Rockland County Conflict

Seeking Common Ground: School and Ethnic Tensions in Rockland County

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Hasidic man pushes a stroller near the residence of Leibby Kletzky, a murdered eight-year-old boy who went missing from the Hasidic neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Many members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Borough Park, Brooklyn, choose not to vaccinate their children. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images/Getty)

New York Magazine staff writer, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, talks about his article "Them and Them," exploring the tensions between the Hasidim and the immigrant community in Ramapo.


Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Comments [79]

Eve P.

22,000 vs. 8,000. Well and. That's it. Says it all. Nothing evil going on here, just common sense, a natural consequence. So what. If 22,000 want their kids in private school, so be it. Many many if not most of the public school districts in the country suffered economic contraints and lost resource during our period of economic recession and many laid off teachers and had cuts, you can't blame EVERYTHING on the Hassidic Jews, please.
I'd like to know what the declining numbers were in the public school district over time. If it was significant of course someone would logically think contracture...if the need for private schools grew there again the need for expansion on the private school side.

Sep. 18 2014 05:21 AM


Oct. 05 2013 12:25 AM
charles g from NY

None of the people who are attacking teh hasidim r first seeking to discover answers to the ultimate question...where is teh $220m budget going.
Its not going on teh 2/3rd s of kids who go to private schools....oh yes sorry 3 whole million is.
its going on just 1/3rd of kids in teh area.....$25000 per public school kid. TWICE AS MUCH AS IN OTHER AREAS! Yet they want still more money. WHYYYYYY?????

Its unbelievable how rabid prejudice can disguise rational debate. THe only winners are the union teachers, & possible slush funds along the way. SHAME ON THE SHOW FOR NOT FIRST ASKING real questions before degenerating into propaganda.


Jun. 30 2013 03:00 PM

I am Jewish live in Spring Valley pay astronomical taxes in comparison with what little we earn. I would like you to know that there is a
(very large)group of Jews that think that is not our business how other groups of citizens manage their schools. And that is not the place of Jews to boss around in the public not Jewish schools. Someone wrote that these people are bullies (it was a revelation to me)that is the perfect word.
And as bullies will always bully it is not only the public schools that suffer.Some Jewish schools are given moneys to serve breakfast daily that are never served (only when the inspectors come. Twice/once a year is it?).Why do inspectors have to tell them in advance that they are coming? Surprise them and see the truth. There is a school bus service from the state that is free, well most Jewish schools charge for it. As Jews we are not allowed to steal, to lie and is our obligation to follow the laws of the land (if they don't go against the Torah and I cannot think at this moment of any law in this country that orders us to do so). This gang of powerful people are not helping ANYONE besides themselves, while using religion to get away with their dirty businesses and breaking the Jewish laws written on the Torah. I could go on and on and my shame and disappointment is unbearable this shouldn't be this way.

Jun. 11 2013 10:37 PM
matt from nyc

i heard this story and unfortunately only part of the follow up. I guess I am not clear: does the school board determine the overall budget for the whole town, or does the town determine the overall budget for the schools and then the school board determines how it is used. If it is the latter, I guess I wonder if there is a requirement that some percentage, if not all, school board members have a child in the public school system in order to be eligible for office, or should there be such a requirement. If it is the former I can understand how that requirement could work the other way and make schools the priority over every other item including police, fire, health services, roads, etc. It would seem to be fair that the folks deciding on how to spend public school money have a vested interest in the system.
or is what's happening that WITHIN the school system, a large amt of money is being taken to be used specifically on children with special needs that the school district is required to pay for, even if outside the public system. (i am a parent of a child currently with special needs so I am aware of that type of requirement, at least here in NYC). i guess either way, the requirement I'm speaking of might make it a balanced system.
Thanks for the show.

May. 07 2013 10:48 AM
Denise Kronstadt from Piermont, NY

Thank you Brian Lehrer for hosting this story and it's followup. It needs reporting like yours to convey the depth of the problem. The first thing that came to my mind, as awful as it sounds, is your question regarding "common ground" -- common ground, in this situation is like asking a victim of a domestic violence whether she might mediate with her abuser. On another issue not yet addressed, I would also point out that the failure of the NYS Department of Education to intervene is the real issue at this point, its generating a bill that is almost impossible to pass and difficult to implement is a mere distraction from true state action and, I wonder why there is a total lack of input by the Governor, he may claim that the SED is an independent agency, but he did appoint its Commissioner and he has taken other action on education. Your reporting is wonderful, please continue! Thank you.

May. 01 2013 10:59 AM

I was born Jewish. I live in Rockland County. Being intolerant of egregious wrongdoings and blatant corruption is not anti-semitic--the claim that pre-empts the outraged majority from speaking the truth about this mess. Bad behavior is just that. There is no excuse for it be it from any minority. It is not justifiable.

Apr. 30 2013 05:57 PM

I wrote up a longer piece but I will post that somewhere else. I just felt the school board is bullying the rest of the community, that's what people in control can do sometimes. In this discuss, we need to strip away any ethnic/religious background of the board members and look at their results (votes, reduction of schooling...). Those results seem to show that it is not about the students getting their needs met but about the board members. I've seen how bullies work, and it seems they (the board) have the bully angle going by not involving the entire community in decisions about the kids who attend the school. That type of bullying activity is found in every culture. Once again, this is about what the school board is doing (not their faith, etc). From the information presented, it seems they are doing things they would not do to their children (the school board members' children). I am probably wrong about various facts or my assertions but we can find out. Interview them, interview past members, teachers, principals, etc. Focus on the children, the school board, and the community as a whole in those interviews. That would determine what kind of people they are as in bullies or not (their personal take, nothing else about their background). If they don't care if the public school kids have a good education, they aren't really interested in being good 'parental' board members, and don't care what the rest of the community wants, then that would tend to put them in the bully realm. If they can't discuss it beyond lowering taxes, which is a diversion not a way out the problem of good education, they are skirting their duties. This type of investigation is not being racist, it's being judicious and fiduciary.

Apr. 30 2013 04:25 PM
MoTownFrosty from Metro NY

This is happening in many locations both here and in Israel - in Israel, they are referred to as "the blacks" due to their dress. The concerns and complaints are largely the same in both countries. In Israel, there is added angst over the fact that this group is exempt from otherwise required military service.

Apr. 29 2013 05:20 PM
Glen Benjamin from Airmont, NY

First off as a life long Rockland resident I can tell you the truth. I lived in Clarkstown but I am a 1980 graduate of Spring Valley high School. The school district has gone down hill due to the high cost of unions and more importantly the power of the Hasidim.

Make no mistake the courts will do little if anything. The power they yield is so great the District Attorney's in NYC refused to prosecute Pedophiles for many years. They police their own and are prevented form reporting to police. A local station did a report on how rampant pedophilia is in the community. Only now has the DA in a borough decided to start prosecuting. Their power is so great they got Bloomberg to stop concerts on the Sabbath near a shul. He also closed bike paths near their homes. The hasidim claim safety but it was done because of the way outsiders dress.

Make no mistake they are xenophobic and only want your money for their use. If you think of moving into their community they will vandalize your home and cars. They are a disgrace because they want all of the benefits and none of the burdens. They NEVER enter the military and when Rep. Rangel wanted to bring back a draft they talked about sending ALL their children to Canada.

As far as money, well they have no problem being on welfare and a majority of New Square is on it. They continue to have 4,5,6,7 children because others pay for it. They defy all zoning and get away with whatever they want whenever they want. Who wants to buy a home worrying another piece of property will become a school or shul to cater to them. WIth giant lights on all the time and pay no taxes but use resources. Make no mistake many of their students are not residents but come form cousins in Brooklyn. Blame RLUIPA and Clinton for cateirng to them and a law that gives them carte blanche and nothing we can do. Some day the US supreme court may look at the issue but by then the damage would be irreversible.

Many people do vote but their power is tough to overcome. They are intent on remaking a beautiful suburb into another Brooklyn at all costs. If you are not a part of their cult they do not care baout you unless you can give them something.

My mother worked for the state speaker and they were in her office very day requesting stuff. When my mother passed away she had gotten to know their leaders real well. Yet they NEVER came to her funeral or sent any condolence cards. You see she could no longer help them, so she was no longer useful.

Apr. 29 2013 12:43 PM

Just one segment -- yet we've hit those high notes, folks!

(from the WNYC message board on this page)--
"Insidious" "disingenuous" "why so many disabled" "not all jews are this deplorable" (jew)
"They are talented in being demanding"
"the fool (the sole, random chasid caller) will just (cry) anti-semitism"
""...Rumor has it that a lot of the Real estate is owned by "rabbi" and they do not pay property taxes. A a Jew they scare me, cause I can see how they can turn the US into Germany pre WWII."

Charming.... and wrapping up with the lovely Patrucia Ellison from NY's simple but chilling conclusion, "Enough is enough. Let's do this."

Shame on those who manipulated this story into expressing racism or allowed racist propaganda to spread. Firstly, Brian for not having on a guest to defend this (admittedly selfish-seeming and wrongheaded, although we were not presented with enough facts to even make intelligent conclusions) sect from WNYC's other callers (and you wonder why they hide?). Even your guest reporter, the single source of information, sounded a bit scared by WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show audience. A morning he surely would like to forget, I am guessing.

But the most interesting and relevant themes seem utterly ignored.

If this sect (sorry, I forgot its name) is following the letter of the law and exploiting it, then why on earth isn't the discussion about how to get the laws in line with the intent of the laws, rather than turning the discussion (and especially on the comment page) into a frenzy of Jew-hate? Would this be happening if it were a subject related to our environment? Our food system? Even a different religious group? Of course not -- it would more likely be about next steps, solutions, empathy -- even if it were a violent group. Think back to last week's show on the Boston bombers.

Isn't the problem at hand that the laws that were set up across the state and country to help poor, spanish speaking immigrants, coupled with other laws to help catholic and evangelical schools stay in business, being exploited by a small group of jewish fundamentalists?

If so, then based on the comments below, we are left with a radio segment that is revealing, sloppy and plain shocking (and not helpful to any of the parties involved. As a one-time resident of a town in a parallel situation, I hear the frustration vividly from the resident callers, yet none of their frustration seemed to warrant a thoughtful, informed response.)

Apr. 29 2013 09:48 AM
Listener from NJ

A similar situation exists in Lakewood NJ, with 20,000 private school students from the Hasidic Community and about 8,000 public school students. There hasn't been a total takeover of the school board but last Thanksgiving there was a backlash from the surrounding communities because bus drivers had to bus the private school students due to no Thanksgiving Holiday being observed in the Hasidic Community (private schools have an agreement that the public school buses have to provide transportation when school is in session). There is also a very expensive school for children with special needs funded with public dollars in Lakewood with a majority (if not exclusive) population from the Hasidic Community. The public school students are overwhelmingly black or hispanic.

Apr. 28 2013 08:52 PM
Patrucia Ellison from NY

Enough is enough. Let's do this.

Apr. 28 2013 08:26 PM

Baruch went off with his own thoughts and never answered the question re the reason for the cuts to ed programs in Ramapo. Perhaps because he had nothing worthwhile to say.

Apr. 28 2013 02:31 PM

Let's see what inaccuracies we have in these comments. One man who claims to be an administrator says that "over 3 million dollars" is given to non-public schools. He fails to mention that the budget is $209 million. Remember there are 22,000 non-public students to 8,000 in the public system. East Ramapo spends an average of $26,000 per student. How about closing the public schools altogether and giving every public school student just half of that to pay tuition at a fine private school? The tax burden would be cut in half for everyone and the children educated very well. The problem is the bloated public school payroll and the unions who keep it that way. It only came to light because of the anomaly of the demographics. The same bloat exists in many other districts. The attacks on Hasidim for having "too many children," or how they deal with the problem of the developmentally delayed have nothing to do with the issue and are pure Jew-hatred. The fact that some commenters identify themselves as Jews does not justify. As for "block voting" people vote their own interests and why shouldn't they? You would, too. But I guess when they are religious Jews, there is something wrong with that because they are "a cult." If those commenters had any integrity and intellectual honesty they would look in the mirror and see the face of hatred they show here.

Apr. 28 2013 02:42 AM
AE from Hudson Valley

I worked for a state agency that supported disabled adults in downstate NY. The Hasidics' value on marriage and family extends to adults with developmental and mental disabilities who would not be encouraged to marry and procreate in other American cultures. When the parents are unable to care for the children, there are assistance programs supported by federal and state tax dollars, and administered by non-profit Hasidic agencies which pay members of the Hasidic community to care for the children. (These programs are also administered by secular non-profit agencies to disabled adults and children in the general population.) There is a greater probability of having disabled children when people have many children, one right after another, and when they have children into their later years. Encouraging disabled adults to marry and have children, and encouraging women to have large numbers of children are the major reasons that there are so many disabled people in the Hasidic communities.

Apr. 27 2013 02:39 PM
wlipman from NY

There are a great many disabled children in Hasidic communities due to the lack of depth in the gene pool there. When you have what amounts to distant cousins marrying distant cousins, high school biology tells you that very undesirable recessive genes come to the fore.

The Hasidim in Ramapo are only one part of the story. Because they vote as a bloc, the politicians in Ramapo have pandered to every last thing the Hasidim want. The resulting violations of construction standards, the overoccupancy of residences, the water and sewer systems operating beyond their designed limits, all of these combine to result in a "Perfect Storm" of municipal corruption and pandering to one bloc of citizens.

The resulting political corruption--the Town of Ramapo building a $62 million baseball stadium AFTER THE VOTERS TURNED IT DOWN AT REFERENDUM--combined with the Hasidim screaming "Anti-Semitism" at every turn (most often directed at Jews who send their children to public schools), and you have a horrible situation. Add to that one Yeshiva that pocketed a $1 million grant earmarked for internet access in schools--the joke is that Hasidim forbid their children to listen to radio, watch television, or use computers connected to the internet!

What results is a Hasidic community of crooks who believe they can proceed with impunity to do whatever they want, with the tacit wink and a nod from the town and county governments.

Before anyone asks, I'm Jewish, a 1972 graduate of Spring Valley High School who received a superb education there, and I resent what the Hasidim have done to the school district of my youth. They and the politicians who have aided and abetted them at every turn belong in jail.

Apr. 27 2013 07:21 AM
clive betters

@ indy--Noach
what a bunch of specious BS- "the truth often lies somewhere in the middle". no, not for all things. that's sort of like saying;that, between the round and flat earth believers,there's a logical place for a "square earth society". sophistry, is neither useful nor becoming.

Apr. 26 2013 11:50 PM
clive betters

very sad,and extremely disgusting. this is the way that cults operate,and that's precisely what this is. religious extremism is ugly,irrespective of what the hell you call the religion.

Apr. 26 2013 11:33 PM
Susan Crayne

I am Jewish and am very concerned about the situation in Ramapo. One solution to this problem would need to occur at the state level: A certain percentage of school board members should be required to have children in the school system -- and that percentage should be greater than 50.

Apr. 26 2013 08:56 PM
Anonymous from Suffern ny

I am probably the only administrator in East Ramapo who will comment for you. As a sustaining member of WNYC I must let you know that the full ramifications of the religious influence on public school policy is completely out of line with separation of church and state. The resources diverted to non-public schools are in excess of 3 million dollars. When I sent my son to a religious kindergarten I never asked the public school to pay for it. It was my right and my choice. Never would I have felt it was the responsibility of the public system to educate my child in a private school at their expense. In East Ramapo it is considered a right of the religious to demand this concession from the public schools. The horrendous cost of impartial hearings cripples the district. Students are sent to private schools as far away as Kiryas Joel (including busing) and this further depletes the funds available for the public schools. Now, I see the students and families I have served, both public and non-public in a struggle for finite dollars and know that the unfairness will continue. A sad state of affairs which is dictated by the tyranny of the majority.

Apr. 26 2013 08:32 PM
Jody Fox

Public Education is guaranteed in the New York Constitution. It
should be funded by State Taxes, not Property Taxes. It should
not be subject to a vote School budgets are not
voted on

Apr. 26 2013 08:05 PM

To Kressel from East Ramapo,

I live in Orange County where issues involving relations between the Village of Kiryas Joel and other communities are heated and getting more so, and I've thought about how to help foster dialogue. I don't visit this website much and have not listened yet to the on air discussion nor read most other comments here, to be clear. But I read your comment and agree that we need to look for common ground.

Apr. 26 2013 07:19 PM

I must say that I thought Mr. Lehrer really made a sincere, good-faith effort to be as fair and sensitive as he could.

There is more I could write but doing so would be extremely time-consuming and stressing for me , so I just don't know if I'll get to it.

Let me just repeat a classic adage that I only came to really appreciate with time and experience:

In nearly every dispute, the truth almost always lies _somewhere_ in the middle between the sides.

Apr. 26 2013 07:06 PM

To all of those calling for the rest of Ramapo to vote: after many years as a PTA mom, I can tell you most of the students have parents that either are not citizens or cannot speak the English language. Whether they be Haitian or Central/South American, they do not have the right to vote or do not understand the situation. They are hard working people, house cleaners and landscapers. They cannot mobilize themselves. The PTA has tried for YEARS (20 that i know of) to get the vote out. Since the early 2000's they have not been able to overcome the bus loads of voters that Monsey and New Square send to the polls.

These are the second generation children that need education the most and they are losing everything. Thank goodness my children are out of high school for several years...only problem now is I will have to sell my home because they are spreading into all the villages of Ramapo and they will eventually take over the village governments that were put in place to maintain zoning regulations.

Apr. 26 2013 04:47 PM
Kressel from East Ramapo

I am a Hasidic parent living in East Ramapo. I am also a big fan of Brian Lehrer, so in the spirit of finding common ground, I am writing this post.

This was one of the most disturbing reports I've ever heard on your show. I think it is tragic that public schools are suffering. At the same time, the accusation of "plundering" smacks of anti-Semitic stereotyping. Okay, common ground. . .

I pay about $10K a year in property and school taxes, yet I send my kids to private school. Part of my taxes pays for their busing, and I think that's perfectly fair.

Ultimately, this is a fight over limited resources. We Hasidim are a sizable part of the population in Ramapo, and if education is the right of every citizen, then we have as much right to it as everyone else. Perhaps the solution might lie in a voucher system: so much money per kid allocated to the school of the family's choice. Many people feel such a policy would drain the public school system, but if, as you say, it's being drained anyway, then perhaps a voucher system might create some peace amongst our communities and make sure the resources are distributed more equitably all around.

Apr. 26 2013 04:46 PM
Kim Trevisan from Pomona, NY

Happy to have someone as noted as Brian Lehrer talk about what we all talk about, but I felt like I wanted both him and the reporter to discuss not just that there's tension, but to question the fundamental underlying causes--fiscal mismanagement(intentional or otherwise)of scant resources. Perhaps it's too complex an issue(culture differences and education policy) to summarize adequately in one 20 minute segment. Still, it's the kids that suffer, on all sides, and that's the true shame of it all.

Apr. 26 2013 04:18 PM
Jay Bee

I grew up in Pearl River, but was zoned into going to Spring Valley High School. I can remember as a child hanging up posters advertising school budget votes on telephone poles with my mother, driving for hours after dinner and making sure they were everywhere. As time wore on, we would see the large "Vote YES for our children" crossed out in sharpie with a small "NO" over it, and eventually "Vote NO" posters stapled over ours, and increasing in number. One day, my mother stopped at a stop sign and had her windshield covered in silly string as a group of Hasidic young adults ran past to sharpie over the poster - we both started crying. In first grade I went to my first school board meeting, I sat in the back eating the free cookies they had there as I went up to say my name and accept an award for the PTA's Reflection competition; every board member shook my hand and smiled at me. The last time I went to a board meeting, I was shouted over when my speech ran ten seconds long as I tried to fit into two minutes just what I'd gotten out of the school district I loved, and other ways in which they could keep from eliminating so many programs that on paper seem expendable but as a student, you could not imagine your success at school without them. Parents and students were so tightly packed into the room, most were standing up or out in the hallway; there was no cookies or juice. A few board members looked at me and tried to smile; most texted throughout my speech and looked uninterested.
I'm now in college, and any time I hear from those friends younger than me still attending the district, my heart breaks. You don't want to visit your school over breaks because you don't know who will be there. You don't want to log into Facebook because someone has the latest information on what the students who were freshmen when you were a senior won't get to experiences. You don't even want to hear about it at all after awhile, because it feels as if all you've ever done is fight and fight and fight for everyone younger than you to have the same opportunities you had, with no help. After years, what else is there to do then just give up and get out.

Apr. 26 2013 02:38 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Raphael from Monsey - Your claims of pensions robbing resources is akin to the teabaggers'; you all forget what built these strong communities in the first place: quality public education, which led to sound employment. The system only works when a populace pays it forward for the next generation, and their neighbors.

The solution is to start taxing religious institutions. They take land (and the associated community services afforded that land) and don't contribute to those services. That way, the burden of an educated and safe populace is shared. There's no other way.

Apr. 26 2013 01:37 PM
D Mega

This behavior by the Hassidic Jews is shortsighted and will be ultimately harmful to their community and to Jews overall. In this era of so much ethnic and religious fanaticism and hatred fueling violence throughout the world, this will only heighten the anti-semitism of those who persecute and harass Jews. With so many positive contributions made to society by Jewish people everywhere, this is clearly a setback for the proponents of tolerance and acceptance. Very sad and very stupid.

Apr. 26 2013 01:24 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

This is worth taking a look at.

U.S. Education Spending and Performance vs. The World [INFOGRAPHIC]

The US spends the most on Education, yet ranks behind other nations which spend far less.

Apr. 26 2013 12:59 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

I wonder where "Noach" is on this issue?

Apr. 26 2013 12:40 PM

Unfortunately Steven from Spring Valley illustrates why the special interests are winning and the rest of us aren't: directing people to meaningless online petitions. While the special interests work on the ground and at the legislative houses mobilizing, organizing, lobbying and voting, people like Steven are futzing around the internet signing online petitions that NO ONE reads or cares about.

Apr. 26 2013 12:18 PM
Charles Harris from Isand Heights NJ

I am Jewish and disturbed by reported behavior of Orthodox Jewish communities. They represent models of "group think", "group act", group dress" and "group vote". To be "Orthodox" is to conform to one or another "established doctrine" that is intrinsic to one or another group. I believe that the manym"orthodox" communities by their size and numbers alone represent a political force that can overwhelm a community not necessariy beneficial for its non-jewish members..

My fear is that these groups by the influence they can exert on less organized members of the overall community in which they propagate: i.e.the number of tax exempt "schuls" that pop up that by numbers must affect the tax burden of the greater community; (their ability to favor as a group of thousands one bank over another, etc.) is that the small waves of antisemitism that now are randomly scattered may become a tusnami that will include all Jews.

The sympathetic reprieve that Jews enjoyed after WW2 is wearing thin and the fabric might be shorn by the behavior of some of the Chassidic groups.

Apr. 26 2013 12:02 PM

Okay, i"m gunna throw this one on the fire as yet another example of the HUBRIS:

...that's right; the appropriation of New York City public signage and public sidewalks!!!

I LOVE this stuff.

Apr. 26 2013 11:41 AM
raphael from Monsey,NY

I am orthodox, not chassidic living in Rockland Couty and heard your show regarding this issue.

At issue here is the tax angle. The school board has consistently raised taxes in order to continue funding teacher pensions, besides the fact that teachers working in the district schools are the highest paid teachers in the U S.

The teacher's union has dug in its heels-succesfully, at that- in the last contract negotiations to keep the status quo. All this in spite of the recession, whereas companies have managed to extract concessions from employees.

The United Taxpayers Group has attempted unsuccesfully to reduce taxes over the last 20 years and now,finally, people have taken matters into their own hands and done what the previos boards didn't have the resolve to accomplish. There should have been recall elections long ago. So now it's happened by fiat

Apr. 26 2013 11:41 AM
Marrach from Brooklyn!!!

It took Many years for the situation to reach this point...and it started with a very common tendency amoungst many average White Voters...

They don't Vote; They think Voting is an Annoyance; They don't think the LOCAL Vote is even Important enough to get out of bed for. Because, unlike Blacks, they never had to FIGHT for the Vote-- so they think Gov't Automatically works for them. Well, Not So True, it seems.

Well THIS is what happens when you let ANOTHER Interest Group VOTE, especially Hasidim, in enough representatives to CONTROL the board: They WILL take care of their OWN: FIRST & ONLY.

Unfortunately, it will take YEARS to reverse this travesty. GET UP and VOTE. Tell your Neighbors TO VOTE. Put up your OWN Candidates AND VOTE.

Apr. 26 2013 11:33 AM
Herby from boropark


Brave of you to air a story like this. They will come after you.

Are you going to do a segment on how most are "rabbi" and do not pay taxes?

Rumor has it that a lot of the Real estate is owned by "rabbi" and they do not pay property taxes.

A a Jew they scare me, cause I can see how they can turn the US into Germany pre WWII

Apr. 26 2013 11:31 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

dboy - It already came out! Brian was as guilty as the caller named Baruch!

And thanks to the writers here who explained what Israel and Brooklyn are experiencing: a community that prides itself on procreating on a large scale with great swaths of unemployment due to the "rigors" of leading a decidedly religious life. They use a disproportionate amount of public funds to lead that life.

And to those who say, simply, "re-stack the school board," in Ramapo--it's not that easy. The Hassidim are well-organized and voluminous. The poorer non-Hassidic residents are smaller in proportion now, and not as organized.

Apr. 26 2013 11:27 AM

This is a good argument for the separation of school from state.
Then every one can buy the school he wants.

Prior to public schools the Northeast had 94-98% literacy.
Voters read and understood Andrew Jackson's 28 page thesis on how the Second Bank of the US was a rip-off. Voters and Jackson killed that Bank in 1833.
The bankers were so appalled by this high level of education, that they initiated and promoted government schools as the antidote to economic understanding.
After 80 years of government schooling, people did not understand that the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 created a similar banker's cartel, that has pillaged our dollar of 97% of its value since 1914, by counterfeiting money.

Apr. 26 2013 11:22 AM
Josh Karan from Washington Heights

This is one of the most disturbing segments I have ever heard Brian air in the 20 years I have listened to his show.
Highly inflammatory & divisive.

It pit people against one another rather than provide, what in conflict resolution protocols is called, a reframing:
-- context which can allow for resolution that is satisfactory to both sides of a dispute.

That reframing would pose the question as to why education is funded by local property taxes in locales of greatly disparate wealth, rather than equitably through State income taxes. Relying on local property taxes means that poor communities, such as Muncie or Spring Valley, are taxed at much higher rate proportionally than wealthier districts like Scarsdale. So it is not a surprise that people who are feeling financial stress, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, chafe at bearing the costs of public services, especially ones that they do not use. In other communities in NY State, and throughout the US, Christian as well as Jewish, it is the elderly who vote down school budgets, even for their own grandchildren, because they are feeling economic stress, and the elderly vote, as do the Hasidim.

If you want to bring people together, do so around a program that would relieve the burden of paying for schools on local property taxes. Then the schools of this segment of Rockland County, as well as others in New York State, where wide disparities exist on what is spent to educate children, could be as well funded out of State coffers as those of wealthy districts, and this conflict which is being transformed from an economic conflict to an ugly divisive ethnic-religous one, might be productively resolved.

I ask you to re-address this matter in an upcoming show, not to leave matters as confirming the prejudices of many on each side that this segment only reinforced.

Josh Karan


Apr. 26 2013 11:19 AM

Do u mean fraud ?

Apr. 26 2013 11:13 AM
Barbara Hoffmann from PA

In my small community, a group of sport nuts got their candidates elected to the school board. The expenses on football fields, teams, traveling and everything else went crazy for about 7 years. Finally, residents had enough and got out their canidates and their votes.

Apr. 26 2013 11:08 AM
Batya from Washington Heights

It is sad how the discussion devolved to US (public school users) vs THEM (Hasidic Jews). The problem is a matter of best use of resources for all taxpayers, and perception can get distorted when you objectify the group opposite your own values as THEM. In reality, the system is broken and the current "fixes" are flawed. I think it's fair to say that a majority of school systems have cut funding for the arts and music programs, schools have been consolidated, and programs have been cut. The inequity of the Ramapo situation is exacerbated because the active section of the population cannot operate their schools within the governmental framework and yet needs to find funding. Don't we all juggle our financial responsibilities and obligations? If the non-Hasidic population is so disturbed, then they, too, should get out there and "stack" the school board. Create some real dialogue, or better yet, work out solutions together. Don't let it devolve to US vs. THEM. We're all citizens and need to get along with tight resources.

Apr. 26 2013 11:07 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

dboy - I didn't want to go there, but ... yeah. There are many examples in this community of keepin' it in the family, so to speak.

Apr. 26 2013 11:05 AM
Steve from New York, NY

The Hasidic and other Ultra-Orthodox community are thoroughly disingenuous on all issues of social spending and taxes. With their large families and low level of working in the general income earning workforce economy they are completely dependent on the national and state level social services and safety net from Medicaid, Head Start, Housing, Income Support programs (aka: Welfare). Their insular way of life is a new phenomenon that only came into existence because their is some level of a welfare state in both the U.S. and Israel.

But when it come to their paying local taxes to pay for the local public schools for everybody else, they just want cut, cut, cut. Shame on them.
And no, it is neither anti-Semitic and not anti-Religious to point out these facts. It is huge legitimate issue in Israel that the non-Ultra-Orthodox have been trying to fight back against in the context of domestic Israeli (and specifically within the Jewish but non-Ultra-Orthodox Israeli community), and is very important in NY State given out large concentrated Ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and Rockland Counties.

As a Jew and an American who thinks their should be more shared community national government services across the board... single payer health care, Pre-K through University education, minimum income, more progressive taxation, less inequality in income, etc. I am appalled at the narrow minded, unethical, immoral, attitude of the Ultra-Orthodox communities.

To paraphrase the great foundational Rabbi Hillel: If they are only for themselves, what are they?

Apr. 26 2013 11:03 AM

Uhmmm... first cousins???

Apr. 26 2013 11:03 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Those who wonder why the incidence of particular mental and physical handicaps are prevalent in Ashkhenazi communities, research has shown that small, closed cultures like this, with limited marriage outside of it, develop certain genetic abnormalities. Tay-Sachs is but one of the common conditions that presents:

Apr. 26 2013 11:02 AM
Steven White from Spring Valley, NY

When members of one ethnic group send their kids to private school and control the purse strings for the public schools that serve minority kids, there is real potential for an educational disaster. The state education department has proposed a legislative solution to this problem; we can lobby Albany by signing the petition at

Apr. 26 2013 11:02 AM
Beth from Colts Neck, NJ

I take exception with the argument that the elected leaders do not get anything out of public schools.
My grandparents established public schools in North Georgia (Appalachia) during the 1930's. It was a hard sell to get the community leaders to fund public schools since the leaders had the money to send their own children to private schools outside of the community. My grandparents argument was that everyone gains from public schools. The "educated" will be in the same community as the children of those who can't afford private schools. All of the community gains from public schools even if their own children do not attend the public schools.

Apr. 26 2013 11:01 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

black socialist from BK baby:
If you read my entire post, I stated at the end "still doesn't make it right." These Jews came to this country to escape the Holocaust and basically created their own new religion and societal rules. That's what I meant by "historical reasons." I agree with you, there is no justification for said behavior.

Apr. 26 2013 11:01 AM

for those that are curious why there are so many disabled chasidim: the older someone is when they have children the more likely the child is going to have some kind of disability, and do a google search of metzitzah b'peh then you'l know.

Apr. 26 2013 10:59 AM
Barbara Hoffmann from PA

One solution to this turmoil is to get out the vote. This does seem extreme, but, school boards are often taken over by a group with a particular points of view, and often a minority point of view. If the residents do not like, they need to put up candidates.

Apr. 26 2013 10:59 AM
Inwoodista from Inwood, NYC

The core issue seems to be that the religious Jews who live in Rockland County don't see non-Jews as part of their community. And it seems they don't want to pay to educate people who aren't part of their commmunity.

I've heard from Jewish friends that some Hassidim don't even view non-Jews as people. That may be why the Satmars who spend summers in Sullivan County (where we have a place) ignore me when I say "Good Morning" (to a Satmar woman).

How can one be a good neighbor when your neighbor ignores your friendly greeting?

I support everyone's religious beliefs, and their practices, as long as they obey the law. But clearly there are significant problems destructive to the larger community when an isolationist religious community acts to benefit themselves at the expense of the larger community.

Apr. 26 2013 10:59 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

hjs11211 and Dorothy from Manhattan:
There is NOT an unusually large amount of handicapped Hasidic children. The parents are just very talented in demanding state services. This makes it seem like there are more special needs kids than actually exist.

Apr. 26 2013 10:58 AM
black socialist from BK baby

foodaggro states, "But to be clear, it's not just out of sheer selfishness or an uncaring nature; there are historical reasons behind their actions...." really, what historical reasons would justify such actions? i'm personally an atheist, and it always disgusts me to no end when evangelical wackos with no moral compass impose their retrograde ideology on the wider public.... just pathetic

Apr. 26 2013 10:58 AM

When will the "anti-Semitic" card come out?

Apr. 26 2013 10:57 AM
galit from nyc

As an American Israeli, I want to remind people that Hassidic Jews do not speak for all Jews and I am sick and tired of them sucking off the system in both countries and then having the sheer nerve to always insinuate anti-semitism when they are called on their leech like behavior.

Issues with Hassidics all caring only for themselves are not issues with all jews. Its an issue with a group that is selfish, insular, and hypoctritical.

Apr. 26 2013 10:54 AM
angry jew

Please understand that not all jews are chassidim, and what chassidim do as a community is deplorable. the school taking over a school district is the least of these fine peoples deeds. they don't educate their children, there is money laundering, and they are a people that will just keep having kids to suck money from the government among other things.

Apr. 26 2013 10:54 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

As someone who grew up around Hasidim and now works with people of this community, I know for a fact that this is how they operate. But to be clear, it's not just out of sheer selfishness or an uncaring nature; there are historical reasons behind their actions. Still doesn't make it right.

Apr. 26 2013 10:52 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

I read this excellent NYMag piece with disgust. The small core of remaining public school supporters were told by the president of this school board,"You don't like it? Move somewhere else!"

This school district used to be one of the best in the country, but this group has gutted it to the point of criminality--and to their own gain. It's sickening that they're holding a knife to those who don't share their way of life, but as others have put it here, we've seen it in a couple of communities in Brooklyn, where one group is diverting (and in some cases dissolving) public funding to their exclusive use.

Brian--your own discourse is sounding a bit biased against the secular community. Allowing Baruch to rant (and in effect, bully the issue with matters that hadn't even come up) without listening to the program wasn't wise. You've helped push this toward being a matter of "religious bias." Way to shut it down.

Apr. 26 2013 10:51 AM

I'm an atheist with no prejudice against any community based on religious beliefs alone. However, if religious beliefs influence actions producing negative results for the rest of the community, examination without apology is warranted.

Apr. 26 2013 10:50 AM

The Hasidic caller:

"Jewish" and "Hasidim" are NOT synonymous.

Apr. 26 2013 10:49 AM
black socialist from BKbaby

and of course, the anti-semitism charge... just pathetic.... fool can't address the issues.... just pathetic....


Apr. 26 2013 10:48 AM
Tara from NYC

I grew up in Rockland County and it is true what this caller is stating. The Hasidic community has not demonstrated any concern for their neighbors, and in response to any criticism leveled at them they immediately cry antisemitism. Even when the criticism comes from other Jews.

Apr. 26 2013 10:46 AM

Are there any surprises here??

Apr. 26 2013 10:46 AM
The Truth from Becky

Clearly the school board (members)needs to be reviewed, the parents are not controlling this situation on their own.

Apr. 26 2013 10:45 AM

brian continually stops the voicing of legitimate criticism to talk about bias. why won't he allow people to criticize a group of people that are doing something wrong? brian has to put his personal religious feelings aside and allow this very normal conversation to continue

Apr. 26 2013 10:45 AM
David from Manhattan

Representative bodies (like school Boards) exist to protect the majorities, the Courts exist to protect the minorities. The parents of children who do attend the schools in Ramapo need to get themselves to court.

The conduct of the segment of the Jewish community that has engaged in this hostile take over is an embarrassment to me as a Jew who supports high quality public education.

It reminds me of the attempt by white supremacists to take over the Sierra Club several years ago.

It also enables me to understand how peace loving Muslims feel when violent radicals try to hijack their religion.

Apr. 26 2013 10:44 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

The Ramapo school district has been notorious for decades. It is criminal how a small group has been allowed to destroy this system for the majority. I'm glad to see someone if finally paying attention.

Apr. 26 2013 10:43 AM
Elizabeth from Greenwood Hts, Brooklyn

This story is horrifying. I can't believe the Hasidim are putting the interests of their own kids above their neighbors' kids in such a cynical and destructive way.

Apr. 26 2013 10:43 AM
Dorothy from Manhattan

Why are there so many disabled children in the Hassidic community?

Apr. 26 2013 10:43 AM
john from office

Hasidic Jews are tone deaf to how they are seen by the goyem. I saw this in Williamsburg in the 60's.

The answer is for people to get out and vote.

Apr. 26 2013 10:42 AM
MikeInBrklyn from Clinton

Under the cover of religious freedom, the Hasidim have been allowed to get away with practices that if carried out by any other population would be considered disciminatory.

Apr. 26 2013 10:42 AM

why would there be a lot of disabled Hasidim?

Apr. 26 2013 10:41 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I grew up in that district and we really got an education back then. This whole thing is insane. Why do the Hasidim feel that non-Hasidic families have to knuckle under to their will?

Granted, they are taxpayers, but there are other taxpayers in the district whose children need to be educated. Those taxpayers should run for office and repeal the new tax laws.

By the way, many of the Hasidim in the area, though they send their children to yeshiva, are themselves on welfare and can't even properly support their own communities and yeshivas. When they buy buildings to use as schools, they board up the windows and let the actual buildings deteriorate. And now they've taken over the former Nanuet Mall buildings and are going to let the same thing happen to them.

By trashing the school district the way they are, they are incurring the wrath of non-Jewish locals and are only going to engender problems for themselves.

Apr. 26 2013 10:40 AM
chip from Long Island

Brian - this is happening in some of the 5 towns area comm. on the south shore of
Long Island. The orthodox have devastated the public schools but still send their kids
to the public schools if they have learning disabilities to take advantage of those benefits.
It's disgusting.

Apr. 26 2013 10:38 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Insidious and not very surprising.

Apr. 26 2013 10:34 AM

There's nothing new here and no need to go all the way up-state. When Brooklyn Democrat Simca Felder ran for the NYS Senate part of his platform was the promise to get as much government funding for the various Orthodox schools (especially those providing services to special needs children)in his Brooklyn Community as he could. When he won he immediately indicated that he would be caucusing with the Republicans and as a reward was given the Chairmanship of the newly formed subcommittee on NYC Education. Nice gift right!!!!

Apr. 26 2013 10:21 AM

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