A New York Town Fights to Keep Hasidic Jews Out

Aug. 16 2019

In 2017, a group of real-estate developers bought a plot of land in the town of Chester, in New York’s Hudson Valley, that had been designated for a new housing development. Since then, the town’s residents and officials have fought to stop the houses from being built, stating quite bluntly that they fear it will become a ḥasidic enclave—a concern based solely on the fact that some of the developers are themselves Ḥasidim. Sharon Otterman writes:

Town officials have repeatedly placed obstacles in the developers’ path: restrictions on the size of the houses they can build, delays on issuing building permits, and a request to relocate the main road by ten feet. . . . Angry residents at [a town] meeting talked of how school taxes could rise, and public resources could be stretched in the town. . . . They spoke of fears that the development would one day resemble Kiryas Joel, a ḥasidic village about nine miles away that is overcrowded and has ranked among the poorest communities in the nation.

The developers . . . cite these statements and others in a federal lawsuit that accuses the town, Orange County, and individual local officials of discrimination. . . . The Orange County executive, Steven M. Neuhaus, a Chester resident and its former town supervisor, suggested delay tactics, including retesting the water and denying sewer permitting, at a meeting a month earlier. . . .

“If you show up to a public hearing, you can hear what the voters are saying, which is ‘keep the ḥasidic [sic] out,’” said John Petroccione, the civil engineer who designed the project 25 years ago, and is working with the developers to complete it. . . .

“[N]obody on the board, . . . nobody who works in the town, . . . nobody wants this development to go through,” Alexander Jamieson, the former town supervisor of Chester, said at a public meeting in May 2018. . . . Jamieson, who resigned as town supervisor last September after pleading guilty to collecting unemployment while working in that role, also stood by his comments. “It’s not anti-Semitic to say it’s going to be a ḥasidic development,” he said in an interview near the site. “I’m just telling the truth.”

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Read more at New York Times

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Hasidim

What to Expect from the Israeli Election

Sept. 16 2019

Tomorrow Israelis go to the polls for the second election of 2019, in which the two main contenders will be the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the centrist Blue and White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. Neither party is likely to have an easy path to forming the 61-seat Knesset majority needed to form a government, a reality that has affected both parties’ campaigns. Haviv Rettig Gur explains how the anomalous political situation has led to something very different from the contest between left-wing and right-wing “blocs” of parties predicted by most analysts, and examines the various possible outcomes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics