Sister City Alliance Signed Between Bnei Brak and Lakewood
By A. Cohen
A Sister Cities Alliance was signed between Bnei Brak, Israel and Lakewood, New Jersey at a ceremony held at the Bnei Brak City Council meeting hall this week. Participants at the event included rabbonim, the respective mayors of the two cities, 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.
The Sister Cities Alliance between Bnei Brak, which has a population of 170,000, and Lakewood, with a population of 100,000, of which about half are chareidim, was signed following a tour a few months ago by Rabbi Yaakov Asher, the Mayor of Bnei Brak, in Lakewood. During the tour he saw the yeshiva — one of the world's largest — with its thousands of students and was warmly welcomed by HaRav Aryeh Malkiel Kotler shlita, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Beis Medrash Gavo'oh Lakewood, heads of the yeshiva and Rabbi Aharon Kotler, the grandson of the founder and rosh yeshiva, Maran HaRav Aharon Kotler zt"l, who serves as director of the yeshiva and has considerable influence in the New Jersey state government.
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.
Rabbi Menashe Miller, the mayor of Lakewood, also serves as a high ranking chaplain in the US Army and goes to Iraq every year to assist Jewish soldiers, noted that one goal is for both cities to work on certain points in order to raise the banner of Torah and Judaism, and to increase kvod Shomayim. He said both cities have similar needs — both in ruchniyus and gashmiyus — that call for economic development and leveraging as well as assistance for low-income families. He offered his 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.