Mahwah, NJ – VIN News Reporter Harassed At Gathering As Mahwah Residents Gear Up For Legal Battle Against New Eruv

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    Hundreds of residence at last night's gathering to discuss the Eruv issue (Sandy Eller/VINnews./com)Mahwah, NJ – More than 200 Mahwah residents packed a picnic pavilion on Monday night at a local township park to formulate a plan for dealing with components of an eruv that has sprung up in recent days in the northernmost reaches of Mahwah.

    As previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2eJKclZ), the South Monsey Eruv Fund installed white PVC piping on numerous telephone poles in the township to be used as part of an eruv. The piping was put up with approval of the local utility company, but town officials ordered it removed on grounds that it violated a local ordinance that prohibits any kind of signage on utility poles.

    Residents who attended the meeting at Continental Soldier Field in Mahwah were encouraged to leave their names and contact information on signup sheets and to volunteer their time and skills to the grassroots effort to have the pipes removed.

    The meeting was described as just the first of many, with Mahwah resident and volunteer Robert Ferguson saying the effort would be a “long process.”

    Ferguson advised residents to stay calm and to educate themselves on how things have unfolded in communities that have experienced similar situations including Rockland County, Lakewood, Jackson and Toms River. He was also quick to note that the issue was not about religion or bias but simply an effort to enforce the law.

    “We do not not want these people living in our neighborhoods,” said Ferguson. “We want them following the law.”

    Ferguson also noted that a recently enacted ordinance will prevent non-residents from using local parks, saying that in recent weeks, busloads of out of state children have swarmed parks in Mahwah, Ramsey, Upper Saddle River and Montvale.

    Reports of people knocking on doors and offering homeowners cash for their houses have also been a cause for concern, said Ferguson. In both instances, Ferguson asked residents to stay calm and to call police to report the problems.

    Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet estimated that the law prohibiting signage on utility poles has been on the books for approximately 20 years. According to Laforet, while the PVC piping may lack words or pictures, because it sends a clear message to those who would use the eruv that carrying is permitted within its perimeter, it meets the legal definition of a sign and is, therefore, prohibited.

    Enforcing the long standing ordinance is part of his job as mayor, explained Laforet who said he has made numerous unsuccessful attempts to contact officials at the Rockland Eruv to discuss the situation with them. The lack of dialogue between Mahwah and the parties constructing the eruv is a recipe for “a train collision,” warned Laforet, who said he has seen hatred erupting in his normally diverse and inclusive township.

    “There is genuinely founded fear when you see what goes on in Lakewood,” Laforet told VIN News. “You hear about what has gone on in Kiryas Joel. Communities in Rockland County that have been decimated for whatever reason that has unfortunately been tagged to this community. The fear is what has happened historically does not happen here in Mahwah. I believe that is an honest concern.”
    Eruv piping is visible at Airmont Rd in Mahwah, NJ on July 25, 2017. Sandy Eller/VINnews.com)
    Laforet said that he does not know if the PVC piping for the eruv is intended to be part of a new Mahwah eruv or if the streets in Mahwah that were included are just part of an effort to enlarge the existing Chestnut Ridge eruv. So far, the affected poles are located on just five streets: Airmont Avenue, Masonicus Road, Sparrowbush Road, Saddle River Road West and East Mahwah Road, all of which are near the New York/New Jersey border.

    While Laforet has ordered all of the piping removed by August 4th, he is still holding out hope that he will be able to speak with the eruv committee.

    “There has to be a way to solve this without all the hatred,” said Laforet.

    In his remarks, Ferguson also stressed the importance of keeping hatred out of the equation and avoiding a “posse mentality.”

    Yet despite Ferguson singling out this reporter in his remarks to the crowd saying, “tell your friends, we are not against you,” hatred was very much in evidence at the Monday night meeting.

    I was harassed by multiple individuals throughout the approximately hour long meeting, including a man who snarled “don’t touch me” as I walked by.

    Several people told me I was not welcome during the meeting and I had cell phone cameras shoved inches away from my face repeatedly as people snapped pictures of both me and my press credentials.

    A woman who followed me throughout the night, bombarding me with questions and accusations in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt my recordings actually walked me through the parking lot to make sure that I left the premises, while another woman photographed my license plate as I got into my car.

    One lone Mahwah woman approached me and told me with a smile that all are welcome in Mahwah. I wish I could have believed her, but she was clearly in the minority. I left the meeting looking over my shoulder, making sure that my car wasn’t being followed as I drove home.

    Are the events unfolding in Mahwah nothing more than an effort to maintain the pristine appearance of the township’s utility poles? A legitimate concern about quality of life issues if Rockland County’s Jewish community spills over the border into New Jersey? Or just thinly veiled anti-Semitism?

    Only time will tell.

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    40 COMMENTS

    1. Think of it people living in a nice suburb town fresher air quiet everybody knows each other etc. etc. and then you have those people moving in do I need to elaborat.you got to feel bad for them

            • No need to say someone does not belong on website. Sinas chinum caused churbon – at least until Tisha B’av give-up sinas chinum.

            • What hogwash.
              All that poster 25 was trying to in his posts on this story and the previous story was rile up hate against “Hassidim”. Don’t be so disingenuous and start harping on “sinas chinom” now. (And I am sure he doesn’t know what that means either, I doubt he is an orthodox Jew.)

        • Ok I will elaborate for fat 36.

          People live in a quite suburban town. Then the frum come moving in. They build shuls with lots of cars, noise, hachnasas sefer torah’s etc.. Then they open a playgroup where everybody doubles and triple parks to drop off kids. They also have lots of kids (not just two kids) who go to many different schools as opposed to the one local yukel public school. So lots of kids in lots of schools equals lots of school buses roaming around town. Now the morning commute becomes a nightmare with loads of traffic. And we want funding for all these busses. Then we grow and vote in representatives to the school board and take control.

          You see where it all goes. I don’t blame the guy who wants a quite suburban life. Neither do I blame us frum yidden. But realize that our lifestyle is a clash with a quite suburban lifestyle.

      • Untrue. I am a frum Jewish homeowner in a small NJ town close to Mahwa.
        They have no issue with Jews in general.
        They just don’t want people who will come en-masse and purposely settle there so they can take advantage of social welfare programs with no intention of ever contributing to the local economy.

        I feel the same way.

        • I’m sorry but that’s a load of horse manure. I drive up and down Route 17 all the time. People are always stopping in Mahwah for fuel or for anything else at the local service stations. That’s why the local service stations all advertise that they have some kosher stuff! I also shop at the ShopRite just off of 17. I see yidin in there lots of times. The fact is that people will move in and they will shop locally. Granted they might go to Muncie for their more specialty kosher items that they could pick up at Evergreen, but a lot of shopping IS done locally.

    2. We are our worst enemies. Look what we did to Monsey! We took a beautiful suburban community, clean streets, pretty homes, no traffic, and turned it into a garbage dump. Developers paid off the town and destroyed our way of life. It takes an half hour to cross Monsey today. We did not come to Monsey to live like in Brooklyn. This life style is forced down our throats, and when you ask someone…IS THIS RIGHT? they tell you if you don’t like it , MOVE it is a free
      country.
      I believe Mahwah is seeking to protect their community, and not turn it into a new Monsey. It is not the poles that are the issue , it is how can we stop this destruction of our community. Yes every anit-semite joined their cause and spew their hatred at these meetings, but the core is correct in trying to protect themselves. Should some people of color, Chinese, Muslims, come into our community and want to put up apartment houses with garbage all over the street – lets be honest, we would do no less to protect our lifestyle. Seeing what happened to our neighborhood, I wish them g-d speed and success. If the old Monsey homeowners tried to stop these shenanigans we would also have been called “self hating Jews”

      • Well, babies are being born and we need to expqnd. Its unfortunate that your suburban Monsey has become a Brooklyn atyle environment. Its tough luck. It was the ibevitable with NYC prices sky hi. One thing u r elligible to complain about is that people shld live decent but the traffic? Its too bad! Go further out and take along many frustrated people and create a new Monsey. Wherever there is a yiddish yishiv its gonna be full. Its the way of life today. I also look back tomy Brooklyn peaceful life when Wmsbg ended at Heyward St. I rather walk a mile than get into a car. The traffic is horrendous. So am I gonna rant? Its just too bad. A new way of life for everyone everywhere. Embrace it or face it.

    3. The courts have almost always sided and will side with religious freedom when local ordinances impose an unnecessary burden on exercise of religion. Mahwah should back down now and avoid millions of dollars in legal fees for what will ultimately be a lost battle on their part.

    4. In order for there to be an eruv, the Jewish community must purchase a form of ownership from the local government. Until that’s done, all the PVC piping and overhead wires in the world wouldn’t help.

      Why put up the piping first, before the government kinyan?

      Who is behind the organization pushing this eruv, and the piping installation?

      • You know what really went on?

        Didn’t you read that they got permission from O&R to put this up? O&R owns the utility poles. They needed permission from O&R not the township and they obviously got it.

        • Mark, you’re missing the point. You can’t build an eiruv around someone else’s property without their permission, and you can’t build an eiruv around a goy’s property without having some appropriate kind of ownership right in the goy’s property. Typically what is done is that a local Jewish community will legally negotiate a very specialized legally binding purchase or lease from the local government in exchange for one dollar. This doesn’t seem to have happened in Mahwah, unless some poseik has determined that the Mahwah local government can be circumvented and the kinyan can be made at another level of government (eg. county, state).

          In any event, without a kinyan, the PVC heker or lechi or whatever is just a PR stunt and provocation. I’ll share with you a personal bias I have: when I hear about some frum in-the-goy’s-face PR publicity stunt, I reflexively think chabad. In this case, I don’t know who was behind the PVC installation, but I’m curious because what’s missing from these news articles are interviews with any local Mahwah Jewish organization supporting the eiruv.

    5. The piping is not illegal as clearly stated by the electric company. But if theses residence think vandalizing an “Ervu will stop Jewish people from moving to new neighborhoods, they are Wrong.

    6. Just like the Hamptons Mahwa is going to lose this one. You see we’re a law bidding country and as the electric company affirms they are legal. I don’t like religious Jews or I don’t want my community to change is not a legal argument that has any bearing.

    7. If the people of that Township have a problem with the PVC piping, I suggest they stay away from using ANY electric, telephone, FiOS, cable, etc as we make use of those dastardly wires for the eruv.

    8. On one hand look at places like Teaneck where the gentiles seem to have no problem with their Jewish neighbors as the Jews there are quiet, respectful and don’t blast their way through. On the other hand if the zoning in Monsey was kept the way it was 30 years ago can you imagine how spread out the Monsey community would be today? Its kind of too late now but our leaders need to take the helm to talk and educate more about how to live respectfully amongst the Umos HaOilam.

    9. I don’t think they’ll have any problem with non-religious Jews. The religious ones destroy their towns. They take over their school boards and sap their budgets. They build tons of yeshivos and shuls that are tax free and therefore they lose tax revenue. They don’t eat in their restaurants or bars or shop in their stores so the local economy suffers. They build huge structures for huge families and schools. Traffic becomes crazy. What are they expecting? A welcome mat? They’re not fighting the PVC pipes. They’re fighting the ability of frum people to move there so their town isn’t the next monsey or Lakewood. Until we learn not to impose on the local population, we will foster resentment.

      • Until we learn not to impose on the local population, we will foster resentment. ”

        While I agree with you, I think certain things are out of our control. We can’t shop in treifa stores. So yes businesses will loose money. We have lots of kids and send to lots of schools. That leads to more school buses and congestion on the street. Yes we need shuls and yeshivas and even if built in industrail zones so it does not interfere with residential blocks, its tax free and makes lots of noise

        While certain behaviors are controllable , most are not. We just have a different lifestyle that clashes with a quite suburban lifestyle.

    10. Our lifestyle is wholly different to theirs. When we are talking about Torah mandated issues we can and should hold our heads up high and explain why we cannot compromise. That is why our houses of prayer and study are open from early in the morning until late at night. However it is not part of the mitzva to daven mincha to park in the road in a way that disrupts the traffic just because we don’t want to miss the last minyan. Similarly there is no mitzva in throwing garbage all over the place, letting our kids crowd out the local parks so the other [goyishe] kids don’t get their turn on the rides etc etc. Nor is it one of the 613 mitzvas to scream loudly across the street to unser beste chaver. All of those are things many of us do on a constant basis. Some of the people who were at the meeting are undoubtedly anti semites who hate Yidden. However many of them are good folk who simply hate the arrogant way we behave as though we own the world. The attitude of many of the commentators here, see we will win, don’t waste your time trying to stop us, simply proves the point.

    11. The claim of the Mahwah residents and government that the eruv poles are some sort of prohibited “sign” is absurd, and they know that it’s an absurd claim. It’s also obvious that they are afraid of frum people expanding into their neighborhood as is happening in Garnerville, New City, Pearl River, Jackson and Toms River in NJ.

      It’s a sad state but I don’t agree that it’s anti-antisemitism. It’s a fear that once we move in, there goes the neighborhood, and it’s justified. Just look at the mess we created in Monsey and Lakewood; the disregard for zoning laws; the illegal housing; the traffic madness that extends to the surrounding areas which is worse that in NYC during rush hour. Look at the corrupt government officials in Ramapo that we corrupted which everyone keeps reelecting in zombie like block votes, knowing full well that the are corrupt.

      So, my dear fellow frum compatriots, the desire of others to keep us out of their neighborhoods will continue until we straighten out the mess that we create almost everywhere that we move to, and show our neighbors that we also respect their lifestyle and way of life..

    12. “Embrace it or face it.” I think that is what they say about the Internet and other advanced technology. Remember that the next time you need to do something that can today only be done over the Internet. Before that is you explain that we don’t use the Internet because it is against our religion.

    13. The eruv was installed by The South Monsey Eruv Fund without input of our town, rabbis or Jewish community. I don’t understand why they were not included. Additionally, rather than making a kinyan with representatives of our community (apologies if I am using the word wrong), the installers entered into a “pole attachment agreement” with Orange & Rockland Electric of NY and the payment on that agreement is the kinyan. I don’t think that’s right. They have also done this in the adjacent towns of Montvale and Upper Saddle River.
      Mahwah is a diverse community with a wide range of social, economic & religious backgrounds. If there were observant residents in our community who needed an eruv, we would work with them because that’s the kind of people we are. We cherish & embrace our community’s diversity.

    14. Thank you to VIN reporter for going into this hostile room to let us all understand the antisemitism lurking in our midst.

      Col ha kavod to VIN for this original reporting.

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