Politics

Indian American New Jersey Councilwoman Sapana Shah accuses local Jewish leader of being a racist

Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg implies illegal immigrants are from India.

By The American Bazaar Staff

NEW YORK: Edison, New Jersey Councilwoman Sapana Shah saw herself in the heat of an intense verbal argument with a local Rabbi during a town hall meeting last month, after she subtly accused the local Jewish clergyman of being racist against the city’s substantial Indian American community.

 

Sapana Shah (courtesy of MyCentralJersey.com)
Sapana Shah (courtesy of MyCentralJersey.com)

NJ.com reports that Shah (36) and Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, leader of the local Congregation Beth-El, were discussing the growing problem of illegal immigration in the Edison area during the public event. Speaking openly in front of other residents and City Council members, Rosenberg implied that individuals from India are mostly to blame for illegal immigration in Edison; specifically, on Oak Tree Road, which is widely known as the hub of Indian and Indian American life in the Edison/North Jersey region.

“(We) made it our business to find out who illegals were in this town. It was real simple. We found a lot of them in basements on Oak Tree Road. They were illegals. … A lot of illegals are being thrown out? That means there are illegals. And I can tell you they haven’t all been thrown out. And that’s one of the biggest problems that we have,” Rosenberg said during the town hall meeting.

Shah responded to Rosenberg’s comments by saying “”I hope [they weren’t] targeted at any ethnic group. I know there’s a lot of race relations that go on in Edison. I’ve said my piece and I hope we can all get along. I’m sure if there are illegals, we’ll track them down, but I don’t think they’re targeted on Oak Tree Road.”

Rosenberg and Shah spoke in private after the public forum was closed, during which the former reportedly implored Shah that he is not racist, and that he was simply trying to voice an opinion for what he believes is best for Edison. Shah, in an interview later on, said she was “shocked” that Rosenberg said something so incendiary in such a public venue.

Regardless of Rosenberg’s attention, illegal immigration remains a problem around the country. In Edison, specifically, class sizes are increasing and the influx of Indian Americans to the ethnically diverse region has ballooned in recent years – Census data indicates that the population rose from 17,000 to 28,000 between just 2008 and 2010, and now represents 28% of Edison’s 100,000-large population.

Shah is a long-time resident of New Jersey, having earned her B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University. She later earned her J.D. from the Albany Law School at Union University. Shah was formerly a financial analyst and a private practice attorney, and is also on the Edison Board of Education, according to MyCentralJersey.com.

12 Comments

  1. Bernhard Rosenberg

    To the Editor:
    The point of my comment at the Edison Council June 25th meeting was that apart of our tax increases in Edison are due to illegals utilizing services they are not entitled to because they are not residents of Edison and they are a drain on Edison. I apologize if my comments were misunderstood. Edison’s strength is in the diversity of its residents.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  2. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Housing Crackdown Hits Indian Immigrants – New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/06/nyregion/06crowd.html?pagewanted=all – Similar to Housing Crackdown Hits Indian Immigrants – New York Times
    Aug 6, 2007 … Oak Tree Road, the congested artery that runs through Iselin’s downtown, … “ There are a large number of I.T. companies in the Woodbridge and Iselin … Texas: Judge Clears Renting To Illegal Immigrants (May 22, 2007

  3. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Reply »

    |Report Abuse

    |Judge it!

    |#3

    Thursday Jul 10

    Shah suggested the school district have a full day of school on Feb. 18, instead of a day off for Presidents Day. She joked that Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t mind because they were deceased. I DO NOT FIND THIS FUNNY. DOES THIS MAKE ME A RACIST. I THANK THOSE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED ME. I will not back down . Does that make me a bully ? RABBI ROSENBERG

  4. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Police: Swastika Drawn On Sign Outside Edison, N.J. Rabbi’s …

    newyork.cbslocal.com/…/police-swastika-drawn-on-sign-outside-… – Similar to Police: Swastika Drawn On Sign Outside Edison, N.J. Rabbi’s …

    Oct 8, 2013 … Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg is the son of Holocaust survivors. This is the second mayoral campaign sign in Edison to be defaced in the past …

    .

  5. Bernhard Rosenberg

    I HAVE ALWAYS HAD GREAT RELATIONS WITH THE INDIAN COMMUNITY. WHILE CHAIRMAN OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF EDISON , I WAS AMONG THE FIRST TO HELP THE INDIAN COMMUNITY. I WAS NOT REFERRING TO ILLEGAL OR UNDOCUMENTED CURRENT RESIDENTS BUT ONLY WHAT I SAW FIRST HAND 0VER 10 -15 YEARS AGO. WE HAVE ILLEGAL OR UNDOCUMENTED STUDENTS OF ALL RACES WHO HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN EDISON SCHOOLS. IT COSTS OF US OF ALL RACES 18,000 DOLLARS A STUDENT AND THAT IS WHY I BROUGHT UP THE ISSUE OF UNDOCUMENTED PEOPLE. I ALWAYS SAY WHAT I MEAN AND DO NOT USE CODE WORDS. I CAME TO AMERICA AS A REFUGEE AND BECAME A NATURALIZED CITIZEN. MY PARENTS WERE IN THE HOLOCAUST AND I LOST MOST OF MY FAMILY TO THE NAZIS. THERE IS NOT A RACIST BONE IN MY BODY. I HAVE RECEIVED NUMEROUS AWARDS FOR HELPING THE COMMUNITY. I APOLOGIZED FOR ANY MISUNDERSTANDING, BUT THE APOLOGY WAS NOT RESPONDED TO. MY SYNAGOGUE HOSTED THE INDIAN COMMUNITY BY HAVING THEM RENT OUR FACILITIES FOR MANY YEARS. I HAD TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE FOOD THAT WAS BROUGHT IN WAS VEGETARIAN. I INSPECTED THE RESTAURANTS FIRST HAND. WE ALSO RENTED TO INDIAN DANCE GROUPS. TO ACCUSED ME OF CAUSING RACIAL TENSIONS WITH THE INDIAN COMMUNITY ON PURPOSE IS LUDICROUS..

  6. Bernhard Rosenberg

    SACO’S Interfaith Holiday Celebration a grand success …

    … J., 6th District), Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17th District), and Township Chaplain Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg were among those honored at … “South Asians are part of the fabric of American society,” Khan said.

  7. Bernhard Rosenberg

    SACO’S Interfaith Holiday Celebration a grand success …

    theindianeye.net/sacos-interfaith-holiday-celebration-a-grand-success/

    East Coast News … J., 6th District), Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17th District), and Township Chaplain Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg were among those honored at … “South Asians are part of the fabric of American society,” Khan said.

  8. Bernhard Rosenberg

    FOR YOUR INFORMATION , I have helped the Indian community for 25 years. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  9. Bernhard Rosenberg

    I have proof of the fact that what I said at the council meeting was true regarding illegals from the Indian community. I also know and can produce evidence of the fact that the person in charge of investigating illegals and undocumented students reported this to the authorities and was told to keep silent for political reasons.. This was ten or more years ago as I stated at the meeting.

    I am prepared to go public with this if needed. Unfortunately this will only cause division in the Edison community, but Ms. Shah is set on making headway through attacking me. There are illegal and or undocumented students OF ALL RACES in Edison schools. 40 STUDENTS IT WAS REPORTED WERE RECENTLY CAUGHT.
    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  10. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Bernhard Rosenberg 5ptsFeatured

    the real story here is how much racial tension exists. Rabbi Rosenberg(sent to Sapana Shah)
    I read about the verbal exchange between you and Rabbi Rosenberg re: overcrowding with illegal Indians living in basements on Oak Tree Road. You took offense because you are of Asian Indian heritage. Illegal is the correct term to use (for those not here legally) and overcrowded housing in any community can cause noise, crime, vermin and illness. If the illegals were another nationality, l doubt you would take issue with the Rabbi’s comments. (Same issue on the border – Latinos say those crossing are immigrants, not illegals, but would they care as much if those crossing were not Latinos?) Calling it racism when there are concerns about overcrowding and illegals is not the way to govern. It’s called Quality of Life. I am American of Italian/Irish ancestry with relatives who arrived here legally, worked hard and kept clean homes. The U.S. is on a downward spiral for many reasons (loss of jobs, crime, drugs, both American and illegal kids without fathers, adding to crime and welfare) – and the nationalities, religions and races who use the words racism, bias and homophobic against others who don’t agree with them. That is called The Thought Police. — Sincerely, Kathleen, Edison, NJ

  11. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Bernhard Rosenberg 5ptsFeatured
    7 days ago
    the real story here is how much racial tension exists. Rabbi Rosenberg(sent to Sapana Shah)
    I read about the verbal exchange between you and Rabbi Rosenberg re: overcrowding with illegal Indians living in basements on Oak Tree Road. You took offense because you are of Asian Indian heritage. Illegal is the correct term to use (for those not here legally) and overcrowded housing in any community can cause noise, crime, vermin and illness. If the illegals were another nationality, l doubt you would take issue with the Rabbi’s comments. (Same issue on the border – Latinos say those crossing are immigrants, not illegals, but would they care as much if those crossing were not Latinos?) Calling it racism when there are concerns about overcrowding and illegals is not the way to govern. It’s called Quality of Life. I am American of Italian/Irish ancestry with relatives who arrived here legally, worked hard and kept clean homes. The U.S. is on a downward spiral for many reasons (loss of jobs, crime, drugs, both American and illegal kids without fathers, adding to crime and welfare) – and the nationalities, religions and races who use the words racism, bias and homophobic against others who don’t agree with them. That is called The Thought Police. — Sincerely, Kathleen, Edison, NJ

  12. Bernhard Rosenberg

    Reply »

    |Report Abuse

    |Judge it!

    |#1

    Thursday Jul 10

    40 students were removed from Edison SCHOOLS for non-residency, see article. That is a saving of 40 x $18, ooo , HOW MANY WERE NOT CAUGHT? Council woman Shah has her attack dogs saying I used code words. I always say it the way it is. I do not hide behind false names. I merely mentioned what I saw and it was on Oak Tree Road ten years ago and I had witnesses. This non-residency problem is happening throughout Edison with all races and our schools are over crowded. I participate in and have spoken at many functions sponsored by the Indian community AND I am close friends with many in it’s leadership. Is that true of the attack dogs? Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

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