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BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY

Rabbi-Sol 08 Jan 06 - 10:23 PM
Edain 08 Jan 06 - 10:50 PM
CarolC 08 Jan 06 - 11:05 PM
LilyFestre 08 Jan 06 - 11:54 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 09 Jan 06 - 05:41 AM
Paul Burke 09 Jan 06 - 06:28 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 09 Jan 06 - 09:34 AM
Clinton Hammond 09 Jan 06 - 09:39 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 09 Jan 06 - 09:57 AM
wysiwyg 09 Jan 06 - 10:59 AM
Rabbi-Sol 09 Jan 06 - 01:54 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 09 Jan 06 - 03:08 PM
CarolC 09 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM
bobad 09 Jan 06 - 04:17 PM
Bill D 09 Jan 06 - 04:24 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 09 Jan 06 - 04:53 PM
Rabbi-Sol 09 Jan 06 - 06:48 PM
John O'L 09 Jan 06 - 06:53 PM
LilyFestre 09 Jan 06 - 06:59 PM
Jeri 09 Jan 06 - 07:16 PM
Rabbi-Sol 09 Jan 06 - 07:20 PM
Rabbi-Sol 09 Jan 06 - 07:25 PM
LilyFestre 09 Jan 06 - 07:40 PM
GUEST 09 Jan 06 - 08:44 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 09 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM
Rabbi-Sol 09 Jan 06 - 10:21 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 06 - 10:30 PM
ejsant 10 Jan 06 - 07:13 AM
Peace 10 Jan 06 - 12:42 PM
Rabbi-Sol 10 Jan 06 - 07:23 PM
bobad 10 Jan 06 - 07:34 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 10 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM
Bill D 10 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 10 Jan 06 - 08:31 PM
Rabbi-Sol 10 Jan 06 - 10:15 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 11 Jan 06 - 04:34 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 11 Jan 06 - 05:31 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 11 Jan 06 - 06:17 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 11 Jan 06 - 07:41 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 11 Jan 06 - 10:47 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 12 Jan 06 - 11:29 AM
Bill Hahn//\\ 12 Jan 06 - 04:14 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 12 Jan 06 - 05:07 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 12 Jan 06 - 06:34 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 12 Jan 06 - 07:36 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 12 Jan 06 - 08:12 PM
GUEST,Jen 12 Jan 06 - 11:00 PM
LadyJean 13 Jan 06 - 12:12 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 13 Jan 06 - 09:55 AM
Bill Hahn//\\ 13 Jan 06 - 11:38 AM
Rabbi-Sol 13 Jan 06 - 03:43 PM
jacqui.c 13 Jan 06 - 05:57 PM
Madeleine 14 Jan 06 - 08:13 AM
Madeleine 14 Jan 06 - 08:21 AM
Auggie 14 Jan 06 - 09:59 AM
Bill Hahn//\\ 14 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM
chazkratz 15 Jan 06 - 08:21 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 15 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM
Auggie 15 Jan 06 - 09:35 PM
Rabbi-Sol 15 Jan 06 - 11:19 PM
Scanner 16 Jan 06 - 12:29 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 Jan 06 - 10:12 AM
Bill Hahn//\\ 16 Jan 06 - 11:30 AM
jacqui.c 16 Jan 06 - 02:04 PM
CarolC 16 Jan 06 - 02:54 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 16 Jan 06 - 06:30 PM
Scanner 16 Jan 06 - 10:18 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 16 Jan 06 - 10:53 PM
Scanner 17 Jan 06 - 01:01 AM
ejsant 17 Jan 06 - 07:38 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Jan 06 - 09:53 AM
wysiwyg 17 Jan 06 - 10:03 AM
Wolfgang 17 Jan 06 - 12:39 PM
Rabbi-Sol 17 Jan 06 - 07:09 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 17 Jan 06 - 09:17 PM
Rabbi-Sol 17 Jan 06 - 11:54 PM
Scanner 18 Jan 06 - 01:21 AM
ejsant 18 Jan 06 - 08:05 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 Jan 06 - 10:01 AM
Rabbi-Sol 19 Jan 06 - 12:05 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 Jan 06 - 09:47 AM
Rabbi-Sol 27 Sep 06 - 08:30 PM
Bill Hahn//\\ 27 Sep 06 - 09:03 PM
Rabbi-Sol 27 Sep 06 - 10:43 PM
Barry Finn 28 Sep 06 - 03:21 AM
George Papavgeris 28 Sep 06 - 05:33 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 06 - 12:54 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 06 - 12:59 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM
Greg F. 28 Sep 06 - 01:05 PM
Rabbi-Sol 28 Sep 06 - 03:08 PM
Rabbi-Sol 03 Oct 06 - 09:08 PM
Paul Burke 04 Oct 06 - 03:38 AM
Rabbi-Sol 04 Oct 06 - 12:36 PM

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Subject: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 10:23 PM

Here is the latest incident of discrimination against Orthodox Jews by a municipality in Rockland County. This time it is the village of Suffern, NY. There is Jewish charitable organization in our community called Bikur Cholim. Its purpose is to provide, free of charge, services for those who have been hospitalized as well as for their relatives who come to visit them. Our local hospital is Good Samaritan Hospital located in the village of Suffern. Although it is a Catholic hospital it is extremely friendly and accommodating to all Jewish patients as well as their families. The hospital is located 7 miles from the nearest Orthodox Jewish community and the problem arises when a patient must remain in the hospital over the Jewish Sabbath when his or her family are not allowed to travel by car to visit. For the past 2 years, Good Samaritan Hospital has given Bikur Cholim 2 dormitory style rooms (one for men & one for women) where a patient's family could eat and sleep over the Sabbath. These were called "Shabbos Rooms". Recently however Good Samaritan has built a new cardiac care unit and needed this particular space for this purpose. As a result Bikur Cholim has to go elsewhere for sabbath accommodations. They got a rich benefactor to donate money to purchase a house one block from the hospital on Route 59 and for the past 3 months they have been using this as a "Shabbos House" for families visiting loved ones. It is only occupied from sundown of Friday until after sundown on Saturday night. Problem solved ? That is what we thought. Enter, the bad guys, in the form of the Zoning Board of the Village of Suffern and Town Attorney Terry Rice. They served Bikur Cholim with an injunction and a violation order, claiming that the area is only zoned for single family homes and that there are as many as 17 people at one time staying at the Shabbos House during Friday night and Saturday. It its reply, Bikur Cholim, through its attorney Paul Savaad pointed out that there already exists on the same block a Monestary as well as a Salvation Army Center, both of which have Dormitory facilities as well as an office building. Therefore how can the village claim that the Shabbos House changes the character of the neighborhood.   Attorney Rice replied that these other facilities have existed for over one hundred years, and pre-date the village government and the zoning regulations, and are therefore exempt from the law. Bikur Cholim calls this blatant discrimination because Christian facilities are allowed to exist but a Jewish one is not. They have filed suit against the Village of Suffern under the Federal RLUIPA (Religious Land Use & Instituionalized Persons Act) and have retained the services of The Rutherford Institute of Fairfax, VA and their noted attorney John Stepanovich who will be handling the case pro-bono. This case will probably make it all the way to the Supreme Court. I would like to get the opinions of the folks on this forum (both pro & con) on this highly controversial issue.
                                                SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Edain
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 10:50 PM

After one read through and no background research I would be inclinded to say that it sounds to me like a case of beurocracy sticking to it's rules rather than discrimination. Having had first hand experience with beurocracy (I'm a member of the Steering Committee for my union) I can tell you that if the Board enforce their rules like Steering enforce the union's then thats what it'll be (although we do it mostly to ensure fair elections and keep the union from being politicised as so many have become these days). We have however been known to make exceptions where we felt it was warrented (although please don't tell the officers that or they'll never leave us alone!).


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: CarolC
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 11:05 PM

Sounds like a very unfortunate situation, Rabbi-Sol. I would be interested to know how the courts rule on this one. Will you keep us posted?


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: LilyFestre
Date: 08 Jan 06 - 11:54 PM

I think that many communites make laws that allow previous conditions to exist but prohibit any further types of conditions to occur...kind of like a grandfather law of sorts. You can stay here because you have been here for generations but we will no longer allow blah blah blah...that's what it sounds like to me.

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 05:41 AM

Looks very much like hide-bound beaurocracy rather than discrimination, but this would certainly seem to be the most justifiable case for an exception that I have ever seen, given the purpose for which this property is being used.

I hope that the judge will take a sensible and pragmatic view of the case, but I fear that may not happen, in which event a sustained publicity campaign might achieve better results.

Local authorities really hate performing in the glare of media attention, and if the media don't run with this one, I would be surprised.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Paul Burke
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:28 AM

BUREAUCRACY!!!

(that's how you spell it).

As your men said, it's probably not meant to be discriminatory, and they'd have ruled the same for any other religion or race. But silly nontheless.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 09:34 AM

It does sound like bureaucracy and not a case of discrimination. If the group went through proper channels to request a zoning board variance, and obtained approval from the neighbors they might have stood a better chance.

Using "religious discrimination" as the reason will be difficult to prove and fight. It is a hot button phrase that will surely draw media attention and hopefully force the village of Suffern to do the right thing, but the Bikur Cholim won't be making many friends with the government and you can bet that they will be watched for every infraction.   Working with the system, as screwed up as it is, might have yielded better results.

How big is this block if it can house a monastary, Salvation Army dorms, AND single family houses? How close are the monastary and Salvation Army to the hospital?


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 09:39 AM

Sounds to me like whoever set up the "Shabbos House" didn't do their research and are now getting bit in the ass because of it...

"Bikur Cholim calls this blatant discrimination"
It's not...


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 09:57 AM

Rabbi, it sounds like you've got a good lawyer and wealthy backers, so you should have a better chance in the courts than many others who have to go that route. But if you don't finish up with what you want, I hope you'll remmember that it's possible for Jews to lose an argument without it being "blatant discrimination."


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 10:59 AM

Rabbi, with all due respect, not every fight needs to have been a fight. Might the monastery, for example, share their hospitality? What about faithful Jews in the area offering informal hospitality in their homes?

What is the goal here-- support for faithful families, or a court precedent?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 01:54 PM

To answer Ron Olesko, yes it is a very big block. From what I understand (not having been there) this is the only other stucture on the block besides the Monestary, Salvation Army, & office building. To answer Susan, I stated previously that the nearest Orthodox (faithful) families are 7 miles away which is beyond reasonable walking distance. Now as far as going through legal channels go, Bikur Cholim did make an application to the zoning board once they were informed of the legal situation. However when the public notice went out for the hearing, the village classified the application as being for a "transient hotel" for lack of a better definition. This blatant mis-classification with all of its negative connotations is what brought out 200 angry residents to the hearing shouting NIMBY. Even the testimony of the Mother Superior who is president of the hospital in favor of the Shabbos House was shouted down by the angry mob. Therefore the courts are unfortunately the only answer.

                                             SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 03:08 PM

It is odd that there would be a complaint if the only other structures on the block are not single family homes. If Bikur Cholim had done their homework, they probably could have received the variance before they started the operation. Applying after the fact probably created tension and magnified the situation.

The classification as "transient hotel" actually seems pretty accurate for the situation.   "Transient" refers to how the home will be occupied, it is not a reflection on the clientle. Unfortunately when people hear the word "transient" they think that homeless people are moving in and it will descrease their property values.   It is a shame that this process did not occur in the normal manner, all this could have been avoided.

People behave strangely.    My mother's next door neighbor was looking to build an enclosure over their front door.   The town she lives in requires a variance and a notice to all the neighbors within one block - even houses on the back street. My mother could care less, but the majority of the neighbors complained at a public hearing. What should have been a 5 minute stamp of approval became a two hour bitch session and the application was denied. The neighbors moved out of the neighborhood.

Good luck Sol!


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: CarolC
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:08 PM

It would be interesting to know how Ronald McDonald Houses are classified when they deal with zoning issues.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: bobad
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:17 PM

I was going to bring up that very example Carol C. I also wonder if the community would have the same reaction if it were McDonald's sponsoring this initiative.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:24 PM

in their checklist of types of structures, the 'officials' have only a few possibilities. Like many bureaucracies, they simply do not LIKE items that don't fit pre-determined categories, and 'transient hotel' was the closest that could come up with! This house slips between the cracks and will need a variance. I strongly suspect that it will NOT go as far as the Supreme Court, will eventually be permitted as a 'special case'...if Bikur Cholim doesn't push it as discrimination! A smiling, insistent request for a reasonable variance ought to do it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 04:53 PM

Situations such as this are usually described in the terms most favorible to the writer.   Living in the same county (not the same area) I can vouch for the fact that there are other issues involved that touch upon variances being requested in other areas in proximity to that which Rabbi Sol speaks of. Variance requests for quite different reasons by the Orthodox communities.

That has to be taken into consideration when reading the original posting and that these other issue was not mentioned. I won't go into the geography or the requests since most people here do not know the area and will not understand the issue.   Suffice it to say it is not medical.

"Good Sam" (as the hospital is affectionately know)is exactly as you describe---open and friendly to all, as is Nyack Hospital in the South end of the county.   

The issues are---as many writers here state---not one of discrimination but, rather, one of legalities. Banks , Government P, and many such entities have things known as "grandfather clauses"---new rules apply to new situations but the old rules remain in place for for earlier situations and people.

In my own community a number of years ago a small group of Orthodox purchased a house and fully intended to use it as a Synagogue because there was not an Orthodox one in the area. They applied for the zoning variance after the purchase knowing full well that this was a residential street and not zoned for that purpose. Interestingly all faiths (Jewish included) showed up at the zoning hearing to defeat the variance. They proceeded to sell the house---at a handsome profit.

With all due respect I would add, Rabbi Sol, that naming the thread as you did is in itself inflamatory. It is a statement and not a question.

I have a positive suggestion to offer here that would solve the problem you speak of. If, as you say, there is not even one Orthodox family within walking distance of "Good Sam" then I humbly suggest the renting of motel rooms for those needing to stay over. There is a motel in walking distance.    Not being fully versed in the religious rules of Orthodoxy I seem to recall situations where one is excused from observing certain rituals because of health or other hardships. If that be the case then it would seem to me that what you describe is such a situation.

I mean my post in the most respectful way to bring some light to a situation that I have long abhorred---namely---things are not always discriminatory just because one says they are.   "Wolf" is not always a good thing to cry, as the legend has it.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:48 PM

Hi Bill,
         I am sure that you are correct when you say that other recent issues involving Orthodox Jews, especially the recent defeat of Robert Rhodes and his Preserve Ramapo Party in the last election have come into play here. Given the existance of the Monestary & Salvation Army facilities, Bikur Cholim was not even aware that their house which was only going to be occupied only 26 hours a week was in violation of zoning regulations until they were served with papers.
I am sure they would have proceeded differently had they been cognizant of the law. If you are familiar with the area the nearest motels (Holiday Inn & Wellsley Inn) are still a good 3 miles from the hospital and would involve a walk along a busy highway with no sidewalks. As far as leniency in Jewish law is concerned, it applies only to the sick person himself and not to those healthy people who wish to visit him. These "Shabbos Houses" exist at many hospitals in the NYC Metro area and this is the first time that one has been challenged.
                                              SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: John O'L
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:53 PM

I too would be hesitant to invoke the discrimination demon. He is hard to control. He blesses and curses indiscriminately.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: LilyFestre
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 06:59 PM

What about what some answers for the suggestions Susan gave...I think they are great suggestions.

Might the monastery, for example, share their hospitality? What about faithful Jews in the area offering informal hospitality in their homes?

What is the goal here-- support for faithful families, or a court precedent?


So what is the goal? You didn't answer any of these questions. Would you be willing to open your home to help these families you are so concerned about?

Sometimes folks who yell discrimination go a bit overboard...I am with the above poster...this is a legal issue, new laws put into effect...not a religious issue.

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 07:16 PM

Laws do not have to discriminate intentionally to discriminate, and folks involved in the legal process likely don't have visceral reactions to the word. If there are facilities for Christians and none for Jews, and building a facility for Orthodox Jewish people has been made illegal, then it IS discrimination. Whether or not there's a legal responsibility to change zoning ordinances to eliminate accidental descrimination is a matter for those who know the law.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 07:20 PM

Michelle,
          I would open my home if I lived near the hospital. I live a good 8 miles away. There are no "faithful families" living within reasonable walking distance. If there were I am sure that their houses would be open. As far as the Monestary sharing its facilities, that would not be a viable option. Orthodox Jews are not permitted to enter a church or a house of worship of any religion other than their own. ( I have not been able to attend folk concerts or coffee houses that take place in churches because of this law.) While staying in this Shabbos House they are required to offer the Sabbath prayers as well. A Jew is not permitted to pray in the same room where a crucifix is affixed to the wall. The kitchen facilities in the Monestary are not kosher. Special food is part of the Jewish sabbath worship as well. That is why it is important to have our own place.
                                           SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 07:25 PM

The Federal RLUIPA law that I mentioned in my initial post that started this thread was written to address just such a situation as we have here. It is supposed to supersede any local zoning ordinances that place an unreasonable burden upon religious practice.

                                                 SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: LilyFestre
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 07:40 PM

Sol,

   If all those things are true, how is it that folks could stay in the rooms provided by a Catholic hospital? I'm sure there were crosses in and on the building, food that wasn't kosher, meat and dairy in the same space, electricity 24/7.

   I can see where your housing setup would be preferrable but if there are no other options? How about having bikes available for transportation?

Michelle


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 08:44 PM

I agree with Jeri.

It is bureacracy without conscience and not blatant discrimitation but all things considered, they should allow it. Whats the harm?

Is there an appeal process in regards to zoning regulations?

I don't think its fair to ask people to 'open their homes' to complete strangers. Just because you share the same religion doesn't mean you're ready to take on the responsibility of housing a family dealing with medical problems.

Its not fair to the families requiring accomodations, either. When a loved one is hospitalized, you need some private space so you can cry if you feel like it. You also need quiet time.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM

Lily Festre makes a m ost valid point---one which I wanted to bring up when Rabbi Sol wrote re: not being allowed to enter another sanctuary.   

I have to say that "Good Sam" hospital spread out the welcome mat and it was well rcvd by its recipients---now to claim the above seems a bit hypocritical and/or "nit-picking".   

In fact many of these rules are about avoiding them--loopholes if you will. A few examples: Jewish Hospitals (Mt. Sinai, etc;) have what they call Shabbos Elevators. Elevators that just keep running so you are not turning on the electric (and ---by the way---you are riding---forget stairs?). Let us also not forget the Shabbos Goy (by the way --Goy is not a detrimental term for everyone's information) who works the Jewish Sabbath.   The fact is if you use the benefit of the appliances and modern practices by technical circimvention I would suppose it to be a bit of hypocrisy. Be it the Amish, the Catholics, or others---if you truly believe you should---but then don't reap any benefits by circumvention of your own beliefs.

On a lighter note---my late mother was in St. John's hospital in Santa Monica years back.   The nuns who were the nurses asked her if she wanted to see the Rabbi--scared the hell out of her--she thought she was dying. Turns out he wanted to give her fruit in celebration of Succoth and was visiting the hospital to see all the Jewish patients for Succoth. She got the fruit---lived a long time after that



Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 10:21 PM

Michelle,
          Good Samaritan Hospital is very accommodating. They remove the crucifixes from the walls of rooms housing Orthodox Jewish patients. They provide kosher food that is brought in from a local Orthodox caterer for patients who require it. They even provide a meditation room exclusively for Jewish use where a Talmud class is given every day by a surgeon who also happens to be a Rabbi. Their annual dinner takes place in a Glatt Kosher catering hall because they have so many Orthodox benefactors who donate money.

                                              SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 06 - 10:30 PM

One of the nice things about going to court over an issue is that, in the face of the seemingly endless formalities, procedures, depositions, etc, hot tempers, angry disagreements, and shouting all eventually give in to the process. And there seems to be a lot of anger here--

Thanks to some of Rabbi Sol's past postings, I've been following what has been happening up there when it makes it into the news, and I think that he's right when he says that religious discrimination is at the heart of the issue.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: ejsant
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 07:13 AM

Whether religious discrimination is in the hearts of those, both government and constituents, would be difficult to determine for certain. This of course wouldn't preclude any of us from forming an opinion as to the validity of the claim would it?

To me this circumstance demonstrates one of the fallacies of man's law. When did our society decide that the letter of the law was greater than the intent? Has this been a gradual process, one that I failed to recognize, or was it overnight?

Sol,

I would think that your claim of discrimination would be better supported if you could demonstrate that another religious organization, or any organization for that matter, received a variance from the current zoning ordinances for a similar purpose in the same neighborhood or another in the community with the same zoning designation. In my opinion using what may very well be applications whose existence precedes the current zoning ordinances is not a very strong way to support your contention that the decision was based upon discriminatory mind sets.

There may be other variance applications that are clearly decided to be non-desirable by those in the community, including the Orthodox Jews, that would then be allowed by way of adjudication simply because of the precedent of allowing the use you have written about.

All that said doesn't mean that I agree with the results of the actions thus far. Actually I find them troubling. Not because of the potential discrimination aspect, although if indeed discrimination is what motivated the decision that would be very troubling, but because to me it shows that as a society we are taking less responsibility in deciding the issues that concern our living together cohesively by simply deferring to the words of some written ordinance.

I wish you and Bikur Cholim much success in this most benevolent endeavor. As with all peaceful co-existence the concerns of all need be considered and middle ground need be sought. This should not be a case of one side "winning" over the other but rather a case of how all sides of the issue find a satisfactory solution. Ideal, absolutely, but as well absolutely necessary if we are to live together in peace with-out harboring ill feelings towards one another. Ill feelings that unfortunately have the potential to negatively influence our perceptions of one another and therefore our peaceful co-existence.

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Peace
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 12:42 PM

I don't know that it's discrimination, but it surely is stupidity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 07:23 PM

I thank you all for your input here. I wanted to hear ALL opinions, both pro and con and I find Mudcat to be the ideal forum to air both sides of a controversial issue.
                                           SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: bobad
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 07:34 PM

That's one thing you can always count on, Rabbi, no shortage of opinions here, Shalom.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM

For sure---but, it might be helpful if one did not name a thread with a headline---which is a statement. It does not allow for an open discussion of issues---might I suggest a better header---Is There Religious Discrimination in Suffern---Here is the issue!!

I do not want to repeat my earlier post---re: crying "Wolf".

I know, Sol, that you mean well, but things get misinunderstood and it is alwayws better to be clear in what one wants to discuss.   

I suppose you would agree that a good parting line here would be ---"...and now I have to get back on my ship--the St. Louis". I do not believe that to be the case.

Bill Hahn


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM

It is an awkward thing in a complex society to balance pragmatic rules designed to benefit and guide the populace generally with the special needs of various minority groups. The handicapped can't easily get on many busses....so how much should a community have to spend to provide either special taxi service expensive busses that lower on hydraulics? (my area recently struggled with that one).

    I'm sure many people sincerely believe that making 'unusual' arrangements for the convenience of religious groups should be, as the hospital does, through generosity and not by mandate. Just as Amish communities have to work hard to deal with the safety problem of slow moving buggies on public roads, the Jewish communities have many complex laws regarding cleanliness and activity restrictions on the Sabbeth...as well as the rules noted about crosses and prayers. To an outsider it may look not only strange, but intrusive, when it feels like someone else's 'needs' translate to 'demands' on the community at large, and require exceptions to some of the ordinances .

    Jeri notes that "Laws do not have to discriminate intentionally to discriminate,", but it is still important to differentiate, if possible, between 'intentional discrimination' and mere disagreement over a pragmatic decision. If animosity can be kept out of the negotiations, both sides may eventually benefit.


   In this case as described, I think a house supported and used in the manner noted should not be a problem for the zoning board, and Bikur Cholim should be allowed to maintain it with the blessings of the community, as it DOES benefit both sides. Perhaps the hospital itself could be persuaded to intervene (or explain) how it's changes brought about this situation, and how making allowances, as much as possible, would ease things for all concerned. At the same time, Bikur Cholim should proceed gently, remembering that their needs are not necessarily understood and/or appreciated by many in the bureaucratic realm. "Discrimination" IS a loaded word, even when only meant in a legal, technical way, and needs to be used carefully.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 08:31 PM

I hope that the St Louis line was not too obscure for those who do not recall historical context.   

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 10 Jan 06 - 10:15 PM

Bill,
      Maybe for the benefit of the younger members of this forum, you should give us all a synopsis of the ill fated voyage of the St. Louis and its relevance to current events. It was one of the darker chapters of American history for sure.
                                              SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 04:34 PM

Thank you, Sol. I would be happy to give the brief synopsis and also why my last line was :"...I do not believe that to be the case".

The St. Louis was a ship which carried a full complement of Jews that had been allowed (encouraged) to leave Germany in the dark days prior to the full onset of WW2. It sailed to many countries and at each (the U S included) the passengers were not allowed to disembark ( I vaguely recall that a small number may have disembarked in Cuba and UK--I could be in error there).

As to the U S ---FDR was encouraged by the American Legion and other isolationists to not permit the disembarkation. FDR, while a sainted man in many ways, had his faults for political expediency as well.



The ship eventually returned to Germany with most of the passengers still on board and the rest is of course history as to what transpired with The Holocaust.

That is the brief history. Thank you, Sol, for asking me to elucidate. It is also the reason I made the reference to the ship and my feeling that what we are speaking of in this thread was not in that category. Happily the U S has come a long way (even if all of the world has not) and we are more a country of laws than before. Hopefully, we will evolve even more---none of it has been easy or bloodless--for sure. The injustice suffered by African / Americans in this country (and others) is akin to the Holocaust---but I am digressing. That is a whole different topic for a "thread".

I would add here that the film "Ship of Fools" (a wonderful film) is exactly the opposite of what the St. Louis was.



Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 05:31 PM

There was an amazing movie about the St. Louis incident called "Voyage of the Damned".   

The passengers were not returned to Germany, but the countries of France, Great Britain, Holland and Belgium took all the passengers in. Unfortunately the Nazi's invaded most of these countries and about 2/3 of the original passengers perished in concentration camps.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 06:17 PM

Good point---I had forgotten about the nations mentioned---but the disembarkation was limited--to my knowledge. I do believe that Cuba and UK did take some in. But that is beside the point. It is quite correct about the countries mentioned and what transpired after that.

It was a wonderful film---as was Ship of Fools showing how people believed their loyalty and love of "Fatherland" came first and it turned out how mistaken they were----the last shot in the film is the most telling---just like in Gloomy Sunday---you have to look closely at the last scenes to get the whole point.

If you have not seen Gloomy SUnday---do so---it is a great (really great) film---in German but subtitled.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 07:41 PM

"I do believe that Cuba and UK did take some in."

Yes, I mentioned Great Britian. I believe you are correct about Cuba too. From what I remember of the story, Cuba took in a handful of passengers who were willing to pay a fee. From what I recall of the story, the Cuban stance was based on the economic strife in that country and the idea that refugees would take jobs - a tactic that is still used by those trying to oppress immigration even today.   I also remember that in addition to the United States, Canada also refused entry.

I'm not sure if North America has really come a long way. Even today there is discrimination against immigrants. Just last week there was a protest in one New Jersey town against day laborers, most who come from South America looking for work.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 11 Jan 06 - 10:47 PM

I suppose this is how these threads take off on different tangents. We had started with the thoughts on Suffern NY.

On the subject of the St Louis and my comments about our country doing better in the legal sense when it comes to immigrants I have to disagree with Ron. Nothing is perfect--nor will it ever be. If it were we would all be living in Utopia.


Since we are living in a world of nations and not one world, of many cultures and not one, and with security problems and idealogies clashing things are, surely, far from Utopian. Are they better than in, say, the 1920s, 1930s, or name any earlier era? I would say yes. Can and should we---or the rest of the world--- do better? Of course. So, back to Suffern---and my earlier comments--I only brought up the St Louis for a point and I thank Sol for wanting me to explain what that was about

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 11:29 AM

"my comments about our country doing better in the legal sense when it comes to immigrants I have to disagree with Ron."

Tell that to the immigrants from South America who gather together each morning in towns across the region looking for an honest days work. Tell that to all those who try to cross our borders. Tell that from everyone who has suffered because of Homeland Security and the Border Security Enforcement Bill. Tell that to all the immigrants who supply the marjority of the labor in the meat packing industry. Tell that to the immigrant farm workers. Do a search on human rights abuse in this country. If anything, we have added new laws to make immigration more difficult and deposing easier.

In 2005 we can look back at the St. Louis incident and easily say that the U.S., Canada and other countries were wrong in making these people suffer. Yet in 2005 we turn a blind eye at the other abuses in our own country, often because of religious or simply the color of a persons skin.    In New Jersey there is the previously mentioned outcry about "immigrant" day laborers, who happen to be from South America. Yet you rarely hear anyone mention the thousands of illegal Irish and Polish immigrants who live in the same area.

The arguements that were heard at the time of the St.Louis incident were that immigrants would be taking jobs, straining resources and costing the goverment.   These are the same arguements we hear today.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 04:14 PM

Well, I guess Suffern is pretty well gone in this thread.

A question to clarify Ron's comment---are you saying we should treat the Poles and the Irish as we do the people from S.A. or that we should treat those from S A as you allege the Irish and Poles are treated?

Do we need immigration laws? I would say yes---but they should be realistic and fair. The security issues today are quite different than they were 60 or so years ago. As to the thoughts re: "...taking jobs and straining gov't resources"---yes, they were the arguments used in the time of the St Louis but the situation was quite different--those people were fleeing for their lives. Not their livelihoods.   We still grant asylum for those who are persecuted but the comment re; jobs and gov't resources is valid. Our Medicaid rolls are filled to the brim with "legals" (citizens).

As I said--we are not perfect and Utopia is not at hand. I doubt that it ever will be given the human condition.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 05:07 PM

I am saying that we should treat all people who wish to stay and work in this land fairly and equally. These people did not come to this country to be persecuted.

I never claimed that we are perfect and there is no such thing as Utopia except for overused cliches. What I have said is, things are not necessarily as rosey as people seem to believe.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 06:34 PM

I think we have a confusion of thought here----Ron, you never said--as you say--that you never said things are perfect.   I was the one who said that I believe they are better than they used to be--and that we will never reach perfection (Utopia) given human nature. We do the best we can.

Surely we do not want to persecute anyone but, we like other nations, have to have a set of laws and policies that protect our citizens and taxpayers from more than just "terror". I think that Emma Lazarus' words on the base of the Statue of Liberty are what we aim for and have achieved over time. More than most nations in years gone by.

On a lighter note---Suffern has turned into a WFDU discussion group as initiated by a question from a listener ---Sol. Always good to have these---now as to Suffern.....

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 07:36 PM

"we like other nations, have to have a set of laws and policies that protect our citizens and taxpayers from more than just "terror"."

I do agree with you on that Bill. The point I was trying to make is, that the arguement you just made was the same one people were making at the time of the St.Louis incident.   I don't think any of us today have enough information on the reasons why people from Mexico, South America and other countries are coming to this country. There are brutal governments out there, and unless they produced oil our country seems to ignore these infractions of human rights.

Also, back to the St. Louis incident, the horror of Kristallnacht was fresh in everyone's mind at the time, and clearly the ugly nature of the Nazi's were known, I think that people were still in the "denial" stage if you will, or at the very least the idea of remaining neutral was in the mind of many.   America has a history of oppressing immigrants, be it the Chinese, Irish, Italians or whatever group was coming into this country at the time. In hindsight the denial from this country to the passengers on the St. Louis is all the more horrific knowing what transpired, but at the time could anyone say for certain what the fate of those passengers would be - especially since they ended up in countries that were not occupied by the Nazi's?

Again, the only point I was trying to make is that we should not lull ourselves into thinking that everything has improved and situations like this could not occur again. They can and they will. While the situation in Suffern may or may not be a case of religious discrimination, there is plenty of religious and racial discrimination going on around us.

I guess this has turned into a WFDU discussion group, but anyone can step in at anytime to tell Bill and I that we are full of crap. We are used to it!! :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 08:12 PM

I like the last line---that is the boottom line truth.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: GUEST,Jen
Date: 12 Jan 06 - 11:00 PM

Full of crap,full of crap. It is what you wanted to hear.

Jen


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: LadyJean
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 12:12 AM

Having lived in a neighborhood where parking was scarce and parking wars were common, I wonder how much that has to do with the Shabbos house.
6 or 7 extra cars parked on a crowded street from before sunset Friday to Sunday morning are going to create problems. I lived near a National Guard Armory. I stayed home on Guard weekends, because there was no place to park. If the Shabbos house is creating a parking problem, someone is going to have to find solutions. Perhaps guests could park their cars in the hospital lot over the weekend.
I lived near a Ronald McDonald house too. Neighbors complained when the house was built. They were afraid of noise from ambulances. That didn't happen. The Ronald McDonald house, by the way, has a parking lot.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 09:55 AM

Bill H, you brought in the St Louis knowing next to nothing about it (I know the extent of your ignorance because I have read and heard the accounts of people who were on the voyage - most of whom have been traced - and have met some of them). And this comment Happily the U S has come a long way (even if all of the world has not) is preposterous and smug, except in the most narrow sense that the US is now a nation that is led by the nose by its most vociferous lobbies.

Rabbi Sol, should you not be spelling "monestary" as "monastery" as some others have done in this thread?


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 11:38 AM

Peter K--you are surely a wonder at correcting people. And in the most insulting manner, may I add.

       My opinion may differ from yours. That makes neither of us ignorant but your comments do show your narrowness and opinionated thinking.   Bravo for you that you met some people from the voyage--so now you are an expert.

       Perhaps you might take Sol to a spelling bee since you also know about those things. This site does not have a spell check and I know that many people use words in an improper way because of the sound--such as: compliment when they really mean complement (*among others). It is good and refreshing to have you correct such things---I believe the word is nit-picking (gee, I hope that is spelled correctly or you will report me to the spelling correcting squad).   

       I think Ron is right---about being full of crap---welcome to the club.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 03:43 PM

The Shabbos House does not have a parking problem. Most people are dropped off before the Sabbath by volunteers and picked up again after the sabbath. The others can pay to park at the hospital parking lot which is only a short block away. That is not one of the objections raised by the zoning board. The only issue is the "single family" classification of the area under the town code.

                                           SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: jacqui.c
Date: 13 Jan 06 - 05:57 PM

Sol - I can sympathise with the situation here but can also see it from the town's point of view.

The zoning laws were not varied for the monastery or the Salvation Army as they pre-existed those laws. It's probable that the town is concerned that, if they vary this law once, the door will be open for further applications in the general area, some of which may be as relevant and sympathetic as that of the Shabbos House.

I can't really see any alternative to legal action here, with all its ramifications. That seems the only way that this house will be allowed to continue without a possible influx of other applications. Best of luck to all concerned.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Madeleine
Date: 14 Jan 06 - 08:13 AM

i'm a minority 4 times over and aware of my own over-sensitivity to meaningless comments, often translating them into personal or discriminatory remarks. this sounds similar. with thousands of years of persecution, i think it normal to conclude this is related, but it really does sound like gov't beaurocracy.

madeleine


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Madeleine
Date: 14 Jan 06 - 08:21 AM

any neurobiology researchers out there? on a related topic to rabbi-sol's concerns, i've long been considering this hypothysis: after traumatic events it's been demonstrated that brain chemistry is changed. my question is: if trauma becomes part of a cultural or ethnic group's existence, is it possible that brain chemistry becomes a genetic trait and fearfulness is inherited?

madeleine


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Auggie
Date: 14 Jan 06 - 09:59 AM

Madeleine- In short, No.

It's an interesting idea, but altering the brain chemistry of a population will not alter their DNA, and it's the DNA that is responsible for passing that population's brain chemistry traits on to the next generation. It's the same as my lifting weights will not result in my children being genetically inclined to be bigger and stronger.

Fearfulness, while it may have a genetic component, is a learned behavior. A fearful population may well raise a suceeding generation that is likely to be more fearful, not as a result of any genetic changes but rather as a result of the children modeling their behavior after their parents behavior.

And, IMHO, and as a totally non-minority white anglo saxon prostetant male, if this zoning crap isn't based in prejudice then I'll eat my freakin' shorts.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 14 Jan 06 - 08:29 PM

Auggie---I am glad we are back on track here. I am hoping that your shorts are good tasting ones.   We are talking of a legal issue here and discrimination is the red flag thrown out to incite the bull in the closet.

I don't know your country, but here in the U S we have local laws and federal laws. Rather than getting into a litany of that, suffice it say, legalisms are involved and "discrimination" is not the issue here. Some believe it is, but if they were to look at local ordinances, "grandfather" clauses, etc; they would see that discimination is not the issue.   Current zoning laws are.   Period

The hospital has shown its openness and has helped in any way it could. After that we have to rely on the rule of local law.

Madeliene: Not being a person versed in such clinicology I cannot comment on whether or not such a syndrome might exist. It might--like PTSS and is exactly what I was referring to above---we cannot immediately call everything we percieve not in our ken as discrimination.

Bill Hahn

Last time I looked we still have local laws and federal laws (and state laws) and we have to navigate these fields. Quite different than shouting "discrimination"---as one could in the era of Nazi prominence. Or in the era of "Jim Crow"---and, yes, I equate the two.


Happily--other posters notwithstanding---we are better than that now---and surely not perfect.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: chazkratz
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 08:21 PM

From Rabbi Sol's description of the meeting of the zoning board it seems to me that there was indeed discrimination--the presence of an angry mob of 200 people who shouted down the hospital director's argument in favor of the Shabbos house could hardly have allowed any other outcome: the board may have seen the response as that of a community unified in its opposition or may simply have feared for their own safety had they approved the facility. I find it hard to believe that such a facility placed on a block where there were no other single family houses could have attracted much actual nseghborhood opposition. It seems more likely that the crowd consisted mostly of an anti-semitic rabble.

--seed(charleskratz)


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 09:34 PM

Please Charles Kratz---there are other issues involved if you had the thread or knew the area. Things--as the song by Gilber & Sullivan---Things are not what they seem.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Auggie
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 09:35 PM

My country and your's are one in the same, Bill. And in my part of our country, variences to zoning laws are often obtained. Whether or not YOU get a varience however, is often if not always influenced to some degree by your social strata, your economic clout, who your friends are, who you do business with, who you're related to, where you live, the color of your collar, and yes Bill, by whether your religious preferences are in agreement with those of the zoning board members. Sometimes even the merits of the case are actually considered too!

Now, I have no doubt that Suffern's zoning board may well be more enlightened and egalitarian in the execution of it's duties than is ours, but I can attest from personal experience that our board's working motto could best be summed up as, "We Take Care of Our Own", (the corollary to that being "screw the rest of you").

You know, to me this is an obvious case of "if it walks like a duck..."


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 15 Jan 06 - 11:19 PM

If any of you folks want to get some idea of the "other issues" that Bill Hahn is referring to please do a Google search on "Robert I. Rhodes of Preserve Ramapo". Once you have read and familiarized yourself with this background material which consists mainly of articles and editorials in the Rockland Jounal News we can have a more informed and enlightened discussion on this thread, of the real reason why the "Shabbos House" is such a contentious issue.

                                           SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Scanner
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 12:29 AM

Re: Threads posted by WFDU-Ron Olesko & Bill Hahn--

Ron, You always open TRADITIONS with the statement, "We're gonna have a lot of fun today," or words to that effect. These communications between you & Bill H. are a lot of fun. Why don't you two do this sort of shtick on your programs once a month?

Regards, Fayzee


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 10:12 AM

Thanks Fayzee.   However, our show is a folk music program and that is the reason draw, people aren't going to tune in to hear us chat.   However, Bill and I do a few shows together each year. We will do a a couple of shows together during our fundraiser, which is coming up in a few weeks. Perhaps if we receive enough financial support during the fundraiser we will consider doing more shows together. It all depends on what our listeners want to hear and will support.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 11:30 AM

Fayzee--Thanks from me too---but, Ron is 100% right in his thinking about what draws people to Traditions. Doing a show together re: music --as we do a few times a year is another and appropriate thing.

Perhaps I should interview Ron for my Tabletalk program and we can have a discussion---might be fun and my listener might enjoy it.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 02:04 PM

From my reading of the thread it seems that the 'mob' was incensed by the possibility of a 'transient' hostel being set up. The modern day interpretation of that word might lead the uninformed to believe that the neighbourhood was going to have an influx of what they might consider to be undesirable people - drug addicts, drunks and all those dreadful homeless people.

If there was any sort of discrimination it was against those rather that being anti-Semitic.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: CarolC
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 02:54 PM

I did the search you suggested, Rabbi-Sol. I feel much more informed now than I did when you started the thread, but not nearly informed enough to know whether or not religious discrimination is the motivating factor in this situation. It certainly is very complicated, and it looks like for some people who oppose allowing a zoning variance, it is rooted in concerns about the economics of growth in the area.

I do hope you will keep us informed about how this issue gets resolved. Although it looks like it could take a while before that happens. And I hope the Orthodox community in that area find a place to stay over the Sabbath while visiting patients at that hospital, whether it's at the current location, or somewhere else within walking distance.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 06:30 PM

I checked the Google sites that Sol suggested---and there were a few others.   Very informational but as is usually the case everyone is presenting their point of view.

Getting more involved in thinking of this matter I spoke with a friend who lives in Ramapo, is an activist in the Working Families Party---and a retired prof. of Sociology at NYU.   I give his CV only to pass on a few comments from one who lives in the area, is perplexed, and has thoughts on the local people involved---namely the politicos:

1) Mr. St Lawrence (Supervisor)---a good person who has done his best for everyone for many years (I agree--having met him and followed his tenure)

2) The idea of having the council elected by area and not "at large" as supported by the Preserve Ramapo people---good one. Prevents the lobbying by special interests that wield bloc voting threats -=--read the Orthodox community. (His comments---I will not give my opinion at this point--other than to say that lobbying here, in DC, and in Israel (read Shas party (spell?)bodes ill for us all).

3) My contact has informed me that Mr. St Lawrence has informed him that NY State law allows for zoning exemptions on "religious" grounds---in the sense of expansion of a place of worship. I don't know that this is accurate or how it even applies in this discussion or in the overall Ramapo situation.

I will add here that if you visited the Google sites mentioned you will find that there are people of many persuasions that are members of the Ramapo preservation group---Orthodox included. It all comes down to our good old capitalistic real estate and personal interests. Not bigotry. At least, that is how I see it.   You can decide if it is right or wrong, but I do not think we should immediately chalk things up to bigotry.   Even hate crimes take investigations---were they or was a crime for another reason.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Scanner
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 10:18 PM

Bill--
As a resident of the Town of Ramapo I can say that some of your points are well-taken, as they relate to the politics of the Town. However, regarding the original point that the Rabbi introduced, the Shabbos House, it doesn't make sense. Nobody is making any money on this & it is hard to believe that anyone that is not biased, would believe that it would attract a crowd of undesirables. In addition to the Salvation Army Training Center, you also have the Tagaste Monastery, as well as the new Suffern Library & The Esther Gitlow Towers, a high-rise senior citizen housing project.
Why is this former single-family house a blight on the character of the neighborhood?

Regards, Fayzee


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 16 Jan 06 - 10:53 PM

Fayzee---I think we need full disclosure here---perhaps you would tell the readers who you are---your relationship to both the Rabbi and myself. Or---Scanner---if you will.

=Without getting into a long disscussion on this I would merely point to the above comments re: "grandfather clauses", zoning variances, etc;

A single family house that might be used as a wknd. dorm--even for such good reasons---presents a zoning issue.   Without criticizing and just commenting I do believe that if some readers would come to the area and drive through, say, New Square and other areas in that proximity they would see the issues raised.

Aside from all that I can only say that my knowledge of the the Town Supervisor (Mr. St Lawrence), whom I have met on a few occasions, having to do with my involvement with County issues, only reinforces my opinion of his fairness and idealism as it pertains to open land and zoning issues.


Let me just add here that --as said before---Good Samaritan Hospital is and was a beacon in this dark sea we are navigating and has always done the right thing---over and above what they needed to do.   We all, I am sure, agree with that.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Scanner
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 01:01 AM

Dear dear Bill,

Relative to your first statement, I am the Good Rabbi Sol's wife,(if you care to call me the Rebbitzen) but that has no bearing on the current issue; occasionally we even agree with each other.

Why is my relationship with you relevant to this conversation--if we are friends (note that Rabbi Sol & I appear in the annals of Mudcat fotos with you at a Work O The Weavers concert), should that color my current opinions in any way?

Yes, I realize this is a zoning issue; it was stated in the beginning of the thread. The question is, at this point--is it fair? You mentioned the Jim Crow Laws. They weren't fair. Today was Dr.M.L.King, Jr.'s holiday. What did he do when he felt the laws were unfair? He took the laws before the American Conscience & appealed to a higher authority.

If the people involved in this were Amish, instead of Orthodox Jews, would the zoning board have ruled differently? Amish, not Heimish?

Also, you can't compare this to New Square--New Square was the first village to secede from Ramapo because it wanted to have authority to rule itself. My understanding is that New Square has no zoning laws.
Other villages seceded because they wanted to have their own zoning rules.

I, too, like Chris St.Lawrence, although I don't know why you brought his name up. I think maybe we might be confusing the readership with too many tangents. As long as his name is subject, let me just say that he is trying very hard to take care of all factions, in general,in dealing with the open space rules.

I vote with you on Good Sam, too.

It's time for me to go to sleep; however, I'm not sure this issue is ready to rest.

Regards,
Fayzee


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: ejsant
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 07:38 AM

I have not been successful in finding any information on the Internet that clearly defines the denial of the variance as discriminatory. Perhaps Rabbi Sol you could specifically direct me to such information.

I also must say that I have yet to see evidence presented in this discussion that would lead me to the conclusion that indeed the zoning board's decision was based on a bigoted mind set. I am at this point unable to form an opinion as to whether or not the decision was based on religious discrimination.

Rabbi, may I suggest that those in support of the Shabbos House, and indeed I am in support of the endeavor in concept, seek to present the to the community at large the benefits to both themselves as well as the Orthodox community so as to gain acceptance rather than attempting to promote and secure their agenda through the use of denigration.

I have found on my nearly fifty year walk, mostly by my own actions, that the arguing of ones position by employing the technique of abuse and denigration of one's adversary may indeed produce the desired results but it rarely, if ever, produces acceptance of the alternate view. This often times, if not all times, results in animosities being harbored and if we are ever really to live in peace and harmony with one another it is our responsibility to avoid actions that create or sustain animosities between ourselves.

I look forward to your directing me to more specific information about this subject.

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 09:53 AM

"If the people involved in this were Amish, instead of Orthodox Jews, would the zoning board have ruled differently? "

You can't use hypothetical questions because there are no real answers.   I would say that in this case, the answer would be that the outcome would be the same if the issue involved the Amish. However, those opposed would say that the Amish would get preferrential treatment. There is no right answer because the question is not valid.   

I'm sorry, but I also do not think that bringing up Jim Crow laws are applicable in this case.   There is no denial of basic human rights and the laws, from what I have read so far, have not been changed to descriminate. The laws are what they are. If you feel that laws are unjust, you work to change them - but be prepared because others think the laws are fair. That doesn't mean "discrimination" - it is just that there are other opinions and concerns.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: wysiwyg
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 10:03 AM

Welcome to Mudcat, Scanner. I appreciated the tip to see the PHOTO (hi Rabbi Sol!), and I look forward to getting to know you. My husband is an Episcopal priest, so we may find that we have a few things in common. :~) My husband and I, for example, sometimes agree with one another as well, but of course the Presbytera has her own opinions, too. This thread is maybe not the best place to focus on it, but I am curious how the expectations of the Rebbitzen and the Presbytera compare.

~Susan in N. Central PA


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Wolfgang
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 12:39 PM

NYtimes article

It calls for a dormitory housing 170 single students and 30 town houses that the village says could house 300 people. That's perhaps 470 people living on land zoned for 15 single-family homes. This in a rural area that exists on well water, where sewers sometimes become overloaded and spill into nearby rivers.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 07:09 PM

I think that what we should make clear is the the situation Wolfgang is referring to is NOT the Shabbos House in Suffern. It is a totally different issue in Airmont which is another village in the Town of Ramapo with an altogether different zoning code than Suffern. It is for a large post-graduate Rabbinnical Seminary with housing being built on Campus for married students and faculty. There is also a similar facility proposed for the village of New Hempstead as well which is generating controversy. If you folks want to widen the discussion to encompass the entire spectrum of conflict between the Orthodox Jewish community and the local villages in Rockland County I am amenable to that as well. But let us not confuse the Shabbos House issue with the other major construction projects.

                                          SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 09:17 PM

I think having this discussion on such a far reaching forum might be self defeating in that people from other areas do not know the local situation(s) and the difference between Sol's talking of a "Shabbos House" and the other things that have entered the discussion.

Were we to stick to one thing and one thing only---Suffern, Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern Zoning issues, and variances therein without hyperbole and extraneous areas we might be best served in understanding and discussing a specific issue.

Let me now throw out a hypothetical query---zoning issues aside for a moment (though, obviously, they must play a part--and "transient" is a zoning issue term):   You are a home-owner and a house on your street will be vacant all week but on wknds some families---I do not know the number of people involved here---were to occupy it then how would you respond?   I emphasize---in my own case---ethnicity does not enter into this.

I do believe that I have spelled out the problem---and it is a problem, no doubt--in a simple and straightforward way.

Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 17 Jan 06 - 11:54 PM

Hi Bill,
         To answer your hypothetical query; If the entire block or neighborhood were made up of single family homes, I could appreciate the fears that would go through the minds of the individual home owners when seeing different people come and go each weekend. But the reality of the situation is that this is the ONLY one family structure on the block and the occupants of the monastery, the Salvation Army center, the Suffern Library, the Medical Arts center, and the Esther Gitlow Towers, could not care less about who comes and goes each weekend. The value of their property is not going to be affected in any way. Only the zoning board cares because their little beauracratic feathers have been ruffled.

                                             SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Scanner
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 01:21 AM

Re: WFDU-RON post

I agree w/u that Jim Crow is really too strong to be used in this thread. The only reason I used the example is because Bill originally brought it up.

Also, to WYSIWIG--Thanks for the welcome & the invitation to converse. I don't catch Mudcat too often, as I always seem to be buried in tons of work. I occasionally comment, as now, when Rabbi Sol calls my attention to an interesting thread. I guess we can start our own private thread.

Regards,
Fayzee


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: ejsant
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 08:05 AM

Bill,

To answer you question; I would have no problem with it what-so-ever provided the weekend occupants respected the rest of us in the neighborhood and did nothing to disrupt our enjoyment of our homes and neighborhood. I, as you, would make no distinction as to ethnicity, religion, or any other categorization we use today. Truth be told I would welcome diversity as I always learn something new from those different than I.

Sol,

In fairness your comment "Only the zoning board cares because their little beauracratic feathers have been ruffled" seems a bit short sighted. The concern may very well be that the establishing of the precedent by way of the variance may create real fears in the community at large as to what other types of transient housing might follow and therefore the zoning board may only be reflecting the community's thinking. It may also be that the collective vision of the majority of the community at large may be for a different type of growth in this particular area. Just because this is contrary to the vision of some doesn't make it discriminatory or retaliatory.

Peace,
Ed


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 10:01 AM

"I, as you, would make no distinction as to ethnicity, religion, or any other categorization we use today. Truth be told I would welcome diversity as I always learn something new from those different than I."

That is very true, but you are looking at one side.   Diversity is not the issue. I moved to the town I live in because of the diverse makeup of the community.   However, I would have a legitimate concern about allowing a house that would have such an arrangement because of the "transient" nature of who is coming and going. Home security is a big concern in this day and age, and while I am sure the occupants in this situation would be above suspicion, changing the variance would have implications as Ed pointed out above - and would I want to share a neighborhood with houses that have different occupants that I don't know coming in each week? It is one thing to say they would be respectful of the neighborhood, but what guarantee can be made?   If my neighbor causes issues in my neighborhood, I know who to go to and how to deal with it. Can I say the same thing about a "transient" residence?

With that said, I think there are situations where it works.   Each summer I go to Ocean Grove, NJ which has lovely bed & breakfast and "summer renters" mixed in with year round residents. You can't get more "transient" than that! The town also has a significant religous community, but that is not the sole reason people go to the town. The difference of course is that new home owners know the situation when they move in.   In this case, you are trying to overturn an established neighborhood.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 19 Jan 06 - 12:05 AM

Come on now Ron. One residential house on a block surrounded by commercial and institutional establishments, situated on the main thoroughfare (Route 59), in Rockland County hardly constitutes an established residental neighborhood. What exactly is it that we Orthodox Jews are trying to overturn here ?

                                              SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 Jan 06 - 09:47 AM

Sol, there is no need for you to throw in the words "Orthodox Jews" into your question. That introduces a prejudice and an implication that my comments were based on that. I don't appreciate it and you know that is not what I was saying. You are focusing on the religious aspect and failing to step back and look at the laws of the town. It does not matter if you are Orthodox Jews, Amish, Buddist, Muslim or a heavy metal band.

In retrospect, my use of the word "overturn" in the previous post was not appropriate. It does read harsher than what I was trying to say.   The issues I raised in my previous post were meant to be "devils advocate" in a sense. I do see reasons why people would block such a dwelling and it has nothing to do with religion.

As you said, it is "one residential block". Regardless of what surrounds it, the law was on the books. The right thing to do would have been to try to change the zoning through established means. Trying that after the fact only hurt your case.

You will never win a battle unless you can understand how the other side is thinking. It doesn't mean you have to agree with them, but you do need to understand what motivates them. The tone of the discussion has focused on "religious discrimination" and the assumption that is the motivating factor behind the denial. I cannot say that you are wrong, but I do see other issues that would be factors in the case - and I believe they are factors that would exist regardless of who is trying to establish a "transient" dwelling. THOSE are the issues that you need to address and fix if you are going to get permission.

In my town, there has been a similar issue concerning the establishment of senior citizen housing in a residential neighborhood. Parking and traffic were the main issue and the residents concerns were not addressed. The organization was denied a permit to build.

Trust me when I tell you that I do hope this shabbos house is able to get approval.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 27 Sep 06 - 08:30 PM

Just to update this thread. Today, the Federal government has filed a lawsuit against the village of Suffern under the RLUIPA Act, alleging discrimination in the case of the Shabbos House. It was the lead story in today's Journal News. The entire story is available at their website which is www.lohud.com

                                              SOL ZELLER


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Bill Hahn//\\
Date: 27 Sep 06 - 09:03 PM

The NY Times also featured the piece. My own opinion---a similar situation happened years back in my area (also Rockland Cty). In that case a home owner--Jewish--allied forces against a house being used as a Synagogue next door to him. I know the person and did not like his tactics---but saw his point---Zoning violations which make the community what it is.

The Suffern situation is analgous.   Good Samaritan hospital has always been accomodating--as is Nyack Hospital.   However, they need the space so the people who had the use of Good Samaritan now need another place. Unfortunately a house in that area that gets filled with "transients" on a weekend basis (I do not mean that in a derogatory way---merely as the word implies--temporary) is not n accordance with zoning that keeps the community what it is. It is--what it seems to be---a weekend "motel" for families visiting the hospital.

Pray tell what difference is that to the immigrants--legal and illegal-who overpopulate residences in the area in the hopes for day labor. We cannot allow us to make a distinction from one to the other.

I am not critiquing the immigrants here---I am, merely, trying to show the analogy of the two situations. You know---the goose and the gander analogy. You cannot have it both ways.   What makes an observant Jew more worthy of piling into a house with many people than a Mexican or Guatemalan lawn maintenance person?

Wow---have we come far afield from the Holocaust Thread.


Bill Hahn


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 27 Sep 06 - 10:43 PM

Bill,
       How do you think the court is going to rule on this one ? I am sure you remember what happened in Airmont right next door just a few years ago. The zoning laws were overturned as being discriminatory and the residents of the village which ended up on the losing side are still paying off the legal fees in the form of higher taxes. I see little difference between the Suffern and the Airmont cases.
                                              SOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:21 AM

Hi Rabbi-Sol
I do hope that in the end you win out. When the law is black & white & there is no gray area some of the innocent are victimized. Having spent quite a few long spells in hospitals I can't see that anyone would allow this "zone out" kind of law to pass or to be used. It's easy enough to add in clauses for ajustments & exceptions, after all isn't it why a "Town Hall" meeting gets called to meet? I hope you are served well.

Good Luck
Barry


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 05:33 AM

I just read through the whole thread - phew... But having come to the end of it, I still have in my mind an idea that came up right at the beginning. It must be my background - a Mediterranean attitude to rules that automatically seeks to find the loopholes. So:

Why not simply ask a Jewish family, or even individual, to live in the Shabbos house permanently. There must be a way to assign the house to their name without permanent ownership being lost. Then that becomes a normal residence for someone, who simply chooses to have lots of "friends" come visiting for the weekend.

Or, here's another thought: Sell the house, and with the money ask the hospital if they would allow you to build something on their grounds - some space that will be owned by the hospital (donated by the Orthodox Jewish community, the hospital's to have and to keep) but whose use as a Shabbos dormitory can be stipulated for as long as the Jewish community needs it. In fact, I would have thought that this would have been the first action when the usual dormitories were lost, not the purchase of a house.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:54 PM

"Fings ain't wot they used ter be" is not Gilbert and Sullivan, but (I think) Lionel Bart.

In the UK discrimination is analysed by considering direct discrimination (eg "no women") and indirect discrimination (eg "Applicants must be able to bench-press 200 pounds"). Proportionately fewer women than men can satisfy the above test.

"No uses other than a single family home" is not discriminatory in either sense.

Even indirect discrimination may be justified, and therefore not unlawful, if it is objectively necessary, and proportionate. So reasonable strength tests for firemen, who may need to carry victims down ladders, are unlikely to be illegal.

What is at issue here is the extent to which religious belief may justify an exemption from otherwise universal rules. Rastafarianism is not regarded by all legal systems as a religion (it is not accepted as one for the purposes of the UK Race Relations Act, for example) but for present purposes assume it was so regarded. Further assume that it required the smoking of cannabis while driving. In Rastafarianism the smoking of cannabis has some symbolic importance. Would that justify Rastafarians being exempt from the rules of law relating to driving under the influence of drugs? It is submitted not - there being two reasons. On the one hand one may consider the importance of the objective being served by the rules - in the abstract. On the other hand one looks at the reasonableness of the requirement for a relaxation in the rules.

In this specific case, the rule may bear harshly, but you cannot have different zoning laws for one block, and you cannot reasonably say that one religion should be given more accommodation than others.

On this analysis I would say that the principle overall of zoning laws is important, and a general relaxation of zoning laws for blocks with only one building of (x) type could be a can of worms. On the other hand there clearly ought to be a mechanism (as there is in UK planning law) for making a retrospective application - to be determined on general principles.

On the other side we come back to the social justification and protection for religious rules. Clearly there will be some cases in which the bests interests of society will be served by adjudging not that society's rules must bend, but that those of the religious group must bend, if there is conflict.

Since I see no rational purpose in the relevant religious laws here (a view that I share of may religious rules of many religions, although I am vaguely theist) I do not see ground for saying that the religious rules must found an exemption from the social rules.

The outcome of the litigation will however be determined by the application of the RLUIPA Act - with which it would be interesting if not profitable for me to familiarise myself. Does it proceed a bit like the UK's DIsability Discrimination Act, namely that the Disabled are entitled to reasonable alterations to premises, working practices, etc? If so it is going to come back to what is "reasonable" in a particular case, so the Act may well require a relaxation of the zoning ordinance, not on the basis of discrimination but on the basis that in this particular case (the one-house block) the relaxation would be "reasonable".


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 12:59 PM

An on-line essay on RLUIPA


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 01:01 PM

http://www.rluipa.com/


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Greg F.
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 01:05 PM

G&S is "Things are seldom what they seem" (H.M.S. Pinafore)


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 28 Sep 06 - 03:08 PM

Bikur Cholim, the charitable organization that sponsors this Shabbos House, had filed their own lawsuit back when I first started this thread. What is significant here is that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has on their own volition filed a separate lawsuit against the village of Suffern to enforce the RLUIPA Act. This action is completely separate from the first lawsuit. The court in its wisdom may choose to combine the 2 cases in order to expedite the judicial actions like they did in the Airmont case.

                                                   SOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 03 Oct 06 - 09:08 PM

Last Sunday night at the beginning of Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the Jewish year), the Shabbos House was vandalized by a group of teenagers who drove by and pelted the windows with eggs. Anti Semitism is running strong in Suffern and I believe that these teenagers would not have done this without encouragement by their paarents or other adults. The Jewish community is asking that this be treated as a bias crime.
                                              SOL


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 03:38 AM

Disgusting. Eierschalernacht might sound funny, but the attitudes are the same as those that led to Krystallnacht. Whatever thgeir vies on planning law, physical attacks and intimidation are not the way forward.


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Subject: RE: BS: Religious Discrimination in Suffern, NY
From: Rabbi-Sol
Date: 04 Oct 06 - 12:36 PM

The Journal News, which in the past has not been very friendly towards the Orthodox Jewish community, has today come out with a scathing editorial condemming the Village of Suffern for their refusal to make an exception in their zoning code to accommodate the Shabbos House. The vandalism that took place on Yom Kippur was cited as an example of what can transpire when feelings of hatred and resentment are allowed to fester in the community at large.

                                                 SOL


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