Crisis in Lakewood: 732 or 213?


lakewood school meetingLife is about challenges.

Challenges come in many shapes and forms.

Challenges come to every individual, every community, every organization, and every mosad hachinuch. 

Boruch Hashem, Klal Yisroel is gebentched with many selfless individuals and askanim who rise to the occasion and grab an opportunity when they see one, doing what every person was sent to this world for – in Rav Chaim Volozhiner’s words, to help and to benefit other human beings.

Most community crises find a group of askanim sitting together, brainstorming, trying to find the best ways to address the situation. One common denominator to practically every one of these meetings is that, somehow, financial assistance can either solve the crisis completely or at least alleviate the problems greatly. The question always arises: To whom shall we turn? How can we raise the necessary funds? Who will understand the delicate nature of the issues and the great sensitivities and confidentialities involved? Who has a heart big enough to contribute significantly and thus really make a difference?

Over the last few years, there has been another common denominator to these meetings and to so many crises, whether individual, communal, organizational, or chinuch-related in nature.

This common denominator is the answer to this question.

rechnitz-shlomoLakewood, NJ, and its mosdos hachinuch  have recently been through challenges that once again saw this question being asked. Predictably, the same answer was given.

The answer was a cell phone number beginning not with 732, and not 718 or 845, but 213, the area code in Los Angeles, California, home to our generation’s architect of tzedakah and chesed, Mr. Shlomo Yehudah Rechnitz.

This past Sunday, an urgent meeting was held at the home of Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoah. In attendance were all the roshei yeshiva of Bais Medrash Govoah and the roshei mosdos of Lakewood’s girls high schools.

The crisis discussed revolved around a local high school that was forced to close its doors, leavings many girls and their families scrambling and desperately looking for someone or something to shed a glimmer of hope on their plight.

No time was wasted on brainstorming and figuring out who should be called. The answer was already agreed upon based on past experience. The “call” was made this time not by phone, but via email. The request: a multiple-year commitment of six figures to ameliorate the entire situation.

The roshei yeshiva were not made to wait.

Within ten minutes, the predictable response came, also via email.

The school would remain open.

Although not one person in the room was shocked, the excitement was palpable. From across the country, Reb Shlomo Yehudah received many brachos, and although they were not heard by his ears, they were heartfelt and laden with genuine appreciation.

A few of some lesser known stories of how Reb Shlomo Yehudah is there for so many individuals in such a selfless way were spontaneously shared.

There was one question remaining: But he does not even live in Lakewood!

While this question remains, the Lakewood community, like so many communities around the globe, is so fortunate to have this 213 phone number and email address to reach out to.

Whether it’s ensuring bussing for every child in Lakewood, dedicating the largest makom Torah of tinokos shel bais rabbon in Lakewood, partnering with numerous mosdos haTorah and chinuch in such an enormous way, personally taking acharayus and supporting so many local families, or devoting time and effort for mosdos and individuals, Reb Shlomo Yehudah has become a parnes ha’ir of Lakewood.

May he and his family be gebentched, and may we all learn from and follow his amazing example of achrayus and selflessness for the klal and the prat.

{G. Newscenter}


  1. To the Torah world—–
    I am not a person that writes on comments. But I am involved with a high school Boy that is on the streets from a terrible broken family and no one was able to help and today a family Member told me that rabbi Goldenberg and mr rechnitz got involved and there is light at the end of the tunnel

  2. I must give credit where credit is due -I always heard the stories where mr Recnitz got involved but today I am in the know of a boy that comes from a tragically broken home and is out of yeshiva and after all the askonim gave up mr rechnitz got involved to resolve !!!!!

  3. A beautifull story. But the jewish community has become way too dependant on a few peoples money. Its a beautiful story but a long term problem.