Journal News 1/8/16: Ramapo Nears Development Breaking Point

Ramapo nears breaking point

As the ultra-religious community grows, Ramapo becomes a flash point in conflict over what it means to be suburban.

 A generation ago, there were few problems between Ramapo’s small ultra-religious Jewish communities and the gentiles and other Jews who made up the bulk of the town’s population.

Things have changed. As the ultra-religious community has grown, Ramapo has become a flash point in a continuing conflict over what it means to live in the suburbs. The idyllic version of leafy bedroom communities close to New York City — with groomed lawns and white picket fences — is being replaced by chaotic, high-density sprawl that many find overwhelming and unsafe. The conditions fueling that conflict are now threatening to spread beyond Ramapo’s borders.

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Forward 12/15/16: The Battle for Bloomingburg



How the Hasids Won the Battle of Bloomingburg — and Everyone Else Lost

When Mrs. F. and her husband decided to move away from Kiryas Joel, the upstate New York shtetl where they grew up, they went to their rebbe to ask for advice.

The couple couldn’t move just anywhere. Both are members of the Satmar Hasidic group, and like all ultra-Orthodox Jews, they had special requirements: a place to pray, a place to take ritual baths, a place for their children to go to school. What’s more, as followers of the grand rabbi of Satmar, they wanted to be somewhere a rebbe would be in control.

“I was looking to go to a place where there is authority,” said Mrs. F., now 30. “There has to be someone that sets the rules.”The couple had their eye on a place a half-hour outside Kiryas Joel, in a tiny village called Bloomingburg. It was a cozy little house on its own lot near Main Street, with a wood burning stove and a shed in the yard. Back home, Mrs. F. says, something like that would set them back over $750,000. The house in Bloomingburg was on sale for a quarter of the price.

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