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Letter: Lakewood should be proud

Dear TLS,

Permit me to publicly express my profound appreciation to Congressman Chris Smith and his devoted staff and the dedicated askanim who came to our rescue in our moment of need.

Our son’s wedding recently took place in Lakewood NJ. With COVID-related rules and uncertainty, getting to the wedding from our residence in the United Kingdom was no simple task. In particular, my teenage daughter was caught in a bureaucratic nightmare due to a misunderstanding with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which necessitated changes of flights and plans and unanticipated delays, culminating in my young daughter being denied boarding her U.S. flight after a stopover in Turkey.

She pleaded in vain with the officials in the Istanbul airport, who insisted that U.S. CBP would not clear her to fly and they were not going to permit her to travel. The frum couple who chaperoned her selflessly forfeited their own flight to ensure that she wouldn’t be alone in a hostile, foreign airport, and we watched frantically as the hours went by with all of them stuck in Istanbul. My son, the chosson, was overcome with the thought that his sister would miss the wedding to a bureaucratic snafu – but how could we reason with the faceless U.S. bureaucracy?

Mi K’amcha Yisroel – askanim whom we never even met jumped in to help. We have tremendous hakaras hatov to HKB”H for the Siyatta Dishmaya he gave to R’ Moshe Tress who unhesitatingly took our early morning calls; to Mr. Zvi Gluck and Mr. David Kushner of Amudim, who selflessly led this effort and worked closely with his many contacts; and to the indefatigable Rabbi Aaron Kotler and his incredible team at Beth Medrash Govoha and many others who are not mentioned here.

As the hours to the last flight before Shabbos ticked by, Congressman Chris Smith’s office was brought on to the case. At a time when many people are heading home for dinner, Mrs. Jo Schloeder, Congressman Smith’s Deputy Chief of Staff, immediately contacted Customs and Border Patrol, working until midnight to secure permission for our daughter to board a flight to the U.S. which to our surprise the problem was solved!

I could not get over the dedication of Congressman Smith and his staff. The fact they jumped on this and intervened for hours– almost as if it were their own child! – seemed unbelievable. Rabbi Aaron Kotler explained that this was not a singular occurrence –  the Congressman and his staff go out of their way to advocate for people in their times of need, leaving no stone unturned, whether it is the “small” issues like passports and program advocacy or a major life-and-death rescues.

Looking at this from the outside, The Lakewood community is incredibly fortunate to be represented by such a devoted, honorable public servant.

Best wishes to all for a year of good health and simcha!

-A grateful parent from abroad. Leah G.

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There are 4 Comments to "Letter: Lakewood should be proud"

  • Wow! says:

    Beautiful

  • Vote Republican says:

    Chris is constantly working behind the scenes. Chris is a mentsch.

  • Rosey says:

    Chris Smith always has my vote

  • Zf says:

    Chris Smith has been doing this for decades.
    I had a similar story close to 20 years ago and his office turned things over with the state department to have the officials in the American consulate in a foreign country work with me to get us into the US.
    My point is, I am not an askan and this was all done for me as a constituent, no “machers” were involved. He just cares, even for the little guy, that’s his specialty