Focus on quality of life only

By RUTH LEHMANN
(Original Publication: November 25, 2005)

We are writing in answer to the anonymous people who spread allegations in the last Ramapo town election that Preserve Ramapo harbors a bias against Orthodox Jews and their institutions.

The allegations are patently untrue. The fact is that we are among several Orthodox Jews who are active members of Preserve Ramapo, and one of our candidates, Herman Friedman, is himself an Orthodox Jew as well.

We became involved in the organization not because we wanted to "prevent or slow the growth of the 'regular' Orthodox community in Ramapo," as some claim, but because we are fed up and disgusted with politics as usual in our town.

Preserve Ramapo's concerns are the same concerns faced by all residents of Ramapo, no matter what their race or religion: Unacceptable increases in traffic, shortages in our water supply, inadequate sewers, lax enforcement of existing zoning laws and the desperate need for affordable housing.

We are motivated by our desire to correct the shortcomings that exist and believe that no amount of open space will compensate for schemes like the disastrous adult-student housing plan that will bring multi-family apartments and dormitories into our single-family neighborhoods.

Using anti-Semitic vitriol to slander individuals and provoke voters against Preserve Ramapo is more than a cheap shot. It ignores the real issues, is divisive and insults us all.

We are saddened by this cowardly attempt to persuade the uninformed that "virulent anti-Orthodox" sentiment exists in Preserve Ramapo, because cooperation and tolerance among Ramapo's residents is needed now more than ever.

And at the end of the day, no matter who has won the election, we all need to sit down together, find workable solutions to our common problems and seek answers that satisfy everyone's needs.