This article serves as an introduction to an organization that uses social media to rewrite history, to justify the ills of many within the community, to prevent legislation from passage like the ACA, to assist in the demoralization of anything non-ultra-Orthodox and to do so all under the guise of a quasi legitimate charitable organization.
Our attention was drawn to OJPAC by a contributor who pointed specifically to OJPAC’s historical rewrite of the events in Lakewood. This is not the first time an article regarding Rockland County and OJPAC’s ultra-Orthodox voice has lead to reporting on Yossi Gestetner, spokesperson for the organization and a public face of his fellow politicians and political whores. We are sure it will not be the last.
In the first story in today’s “Latest” section of the OJPAC website there is an article entitled, “To the Advertisers of Asbury Park Press and Gannett Investors.” Presumably that article is intended to tell the advertisers and investors that the news is being improperly reported. In actuality, it is a rewrite of history, a justification of sorts.
OJPAC’s fame to public relations in the referenced first article on its site is to de- criminalize activities in Lakewood by drawing comparisons to other areas of New Jersey, namely Newark. Sadly, the residents of Newark to whom OJPAC makes a comparison cannot boast the income of those arrested in Lakewood. Rather, Newark has a history of poverty and crime so such a comparison is not only inaccurate but insulting.
Unlike OJPAC’s whitewashed version of the truth, the issue in Lakewood is not the number of children from married couples on assistance as alleged by the PR website; but rather the numbers of couples manipulating entitlement programs who do not meet the parameters of those programs. The same is not true of Newark.
It is worth noting that even the Vaad of Lakewood acknowledged that there is a problem. OJPAC would have done a service to the community and those viewing that community from outside were a similar acknowledgement to have been made. Apparently, however, the fraudulent activities in Lakewood are acceptable when compared to activities elsewhere, even when such comparisons are non-representative.
We suggest that consistent with the Mission as stated by OJPAC, “to counter the alleged defamation and generalization of the Orthodox Jewish Community” OJPAC should focus on accountability and acknowledgement. To ignore or minimize the the crime that does occur within a fairly large segment of the ultra-Orthodox community is to reduce credibility.
For many, it is difficult not to draw generalizations from a community that has coined the term “Moser” to refer to someone who reports against his own community member. For it is better to remain silent than to report the truth.
We maintain that contrary to their mission, OJPAC is not “organizing civil yet effective community action for fair reporting” but is rather using PR tactics to sway reporting in favor of the ultra-Orthodox community without acknowledging the problems within that community.
We argue that the Federal Authorities should be looking carefully into communities within Rockland County, Kiryat Joel, Crown Heights, Boro Park and other areas across the Eastern 87 Corridor for the same or similar abuses as those committed by members of the Lakewood ultra-Orthodox community. The behavior is indefensible and the comparison to Newark by OJPAC is reprehensible.
Unfortunately, a few bad apples can destroy an entire tree.
We suggest that the authorities should be looking into the activities of any subject on the OJPAC’s website. If a supposed “correction” or alleged “truth” is reported there, it is likely because OJPAC is attempting to minimize or justify activity whether criminal or otherwise.
Finally, we do agree with OJPAC insofar as there are broad generalizations and globally the situation of discrimination and hatred is disturbing. However, stereotypes are based in perception. Perhaps if OJPAC would focus on cleaning up the actions of members of that community, who are sorry examples of Judaism, the worldview might also change.
There are exemplary members of the ultra-Orthodox community. It is just hard to find them when groups like OJPAC color everything using the same white paintbrush.
In the meantime, we offer thanks to the person who provided the voice for this post.
*Vote NO on the bond*
Residents in the Rockland County town of Ramapo claim town officials are allowing single-family homes on small residential lots to be turned into religious schools with little or no public notice.
Suffern resident Annette Doerr said she has been battling the conversion of a home next door into an ultra-Orthodox school for several years. Doerr told the I-Team she believes there are more than 200 students in the four-bedroom house but has been unable to get specific information.
“It’s six days a week,” she said. “Whenever they’re on recess, we can’t be outside.”
“It’s too dangerous, it’s too dense,” she added. “The home was meant for a family.”
The property manager declined to tell the I-Team how many students attend the school.
Minna Greenbaum, another Suffern resident, said there are areas where almost every property on a block is a school or religious institution.
“The town turns a blind eye,” she said. “Everything is allowed.”
Residents said they are not opposed to schools if there is sufficient property to accommodate the students and buses safely.
Resident Peter Katz recently filed a lawsuit over a school that’s being developed on a nearby lot.
“A friend of mine owned this house, sold it to someone, and the very next thing, I discovered by accident it’s being converted to a school,” Katz said. “There was no public notice.”
Members of the Spring Valley Fire Department, which responds to emergency calls in the town of Ramapo, said they are especially concerned about modular trailers being moved onto residential lots as classrooms to accommodate students.
“We don’t even get the fire plans, and that’s the biggest thing,” said Captain Justin Schwartz. “It gets approved without us saying so. It’s a crime.”
The town of Ramapo passed a law limiting the use of “temporary” trailers to a maximum of two years. Democratic Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski said town officials have allowed the proliferation of “permanent” trailers to be used without proper enforcement.
He said he believes the New York Department of State should take over Ramapo’s building department.
“This is a willful, systemic ignoring of the law by those that are in charge, and when you have that, the State needs to step in,” he said.
Michael Klein, attorney for the town of Ramapo, told the I-Team that schools with permits are safe.
“The town of Ramapo will not issue a permission of occupancy permitting property to be used as a school unless it meets all fire and building codes,” he said.
“Whether people like the growing size of the community and the need to address the growing population, that’s a quality of life issue and people have different views of that,” he added.
Census figures for 2015 to 2016 showed there are 24,000 non-public school students in the East Ramapo school district and 8,500 public school students.
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee’s Interview Above
The New York Department of State’s Division of Licensing Services held a public meeting at Rockland Community College Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. They are considering a “cease and desist zone” to prohibit blockbusting tactics – Peter Carr/The Journal News
“Chestnut Ridge is going full Orthodox, like Monsey,” Claudia Gollub said she was told by an unnamed home buyer. “We will make our community aware not to buy your house until you have no choice (but) to sell for the lower-than-market price.”
Gollub’s story was one of many voiced by dozens of residents. The hearing displayed the growing tensions between homeowners and home buyers in the county.
Representatives from the Department of State listened for three hours as residents recounted their experiences of pushy home buyers knocking on their doors, calling their homes and leaving unwanted flyers.
Residents can submit further testimony and evidence by mailing it to:
The New York Department of State
99 Washington Ave
One Commerce Plaza
Albany, NY 12231
c/o Whitney A. Clark
Here are links to YouTube videos of statements made at this meeting you may like to watch watch.
Michael Miller’s statement:
Senator Carlucci’s statement:
Assemblyman Zebrowski’s statement:
County Executive Day’s statement:
Assemblywoman Jaffee’s statement:
Part II of Carlucci Interview: http://www.fios1news.com/lowerhudsonvalley/newsbreakers-interview-DavidCarlucci-part2#.V-vktaL67Md
For many people living in Rockland County, the great tragedy of Provident Park, home of the Rockland Boulders, is not only the alleged misappropriation of funds by Christopher St. Lawrence, assisted by Aaron Troodler (https://www.google.com/search?q=chrisopher+st.+lawrence&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8), which fostered the building of that stadium. Both St. Lawrence and Troodler were charged with upwards of 22 counts of fraud, wire fraud and other charges.
It is also the tragic loss of Matterhorn Nurseries which is now partially developed into housing, most ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox communities.
Christopher St. Lawrence, according to Rockland County residents is, has been and will always be in the pockets of the ultra-Orthodox community. He cares little about the public schools, the over-development and the ramifications for an entire community because he has been well compensated. The fact that the ultra-Orthodox intent upon over-development, siphoning funds from public education to private yeshivas and utilizing taxpayer money to fund their very existence, is of little relevance when they vote in droves to support him as Town Supervisor. From our view, Lawrence, Troodler, and others belong behind bars.
From the opinion of some living in Rockland County, it is difficult to believe that the owners of the Boulders knew nothing about the unsavory way in which the stadium was funded, the misappropriation of funds out of the pockets of taxpayers and the destruction of the Horn family’s iconic nursery. It is hard to tell whether they, like St. Lawrence were in the pockets of the ultra-Orthodox community and whether the building of the stadium was their share of the pie.
The opinion piece posted below, comments to the contention that mega-development in Rockland County is not Orthodox-only. He compares a Route 59 development plan to the “Provident Park debacle.” If the owners of the Boulders knew of the misappropriation of funds and participated in some form or another, then the comparison is correct but the conclusion is wrong. It would not be “Orthodox-only.”
We leave you to ponder….
Re “Monsey mega-developer: Don’t assume it’s Orthodox-only,” Aug. 11 article:
I can’t believe such a project would be considered for the proposed site. Then I remembered, it’s Ramapo and history shows that anything the community’s wealthy developers want, they get, regardless of costs and consequences to town residents.
The article includes photos of nice drawings of a large, New York City-style urban development with trees and landscaping, and even a few cars. Not surprisingly, they don’t show Route 59.
The drawings and the details of the plan are pure fantasy and a public deception. Six days a week, that location is already a dangerous traffic choke-point on Route 59.
The plan boasts more than 600 parking spaces and, like all such plans proposed in Ramapo, it will undoubtedly fall far short of the actual need in favor of money-making apartment space.
Regardless, the spots represent at least that many additional vehicles in the area. Shoppers visiting the ground-level stores will bring even more vehicles.
The hundreds of housing units represent thousands of children (if not now, in the near future). That requires more than 100 school buses each transporting children back and forth several times each day.
Additionally, there will be the taxis, delivery vehicles, sanitation vehicles, service vehicles, medical transport vehicles, etc. trying to move through the impossibly congested area. It will be interesting to see a fire truck or ambulance navigate the area in response to a call for help.
How can this possibly work? To begin to even try to make such a plan work will require incredibly expensive and massive capital improvements to the area’s infrastructure, including water, sewers, utilities and roads.
What about the environmental costs? What about public and park spaces for the many, many people who would reside there?
What portion of the astronomical financial cost will the wealthy developers be required to pay?
I think that the taxpayers of Ramapo and Rockland are looking at another Provident Stadium debacle. I’m still paying for a stadium I didn’t want, and I don’t want to pay for a nonsensical project that will further enrich the community’s already wealthy and politically powerful developers.
As for the title of the article, “Builder: It’s not orthodox-only,” I don’t believe it for a minute.
to read this article and similar ones click here.