August 10, 2004

by Reb Yudel
Is Bogota the Next Teaneck?

In what seems like an effort to compete with Bergenfield for Teaneck's surplus population, Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan has twinned with Beit El, according to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News.

In what might be an Arutz Sheva misquote, Lonegan appears to be following the recent trend of coming out against the Bush Administration's foreign policy, saying that for Sharon to actually fulfill his promises to George Bush is "inconceivable.":

In a moving ceremony in Beit El yesterday, the mayors of Bogota, New Jersey and Beit El, Israel forged a sister-city pact. Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota said, "In recognition of the plight of Beit El and the challenges here, we felt that declaring a sister-city relationship with Beit El was our best way of showing our support for you."

Referring to the Gaza disengagement/expulsion plan currently on the table, Lonegan said that it was "inconceivable" that Jews should be deported from their own land. Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum thanked Lonegan for his support, and noted that the Book of Ezra states that some 2,400 years ago, "121 Jews returned from Babylonia to this very area. Beit El has been around for quite a long time, and will continue to be!"

Mayor Lonegan, who is 80% blind, said, "This is the first time I have been in this area, and in addition to the excitement of seeing the Biblical sites, I have been most impressed by meeting with the people here. Today we met with Limor Har-Melekh, [the young mother whose husband Shuli was murdered in a terrorist shooting a year ago]; the randomness of the attacks, and the human fall-out, really make us realize that we, who come from a place where we live in peace and safety every single day, take this for granted, and we don't really appreciate how hard people are fighting here."

Joey Bodner and others from Bogota's neighboring town of Teaneck accompanied Lonegan on his trip. "It's very exciting to be a part of this moving twinning ceremony, and we were proud to be a part of it." Bodner noted that he was here on a short trip to show solidarity and contribute to various towns in Judea and Samaria: "Even very short trips such as this one - only four days long, with visits in Gush Katif, Shomron, and elsewhere - make a difference. Today we dedicated an emergency motorcycle, and visited Homesh in the Shomron; the people there told us that no American group had visited them for two years - and we were that group! That was a little sad to hear. So I just want to emphasize how important it is to come and show our support."