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Monday, December 19, 2005

Not In My BackYard?

I read this piece in last weekend's Long Island section of the NY Times with some interest, as I had blogged about the story a few months back. The article recounts the story of how a Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Rafe Konikov, came to Southampton, one of the towns on the tony East End of Long Island, and set up shop. Of course, for a Chabad Rabbi, setting up shop includes setting up weekly services for his constituents in his home. And that is when things started to heat up in the town of Southampton.
"This is a center for Jewish life in Southampton," Rabbi Konikov, 36, said recently.

It is also the center of a dispute: whether his home should also be a house of worship. In 1999, after the family moved into the 4,000-square-foot house, which was purchased by the Chabad of Southampton, a nonprofit group, the first floor was reconfigured with a 1,100-square-foot sanctuary, making it the first Jewish house of worship in Southampton since the village was established in 1640.
Many of his neighbors are irate about the establishment of the synagogue, and are fighting it tooth and nail. The opposition group has hired lawyers, and has even gone so far as to compare those arguing in favor of the synagogue to "fanatics" who take "violent action in the name of God":
"It's essentially converting a small one-family home on an undersized lot to a full-blown religious center with all of its ancillary uses," said Daniel Palmieri, a partner in Reisman, Peirez & Reisman, the Garden City law firm representing the opposition group. Opponents have cited issues like parking, potential sewage problems, fire safety and traffic.

Kim White, a part-time Southampton resident and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, bought a house in 2001 on Hill Street, a mile from the Chabad, unaware that services were being held there. In August, Ms. White took out a full-page advertisement in The Southampton Press, a weekly, to run an open letter about the "high degree of ignorance surrounding the commercial enterprise at 214 Hill Street, also known as the Chabad."

"Wrapping oneself in a religious flag in the name of breaking laws smacks of fanaticism and irrationality," Ms. White wrote. "This is the same kind of mentality which provokes people to take violent actions in the name of God. Do the inhabitants of this village not understand that issuing a 'special exception' to one group invites other groups, whoever and whatever they may be, to follow suit?"
Strong words, of course. And it makes it all the easier to dismiss this battle as one between Orthodox Jews vs. everyone else - especially those who write Orthodox Jews off as religious fanatics. But that knee-jerk assumption would be ignoring a very salient point. Orthodox Jews are just as capable of rejecting the proposal of a shul being built on a neighboring property to theirs.

Case in point:

Just this week at the Shabbos table of friends, the conversation turned to a controversy that has been going strong in the Five Towns for quite some time now. It is over an age-old source of controversy in Jewish communities everywhere, the dreaded "breakaway minyan". Evidently, a group of young families in one of the neighborhoods that comprise the Five Towns decided, for whatever reasons, that the shuls that exist in their neighborhood do not meet the needs of themselves and their families. So they got together, put up some capital, and decided to buy some property on which to locate a new shul. Everything went along swimmingly, and the group managed to purchase what looked to them like a perfect piece of property, in a location that seemed ideal - complete with Orthodox neighbors who surely wouldn't have the inclination to object to a synagogue next door. Right? Wrong.

According to our fellow guests at the Shabbos meal, the group met up with fierce opposition from the Orthodox neighbors of the property in question - not once, but twice, on two separate properties, by two separate groups of neighbors. Apparently, the threats that were thrown about by those opposing the new shul, aimed at the group spearheading it, that would make your hair curl. The hostility was enough to make the group (as I heard it) break contract on two separate properties before finding a property with neighbors who were amenable to having a shul as a neighbor.

Obviously, when it comes to a shul, the NIMBY effect is not just an issue of anti-Semitism or anti-Orthodoxy . It cuts across all denominations and religions.

60 Comments:

Anonymous mycroft said...

Very good post.
Of course, nobody building a schul has ever offered any existing homeowner the value of what the home goes down as a result of building the schul/school.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post OM.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you mean by "threats"? physical harm?

11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am involved in the new endeavor, and I can tell you that the threats were disgusting. They weren't bodily threats, though.

12:51 AM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

They had a problem out here in Los Angeles in a place called Hancock Park. People were very aggressive in opposing the shul.

12:52 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

I'm shocked that orthodox people would object to a Shul in their neighborhood.Can there be something more useful?
The parking issue I can perfectly understand though.
Not to mention that Shabbes during the summer there can be a lot of noise till late at night
.

5:22 AM  
Blogger my bald sheitel said...

great post. very interesting reading. wonder how it will play out. i too was shocked that ortho people would oppose having a closer shul. easier walk for davening?

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

property values going down? in orthodox neighborhoods the values go up when it's near a shul!

9:39 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Brooklyn has many old time, large shuls that go practically empty while small shteebles pop up like rabbits. While it is reprehensible to threaten fellow jews it is understandable that communbity residents would object to being forced to accomodate what is often someone else's ego-trip i.e. the breakaway shul.

This is not always the case; in many communities addition shuls are very necessary. However, there's an empty lot and a ramshakle trailer on the corner of penninsula and cedarhurst ave. that lies testament to the idea of: look before you leap.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Essie said...

The problem of Orthodox Jews opposing a shul too close to home is rampant everywhere. You would think that people would enjoy having a closer option, but for some reason, they don't.

10:11 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Brooklyn has many old time, large shuls that go practically empty while small shteebles pop up like rabbits. While it is reprehensible to threaten fellow jews it is understandable that communbity residents would object to being forced to accomodate what is often someone else's ego-trip i.e. the breakaway shul.

I hear you, but that argument doesn't resonate with me. I have heard the argument against breakaway shuls many times over. But just because there might be an exisiting shul in the neighborhood that is dying, does not mean that the group who is unhappy with their present choices have to waive their freedom to worship exactly as they please. This is America. And short of the case where a new shul's membership completely empties out an existing shul (which is not the case here), I don't see any problem with it at all.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

"property values going down? in orthodox neighborhoods the values go up when it's near a shul!"

They will go up in the general neighborhood of a schul-say more than 200 yards or so from the schul-those in the immediate area LOSE property value.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"But just because there might be an exisiting shul in the neighborhood that is dying, does not mean that the group who is unhappy with their present choices have to waive their freedom to worship exactly as they please."

True. True. And True! But, tell me...if it's the group that's unhappy, should thoroughly unrelated neighborhood residents have to suffer crowded streets, extra garbage, often bizarre construction, noise, inconsiderate foot traffic at odd hours, et al?

11:19 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

if it's the group that's unhappy, should thoroughly unrelated neighborhood residents have to suffer crowded streets, extra garbage, often bizarre construction, noise, inconsiderate foot traffic at odd hours, et al?

The same way that a citizen has the right to do all sorts of construction on their private home (within the parameters of zoning laws, as does a synagogue), and throw as many parties as he so desires in his house, complete with inconsiderate foot traffic, our wonderful country protects our right to do the same for a house of worship.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

They have right. No one can argue that. But it is understandable why it ticks people off. Especially, in their justifiable view, when there is often, though not always, sufficient resources for worship.

Case in point: the churban on Penninsula Blvd. and Cedarhurst Ave.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

They have right. No one can argue that. But it is understandable why it ticks people off. Especially, in their justifiable view, when there is often, though not always, sufficient resources for worship.

Yes. People have the right to say hateful things. The queston is not whether their actions are legal or constitutionally protected but whether they are proper, neighborly, moral, pick your adjective.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it depends on zoning. If I've bought a house in an area that's zoned residential and no houses of worship, I would object (and fight, nicely!) any attempt to rezone the area immediately around my house (let's say, for a block or so in either direction).

On the other hand, if I've moved into a mixed use area, where shuls are permitted by existing zoning regulations, I'd likely not fight it, since I knew what I was getting into. Everyone should check the master plan and zoning regulations for a house before buying, l'fi aniyas da'ati.

That said, there's no excuse for nastiness, and I don't consider breakaway minyanim to be ego-trips. Usually.

JDUB

12:12 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I'm not sure if we're actuallt arguing. Here are my main points, not necessarily in order of appearance:

1) breakaway minyanim are definitely not ALWAYS ego trips. Many begin out of neccesity due to overcrowding or religious expression; others because a group of egotists aren't getting their perceived share of the kovod.

2) regardless of motivation, the breakaway faction has the constitutional, legal, and moral right to do so.

3) the breakaway faction and the oppositon have to keep it civil -- especially because the opposition usually loses and BOTH sides have to live with each other for a very, very long time.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

breakaway minyanim are usually started by spoiled brats.Far rockaway/Five towns has enough shuls to accomodate everybody.Big deal.Tough****if you didn't get shishi.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

By any chance, anon, did you have dinner with the Orthofamily this past shabbos?

1:04 PM  
Blogger BrooklynJewishGuy said...

I'd sooner walk to Konikov's chabad house out in Southampton than put up with YOU (anon) guys in the 5 towns!!

My goodness Anon (2 posts ago), are ALL breakaways full of spoiled brats?? Such emotion!! Calm down, calm down.

I'll stick to my kohen aliyah, and let you fight over shishi.

2:14 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

breakaway minyanim are usually started by spoiled brats

I hate breakaway minyanim, and yes they are sually started by spoiled brats who either want more kovod, are too lazy to walk and extra block, or consider themselves too holy to mix and mingle with the lesser Jews in the original shul.

Breakway minyanim are also ossur, as discussed in a famous article I can't find online. The issues are that they deprive the Rabbi of a salary, and run affoul of "brov am haadras melech." Among many others.

One community, one shul. That's my view. It's nicer, stronger and it teaches Jews to respect one another.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Oh, so Dov Bear lives in Elizabeth, NJ,....i always suspected you did.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Courtney Love/Martha Stewart said...

I would oppose a shul on my block because of noise and other issues. Jews must respect zoning codes; it doesn't make us look good to defy city regulations in the name of religious freedoms that can take place elsewhere.

In another neighborhood, a group recently purchased a plot of land to build a mikvah. They neglected to notice that the only access to the property is through a family's plot of land. This family is frum and has declined to give the mikvah consent to have people wandering through its yard. I don't blame them. The mikvah should've noticed such an important detail. No great moral lesson here; just another example of Jews wanting to maintain some tranquility around their home.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

In DovBear's eyes, is a breakaway minyan more offensive than a breakaway copycat post...

Just wonderin'

5:19 PM  
Anonymous mycroft said...

"The issues are that they deprive the Rabbi of a salary,"
The purpose of a schul is to give welfare to a Rabbi?

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Midwestern Gal said...

I'm just wondering who else cracked up at Mr. Palmieri's description of the 4,000 sq. foot Chabad House as a "small, one-family home on an undersized lot." Sure it's the Hamptons, but c'mon people. Get real.

6:09 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

DovBear:
I hate breakaway minyanim, and yes they are sually started by spoiled brats who either want more kovod, are too lazy to walk and extra block, or consider themselves too holy to mix and mingle with the lesser Jews in the original shul.

Either you are completely clueless about the demographics of growing jewish neighborhoods, or you are living in a time warp. This is not anything close to a true statement.

Breakway minyanim are also ossur, as discussed in a famous article I can't find online. The issues are that they deprive the Rabbi of a salary, and run affoul of "brov am haadras melech." Among many others.

Far from an established halachik fact. Krum proves this on your site, DB, in the comments of your breakaway post. Check it out.

Bottom line is, in a community growing as exponentially as the Five Towns, there is room for more than one kehilla. If everyone tried to cram into one shul, it would be laughable. And let me tell you, the resistance to change that many shuls show, even in the face of a changing demographic, stands in the way of your perfect little proposal of harmony and shul membership numbering in the many thousands. It just won't work.

In addition, if the existing situation is one that is not having a positive effect on my children's development, I would not hesitate to leave my existing shul and find a new one. If there is no room for my children to sit next to me, or the children who attend are bad influences, that would be enough for me to turn to a new shul and never look back. I will never put the (alleged) needs of what might be, in your words "nicer" over the needs of my family. Ain't gonna happen.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Chana said...

You mention that "Opponents have cited issues like parking, potential sewage problems, fire safety and traffic."

I simply picked up on this because of what is happening within my own Jewish community.

At the moment, a building formerly used as a Chinese restaraunt is being bought by Moslems who wish to convert it into a mosque. There are at least 3 shuls on this block (it's a main street) and my shul is up in arms. They've also cited "parking" as a reason that this mosque should not be there.

I often wonder, if another shul would be coming to join them, would they cite parking?

I don't think they would.

Anyway, that was off-topic...as for breakaway minyanim, well I think that as long as you have good intentions, namely:

1. You don't wish to fight the elements to get to shul (sleet, snow, rain and wind) on a constant basis (for an entire season)

2. The shul that is nearby does not fit your religious "type" or needs

3. Your children are overcrowded/ being squashed into a mold/ in some way suffering

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heart OM. Great response, OM.

7:04 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

I hate breakaway minyanim, and yes they are sually started by spoiled brats who either want more kovod, are too lazy to walk and extra block, or consider themselves too holy to mix and mingle with the lesser Jews in the original shul.

Either you are completely clueless about the demographics of growing jewish neighborhoods, or you are living in a time warp. This is not anything close to a true statement.


No. It is the reality. Growing Jewish neighborhoods need to put up bigger shuls. If they can afford new buildings and new Rabbis, they can afford to expland. Anyway, all that nonsense about crowding is just a cover for the real reasons. As Rav Moshe says in a teshuva a quote, it's the evil inclination that motivates people to leave a synagouge, and then they dress it up with pious sounding excuses.


Far from an established halachik fact. Krum proves this on your site, DB, in the comments of your breakaway post. Check it out


I've posted on the halachot. It's osur according to virtually all poskim including Rav Moshe. So sorry.

10:02 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:05 PM  
Blogger littlejerseygirl said...

I personally do not like breakaway shuls - especially in an area like the 5 towns where you can't walk 10 feet without tripping over a shul. It's a very "holier than thou" attitude. Maybe you don't like any of the shuls that are within a 5 minute walk to your house. You may have to walk 10 or *gasp* 15 minutes, but I'm sure you can find somewhere where you can fit in.
A shul next door to your house will reduce your property value. I for one would fight it. You buy a house on a pretty residential block and then the house next door becomes a shul. They sometimes neglect the property, and then before you know it, they tear down the shul and build a huge monstrosity. Uggh
Shuls (not always) tend to ignore some of the zoning. I know of one shul where they pretended that the catering hall in the basement was actually going to be a parking lot so that they could get their C of O.
Just work together. We are stronger that way.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous charliehall said...

Building a shul is not a problem unique to Jews. Back when I lived in Virginia in the 80s a lot of Christian churches were finding it impossible to find places to build -- and a lot of community opposition when they thought they had found a place.

BTW Southampton was founded by Puritans and was part of Connecticut for decades. The original settlers would never have imagined Jews living there!

12:59 AM  
Anonymous Fox said...

Chana --

Thanks for your post about the mosque proposed on Touhy. I felt very, very uncomfortable with all the emails circulated to whip up opposition to it. I'm not eager for the mosque, either, but parking is a really weak argument against it.

1:47 AM  
Blogger gabe said...

"I've posted on the halachot. It's osur according to virtually all poskim including Rav Moshe. So sorry."
So, then, the Minyan started at MTJ, which came about decades after, and at the eventual expense of, that of the Bialystoker Shul, Rabbi Oshry's Minyan, the Elder St. shul, and too many other Lower East Side minyanim to count, was in violation of R' Moshe's own ruling? I firmly believe that R' Moshe is the absolute final word on halacha in New York, but obviously his ruling is relative to the circumstances in which the question was posed to him. Perhaps in that situation there was only one Community Shul where there wasn't enough membership within the community to support a second, as his t'shuvha seems to imply, there would be a monetary loss to the existing Rav. The situation in five towns is not the same.

2:09 AM  
Blogger gabe said...

littlejerseygirl said...
"I for one would fight it. You buy a house on a pretty residential block and then the house next door becomes a shul. They sometimes neglect the property, and then before you know it, they tear down the shul and build a huge monstrosity. Uggh"

I, for one, am glad you don't own one of the apartments overlooking Har Habayis, what would you do when moshiach came?

2:13 AM  
Blogger gabe said...

I happen to know many of the group trying to form thier own minyan in the five towns, and thier reasons have nothing to do with kavod. They are simply thirsting for some spiritual growth, and feel that they need guidance and leadership in order to acheive it. These younger five towns residents, aren't looking to usurp an power from the existing shuls, they're really looking for a Rav, and a place for him, so they can quench thier thirst for spiritual growth. They are constantly importing various rabbanim to give lectures, but that is a poor substitute for a permanent Rav one can call one's own.

Of course if one was to travel far enough one could find what they were looking for, but how far are they supposed to travel? Why stop at 5 towns, why not make them walk to West Lawre...er, Far Rockaway?

2:32 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Gabe:


I, for one, am glad you don't own one of the apartments overlooking Har Habayis, what would you do when moshiach came?


Property value around Har Habayit is going to skyrocket. You can buy now for under $200K in Maaleh HaZeitim.

As long as there's no break-away Beit HaMikdash, this issue doesn't bother me so much ;-)

4:22 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Shuls (not always) tend to ignore some of the zoning. I know of one shul where they pretended that the catering hall in the basement was actually going to be a parking lot so that they could get their C of O."

you mean that huge rolldown door in the rear leads to....nothing? Gasp!

1:23 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"I, for one, am glad you don't own one of the apartments overlooking Har Habayis, what would you do when moshiach came?"

And I'm glad you don't own a home on my block. You obviously have no clue what being a considerate neighbor means.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"These younger five towns residents, aren't looking to usurp an power from the existing shuls, they're really looking for a Rav, and a place for him, so they can quench thier thirst for spiritual growth. They are constantly importing various rabbanim to give lectures, but that is a poor substitute for a permanent Rav one can call one's own. "

This is such a load of crap. Everyone seems to think theyknow better than the rabbi. So this crew hides behind false piety to exercise their own arrogance.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous charliehall said...

Ok, I'm not an expert on halachah, but I've read up on the history of the Jewish community in New York City.

From 1654 until 1825, there was one minyan for all Jews in the city. Somehow everyone got along. The nusach was western european Sefardic, although it appears that the majority of the congregation was Ashkenazic. And everyone was (at least nominally) Orthodox.

In 1825 the Ashkenzim wanted to do things their way. The first breakaway minyan was formed. It is now Bnai Jeshurun, the (then Orthodox, now Conservative) shul on the Upper West Side.

The precedent had been set. It was only a few years before there was a breakaway from Bnai Jeshurun. Then another. Then another. Everybody doing things their own way. There was no king in Israel....oops, I mean there was no rabbi in New York. (The first rabbi to settle permanently in America arrived in 1840, and he wisely avoided the New York craziness and went to Baltimore.)

Between 1825 and 1850 over three dozen minyans were formed. Some took the "their own way" really seriously and became Reform. In any case, not a single one of those breakaways is Orthodox today. Regardless of the halachah, we should be careful of the consequences of schizm.

Oh, that original minyan that the breakaways left? It still exists: Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Manhattan. I prayed there three days ago. Still Orthodox after 350 years.

3:27 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

"And I'm glad you don't own a home on my block. You obviously have no clue what being a considerate neighbor means."
You mean you actually believe my political, and/or hashkafic outlook (which is all you could possibly know about me) are enough for you to determine how considerate a neighbor I would be? How prejudicial can one get?

4:52 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

Comment #1
Still Wonderin' said...
This is such a load of crap. Everyone seems to think theyknow better than the rabbi. So this crew hides behind false piety to exercise their own arrogance.

Comment #2
Still Wonderin' said...
I'm not sure if we're actuallt arguing. Here are my main points, not necessarily in order of appearance:

1) breakaway minyanim are definitely not ALWAYS ego trips. Many begin out of neccesity due to overcrowding or RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION;

Which one is it?

5:12 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Based on your remarks, you clearly have no appreciation or comprehension that some people move to the suburbs and pay exorbitant taxes to get away from self-righteous yahoos who drape themselves in piety to create ramshackle shteebles, which typically evolve into overwrought behemoths on what is usually "someone else's block"

Am I wrong?

5:13 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Which one is it?

Perhaps your description was faulty, but from the way you phrased things, it sure seems like an ego trip....Wah! This Rabbi isn't GOOOD enough for us. Wah! We want a beeeetter Rabbi. Wah! We want things run OUUURRRR way. Wah!

5:16 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:53 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

Still Wonderin' said...
**Based on your remarks, you clearly have no appreciation or comprehension that some people move to the suburbs and pay exorbitant taxes to get away from self-righteous yahoos who drape themselves in piety to create ramshackle shteebles, which typically evolve into overwrought behemoths on what is usually "someone else's block"

Am I wrong?******

Please, oh please copy and paste which remarks lead you to believe that I feel anyone has the right to be unneighborly, or to create ramshackle shteebles? What i did comment on is one's description of a shul regardless of thier problem with where it is situated as "UGGH". I don't feel that anyone has a right to violate zoning laws, building codes, C of O's, or to circumvent the law in any way in order to get away with building a shul. But, if one builds it in accordance with the laws, I (along with the Shulchan Oruch) believe the shul should be the biggest, nicest building on the block, and I'd welcome it on my own block, (and have) even though I'm sure I paid more for my home, and pay a lot more in taxes than the people who were building the shul.
Let me clarify for you what my idea of being a "GOOD NIGHBOR" means, although from the general tone of your comments I doubt that you've ever considered that there might be a positive side to being "Neighborly" all you've been able to dredge up is what good neighbors don't do, not a word about what good neighbors do.
I spent much more for my home then my friends in the fivetowns, after moving in, the Young Israel on my corner decided to knock down the shul and build a bigger and better one, I am not a member of the shul. When they approached the zoning board for a variance, they needed neighborhood support to have the variance passed. I, as a "GOOD NEIGHBOR" went down to the meeting to support thier cause, because even though it's not MY shul, and even though, the construction would be a slight burden, and even though when the simchah hall is in use parking is difficult, I still felt that MY neighbors deserved My support, and if this shul was to be built, let Hashem's name be glorified as much as possible (btw, I don't particularly care for the taste of the designer, but could never bring myself to refer to it in a derogotory manner (such as: 'UGGH'). Next case, right across the street, a much more right wing Rabbi, was attempting to get a variance to build a bigger and better facility for his minyan who had outgrown thier quarters. Once again, I don't daven there (too Yeshivish), but I was at the zoning board meeting to lend my support. Few if any of the members of either shul live on the block, but most of us (my block)went down to show support for the variance, because that's what we believed "GOOD NEIGHBORS" do, no matter what color yarmulke, kipah, or fedora they wear. What you're failing to see, is that the whole "good neighbor" thing works both ways. As a "good neighbor" I would want to support those in my neighborhood who felt the need for the new shul, even if I wasn't going to join thier Shul, and even if thier reason for building the shul was because my shul didn't fit thier religious standards. I wouldn't support them breaking laws to do so, nor would I support them disturbing people. But guess what? as a good neighbor instead of closing them down if there were to be construction debris, I'd help them clean it up. If the building were to deteriorate, and need repairs, I'd donate to the cause. Yeah, I guess you're right, I-
"obviously have no clue what being a considerate neighbor means."

7:10 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

You sound like a very nice person. I hope you don't soon learn how no good deed goes unpunished.

9:13 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

It takes so much less energy to worry only about what you can gain than to also be concerned about how to avoid getting screwed. In my line of work I witness so many people losing out on tremendous opportunities because they're too worried that the other party is getting the better of the deal, instead of looking at what they stand to gain. It's the same thing here, yes, one may have the right not to look at an 'overwrought behemoth' everytime they leave thier home, so instead they're passing up a hearty 'good shabbos' every week, a smile when they're picking up the groceries, a baby sitter when they need to go out saturday night, maybe even a little good single malt on the way home from (thier) shul-
{yes, I know one would say "if I wanted a good scotch, I could buy my own", sure but you know as well as I do that it tastes so much better at someone else's house, with a little egg kichel, and pickled lox ;)}
-all because they're 'right', and won't let themselves get screwed by these 'insolent kavod seekers'. They are protecting thier rights, but at what cost?

10:37 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I don't see how you miss out on any of these truly wonderful benefits while insisting that people respect local zoning laws.

9:55 PM  
Blogger gabe said...

I don't insist on anything, if someone would ask me to support them in BREAKING a law, I would simply tell them that I was sorry, but couldn't help. If however, there is a legally sanctioned process, such as a zoning board variance, I try to support my neighbors.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Gabe...I do agree with you in this sense that the shuls, regardless of how large their buildings are probably in compliance with the current zoning laws. This is sad because as a long time, now ex-resident of Flatbush (i remember when Flatbush, and particularly Midwood, Nottingham, and Madison were all a delightful modern Orthodox suburb of Borough Park) I know that zoning laws, through the political process have been radically redrawn to accommodate the oversized ambitions of shuls, wealthy homeowners, and greedy developers.

True, this was all achieved by working the political process to have laws and zoning provision changed, but it resulted in the destruction of a beautiful neighborhood. I understand that supporting a shul is a worthy goal, but the zoning run amok (and now being reigned in, too little too late) has led to a very unpleasant place to live and raise a family.

It's really not worth arguing. We see things differently. From my perspective, too much of a good thing is ruins everything, whereas you see the ghettoization and shteeblization (same things) of a Jewish neighborhood as a positive development.

11:13 PM  
Blogger David said...

Shuls make crummy neighbors to Gentiles (or really anyone) - consider that if the shul is even moderately successful, it will quickly draw a crowd which can stuff a small house. Consider that a non-trivial amount of programming will occur on weekdays (i.e. Hagim), and weekday evenings in particular. Streets get blocked off for Simhat Torah, and often for Purim.

A shul with Ruach is unpleasant to listen to if you're not davvening with them (consider being the family living next to a Carlebach shul, where a typical friday night service runs 2+ hours).

The property values of anyone who is an immediate neighbor will definitely decrease - the same way they would for a church or a nightclub - that's documented, and arguments to the contrary should be made by people who are real-estate professionals. The houses next to my synagogue would appraise for about 10% less than the other houses on the next block.

It's pure naiveté to think that homeowners would be "automatically thrilled" by the prospect of a shul turning up next door. In general, every other business requires zoning approval, so why shouldn't this?

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