnoxious and inconsiderate behavior is literally exacerbating growing anti-Semitism in the area. It’s really, REALLY unfortunate. I find myself explaining to non-Jew friends and acquaintances, “Listen, the Lakewood community fucking sucks, no doubt about it, but don’t say shit like ‘these Jews’ are ruining nice areas in Ocean County.” Then the people I talk to inevitably regret saying comments like that and agree they shouldn’t generalize but damn, the Lakewood Orthodox community is truly full of completely indefensible assholes.
Tell me somebody else has had a similar experience with the Lakewood, NJ community. Help me understand what I am missing. Why does it seem like the Orthodox Jews in Lakewood refuse to be decent human beings?
EDIT: Flair was automatically changed from “conversation” to “antisemitism” and frankly I’m not sure why.