Anti-Semitic Tirade Follows Orthodox Jewish Baby Left In Hot Car

Earlier this week, in Howell, New Jersey, a four month old baby girl was left in a parked car in 90 degree weather with the windows rolled up, while her mother shopped in Kohl’s with her other children. Thankfully, two good Samaritans heard the wailing child, shattered the car’s window, and rescued her. The mother, who was clearly dressed in Orthodox-attire and hails from Lakewood, New Jersey, was arrested when she returned to her car.

A picture and description of the event was posted on the News12NJ Facebook page by one of their fans with a demand that the story be covered, noting that the family shouldn’t get any “special treatment.” From there, the comments (over 1400!) erupted into a slew of anti-Semitic and anti-Orthodox vitriol.

“I’m going to make a petition to pour light onto the messed up things HASIDIC JEWS get away with. It’s foul and inhumane!” wrote one commenter. (By the way, the mother, living in Lakewood, almost certainly is not Hasidic.)

Another one then said: “I guarantee there are very few baby boys left in cars in that community.” Little does she know that religious Jewish children grow up learning about how when Pharaoh decreed that all the Jewish baby boys be thrown into the Nile and Moses’ father, Amram, who was the leader of the community, told the couples to separate so babies would stop being born altogether, his young daughter Miriam corrected him. She explained that while Pharaoh’s decree would only kill the boys, her father’s decree would stop the girls from being born too (whereby Amram followed his young daughter’s advice and told couples to reunite).

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And then of course, there were the comments that were straight out conspiracy theories, evocative of good old-fashioned blood libels, though this time, the dead kids were Jewish ones: “I absolutely know that there are probably hundreds of children being killed this way on [sic.] that community and no one knows because they keep that under wraps. It’s disgusting.” (P.S. The highest rates of heatstroke deaths in children actually take place in the South.)

Some people tried to fight back, but one woman, named Lisa Bertone, went one step further and contacted us. She wrote “I am Catholic, but grew up in Boro Park and have very near and dear friends in the Orthodox community…I am writing to you because there are a series of disturbing threads on Facebook if you go to the News12NJ and see the story about a baby left in a car in Howell, the mom who is Orthodox was arrested, the comments that follow are nothing short of disturbing…how can all these misconceptions and lies be stopped somehow?

Lisa Bertone

The problem is they can’t. Anti-Semitism, has always existed as we are told in the Talmud that Har Sinai (Mt. Sinai) is connected to the word sinah (hate) because that is the root of where the hatred began. So to some extent, anti-Semitism will continue, even as it defies logic. At the same time, I am a BIG believer in the power of kiddush Hashem, in the power of living up to Torah ideals. Because the Orthodox Jews who did this changed Lisa Bertone’s life.

The daughter of an Italian immigrant, Lisa said the Boro Park neighborhood she lived in during the 1960’s-80’s had Orthodox Jewish and Catholic Italian families living interspersed with true camaraderie. “We took care of each other,” she explained. “My father loved building sukkahs, and I remember thinking they were the coolest club houses I ever saw.”

Lisa’s childhood and teenage years weren’t her only exposure to Orthodox Jews. For the last half dozen years, she’s been working with Orthodox Jewish women (she works in education) who live in Lakewood, Highland Park, and Springfield New Jersey, and Lisa gushes about them as she describes her special friends.

“These women are so down to earth,” she begins, “and they are sincerely caring people, meaning, if someone is having a bad day, they truly care about someone else’s pain.” But they’re not just nice, Lisa said they have fun at work, play practical jokes and their families have embraced her too.

Orthodox Jews should get the same treatment from law enforcement and CPS as anyone else who leaves a baby in a car and anywhere that Orthodox parents are being neglectful or irresponsible with their children, we must speak out against that in the strongest of terms. But they should also get the same treatment from commenters on the internet. While it was difficult to read through the hundreds of anti-Semitic comments that Lisa brought my attention to, I can’t help but feel tremendously grateful to the Orthodox Jews who treated Lisa so kindly that she has become a lifelong advocate for our community. May our actions merit many more loyal friends like her.
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  • Avatar photo Adam J. Leff says on September 2, 2016

    Things like this shouldn’t happen. Noone should be left in a hot car. It unacceptable for even in a short period of time to leave someone in the car. People should think.

  • Avatar photo Julie says on September 2, 2016

    I’m sorry this happened, Allison. As far as I can tell, most of the idiots who leave poor little babies in hot cars are WASPs -like me! Strangely, no one has ever blamed me for their actions…

  • Avatar photo Jessica says on April 29, 2018

    I haven’t read the Facebook thread and I don’t care about you all cry antisemitism.

    I don’t feel sorry for your community. I have worked in your community in a home of an ultra orthodox Jewish Family and I am a Reform Jew. You created an environment that excludes everyone who is not following your so called religion. You look down your noses and treat everyone like they are lesser children of the same G-d. Sooo, what is that called??? Anti-everybody else.

    Our G-d did not want that, our G-d wants HIS children to be loving brothers and sisters to each other.

    Cry and accuse antisemitism somewhere else. When you all open your hearts and contribute to the entire community which entaila paying the same kind of taxes as everyone, running businesses that are legal and producw ratables, not take advantage of Medicaid so that those who truly need it are ablento get it, perform actual Mitzvahs for ppl outside of your bubble, give to those less fortunate from any part of the world then you can cry antisemitism when you’re ridiculed or worse.

    You all are just getting what you have given which has been nothing but negativity. If you all treat ppl poorly then you are going to be treated poorly. That is not antisemitism.

    I really love how nomw of you, especially the author, cares one bit that a baby almost died. This happened maybe 2 yrs ago? I will never like any one you but I will be compassionate and say that I fornone am very thankful that a now 2 or 3 yo little girl is running around enjoying her life. Shame on you all.

    You are a down right cult. I,as a Jew, totally understand why ppl would have gone one a tirade.

    Btw, no where in The Torah, Talmuld, 10 Commandments does it say that it’s perfectly acceptable to abuse your children which is what that mother did.

    Stop hiding under your wigs that look exactly like your real hair…not any less seductive, stop pulling the “I can’t shake your hand bc you’re a woman (not my wife)- every person deserves human contact which is vastly different than sex, stop making your women and girls where long sleeves and dresses on hot, hot, hot days- that’s oppression. You can’t cry antisemitism when you’re a cult.

    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on April 30, 2018

      Thanks for your comment, Jessica. It seems that you have been mistreated by some Orthodox Jews, and for that I am very sorry. But please understand that not all of us are like the people you interacted with. Indeed there are the haughty, judgmental ones out there, but they are not the majority and they don’t like the open-minded people (like us) too much either!

      Of course God wants Jews to love all His children. To give respect to all of Creation. THIS is Judaism. I cry anti-Semitism when I and my co-relgionists get lumped into the same place as extremists. Because it’s not fair and it’s not all of us and just like you can’t call all Muslims terrorists, you can’t call all Orthodox Jews extremists. In fact, I just wrote an article about how Orthodox Jews must rein in their extremists https://jewinthecity.com/2018/04/orthodox-jews-need-to-reign-in-their-extremists/

      I’m glad you found us. We have tons of articles preaching open-mindedness, showing examples of Orthodox Jews helping people outside their community and showing why Jewish values are in line with being a mensch.

      Of course I care about the child – the first thing I wrote was “thank God some good Samaritans found the child in time.” I later noted the mother should face justice for her actions. I know you are against prejudice, Jessica, so please give the content we have here a chance. You have every right to be offended by what you have seen so far, but take some time to educate yourself about the Orthodox Judaism you haven’t seen yet.


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