Sunday, December 16, 2007



[Begin New York Times Article]

The New York Times

A Display of Disapproval That Turned Menacing

Joyce Dopkeen/The New York Times
Kiryas Joel, N.Y., where a committee enforces Hasidic social rules. The State Police had to abandon an investigation into a report of harassment there.

Published: December 16, 2007

It was late one night over the summer when the Greenberg family was frightened by a menacing phone call. Then came threats, and then vandalized cars. As the days turned into weeks and the police canvassed the neighborhood, knocking on doors and interviewing potential witnesses, they were met with silence.

This was not the troubled streets of the city, nor were the witnesses fearful of gang retribution. Rather, this was Orange County, and the victims — a husband and wife who are members of the Hasidic sect known as Satmars — said they were being harassed by those in their own insular world here.

The woman, Toby Greenberg, told the police that the root of the harassment was her decision to deviate slightly from the culture of modesty that defines and reinforces this Orthodox Jewish enclave of bewigged women in long-sleeved shirts and ankle-length skirts and bearded men in black hats and long black coats.

According to the police, Mrs. Greenberg said she was singled out because she chose to wear denim skirts, long, natural-looking wigs made of human hair, and stockings without a visible seam — traditionally worn because they show that women’s legs are not bare.

The incidents offered a rare glimpse into the strict social dynamics that govern life in this village of 20,000 people, an hour from Manhattan and not far from West Point. It is a place where television and the Internet are forbidden and women do not drive, restrictions intended to provide a haven from the temptations of the outside world.

Occasionally someone defies the social mores — whether it is a young man frequenting bars in the nearby village of Monroe or a woman dressing inappropriately or flirting. That is when the “vaad hatznius,” the rabbinically appointed modesty committee that enforces the village’s rules of behavior and appearance, intervenes.

“If we find they have a TV or a married woman won’t wear a wig, we will invite them to speak with us and try to convince them it’s unacceptable, or next year we will not accept their children into the school system,” said David Ekstein, the vice president of the village’s leading congregation, Yetev Lev, and one of eight men who make up the committee, hand-picked by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the town’s spiritual leader.

Mr. Ekstein, 62, the president of an insurance company, said that the committee was widely respected for its role in protecting the community, especially children. “There has to be some kind of watchdog,” he said. “But do we have any real power? We’re not a government.”

In the case of Mrs. Greenberg, he insisted, “This had nothing to do with the vaad or the community.” He called the harassment a “chilul hashem,” a desecration of God’s name.
But weeks after the incidents began, the New York State Police started to investigate the case of Mrs. Greenberg, the 25-year-old mother of a young daughter, and her husband, Yoel, who accused the vaad hatznius of orchestrating the harassment. According to the police, leaflets calling the couple immoral and threatening them with expulsion were scattered in the streets and delivered to their home.

In September, the tires of their Chevrolet Impala were slashed and the warning “Get out, defiled person” was slathered in Yiddish in white paint on a window of their Mazda CX-7. That was when Mrs. Greenberg approached the authorities — a rare move in a community that is loath to attract attention from secular law enforcement.
Hella Winston, the author of “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels,” said that it was not uncommon for women who defy their strictly codified role in such communities to become targets.

Ms. Winston, an assistant professor of sociology at Queens College, said that because these sects can not legally discipline nonconformists, they must resort to public shaming. “Their power is in fear and intimidation,” she said, though “blacklisting children from schools can at times cross the line into threats and violence.”

The efforts to silence the Greenbergs appear to have worked. Reached at her home, Mrs. Greenberg, with worry in her voice, declined to comment.
Kiryas Joel is no stranger to social discord and outbursts of violence. Since its inception in the 1970s, residents considered to be flouting the village’s stringent rules have been victims of vandalism, beatings and arson, as well as expulsion.

A decade ago, a faction of the town’s Satmars sued its rivals in federal court for religious persecution and intimidation. The dissidents claimed they had been assaulted, their cars set on fire and the windows in their homes smashed because they were defying the authorities chosen by Rabbi Teitelbaum. The two sides reconciled only so that Rabbi Teitelbaum would not have to take the witness stand.

On a recent day, villagers on the main commercial street here condemned the vigilantes and the harassment, although they also voiced disapproval of Mrs. Greenberg’s actions.
“People are hot-blooded. They see her on the street and have asked her nicely to stop wearing tight-fitted clothing, but she wouldn’t listen,” said a woman working at Kiryas Joel Shoes, who identified herself only as Sarah. “If she had behaved as she does inside the four walls of her house, it would have been fine, but on the street is different. She turned it into a dirty public thing.”

And although Sarah, a mother of 11 children, did not condone any efforts to drive the Greenbergs from the community, she said: “They’re not after you if you go off a little bit. You really have to do something to bring shame.”

After two months of fruitless inquiries, the police closed the investigation last month. “Pick any ethnic group and people are suspicious at times,” said Sgt. Warner Hein of the State Police. “They don’t want to be seen as cooperating, even at the expense of tragedies in their own community.”

[END New York Times Article]

Several points

1) How much do you want to bet that Mrs. Greenberg shares orthodox arrogance towards conservative and reform jews? She is more likely than not just as arrogant as the rest of the orthodox, and suprise, suprise, their arrogance turned on her for the terrible horrible "sin" of wearing denim.

2) Orthodox Judaism can only propagate itself to its next generation of children by means of censorship, revisionary history, and deamonizing the outside world.

3) I would not send my kids (eventually when I do have them of course, I'm still young XD ) to a school that does not allow jeans. I see nothing wrong with it, and strict dress codes make Judaism ugly unnecessarilly. Further, it is just stupid to not allow jeans as I see nothing wrong with it. Can Judaism be perpetuated based on stupidity?

Ok time for part two of this post.

[Begin Wikipedia Article]

Kiryas Joel is named for Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, the rebbe of Satmar and driving spirit behind the project. Teitelbaum himself helped select the location a few years before his death in 1979. Rabbi Teitelbaum was the founding rebbe of the Satmar Hasidic dynasty, originally from Hungary. The Satmars who established Kiryas Joel came from Szatmarnemeti, Hungary (now Satu Mare, Romania), Teitelbaum's hometown, whose 12,000 Jewish residents were deported to Auschwitz.

In 1946, Teitelbaum originally settled with his followers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. By the 1970s, however, he decided to move the growing community to a location that was not far from the commercial center of New York City but was also more secluded from what he saw as the harmful influences and immorality of the outside world. Teitelbuam's choice was Monroe. The land for Kiryas Joel was purchased in 1977, and fourteen Satmar families settled there. By 2006, there were over 3,000. When he died in 1979, Rabbi Teitelbaum was the first person to be buried in the town's cemetery. His funeral reportedly brought over 100,000 mourners to Kiryas Joel at that time.

It is widely believed that no candidates run for the village's board or the school board unless first approved by the grand rebbe. In 2001, Kiryas Joel held a competitive election in which all candidates supported by the grand rebbe were re-elected by a 60-40% margin.

Friction with surrounding jurisdictions

The main synagogue in Kiryas Joel
The village has become a contentious issue in Orange County for several reasons, mainly related to its rapid growth.[3] Unlike most other small towns, it lacks a real downtown and much of it is given over to residential property, which has mostly taken the form of contemporary townhouse-style condominium complexes similar to those found in ski resort communities in western states. New construction is going on throughout the community.

Population growth is strong. In 1990, there were 7,400 people in Kiryas Joel; in 2000, 13,100, nearly doubling the population. In 2005, the population had risen to 18,300, a rate of growth suggesting it will double again in the ten years between 2000 and 2010.[3] In 2006, village administrator Gedalye Szegedin stated:

There are three religious tenets that drive our growth: our women don't use birth control, they get married young and after they get married, they stay in Kiryas Joel and start a family. Our growth comes simply from the fact that our families have a lot of babies, and we need to build homes to respond to the needs of our community.[3]

As each successive generation of women becomes old enough to have children, the number of women of child-bearing age grows exponentially. The number of women who marry each year is the approximate number of new homes needed.[3]

Local impact of growth

Monroe also contains two other villages, Monroe and Harriman. Kiryas Joel's boundaries also come close to the neighboring towns of Blooming Grove and Woodbury.

Residents of these communities and local and Orange County politicians view the village as encroaching on them.[3] Due to the rapid population growth occurring in Kiryas Joel, resulting almost entirely from the high birth rates of its Hasidic population, the village government has undertaken various annexation efforts to expand its area, to the dismay of the majority of the residents of the surrounding communities. Many of these area residents see the expansion of the high-density residential and commercial village as a threat to the quality of life in the surrounding suburban communities. They view it as a prime source of suburban sprawl (most land surrounding it is largely undeveloped). This designation is questionable, because the high density townhouses and condominiums of Kiryas Joel take up much less space per person than the typical suburban community. Only 5.4% of housing units in Kiryas Joel are single, detaches houses,[4] making it less sprawled than the Bronx (where 5.8% of housing units are single detached houses). Other concerns of the surrounding communities are the impact on local aquifers and the projected increased volume of sewage reaching the county’s sewerage treatment plants, already near capacity by 2005.

On August 11, 2006, residents of Woodbury voted by a 3-to-1 margin to incorporate much of the town as a village to constrain further annexation. Kiryas Joel has vigorously opposed such moves in court,.[citation needed] and even some Woodbury residents are concerned about adding another layer of taxation without any improved defense against annexations.

In March 2007, the village sued the county to stop it from selling off a million gallons (3,780 m³) of excess capacity at its sewage plant in Harriman. Two years before, the county had sued the village to stop it from tapping into New York City's Catskill Aqueduct, arguing that the village's environmental review for the project had inadequately addressed concerns about the additional wastewater it would generate. The village is appealing an early ruling siding with the county.[5]
In its action, Kiryas Joel accuses the county of inconsistently claiming limited capacity in the its suit when it is selling the million gallons to three communities outside its sewer district.

Local politics
Critics of the village cite its impact on local politics. Villagers are perceived as voting in a solid bloc. While this is not always the case, the highly concentrated population often does skew strongly toward one candidate or the other in local elections, making Kiryas Joel a heavily-courted swing vote for whichever politician offers Kiryas Joel the most favorable environment for continued growth.

In the town's 2005 municipal election, a slate of anti-growth Democratic candidates for the Town Board ran against pro-growth Republicans. The Democrats carried almost every precinct in town but lost the election because the Kiryas Joel vote went for the Republicans.[citation needed]

Kiryas Joel played a major role in the 2006 Congressional election. The village sits in the 19th Congressional District, represented at that time by Republican Sue Kelly. Village residents have usually been loyal to Kelly in the past, but the voters were upset over what they saw as lack of adequate representation from Kelly for the village. In a bloc, Kiryas Joel swung around 2,900 votes to Democrat John Hall in the 2006 elections. Hall won the election by over 4,000 votes, but Kiryas Joel was the primary reason Hall carried Orange County. He defeated Kelly in the county by 93 votes.

Large families

Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, celebrating Hanukah in the main synagogue in Kiryas Joel
Women usually stop working outside the home after the birth of a second child.[3] Most families have only one income and many children. The resulting poverty rate makes a disproportionate number of families in Kiryas Joel eligible for welfare benefits when compared to the rest of the county; and cost of welfare benefits is subsidized by taxes paid county-wide. Per the New York Times,

Because of the sheer size of the families (the average household here has six people, but it is not uncommon for couples to have 8 or 10 children), and because a vast majority of households subsist on only one salary, 62 percent of the local families live below poverty level and rely heavily on public assistance [government welfare], which is another sore point among those who live in neighboring communities.

The unusual lifestyle and growth pattern of Kiryas Joel has led to litigation on a number of fronts. Most noted in legal circles is the Grumet decision about school district boundaries; but there has also been litigation over what entity should pay for the education of children with disabilities in Kiryas Joel, and over whether the community's boys must ride buses driven by women.

Main article: Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet
In 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that the Kiryas Joel school district, which covered only the village, was designed in violation of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment, because the design accommodated one group on the basis of religious affiliation. 512 U.S. 687 (1994). Subsequently, the New York State Legislature established a similar school district in the town that has passed legal muster.

Kiryas Joel is located at 41°20′24″N, 74°10′2″W (41.340020, -74.167229)GR1.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 2.8 km² (1.1 sq mi). 2.8 km² (1.1 sq mi) of it is land and only a very small portion of the area (a small duck pond in center of the village) is covered with water.


Grave of Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (r.) and his wife, Rebbetzin Alte Feiga Teitelbaum (l.) in Kiryas Joel Cemetery.

As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 13,138 people, 2,229 households, and 2,137 families residing in the village. The population density was 4,611.5/km² (11,962.2/sq mi). There were 2,233 housing units at an average density of 783.8/km² (2,033.2/sq mi). The racial makeup of the village was 99.02% White, 0.21% African American, 0.02% Asian, 0.12% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.93% of the population.

The 2000 census also reports that only 6.16% of the village speaks English at home; 2.3% speak Hebrew; over 89% speak Yiddish at home.[7] Of the Yiddish-speaking population in 2000, 46% spoke English "not well" or "not at all." Overall, including those who primarily spoke Hebrew and European languages as well as primary Yiddish speakers, 46% of Kiryas Joel residents speak English "not well" or "not at all."[8]

There were 2,229 households out of which 79.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 93.2% were married couples living together, 1.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 4.1% were non-families. 2.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 5.74 and the average family size was 5.84. In the village the population was spread out with 57.5% under the age of 18, 17.2% from 18 to 24, 16.5% from 25 to 44, 7.2% from 45 to 64, and 1.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 15 years. For every 100 females there were 116.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 118.0 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $15,138, and the median income for a family was $15,372. Males had a median income of $25,043 versus $16,364 for females. The per capita income for the village was $4,355. About 61.7% of families and 62.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 63.9% of those under age 18 and 50.5% of those age 65 or over.

[End Wikipedia Article]

Basically only 6.16% of this Satmar hell hole speaks English well so that the rest of them cannot go out and get jobs in the outside world ... and big suprise: "62 percent of the local families live below poverty level and rely heavily on public assistance [government welfare], which is another sore point among those who live in neighboring communities."

Shame on the orthdox for not insisting that their fellow orthodox -the satmars should learn to speak good English. You can't get a good job in this country without it. And they keep having more and more and more children to top off their irresponsibility.

Do they understand what they are doing to themselves? No. Sooner or later they are going to beg the rest of the Jewish world for help, and the rest of the Jewish world, being stupid as we are, are going to help them despite the terrible antizionism that the teach amongst themselves in contradiction to the values of the rest of the Jewish world.

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