[Photos below.] A unique alliance establishing the Torah communities of Lakewood and Bnei Brak as sister cities was formally approved by the Lakewood Township Committee Thursday night at its meeting at Town Hall. The Lakewood resolution came a week after the municipality of Bnei Brak, at an event that featured the participation of rabbonim, community leaders, askanim and politicians, formally approved the development from its side.
The alliance between the twin cities – Bnei Brak, with a population of approximately 170,000 residents, and Lakewood, which is home to about 100,000 people, of which 50% are frum Yidden – was first proposed by Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Asher during his visit to Lakewood in November.
Lakewood is home to the largest mosad haTorah in the Diaspora, Bais Medrash Govoah, which has approximately 6,250 talmidim. Mxncx, dxnjcde f3er3r goal of the twin cities or sister cities alliance, as delineated by Mayor Asher in his remarks at the signing ceremony in Bnei Brak, is to strengthen the connection between the two municipalities, which are both famous Torah communities, with the intention of establishing joint teams working together on issues such as chinuch and the welfare of frum residents. Representatives from both municipalities will formulate proposals to promote economic improvements and other proposals to better both the ruchniyus and the quality of life of the cities’ residents.
The writ, which was unanimously approved by the city council members, stresses that the goal of the alliance is to strengthen the ties between the respective cities, both renowned centers of Torah study, and to set up joint teams to foster education and welfare activities. The teams will include experts from both cities who will formulate plans for economic advancement and solutions to a number of municipal issues.
Mayor Asher emphasized at the recent ceremony held at the Bnei Brak City Council meeting hall, which brought to fruition the months-long effort toward establishing the alliance, that in both of these cities, where the primary focus is on spiritual and familial growth and prosperity, all attempts and ideas to improve the quality of living and expansion in the community is, in essence, a spiritual endeavor.
The mayor added that the leaders of the two municipalities see it as their duty and responsibility to develop and promote mosdos haTorah under the guidance of gedolei Torah, while maintaining the special character that has come to identify each of the cities in a unique way.
Lakewood Mayor R’ Menashe Miller, who also serves as a Major and chaplain with the U.S. Air Force and recently completed duty at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, stressed to the attendees at the ceremony that both municipalities have but one goal: to raise the banner of Torah, elevating the Yiddishkeit of its residents and increasing kevod Shomayim. Mayor Miller noted that the two cities share similar physical and spiritual needs and can thus work to develop economic arrangements and programs that benefit low-income families.
Mayor Miller offered specific praise for the business and office center in the northern part of Bnei Brak, which promises to serve as an enormous source of revenue to be used to develop the city and city services, and to alleviate the strain on residents of meager means.
In attendance at the ceremony representing the city of Bnei Brak were Rabbi Chanoch Zeibert, acting mayor; Rabbi Menachem Mendel Eisenberg; and Rabbi Eliyahu Dadon and Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein, deputy mayors. Representing the city of Lakewood were Mayor Miller, Committeeman R’ Meir Lichtenstein, and Rabbi Shrage Kotler of the administration of Bais Medrash Govoah.
The ceremony featured remarks from R’ Avraham Tannenbaum, secretary and spokesman of Bnei Brak, amongst others, and was attended by city council members, a representative from the US embassy in Israel, a representative from the Center for Local Government and heads of local chessed organizations.
See below for photos of the signing ceremony and the Lakewood visit to Bnei Brak: