An undated letter on the stationary of Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, NJ, calling for the placement of mechitzos on the recently launched local Lakewood Shuttle buses in Lakewood, NJ, is a fake, Matzav.com has learned.
The letter is actually a reprint of one penned several years ago by residents of Monsey, NY. The letter was cleverly pasted on the Beth Medrash Govoha letterhead.
“The first thing that should have tipped people off was that the letter was undated,” a Lakewood askan told Matzav.com. “It is unfortunate that it is so easy for a forgery like this to be disseminated.”
The letter was published by several Hebrew-language news sites, which portrayed the missive as authentic, even though it is not.
The letter claims that the mechitzah on the local buses is necessary to “ preserve the holiness of our city by creating a separation between men and women…In the merit of this undertaking to maintain the holiness and purity of our camp, we will merit all of the brachos promised to those who protect the holiness of Klal Yisroel.”
The forged letter bears the signatures of the four roshei yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoah, Rav Malkiel Kotler, Rav Dovid Schustal, Rav Yeruchem Olshin and Rav Yisroel Neuman, and the mashgiach, Rav Matisyahu Salomon. It also has the added signatures of Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman.
In truth, none of them signed the bogus letter regarding the Lakewood, NJ, public buses.
In addition, distributed together with the forged BMG letter was an accompanying message signed by Rav Aharon Schechter, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn; Rav Yosef Rosenblum, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Shaarei Yosher in Brooklyn; and Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedola of South Fallsburg, ostensibly in support of the move to institute a gender-separating mechitzah on the local buses.
That addendum also features a statement from Rav Shmuel Auerbach, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Maalos Hatorah in Yerushalayim.
It is not clear who was responsible for the release of the bogus letter and whether the signatories would be able to take legal action against those who committed the forgery.
The letter went viral, being emailed across the globe and shared via Twitter and Whatsapp, in addition to being hung in shuls and yeshivos.
Several anti-chareidi websites published the bogus letter over the past week and proceeded to mock it. It’s anyone’s bet whether those same disseminators of hate will have the intellectual honesty to report on the fallacious nature of the letter.