Lakewood Mayor Deploying to Middle East


menashe-millerLakewood, NJ – Mayor Menashe Miller ended his term last week and will be deploying to the Middle East to serve as a chaplain for the troops during the holiday season.

Miller, an Air Force major, leaves early this week and is expected to return in January. He served overseas in the same capacity last year.

The position is not without risks, he said. He rides along with the convoys, offering comfort and services to troops needing spiritual reinforcements particularly during the holidays, he said.

When he returns, he will again be appointed mayor by the Township Committee, Deputy Mayor Steven Langert said.

A farewell ceremony was held for the unsuspecting mayor at his final committee meeting for the year on Thursday. Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein organized a performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” as well as the song Ki Besimcha Seitzeiu, both sung by Shua Kessin. Miller’s wife also presented him a collection of video and photographs.

“Well, I guess the secret is out,” Miller said of his deployment. Though he had no knowledge of the special goodbye for him, he became suspicious when he walked into the room and saw parents, his wife Yocheved and his children.

Yocheved Miller said it is difficult every time her husband deploys. But she said she gets much help from their three eldest children, all girls in tending to the three youngest, all boys. Having the girls first is the secret of her success, she said.

Yocheved Miller busied herself during the weeks before Thursday’s meeting, preparing a slide show of collected video messages from the Lakewood Township municipal staff.

Miller was unable to speak at first after the tribute to him but collected himself and later addressed the audience.

First, he recognized his wife.

“Being a mother and running the show. I don’t know where you find the strength” and time to assemble such a tribute, the mayor said.

“I am an Orthodox Jew. My great-grandparents were persecuted in many countries. The United States of America allows us to live free of persecution and this is an opportunity for me to give back to this great country.”

“I am going overseas during the holiday season,” Miller said, minimizing his contribution. “I go for a few weeks, but there are people who are there for much, much longer and they are the true heroes, the unsung heroes.”

Miller said that the recognition was humbling and he would like to see the town recognize every military person from Lakewood for their sacrifice.

Yocheved Miller said the Hanukkah season is hard on the children without their father but there are so many friends in the community, they feel comforted. The mayor apologized to his children for not being able to join them during their celebrations.

When Miller was deployed last year, his family spent Chanukah with Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein’s family. For fun, Lichtenstein made a life-sized replica Menashe Miller to sit at the table with the family. Miller was able to use Skype, an internet video chat tool, to join his family during the holiday, he said.

{The Asbury Park Press/ Newscenter}