Monsey Silent Majority wants you to Vote "Yes" to the "Ward System" Defying Agudah who decided to meddle in
by Jacob Kornbluh
A referendum that could decide the future of the Town of Ramapo is turning out to be as heated as the one conducted last week in Scotland.
On Tuesday, September 30th, voters in the town of Ramapo will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ whether to increase the number of Town Board members from four to six, and whether to separate the town into geographical districts (wards) to elect a Town Board member from each district.
Currently, four Town Board members are elected in a popular vote and don’t represent specific areas of the town. The four board members are representatives supported by the Hasidic community in Monsey, New Square and the surrounding neigbrohoods.
As the vote nears, the Orthodox Jewish community in Rockland County is divided, with both proponents and opponents of the ward system reaching out to the Hasidic community voting bloc.
Opponents of the ward system, said to represent a majority of the Hasidic community, claim the new system would weaken the political influence of Orthodox Jews in the town by permitting them to vote only for candidates from their immediate neighborhood rather than the town as a whole. In that case, only two seats up for grabs would represent the Hasidic community.
Furthermore, they argue that the referendum was put forward solely to target Hasidic Jews by the Preserve Ramapo group. As of such, supporters of the ‘NO’ vote, asserted in several interviews with JP, that while the ward system is generally proposed to help minorities who can’t win townwide or citywide elections, in this case, both the black and Hasidic communities would be concentrated into their own districts – 2 out of 6 seats. This would make it unlikely for either group to retain the same level of representation they enjoy under the current system.
In a statement issued last week, Agudath Israel of America urged the Orthodox Jewish community to vote “no” vote in the upcoming referendums. “This is classic minority vote dilution, only this time the victims are Orthodox Jews. A minority is being intentionally shoved into a small district to limit its ability to affect the outcome of elections in the community at large,” the statement read. “Efforts to inhibit the voting power of any minority group, including Orthodox Jews, are simply intolerable. They must be firmly denounced and resoundingly defeated.”
The Ramapo Republican Committee, Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) and Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City), as well as Chris Day, the Republican congressional candidate in the 17th District, have already endorsed the ward system.
In a pamphlet distributed over the weekend in Yiddish, and obtained by JP, Hasidic activists urged community members to go against the establishment and vote ‘YES’ in the referendum in an expression of unity and peace.
The brochure, written by activists claiming to be the “silent majority” of the Orthodox Jewish community, urged voters to support the ward system and bring an end” to this irresponsible behavior that only benefits the pockets of a numbered few greedy developers who unfortunately have the money and power to maneuver Rabbis and scare members of our community to come out with the truth.”
“We believe that enforcing the Ward System is the best thing that can happen to this town, and we see it as the only means to the ultimate end, which is to restore the harmony and neighborly peace this blessed corner of the world was once known for,” they write.
Speaking to JP, Spring Valley resident Yoel Falkowitz said, “We’re basically the silent majority. Most people are afraid of the developers who have the money and control our politicians in every way that benefits their agenda. The people of Rockland county are decent people who want peace and quiet. It’s the developers who are making it sound like we’re in a battle.”
“We’re here to say ‘enough is enough, we don’t want to fight. We want to live in peace and have everyone’s needs represented properly,” Falkowtiz added.
The referendum will take place, as noted above, on Tuesday from 6am to 10pm.