The Simcha Can Go On: Visa Granted to Israeli Chosson a Week Before Wedding in Lakewood


chris-smithFull Matzav report: After weeks of uncertainty and worry, a wedding will take place this coming Thursday night at Bais Faiga Hall in Lakewood, NJ, with the chosson and kallah, and all the attendees, expressing extra special simcha that a potential visa difficulty was thankfully averted.

The chosson, Yossi (Yosef Dovid) Michael, who is originally from England and now resides in Eretz Yisroel, will iy”H be marrying Faigy Friedlander, a daughter of Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Tzvi Friedlander of Lakewood, NJ.  

Yossi, a dual Israeli and British citizen, had been under the impression that he could use his UK passport under the waiver program to which he was advised to apply for a visa. However, he was denied a visa and was unable – with little time before the wedding – to arrange an emergency appointment so that he could apply for a visa to enable him to enter the United States.

Yossi, a talmid of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and the kallah got engaged on September 5 and will iy”H be returning to live in Eretz Yisroel, where the kallah is employed at Machanayim International.

Yossi had previously applied for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in Yerushalayim and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and was denied.

Noam Amdurski of was one of the many askanim who, when they first learned of the story, placed phone calls and sent emails to find a way to help the chosson, who was told by officials to “postpone the wedding.”

“How could they understand that over 1,500 invitations were sent out? How could we explain what a Yiddishe wedding means and that about 1,000 guests are expected at the wedding?” said Noam Amdurski of “There are going to be many guests, iy”H, from Israel, England and the US. Postponing the wedding, from practical and financial standpoints, was just not an option.”

Thanks to the efforts of Lakewood Mayor Steven Langert and R’ Yitzchok Halberstam of the Lakewood Vaad, Congressman Chris Smith’s office was apprised of the situation last Thursday and began to investigate what could be done to get the chosson a visa in time.

Bais Faiga Hall: The site of the Michael-Friedlander wedding this coming Thursday night.
Bais Faiga Hall: The site of the Michael-Friedlander wedding this coming Thursday night.

Letters explaining the desperate nature of the situation – including one from the kallah herself – were sent to both the Congressman and the Consul General at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. This past Monday, October 25, Congressman Smith wrote a strongly-worded letter to Consul General Anthony C. Parker, requesting that he grant Yossi an immediate non-immigrant visa interview and administer a non-immigrant visa for him to travel to the U.S. for the wedding. On Wednesday, to the great relief of family and friends, Consul General Parker met with Yossi and granted him a visa.

Yesterday, Congressman Smith, along with his chief of staff, paid a personal visit to Lakewood, NJ, to wish mazel tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Friedlander on their daughter’s upcoming marriage. At a gathering at Langert’s office, Rabbi Friedlander, in turn, expressed his great appreciation to the Congressman – who made a special visit to Lakewood in midst of his reelection campaign – for procuring a visa for his future son-in-law. Rabbi Friedlander was joined by his wife, Mrs. Raisel Friedlander, and the kallah. Mrs. Freidlander thanked the Congressman and handed him an invitation to the wedding Thursday night.

At the gathering, Mayor Steven Langert, who was joined by R’ Yitzchok Halberstam, read the following prepared remarks:

 “I thank Congressman Smith for taking time out of his rigorous campaign schedule to come to Lakewood tonight. I asked him to come because I feel that it is vital to publicize how much the Congressman cares about Lakewood and how he will move mountains for his constituents.

“As we all know, Lakewood has a large Orthodox Jewish community. Along with this comes frequent travel and interaction to and from Israel. From time to time, people in Israel can get into what I will call a “visa snafu.” This is what happened to the soon-to-be son-in-law of Chaim and Raisel Friedlander.

“Rabbi Friedlander approached me about his problem. Now, thank G-d, Lakewood has many askanim, or community activists, and I asked Rabbi Friedlander to be in touch with noted activist Rabbi Yitzchok Halberstam, who is the founder of the Chemed Health Center and also the founder of the Lakewood Resource and Referral Center.

“Rabbi Halberstam reached out to the Congressman. He immediately put his chief of staff here and in Washington on the case. Through their herculean efforts – and really I thank you – the necessary paperwork was obtained and a visa was issued.

“There are very few elected officials that would interrupt their pre-election schedule and put it on hold to help ensure that a marriage take place. I hope I speak for everyone in Lakewood when I say thank you for what you have done and continue to do for your constituents in Lakewood. Thank you so much.”

Congressman Smith responded warmly, stating that he never had anyone be so gracious, grateful and kind in saying thank you to him for his efforts. He said with a smile that he “loves weddings” and is married 33 years. He wished congratulations to Rabbi Friedlander and expressed his blessings for a joyous occasion. thanks all those who were informed and tried to help, including MK Meir Porush, Attorney David Grunblatt, Rabbi Edgar Gluck, Rabbi Elisha Klausner of Chicago, Rabbi Abba Kohn of the Agudah in Washington, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel of the Agudah in New York, Mr. George Klein of New York, Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, Rabbi P. Shapira, and Aaron D. Davis.

And of course, an extra special thank you to Congressman Smith for demonstrating his genuine care for his constituents in the Fourth Congressional District and pulling the necessary strings to ensure that the simcha will go on this Thursday night at Bais Faiga Hall.

May the chosson and kallah build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel.

{Dovid Newscenter with reporting by P. G.}


  1. A very impressive story. I dont know either side but I am happy as a fellow yid for them. And I never heard of this Congressman but he surely deserves our hakaras hatov.

  2. Baruch Hashem for a pleasant ending, Mazal Tov.

    As citizens of whatever country we reside in, it is essential to learn about the changes in visas, immigration and travel options.

  3. Yossi and Faigy, may you have much simcha and bracha as you make a bayis in Klal Yisroel. Boruch Hashem this nisayon has passed and you can now enjoy your chasunah besha tova umtzlachas

  4. i want to go to this simcha just bec of this! I am so happy for the mechutanim bh that it can not be any problem. what time is the chupah

  5. can you even imagine if they didn’t give this choson a visa?! Gosh! what would they have done, canceled the wedding? it is scary to think of how this could have turned out. They could mamesh bentch gomel, Hagoel lechayovim tovos shegmolani kol tov.

  6. Is Steve Langert Jewish? (I am not from Lakewood)
    Yes he is and he is frum.

    is this the guy who Kleinhandler is runnign against?

  7. Another of the hundreds of klal issues tmannerme up on a daily basis. Askonim need to work with elected officials to help our community. We don’t always agree with all if the positions of these officials but there can be no doubt about the need to work with them in a respectful manner. This is a case in point.

  8. I am a consular official, employed at the Embassy of the United States of America in Tel Aviv.

    If the chosson had attended to his visa requirements in good time this storm in a teacup would never have arisen.

    The story clearly states that “Yossi studies in Bnei Brak” – which is, perhaps, three miles maximum from the American Embassy in Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv.

    There was absolutely NO reason or requirement for Yossi to have gone to the American Consulate-General in Yerushalayim, which by definition deals solely with Jerusalem and the West Bank. If the applicant did so then he was wasting his time.

    It seems to me that the intervention of the congressman was for one reason, and for one reason only: he is up for re-election next week and this whole sorry affair is as good a way as any to garner a few votes from the more gullible Jews in his district.

  9. Just after 9/11, a Brooklyn chasuna was relocated to Montreal, last minute, when the chosen could not get a US visa. The local community really extended themselves to be mesamayach choson v’kallah.

  10. From INS:
    Nonimmigrant visas are for international travelers (citizens of other countries), coming to the U.S. temporarily. The visa, placed in your passport when issued, allows you to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (airport, for example) and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection immigration officer to enter the U.S. A visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S.