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.

Continue reading

Are Our Neighbors to the North and South Being Subjected to Blockbusting

BLOCKBUSTING is a historic means of overtaking community. We have written on this topic before. The tactic, while not legal, is justified in all manner and method by those engaged in the practice, it’s business. We favor legislation to prevent the practice, lawn-signs within communities, and communities experiencing this practice joining together to stop it from happening, though we recognize when the government officials legislating these issues are corrupt, the process of overcoming this illegal practice is difficult….. though not impossible. Be diligent. Vote.

by LostMessiah, March 11, 2016

Getty Images Lakewood1-0

Getty Images, Caption: “Lakewood real estate agents are pressuring homeowners in neighboring townships, sometimes with intimidating language, planting seeds of despair.


In an article from Bob Quinn in the “http://www.thephoto-news.com/” we read:

KIRYAS JOEL – The Village Administrator of Kiryas Joel said in an email distributed to county officials on Monday that the “mass overflow of KJ residents” to developments in Monroe, Blooming Grove and Woodbury “will change the face of the Monroe-Woodbury School District forever.”

“You can still prevent this mass overflow if you stop fighting all the annexations now, but time is running out,” Gedalye Szegedin said in one of several emails that were copied to The Photo News. “The overflow move-out momentum in KJ is going forward in full speed to a degree I have never seen before.”

Szegedin identified the following developments as places where residents of Kiryas Joel were seeking homes: Smith Farm, Shea Meadows, the Rye Hill Corridor, Bald Hill Estates, Country Hollow, Woodbury Junction, Cliff Road, Serpi Road, Milval Lane and Worley Heights.

“The natural growth of the Hasidic residents of Kiryas Joel is in the range of 250-300 new marriages per year, requiring 250-300 new apartment units per year,” Szegedin said in a second email, noting that he is responsible for issuing marriage licences in Kiryas Joel. “The choice is crystal clear and it’s yours. “The natural growth will occur anyway, either in the annexation areas in KJ and in the Kiryas Joel School District or all over the towns of Monroe, South Blooming Grove and Woodbury and in M-WSD,” he added. “I am not threatening anyone. I am just begging you to open your minds and see the reality. If you keep on fighting all annexations in court, thereby choking the KJ residents from all its housing possibilities locally, (unbridled growth) is what you will get as a result. It’s all in your hands.”

In an email exchange with The Photo News, Szegedin said his emails were not statements. “We didn’t issue any statement,” he wrote. “I sent an email to the county leaders, its a similar email I am sending them on a regular basis.”

The email was initially sent to County Executive Steve Neuhaus, Legislative Chairman Stephen Brescia, County Legislators Melissa Bonacic, Michael Amo and Katie Bonelli, County Attorney Langdon Chapman, County Planning Commissioner David Church and Monroe Town Supervisor Harley Doles.

Asked for comment, a spokesman for Neuhaus said: “Annexations are governed by state law. The annexation approved by both the Town of Monroe and Village of Kiryas Joel failed to provide the fullest possible environmental analysis. Kiryas Joel and Monroe could have and should have come to a different conclusion on this matter. We also continue to urge state officials to find a meaningful way for the county to involve itself in large scale annexations such as this. It is outrageous that the state has allowed the county to weigh in on such small things as the placement of fences but when the highest density community in the region seeks to grow massively, we are given no role. The DEC commissioner should amend the SEQRA regulations to provide for a county SEQRA role and the state legislators should keep hammering on this instead of letting the issue drop.”

Meanwhile, United Monroe issued a strident reaction to Szegedin’s comments. United Monroe, like a coalition of towns and villages, plus Orange County, has gone to court to prevent the annexation. The group’s statement, issued from founders Emily Convers and John Allegro, reads as follows:

“Gedalye Szegedin’s email to our elected leaders is a disgrace. It is a shakedown attempt by a desperate man. Things are different now. The morally corrupt method of the KJPE (Kiryas Joel Power Elite) to achieve manifest destiny by threat – doesn’t work on us anymore. “General Municipal Law is very clear; school district borders do not change because of annexation. This was a fact when annexation was approved. It is still true today. There is only one way that the Monroe Woodbury School District will be affected with swift certainty. That is if annexation is approved, and tens of thousands of people move into high density housing in an expanded Kiryas Joel.

“Szegedin’s chart of ‘move-outs’ is subterfuge. Most of the families that moved from KJ into the surrounding neighborhoods lived there for many years before the annexation petitions were submitted. “The KJPE is complicit in creating a manufactured housing crisis,” United Monroe continued in its statement. “KJ-tied investors and developers, who hide behind LLC’s, own hundreds of acres of land near KJ. They prefer to keep this “crisis” alive by refusing to develop this land responsibly and sustainably, while they wait for annexations which will allow them to overbuild.

“The scam that Szegedin and the KJPE are trying to perpetrate on us, including the residents of KJ, would generate hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the Village’s pipeline project, and to line the pockets of a few powerful men. Now that his big lie has been exposed, and people within his Village are openly expressing their discontent, Szegedin is up to his old tricks.”


One commentator to Quinn’s article wrote about the statement “The natural growth of the Hasidic residents of Kiryas Joel is in the range of 250-300 new marriages per year, requiring 250-300 new apartment units per year,” as follows:

“Since it’s customary for children to marry in the Hasidic community at about age 18, where are these youngsters getting the money to pay rents and mortgages? As we all know, the average income of people in this age bracket is statistically very low. My oldest son is just about to turn 18, and earns about $9/hr working part-time at Taco Bell. Even if he were full-time, it would certainly not be enough to pay a rent. I want to hear the answer to this. It should be interesting. Again, how do 18 years olds in KJ afford rent/mortgage? Please tell….”


Blaise Gomez, a reporter for News 12, wrote on her Facebook page this afternoon under the headline ‘BLOOMING GROVE BLOCKBUSTING’:

“Donna McGoldrick is one of several Blooming Grove residents who say they are being bombarded with daily solicitations and cash offers to sell their homes to Hassidic developers and residents in Kiryas Joel. Controversial expansion plans in the ultra-orthodox Village of Kiryas Joel are on hold due to a lawsuit. In an email to local and county leaders, Village Administrator Gedalye Szegedin referred to a large number of home purchases outside of Kiryas Joel by residents as a “messy overflow” that can be prevented if the annexation were to go through.” The resident in the Gomez report is holding up letters from Keller-Williams.


(We have uploaded Gomez’s News 12 report below. If the video opens up in a new window with a blank screen, click on the screen a second time to play it)

Meanwhile to the South of Rockland County we read from NorthJersey.com that Toms River is among towns restricting door-to-door solicitation amid an Hasidic influx ……

LAKEWOOD — James Jackson didn’t want to sell his home but thanked the black-suited man for his interest anyway. That’s when the man put his hand on Jackson’s shoulder and told him he might want to reconsider. Many of his neighbors in the New Jersey shore town of Toms River, the man said, already planned to sell to Jewish buyers like those he represented.

“He asked me why I would want to live in a Hasidic neighborhood if I wasn’t Hasidic,” Jackson recalled. “He asked if I would really be happy, if it would be in my family’s best interests.”

A housing crunch in Lakewood, home to one of the nation’s largest populations of Hasidic Jews, has triggered what residents of neighboring communities say are overly aggressive, all-hours solicitations from agents looking to find homes for the rapidly growing Jewish community. The complaints have prompted towns, including Toms River, to update their “no-knock” rules and related laws, adding real estate inquiries to measures that already limit when soliciting can occur and allow residents to bar solicitations.

But Jewish leaders and others say the no-knock laws unfairly target Orthodox Jews and those seeking to help them find houses. Many current residents came to the community to study at one of the largest yeshivas in the world and eventually settled down. The 2010 census found the town had nearly 93,000 residents, about 32,000 more than a decade earlier. And town officials believe there are closer to 120,000 residents now.

“The growth in Lakewood is a sign of the great quality of life which is attracting all these people,” said Avi Schnall, the state director of Agudath Israel, a national grassroots advocacy and social service organization representing Orthodox Jews. “However, the challenge is being able to keep up with the influx,” Schnall added. “This has driven people to take residence in nearby towns, where houses are more available and affordable.”

Schnall calls the recent no-knock changes “troubling.” He also believes there is a campaign to prevent members of the Orthodox community from moving in. And he thinks the real estate agents are being used as the scapegoats, claims that leaders in neighboring towns say are unfounded.

Samuel Heilman, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York City and a leading authority on Orthodox Judaism, says he doubts that such laws are anti-Semitic in their origins. But he notes that the measures may now be invoked more aggressively by people trying to keep Orthodox Jews out of their neighborhoods, for fear the area will become a Hasidic community.

“The problem is structural: Hasidim live in Hasidic communities predominantly. They can only move as groups,” said Heilman. “That leads to counter-moves by other groups who do not want their community to be inundated by them.”

Municipal leaders stress that their laws are not aimed at keeping out any groups, but rather to protect residents. “Our ‘no knock’ law goes back many years. It’s not just in response to what has been happening now,” Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher said. “We are trying to protect those people from conduct that’s outrageous, harassing, intimidating or unwelcome.”

Jackson said he was working outside his home last fall when he was unexpectedly approached by the man in the black suit. The encounter was initially cordial but turned darker, he said. “He was trying to intimidate me, but not in a physical way,” Jackson said. “He was playing mind games, and he was really good at it.”

Toms River is also in the process of creating “cease and desist” zones, where door-to-door real estate soliciting would be banned in designated areas that have been inordinately and repeatedly solicited. The ordinance is modeled on one in New York state that held up in court despite objections from realty groups. The New York rule allows residents to petition for their neighborhood to be included on the list of areas where solicitation is not allowed.

Realty groups say they their main concern is to find common ground. “Our local communities are incredibly important to both our members and our association,” said Mary Ann Wissel, chief executive officer of the Ocean County Board of Realtors. She said the group was working with real estate agents and local officials to ensure that any no-knock registry laws are both “respectful to homeowners as well as fair to the lawful business practices of our members.”

David Eckman, a Hasidic real estate investor, acknowledged that most of his visits to gauge people’s interest in selling their homes are unsolicited, but he said he has never tried to intimidate or mislead anyone. “People need homes, and I’m trying to help them find those homes,” Eckman said. “They just want a nice place in a nice community, like everyone else.” Eckman said anyone using fear tactics, be it directly or implied, should be barred. “If they do that, they make us all look bad,” Eckman said. “There are enough negative stereotypes out there about Jewish people, and doing things like that just makes people think they are true.”


Where all of the above is going is anyone’s guess. However, it does seem that Rockland County will be facing many of these same issues very shortly. Presently there are 23,000 children from Rockland County attending private yeshivas and it is believed that there will be 50,000 within a decade. How this growth can be accommodated is unknown. Obviously, it is time that political and religious leaders of all parts of both these spectra begin to plan for the future so that change can occur smoothly and hopefull to the mutual benefit of all.

However, one thing that is not acceptable is Block Busting or Intimidation!

Taken from an article of the same title “Are our neighbors to the North and South being subjected to blockbusting?” posted from a FB site in Rockland County.
See also: “Letter: Blockbusting going on outside Lakewood” from app.com published March 2, 1016