Orthodox Town of Lakewood Grabs Bigger Computer Subsidy Than Poorest Cities

How Does Jersey Shore Town of 93,000 Outstrip Newark?

gates foundation

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published April 22, 2013, issue of April 26, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

Charges of waste and fraud have long followed E-Rate, which was the subject of a congressional investigation in 2005. Recent investigations published in the Forward and The Jewish Week of New York have drawn attention to Orthodox Jewish communities’ exploitation of the program. The Forward reported in February that ultra-Orthodox institutions in Brooklyn that don’t qualify as libraries have received $1.4 million in E-Rate library subsidies. Later in February, The Jewish Week of New York reported that Orthodox schools in upstate New York and in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Boro Park and Crown Heights had received millions in E-Rate subsidies despite not providing students with Internet access. The Jewish Week stories also raised questions about possible fraud involving E-Rate service providers to these schools.

The Forward’s latest findings, the result of an analysis of publicly available data, show an apparent imbalance in the distribution of E-Rate funding in New Jersey that overwhelmingly favors Lakewood’s ultra-Orthodox community. The Forward attempted to interview officials both at both private schools and at public schools in Lakewood for this story. None would agree to comment.

The new questions raised about the large amounts of E-Rate funds benefiting the Orthodox Jewish community come as the program struggles to meet its funding requests nationwide, which far outstrip available dollars. The program now rejects requests for expensive services like wiring and network hardware from all but the most impoverished schools, and experts say it could further limit subsidies in the coming years.


Two decades ago, Lakewood was a small New Jersey town with large African-American and Hispanic populations. It was also home to Beth Medrash Govoha, a non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodox yeshiva. Founded in the 1940s, the yeshiva serves as an amalgam of college and graduate school for ultra-Orthodox young men, teaching high-level courses in Talmudic law. The institution is the leading one of its kind in the United States, and enrollment there has ballooned to nearly 5,000 men in recent years.

The growth of the yeshiva spurred a parallel growth in the Orthodox population of Lakewood, and in the size of the town overall. The town’s population grew by 53% between 2000 and 2010, according to U.S. Census data, making it one of the largest municipalities in the state.

Enrollment in Lakewood’s public school system, meanwhile, has remained relatively flat. Yet the growth of the Orthodox community in Lakewood has brought a profusion of private Orthodox elementary and high schools to serve the mushrooming religious population. Those schools began to receive significant amounts of E-Rate subsidies in 2008.

Since 2010, schools and libraries located in Lakewood have received a total of $15 million in E-Rate commitments, more than schools in any other part of New Jersey. Schools and libraries in Newark, the next-biggest E-Rate recipient in New Jersey and a much larger city than Lakewood, have received $14 million over the same period.

In one sense, it’s possible that Lakewood’s E-Rate commitments are catching up to the town’s rapid growth. Lakewood’s schools and libraries still lag behind a handful of large cities in cumulative E-Rate commitments over the 15-year lifetime of the program.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.