Rav Berel Povarsky: “Lakewod” or “Lakewood”?


Rav-Berel-PovarskySince the time that Lakewood has had an observant Jewish population, thousands upon thousands of talmidei chachomim have pursued lives of Torah there. Many hundreds of engagements, wedding, and other halachic documents have been composed, reviewed, and completed there. Consistently, the Hebrew transliteration of the name Lakewood has been the same, unquestioned, and universally accepted. Complacency, however, is not an attribute that is admired nor coveted by those in the Torah community.

Recently, Rabbi Berel Povarsky, a rosh yeshiva at Yeshivas Ponovezh in Bnei Brak, visited Lakewood. During his visit, he participated in several simchos, including a wedding at which Rav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, rosh yeshiva of Beth Medrash Govoha, together with other rabbonim and roshei yeshiva were present.

While the kesubah was being composed, Rav Povarsky expressed his opinion that the name Lakewood, as it was being written, was incorrect. He felt that it should be written as follows: Lamed, Ayin, Yud, Kuf, Vav, Aleph, Vav, Vav, Daled. Rav Povarsky suggested the added Vav before the Daled. Without it, Rabbi Povarsky explained, the word would mean and be pronounced as Lakewod, not Lakewood.

Further, Rav Povarsky stressed, the name Lakewood literally means the woods next to a lake, which can describe any woods near any lake anywhere and does not specifically describe the specific city of Lakewood in the State of New Jersey. Therefore, Rav Povarsky directed that when writing a kesubah or any other halachic document in Lakewood, it must be fully described as follows: “The City of Lakewood in the State of New Jersey.” Only thus would the document have been written fully and correctly. Anything less, according to Rav Povarsky, would be deficient and, therefore, render the document technically defective.

Rav Kotler and the other rabbonim and roshei yeshiva present agreed with Rav Povarsky and suggested and from now on, all kesubos and halachic documents in Lashon Kodesh will have Lakewood fully spelled out with the added third Vav and Lakewood will be fully described as “The City of Lakewood in the State of New Jersey.”

{Der Blatt/Rabbi G. Tannenbaum/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Respectfully, it would seem that the 2 Vavs should appear before the Aleph (to provide the “v” sound) and only one Vav after the Aleph (to provide the double “o” sound). Two Vavs after the Aleph really doesn’t sound right. It would also be interesting to know whether HaRav HaGaon Rav Shlomo Miller Shlit”a was consulted on this matter.

  2. Presumably all previous kesubos and gitten are NOT bottul lemafre’ah, or else we will have a “Shidduch Crisis” like never before…

  3. What do all the Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshivos of America that have been mesader kiddushin in Lkwd until now paskin?!!! Its hard to beleive that this is the first time the question of the Lkwd spelling has been questioned!

  4. does this mean all the old kesovos need to be rewritten? what does this do to the status of all the old weddings done till now-are they valid? tzurich iyun

  5. I remember hearing that this is an old machlokes about the 3 Vavs. I think that Rav Moshe used 3 Vavs when writing a get in Woodridge.

    mkarpas – there were no weddings in Lakewood when Rav Ahron was alive.

  6. Rav elyashiv paskened 7 years ago how to spell lakewood with the haskoma of all gedolei haposkim in the us

    lamed yud kuf vov vov alef vov daled

    lamed ayin would be a segol

    see shu”t atzei besamim siman 46

  7. one more thing
    the hanhaga of bnei torah is not to identify a city by the state or by writing north america
    this is ibelieve is the hanhoga of r moshe feinstein since halacha does not recognize such simanim

    it is found in the more modern community that rabbanim include the state and sometimes North america

    if indeed there was a need to identify lakewood more effectively in the kesuvos (which there is NOT BTW since Lakewood is the name of numerous cities and neighborhoods worldwide) then it sould be written with its proper simanim like in a get!!!

    “lakewood masa d yasva alnehar metedeconk val nehar lake carasaljo val nehar lake shenendoah”

    I am very surprised at the lack of research in this matter I hope all the articles on this site are more accurate

  8. I would like to know where “matzav” got this information that the Roshei Yeshiva “suggested that from now on” the kesubos should be different???

  9. anyone familiar with Yiddish knows that two vavs are neccessary for the v sound and that the alef vav that follow is pronounced oo. It is not the au sound that he describes. I can not understand why nobody present explained this to him

  10. Transliterating names is by definition arbitrary. Look up old sefarim and shutim, you will see multiple spellings of many many cities in Europe, sometimes even two different spellings in the same tshuva. I have seen at least five different ways of spelling Volozhin, Why? Because it’s not a Hebrew city! Everyone will spell it differently, depending on their own personal dialect bela”z. I posit that by definition , a proper Hebrew spelling cannot be defined, and therefore they are all acceptable. If you need a proper spelling, write it in English in the kesuva, and that is perfectly legitimate.

  11. of course rav povarskys opinion is one to be strongly reckoned with but it may be worth keeping in mind if there is precedant set by poskim from the previous generation

  12. There absolutely were weddings in Lakewood while R’ Aharon was alive. In fact his son, R’ Shneur got married in the Clarendon Hotel which was on the corner of 7th and Madison. It was a sister hotel of the Pioneer and run by Leo Gartenberg (without at a hechsher).

  13. What a beautiful discussion. Of course, a kesubah is not invalidated by a minor error. Gitten are and they would have to be written as indicated by number 9. Nevertheless, this is a true example of hafoch bo, hafoch bo! The article comes from the Jewish Press which quotes the Der Blatt, which is a Satmar Yiddish weekly. There is a Satmar Dayan in Lakewood (or Lakewod) and his opinion would be important and most interesting. Thank you very much.


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