Transforming Neighborhoods

I found the article in Hamodia, “Anti-Semitic Movement Grows in Toms River” (January 24, 2019) disturbing. This isn’t an anti-Semitic attack, it’s a movement to preserve a neighborhood. Instead of calming the situation, the writer further inflames and instigates the bad blood by distorting the facts and portraying them as Nazi anti-Semites whose sole purpose on earth is to make our lives miserable. &

Neighborhoods often transform; however, with the transformation typically comes a movement for preservation. For instance, the mayor of New York City is vocal in his aspiration to keep low-income apartments as they are to preserve the culture and keep veteran residents from leaving the city. We all remember the protests in Williamsburg just ten years ago when the young professionals began moving in to the outskirts of the neighborhood; heimishe developers were boycotted and ostracized for their involvement.

We, as victims of similar patterns, should be the first ones to understand the residents who are worried about their future. We, too, were not happy campers when our communities on the West Side, East Side, Brownsville, Crown Heights, etc. dwindled and slowly died out due to demographic changes. And no, we can’t live side by side as great neighbors. Our numbers will keep on growing, the non-kosher stores will start downsizing, the July Fourth parties will phase out, the Shabbos games will come to an end and there will be no chametz in the groceries on Pesach. Our unique lifestyle makes it all but impossible for gentiles to live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

While I don’t have the magic solution to the problem, our press should at least do their very best to bring the sides closer together by understanding each other.

Y. Bergman