As someone whose family was previously forced to move out of a neighorhood after the Jewish population emptied out, and has subsequently been living for more than 40 years in a neighborhood that has seen its Jewish population go from a minority to an overwhelming majority, I have experienced both sides of the coin.
Based on my own experiences, I must firmly disagree with the sentiments expressed in the letter “Transforming Neighborhoods” (February 13, 2019).
Indeed, we “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.” But hte reason so many moved out of these areas wasn’t because we couldn’t “live side by side as great neighbors,” but because of exorbitant increases in rent, inability to find adequate living quarters, or in the case of Brownsville and Crown Heights, a terrible epidemic of crime.
On a different yet related note, when large groups of yuppies with a very different set of moral values move into a frum community, that is something that threatens our ability to live our lives and raise our children according to our tradition.
But that is certainly not the case when it comes to Orthodox Jews moving into predominantly non-Jewish communities. The assertion that “our unique lifestyle makes it all but impossible for gentiles to live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood,” is not borne out by the facts.
Even in Boro Park there are still non-Jewish stores that sell chametz on Pesach, and the Chinese, Spanish and Pakistani residents who live in this overwhelmingly Jewish community seem very satisfied and comfortable.
Finally, even if the claim would be right, the tactics taken by the Rise Up Ocean County group have gone far beyond simply seeking to preserve the flavor of a community. They have clearly crossed the line into downright anti-Semitism.