by Ryan Karben
Religious leaders from Rockland County head to Albany on Wed Apr 30 to escalate their protest against the Hasidim administering the East Ramapo public schools. They want Governor Andrew Cuomo to seize control of the district from its elected board, alleging the yeshiva parents who serve on it are shifting funds from the predominantly minority school system to Jewish religious schools.
Vibrant but insular communities, the Hasidim replicate the worldview, dress and social customs of pre-World War II Eastern European religious Jews. Tethered to the leadership of dynastic rabbinic families, the Hasidim have avoided intermarriage and assimilation by spreading a protective bubble of cradle-to-grave social services along with dense housing where married children can continue to live close to their parents. The Hasidim drown out the cacophony of temptation that can lure the committed from their path. Non-Orthodox Jews may question the virtues of these self-imposed ghettos, but they offer nearly ironclad assurance for the continuation of traditional rituals and the creation of new Jewish families.