A Little Exceptionalism and Segregation, Housing for Exclusively Orthodox Jewish Families

Exclusive Orthodox Jewish Housing and the Opposition to It, Segregation, Elitism and Exceptionalism

UK and Elsewhere…

Experientially, to openly oppose housing that is exclusively designed for the “unique needs of orthodox Jews” is equated with being a racist, self-hating Jew, anti-Semite. Pick your poison, it likely applies or has already been said. But if each ethnic group in the US decided it wanted it’s own housing establishment to accord with its “unique needs”, the Constitutional implications would be staggering.

There is nothing unique to religious Judaism except a desire to remain secluded, with the single exception of the Eiruv – also a point of contention in many areas of the world but one that is easily rectifiable without need for segregated housing.

In the US if any other race, religion or culture demanded segregated housing one would slide down a remarkably slippery slope of institutionalized segregationist policy. Yet, somehow Jews are protected from the absurdity of it all, held above the fray. And with that, any criticism of the demands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and their unfettered and irresponsible building is frowned upon. Imprudence, misapplied zoning, payoffs, kickbacks and an imperialistic exceptionalism is oddly acceptable, if not supported by large Jewish organizations. Somehow, in the US (and apparently in the United Kingdom), the balance between a fear of being called an anti-Semite, and a notion of fairness tips in favor of fear, fairness be damned. There are no such “unique needs” of Judaism that could not be extended to every race, religion and culture. And there we are, again, sliding down that slippery slope.

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The Justice Department’s Suit Against the Village of Airmont, NY – RLUIPA Unhinged

RLUIPA Should Be Revised or Repealed so it Cannot be Bastardized and Used to the Detriment of non-Religious and non-Observant

Dear Reader:

The below lawsuit filed against the village of Airmont, New York, is a prime example of the use and abuse of RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act).  In theory, RLUIPA was instituted to allow repressed religions a measure of specified and enumerated rights whereby overly burdensome laws that would or might suppress religious practice could be overturned. However, it has been used instead by religious groups to suppress the rights of everyone else, an unintended consequence of drafters who did not consider how it could go awry.

In Rockland County, New York, Orange County, New York, Lakewood and Jackson Township, New Jersey and in other places around the country, RLUIPA has been bastardized to allow for entire communities, school districts, single family zoned towns and districts to be sued by well-served Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups. It has been manipulated to allow Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities to be built, fostered, strengthened and funded by the suppressed individuals RLUIPA fails to protect. In other words, the under-served in many of these communities, public school children, blacks, browns and Hispanics and other minority groups, have been the counterbalanced “repressed” to a law that should have never gained the traction it has gained. 

The following, a Justice Department investigation into Airmont, New York is one such example. And the lobbyists that are touting that letter are members the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), a group whose mission is the “counter the defamation and generalization of the Orthodox Jewish Community.” It should be noted that OJPAC appears from the publicity it obtains, its vast media networks, its social media platforms, its website and the attorneys that represent it to be very well-funded; but the 990’s for the organization tell a very different story. That’s an article for a different day.

Suffice it to say, the lawsuit against the village of Airmont is a travesty of justice for everyone living in Rockland County who is not ultra-Orthodox or religiously fervent.

From the Department of Justice Website, here.

RLUIPA prohibits the implementation of any land use regulation that imposes a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of a person or religious assembly or institution except where justified by a “compelling governmental interest” that the government pursues in the least restrictive way possible.

  • Protection against unequal treatment for religious assemblies and institutions:
    RLUIPA provides that religious assemblies and institutions must be treated at least as well as nonreligious assemblies and institutions.  42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(b)(1);
  • Protection against religious or denominational discrimination:
    RLUIPA prohibits discrimination “against any assembly or institution on the basis of religion or religious denomination.”  42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(b)(2);
  • Protection against total exclusion of religious assemblies:
    RLUIPA provides that governments must not totally exclude religious assemblies from a jurisdiction. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(b)(3)(A); or
  • Protection against unreasonable limitation of religious assemblies:
    RLUIPA states that governments must not unreasonably limit “religious assemblies, institutions, or structures within a jurisdiction.” 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(b)(3)(B).

RLUIPA’s protections can be enforced by the Department of Justice or by private lawsuits.  The Department of Justice’s RLUIPA investigations and enforcement are handled by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, and by United States Attorney’s Offices around the country.



The GOP Bowing to Pressures of Agudath Yisroel and Major Fundraisers – Not About Religion, About Over-Development

This is a Land Use Issue. It Always Has Been. Any Other Characterization is a Strategic Misrepresentation.

Dear Readers:

This blogger has been accused of being a liberal, a self-hating Jew and an anti-Semite. If I am to be judged by those who choose to bully and use the judicial system as a constant weapon, shove the mantra of anti-Semitism down everyone’s throats and toss integrity to the wind, then I will take whatever insults someone wants to sling my way.

A more recent accusation was that I am an idealist too. Yeah… true enough. It would be nice if money was not the currency of darkness, if honest opinions and speech was not chilled by hundreds of thousands of dollars; and if truth and transparency were the goals for which we all strive.

But that is just not happening. It was a lofty goal when this blog was started.

Four years later, the insults sometimes feel more like compliments when the judgments come from those whose moral compass sits far askew from my own.

This piece is focused on over development and the misapplication of laws, the manipulation of a system by those who want to use anti-Semitism to justify any mode of behavior and the resulting tragedy for everyone.

Zoning in Jackson Township, New Jersey should never have invited the chorus of the “anti-Semitism” choir. It should not have attracted big money donors and Agudath Yisroel who want to chalk everything up to anti-Semitism to allow their own to act with impunity. Codes and laws should be enforced equally across the board. The laws passed were intended to foster responsible development and maintain a quality of life within a specific landscape, not to chase out religion. That ultra-Orthodox Jews were and continue to be the most affected by those laws is a function of sheer numbers and statistics, not a generalized hatred.

I have said repeatedly that the Holocaust should not have given us a sharper spear to toss when things don’t go our way. Using it as such demoralizes everyone who perished during the Holocaust, and only increases an “us versus them mentality” which ultimately intensifies hostility. It is a dangerous game to play. And so it begins.   

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