Rabbi baffled by Bridgegate cronies’ jokes
Mendy Carlebach says his work has always been ‘apolitical’
A South Brunswick rabbi says he has no idea why two former confidants of Gov. Chris Christie joked last August about causing traffic problems in front of his home two weeks before the events leading to the political scandal being called “Bridgegate.”
According to documents supplied to investigators by David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to a key position at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, he and Bridget Anne Kelly, then a deputy chief of staff for Christie, mulled or at least joked last August about causing “traffic problems” for Rabbi Mendy Carlebach.
On Friday, Carlebach, a Port Authority chaplain, released a statement to NJJN, saying, “I have served the people of our great state in times of need and otherwise for more than a decade. In this capacity, I have worked with a number of governors and their administrations. My work has always been apolitical and I have neither knowledge nor understanding of why my name was mentioned in these exchanges.”
Carlebach, who also serves as director of the Chabad of North and South Brunswick and chaplain for the South Brunswick Police Department, is the son of Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, who heads the Rutgers Chabad and its affiliated outreach centers, mostly in Middlesex County and parts of Monmouth County.
The Carlebachs have always had close relations with governing officials and both have been appointed to the New Jersey-Israel Commission. Both Christie and his Democratic predecessor Jon Corzine have been honored at Rutgers Chabad dinners.
Yosef and Mendy Carlebach were among four New Jersey rabbis invited by Christie to watch the 10-year 9/11 commemoration ceremonies at Ground Zero from the still unfinished One World Trade skyscraper.
“The governor spent a couple of hours mingling with us, along with his wife and children,” Carlebach told NJJN at the time.
This year’s Rutgers Chabad dinner on Dec. 3 honored Bill Baroni, the Port Authority’s former deputy executive director, who has since also been caught up in the “Bridgegate” scandal. Baroni had explained that the closure of three traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge in September had been intended as a “traffic study,” when subsequent emails between Kelly and Wildstein suggested they were intended as political retaliation against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.
In a series of unredacted texts released Feb. 27, Kelly and Wildstein discussed causing a similar traffic mess in front of Mendy Carlebach’s South Brunswick home.
The messages showed a photo of Carlebach with House Speaker John Boehner, prompting Kelly to write: “I think this qualifies as some sort of stalking.”
Wildstein: “He is Jewish Cid Wilson.”
Kelly: “You are really so funny. He is. No Doubt.”
Cid Wilson is a Bergen County Democrat with a reported penchant of collecting pictures of himself with celebrities.
Wildstein continues that Carlebach “has officially pissed me off,” without saying why.
Kelly responds: “We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?”
Says Wildstein: “Flights to Tel Aviv mysteriously delayed.”
Kelly answers, “Perfect.”
The threat was apparently never carried out.