Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Election fever hits Monsey
A whole lot seems to be riding on the elections scheduled for November 6th in the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County, New York. The main guy up for re-election is Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, the man who made Monsey into the awful town parts of it are now by granting zoning variances to anybody who made it worth his while. Mr. Lawrence is rumored to be a very rich man from meetings with developers.....First, a little Social Studies lesson for you outsiders, I hope I don't mess it up, being that I'm new to the town. Monsey is what's known as an unincorporated village, a hamlet as it were. I'm not sure why that is, but that's the fact. Vizhnitz did go ahead and incorporate certain blocs around the big Shul into the village of Kaser. What that did was allow them to introduce new zoning laws, which would supposedly alleviate the housing crisis that supposedly exists in the frum community. In reality what happened was that most lots doubled in value and those that owned homes already suddenly got rich overnight. Many sold and moved away, while others began attaching rental apartments to their existing homes, thereby creating income for themselves and turning neat little homes into awful eyesores with all kinds of entrances.
While that has been the case with existing homes the worst is what's happened to the open spaces. A plot of land meant for a one family home has been re-zoned to allow for G-d knows how many apartments, and not just a three family home but a maze of small apartments stretching for as far as the eye can see, with a slab of concrete or asphalt in the front, and lots and lots of garbage. Roads that are meant for suburbia and occasional light traffic now are clogged way past capacity, and cause traffic tie ups at all busy times. Open spaces are gobbled up by greedy developers claiming to do it for the "People," and build "low-income" housing while in essence they just line their pockets with the profits from the half-a-million dollar apartments they build. Every "second day" there are stories of lawsuits being brought by developers against villages that don't allow them to tear up all the old existing zoning laws and build a sprawling 100 unit development on a plot of land meant for 7 homes.
What happens is that an already miffed secular and Gentile population gets more and more miffed every day. They see what was once a pristine community become a haven for traffic and garbage, and old stereotypes begin to be accepted by an otherwise understanding populace. Jews become synonymous with greedy, dirty and rude. All of us. You can see it the checkout lines at Pathmark and Walmart; cashiers and customers groaning and moaning about the long lines and rude Jews and how they clog up the stores. In this regard all non-frum people now have found a common enemy - the frum Jew. Barriers between blacks and whites and rich and poor now fall when we're dealing with the black hatter. Of course the frum Jew just looks at them and sees anti-Semites, and sees himself as doing everything just the way it should be, with nothing needing to change just because he's now living in the suburbs amongst different people. He figured that the worst that could happen is that the people living there would just pack up and leave, and that DOES happen, but that's not the only thing that happens.
The backlash began a few years back and has been gaining momentum ever since. Movements like Preserve Ramapo have sprung up and demand that the "rape" of their town stop immediately. Jews, of course see it as an anti-Semitic movement out to stop the Jews from coming in there, but that's just plain silly. Shuls and Yeshivos will be eventually be casualties of the eventual turning back of zoning laws, and the frum will have themselves to "thank" because they never stopped to think that maybe the locals are offended by their actions. In the meantime they're fighting very hard to keep St. Lawrence in power so that at least existing variances will remain the same, which Preserve Ramapo had promised to repeal. The above Kol-Koreh is a very toned down letter, albeit made to sound as if the world were coming to an end, but some of the campaign literature not signed by Rabbonim was downright hilarious. Yiddish posters with slogans like "Girush Monsey" and "Germany 1938" were displayed in many of the shuls and sent out in mass mailings. People were frightened into believing that if G-d forbid Preserve Ramapo wins they'd all be thrown out of their homes, and their shuls and Yeshivos shut down forever. That didn't make them any new friends from within their secular and Gentile neighbors, if anything it made the current situation even worse. It remains to be seen what will happen with us in Monsey/New Hempstead/Wesley Hills/Spring Valley, but it sure doesn't look good.
- NOTE: BY NOW THE ELECTIONS HAVE TAKEN PLACE, AND THE "FRUM" CANDIDATES - those endorsed by "Rabbonim and Askonim" - HAVE BEEN VOTED IN. -