Letter in the Journal News
There are two “third rails” in local politics, people’s neighborhoods, and their schools. People will grumble about bad political decisions and high taxes, but when they feel that their neighborhoods or their schools are threatened they become truly afraid.
As long as only the education of Black and Brown children was hurt by the Hasidic domination of the East Ramapo school board people were just upset. And they were upset by the lawless political regime in Ramapo, but the level of anger in Rockland today has reached an entirely new level.
Years ago the Wesley Hills village board recognized the right of people to worship in their homes as a matter of right—no application to the village government was required. But it also recognized that the sudden proliferation of cars on Friday afternoons on quiet neighborhood streets that often remained well into Sunday was seen as an intrusion by outsiders who didn’t appreciate the added danger to children who might run out between parked cars. They also didn’t consider the danger posed by narrow streets with cars parked on both sides.
Now we have the virtual invasion of quiet residential neighborhoods by realtors. These outsiders threaten to destroy the value of residents’ homes if they don’t sell as quickly as possible.
Today people in Clarkstown and Orangetown believe that their public schools and communities are under attack. And even in Ramapo, in Hillcrest and Airmont, there is a new movement of residents to protect their communities.
The surprised leaders of the Hasidic community are fighting back. As usual they charge that local residents are anti-Semites, and have called for a campaign to increase Hasidic voter registration in Ramapo. Not surprisingly they ignore the Orthodox and Hasidic owners of single family homes in these areas who also feel threatened.
It is no wonder that residents are looking to county executive Ed Day for real leadership in this most difficult situation.
Robert I. Rhodes, Chairman, Preserve Ramapo