*Residents of Bloomingburg, a village in Sullivan County, New York, serviced by the Pine Bush school district filled the Pine Bush High School cafeteria to protest what they believe is an attempt to bully them.
Ironically the school district is facing a lawsuit from three Jewish families accusing them of turning a blind eye to the bullying of their children.
On the surface the community member are merely trying to preserve the reputation of Bloomingburg and the Pine Bush school district as an unbigoted place with regards to Jewish children.
But the second layer of this situation reveals that there is a proposed 396 unit town house development that will probably be inhabited by Hasidic Jews and will bring with it a private girl’s school that will need to be supported by public tax dollars. Take note that only a girl’s school has been mentioned thus far; it is hard to believe a boy’s school wouldn’t follow.
Bloomingburg residents are rightly worried about their property taxes increasing to fund a new school or two. But because of the current lawsuit, and a New York Times article, and an order from the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, to investigate anti-Semitism in the district, their fiscal concerns can easily be interpreted and labeled as prejudice.
I have no reason to question the sincerity of the Jewish families involved in the lawsuit. They may be genuinely concerned about the well being of their children. But neither is there any reason to question the sincerity of approximately 200 residents who showed up to rally on behalf of their reputation and the reputation of their community. Indeed what other options are open to them to “prove” they are not biased? Perhaps the only other road to go down is to approve the proposed development.
Bloomingburg is less than two hours from the Monsey/New Square area where insular Jewish communities have essentially taken control of the local school board and steadily redirected funds from the public schools to private yeshivas. Even closer to Bloomingburg is the town of Central Valley that jumped through various hoops to ensure that the Jewish community there would not be able to siphon funds from the Monroe-Woodbury school district; Kiryas Joel was established as a separate and distinct entity. The people of Bloomingburg apparently have been paying attention and they should be wary.
Bullying is the buzz word du jour that no one wants associated with them. The lawsuit uses it as an accusation against the Pine Bush school district, the residents rally using it in response to the pressure being exerted on them to approve the housing development. But really this isn’t at all about bullying. It’s about population density and finances. And if Bloomingburg residents don’t want to double the size of their village, and if they don’t want to foot the bill for at least one new private school, they shouldn’t have to.
Trevor Brookins is a freelance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected] or be disappointed in his lack of output on Twitter @historictrev.