Holocaust Survivors Snubbed by Herson's Chabad
David and Hilda Landsman are looking for a place to live. After four decades of residing in Rockaway, New Jersey, where they helped found the first and only Orthodox minyan in the area, the retired couple feels pushed out by Chabad of Northwest New Jersey.
“All they wanted from us was our money,” says Mrs. Landsman whose husband is a retired baker. “That’s the only time the Lubavitchers talked to us. But I couldn’t keep giving them money. I have my own bills to pay. And when I stopped giving them money, suddenly no one was buying our challohs.”
The Landsmans were one of several families who poured heart and soul into building an active, dedicated Orthodox group in White Meadow Lake, a suburb in Rockaway Township. Then Asher Herson of Chabad came to town promising to help build the community and offered to take over the minyan. “They wanted us to pay his mortgage,” recalls Mrs. Landsman. “But I could barely afford my own.” The Hersons did manage to get financial support from wealthy backers outside the community, then they took over the small group. But today, most shomer-Shabbos members have been driven away from the community by the lack of observance they've seen; today, any number of cars pull up to the “shul” on Shabbos, then drive off after services. The Chabad Center, whose leadership includes mixed marriages, encourages membership from wealthy patrons as far as 20 miles away.
Mrs. Landsman, whose husband fought in the Israeli War of Independence after being released from a concentration camp, laments over what Chabad has done in Rockaway. “They said they came to help us but they didn’t help us,” she says. “So we’re painting the house now and in a few more months and we’ll be gone. They don’t need us here anymore.”