I grew up in the Five Towns area of Nassau County, which, during the past three decades, has undergone a major transformation. It began in much the same manner as is happening in Millburn, with an "isolated" property purchase, followed by others... Today, the Public School District #15 BOE in Lawrence and Cedarhurst (previously a heavily Reformed and Conservative Jewish area) is entirely controlled by Orthodox Jews, whose children do not, of course, even attend the area's public schools. The area's political, economic, and social structure has irrevocably changed, and its pre-existing populations (both Jewish and Gentile) are in flight.

This is how it happens...

The schism between Jewish sects in the area has become intense. In the words of a local Reformed Rabbi wringing his hands over the tragic developments, "Nobody hates a Jew like a Jew."

When you start seeing classified real estate ads in your local paper touting "great schools, easy commute to NYC, walk to worship", you'll be seeing the effects of a sea-change in your town.

Just sayin'...


A have an anecdote about living amongst a community which was mainly Hassidic Jews. My husband relocated from central England to London with his job and purchased a flat in North London, about 10 minutes from where his brother lived. I don't know how he managed to even buy the flat as we soon realised that we were the only gentiles living in the block of flats where almost all the other residents were Hassidic (it was a traditional low-rise 1930s art-deco, known as a 'mansion' block).

There was the beautiful Springfield Park across the street and I would often take my little daughter (aged 3) to play on the swings and slides, feed the ducks etc. Of course, being a small child she was drawn to other children. I remember one incident clearly; she had a packet of potato chips and offered one to another little girl near the swings. Her mother turned around, snatched her child away and muttered something in Yiddish whilst coldly looking at my daughter. It was very hurtful to my girl who just didn't understand the reason why, and also could not fathom why none of the other Hassidic Jewish children would play with her. They were so insular and I soon learned that there was no point in trying to get to know their mothers and make some new friends and get together for a coffee, my efforts were rebuffed. My husband's then boss was Jewish and he said that the Hassidic guys were called by his family and friends as the 'Stamford Hill Cowboys'.

(hee hee....just remembered lady lived on the floor below ours, a lovely non-Orthodox woman called Yetta, aged in her 70s and she adored my daughter, always inviting us round for tea and cake. She used to get me to call into the only local shop open on a Saturday - the newsagents - to buy a tabloid newspaper for her to do the 'bingo' lol! She didn't want to be admonished by the locals in case she was spotted calling at the shop. (She also whispered to me that she would sometimes eat pork sausages!).

It appears that the guy running this Chai synagogue in Short Hills isn't Hassidic, but I wonder if he and his ilk will have much (if any?) integration into the local community? Will their kids join in in any of the Rec programs eg. soccer, skiing for example? Will they or/and their kids hang out with anyone who isn't Jewish? They surely won't be patronizing many of the restaurants and cafes in downtown Millburn or Short Hills?

What I'm trying to say is, will there be less community cohesion if this Chai community grows and grows? I do suspect so. Please don't accuse me of being racist, I most definitely am not and have friends from all different kinds of ethnicities and religious persuasions, but it's really hard to make friends with people/a community who are insular and not wishing to integrate with the wider community.

In my personal experience, the people opening the Chai Center will NOT (for the most part) want to integrate with the community. They create their own community and have a completely separate and non-inclusive culture. Most will not work within or support the local community. Many will only buy the basic necessities in the local supermarkets but go to Brooklyn, parts of Bergen County and other communities to buy food/clothing and other items unique to their culture.

As more and more families move in, and the synagogue begins to run out of space or people have to walk to far.. more single family homes will be petitioned to become synagogues, and the cycle continues.

Soda - yes, sadly, it's all true.
I read about Lawrence, NY, one of the towns you talk about. I also know because I worked with someone who WAS from there (no longer). The town is 100 percent transformed. No one but shul members ever buy real estate there anymore. I read that these shul members had joined the Lawrence Board of education : then took their kids out of public schools and sent them exclusively to private yeshivas. Once on the school board, they voted everything down for the public schools and spent no money on the schools. They couldn't care less if they crumbled. At the same time, they also joined various town committees and allocated a great deal of money into rebuilding sidewalks, used primarily by the shul worshippers who walk to worship. Lawrence was a vibrant community, with secular Jews and many other groups, coexisting nicely. No more, it's all gone. I drove through there a few years ago and everyone on the streets, using those nice, new sidewalks, is in Hassidic garb, the people who lived there for generations were sent packing. Local businesses & restaurants all folded. Lawrence was a very nice, beautiful town with successful, educated, influential residents. If you don't think it can happen here, think again. They were as influential as the people are here. There is some kind of odd resentment for the wealthy secular Jew - maybe because they don't follow the same religious practices and decline their extremely aggressive "come -ons" to join their shuls? Therefore, secular Jews are targeted for conversion or are "punished" for their rejection by this type of missionary group. I would consider the complete transformation of our town to be a punishment, not only for secular Jews but for all. If this shul is allowed to take take root and expand, GET READY, complete change is coming. It may take 5 years, but with a large new FANCY shul on the busiest street in town, it's coming, for sure. We should brace ourselves as there will be flight out of here, with a race to sell as home prices go down the tubes. And to the realtors out there: the new construction mansion on Old Short Hills Rd - a stone's throw from the shul - prob will not sell with this going on (unless the buyers are unaware of the problem, and then they'd have a nice lawsuit!), just like the beautiful mansion across the street from the shul won't sell either. I am sure that the rabbi, his wife and the very few actual shul members that they really have at this time, plus those who come in with New York plates, are quite pleased with this - their wheels are in motion! Unless, we make sure Millburn adheres to the 3 acre LAW, which they think they are above.

Your comments are interesting, Sammi.

Well, there are quite a few empty storefronts in downtown Millburn: maybe in a few years if the Chai community grows larger, they will open their own shops in the township.

In towns with a heavily population Hassidic community, they have their own wig and hat shops, clothing/tailors shops, liquor stores, bakeries, kosher butchers etc. I used to go in some of them in London (well, not the wig shops!) but of course, all of them were closed at sundown on Fridays and all day on Saturdays.

I can see changes like this happening in our township if the Rabbi gets his plans passed and he establishes an ever-growing community here. They won't want to schlep all the way to Brooklyn or Bergen county to do their shopping, they will open them here instead!

Why are they choosing to live here, if their offspring will not be going to our local public schools? Is the Rabbi targetting the Wall St bankers, CEOs, surgeons who live in M/SH perhaps?

Also, as footballmom points out - what is likely to happen once his members get appointed to the school board? The local public schools are amongst the best in the State, but will this change if the Chai guys have no interest in the well-being of the township schools?

It's such a shame that these families want to live and worship in the local community, yet live entirely seperate lives within it. Not exactly being a good neighbor, is it? (I haven't been to Clearwater, FL, but I know the Scientologists are a huge community there and I suspect they are like this too).

Just Asking:

What are the chances for world peace when the peaceful neigbors of Short Hills appear to be ready to go at each other over this matter?

Posted By: miss_l_toeThey won't want to schlep all the way to Brooklyn or Bergen county to do their shopping, they will open them here instead!

Not really, the Kosher food stores in West Orange are not Kosher enough for most of them, and going to Brooklyn means nothing to them.

Posted By: stateguyWhat are the chances for world peace when the peaceful neigbors of Short Hills appear to be ready to go at each other over this matter?

It's not a matter of world peace, its a matter of a community people have lived in, bought houses in, and continue to live in. Not wanting a busy community center in an area that is not zoned for that use is a different matter altogether. If I moved into a community, KNOWING a church or synagogue is on the corner, then I have no reason to complain. In this case, people have lived in this community WITHOUT a church or synagogue on the corner... big difference.

stateguy-there is nothing peaceful about this shul, imo. They know exactly what they are doing by moving here and opening up shop clearly against zoning laws.
they are licking their chops for this fight - it is what carbon copy groups in the same organization do over and over, as we can read about in newspaper across the country and world. They move in. They break zoning laws. They appeal to vulnerable people who support them and import others. They are looking for Short Hills residents to attract, one day. They fight everyone in the existing community who objects to laws being broken and who have an opinion. And they lie, the most despicable part. It is so difficult to stomach calling a clergyman a liar, but he is a complete liar. He said this was just a group of friends praying and that it was not a public place. Shuls (that break zoning laws and fight) like this fight with every single community they're in across the world - look at all the lawsuits for goodness sakes. There must be hundreds if not thousands. They fight with Jews, Christians, everyone who does not follow their shul and (zoning) law breaking. It does not in any way reflect upon the people of Short Hills, or the people of Short Hills obstructing "world peace." That is ridiculous, stateguy, and you know it.

The Township Committee can always make Jefferson a no parking street, or resident only parking, as they did with the area near the high school when they wanted the
students to stop parking there. And since the stated reason to have the shul in a neighborhood is so the members can walk no one can claim no parking is a hardship.

I advise everyone reading or posting on this thread (or others which will surely crop up on this subject) to become cognizant of your *own* feelings and reactions to this hot-button issue, and careful of your use of language in discussing it. For example, using pronouns such as "they" or "them" insensitively not only demeans your potential neighbors, but you as well.

Be warned: this is one inflammatory topic that will not go away, and it will test your self-proclaimed feelings of pride in however diverse a community you think you have. Gather all the facts before you speak your mind. Recognize that people of different cultures have a right to live among you in peace.

The law may be on your side, or not. You owe it to yourselves to rise above your fears.

...All of which is easy for me to say, since I live in South Orange:wink: ...

I'm out.


I 100 % disagree with the demonization of a pronoun "they," soda, but why not substitute "rabbi, rabbi's wife and shul zoning lawsuit supporters" instead of "they." That is ok by me. No problem.
Soda, of course we know different cultures have a right to live peacefully. It is completely off the mark and insulting to say we don't. And that is the poor defense used by the rabbi, his wife and his few supporters. (Soda, you walked right into his trap, sorry.)
But, this is way beyond that. It is the unreasonable demand for zoning laws to be changed in order to take a private home and turn it into a large religious commercial building - changing a neighborhood and a town. It is basically "who cares about the neighbors!!" It is changing zoning laws (and that is just the tip of the iceberg!) to benefit a rabbi, his wife, a few supporters, the followers from NY and other places outside of the community who drive in and park their cars all over the grass (when it's not covered with snow, now they're in the street) as they hope and dream to attract very wealthy Short Hills residents to their flock one day. Soda, you said you're out, that's too bad, but of course it's fine. Maybe since you don't live here, you don't really care that much about the fact that the town is for everyone, not a select few who scream the loudest for variance changes and accuse anyone in their path of vicious things like anti-semitism - and sue them, too. The rabbi, his wife and his few supporters sure act in an extremely nasty and threatening manner any time they are questioned about this, which is so unbecoming for any religious organization or it's leaders, in my view. Many of us do live here and we are being victimized by this rabbi and his screaming demand for zoning variance, as well as his shockingly nasty accusations of anti-semitism at those who oppose his grandiose plans.
1. why must this rabbi live in a grand mansion? Why is an exclusive neighborhood among very wealthy people important to him? (as it was in Southampton, Pacific Palisades etc, same deal)
2. No one answered this before: is he so wealthy that he can afford 2 homes on Jefferson?
3. Where is the oppressed orthodox community who is clamoring for this shul, as they have mentioned? Where are they in town? Who are they? Do they even exist, beyond one or two people who have recently bought into this (and the rest are imported and sleepover on the weeknds and drive over on other days) ?
4. Once it is built, even though he has no real followers now, he will then hope to lure people in??? Build it and they will come? esp. when he opens a camp, a day care center, a senior center, a school and so on. And if they don't come, maybe the rabbi will just bus followers in? and have them sleepover on Friday night, as it the custom?
and remember: he does not have 3 acres, therefore it adversely effects neighboring houses and people. Period!

Maybe when some of the the neigbors get done with this case they will have law degrees and be experts in zoning, discrimination and federal law. In the meantime, they had better lawyer up as this case may end up at the US Supreme Court. Lawyers, planners, zoning experts, religious experts, traffic experts, real estate experts.
A field day for experts, and the consequential cost in both dollars and polarization.

There are antidiscrimanation laws which protect religious and other organizations which are deemed inherently beneficial. If this organization qualified it will have a protected status. But that is probably beyond this forum.
Better left to State and Federal Courts, of course after the local zoning board and town council have their say.

But that will all come out over the next years perhaps as neighbor battles neighbor and the community becomes polarized, in the meantime, as one of the poster says, think about your comments before you post them, and perhaps civility will reign in this forum.

OP, you will draw more readers and possibly supporters to this thread if you change the title to something roughly reflecting the subject matter.

There are hundreds of lawsuits, all the same. This one is in Litchfield Ct, another extremely wealthy enclave. The same thing over and over. Look for yourselves.

What is it about breaking zoning laws in wealthy areas that must be so appealing to this group - so much so that they do it all over the country (and world, Israel, too)?

Why not just find a legal place to open? Surely that is the peaceful way to go!

There are probably more legal places than not, but these places are never chosen. Why always break zoning laws? Is that some kind of act of disrespect to the community? Someone please tell us - why the zoning fight as something that seems to be sought out in particular? Since this happens over and over, it is no mistake. Residents every time respond legally, and the rabbi and shul are they always so "shocked" and accuse these responders of "bigotry" - what kind of trap/act is this? And why always the wealthy areas? What is the objective with that? Someone needs to investigate this, perhaps write a book.

Footballmom -- I'm sure you have reasons to be concerned about this. I am not a Lubavitcher Chasid but I think you should be careful about what you post as others have suggested. I don't know how to do the quote function but when you say that, "There are probably more legal places than not, but these are never chosen" this is completely untrue. Chabad is not only throughout the Untied States but all over the world. Yes, they are in some wealthy communities where there are zoning problems but they are also in many, many other communities where they are not in wealthy areas and where they are in perfectly legal locations and are not expanding. You don't know where they are except for a few newspaper and magazine articles that you have cited. So what you post is not true.

You wrote "And why always the wealthy areas?" I want to again state that many of the areas where they are located are not wealthy areas. This is true in the United States and all over the world.

The lawsuits in these areas nationwide (and worldwide) are piling up. to say it is "untrue" is not sufficient. They are there - yes I am "reading" them, as I don't actually live in Southampton Pacific Palisades, Hancock Park and Litchfield County, etc. in addition to Short Hills, all at the same time, of course. "Reading" about lawsuits is not sufficient evidence of a pattern and problem?? I disagree. Note that these are the priciest areas to live in the world. To say there is not an overwhelming pattern is to to have ones head deep in the sand.

No one is oppressed here. Respect abounds in this community. Simply find a legal place to open up shop, and there would be no problem. But time and time again, across the country, an illegal place is sought - I ask "why?"

No one could be shocked 1000 times in a row that these selections of real estate are in violation of zoning laws. All one needs to do is check. Is it part of a plan for publicity, based on the legal wrangling? I do not know why and I am asking. Is it to stick a finger in the eye of the community from the start? If not, what could be the reason? Please offer enlightenment on that subject beyond: it's "untrue," because that is not good enough of a response. But don't go off on the "you are a bigot" rant, as that has been used before and that is so very wrong and offensive. Perhaps John Stossel or someone like him should do an investigative report, because there are so many questions that must be answered here.

"The plaintiffs claim the Litchfield Historic District Commission's denial violates the federal Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), several provisions of the federal Constitution and Connecticut's Constitution and Connecticut statutes, 52-571b."

What is unusual or untoward about that? The court exist to referee disputes and take them out of the political sector.

There are plenty of Federal lawsuits but all types of religious institutions about local decisions conflicting with RLUIPA.

And in fact RLUIPA was passed specifically because the Congress felt that local authorities were often unfair to religious institutions.

So to say an organization is wrong to pursue its rights under the law is unfair and to pick out one specific organization is bigoted.

How dare you call me bigoted, brogus, but I must have struck a major nerve for you to use that hackneyed, untrue accusation. The pattern is real-it's there in hundreds of lawsuits. The for sale signs are already up, you must be celebrating. It is a shame that there is the loophole you are describing. It is probably a law created to prevent real oppression - not a group moving into a private neighborhood dishonestly and then opening up religious institution amongst private homes. Just who is the victim here?

No one ever addressed the rabbi's denial that this was to be a shul. It's just a group of friends praying at my house, he said. Care to address that? Who can stomach a clergyman who lied to an entire community of people? Or do you choose to sidestep that one?

According to their website "All are welcome".

What if all involved in this zoning fight started showing up at his services? Then the community will see what a disruption this will cause. Do you think all will "be pleasantly surprised how much at home you will feel!"?

That's a pretty nice website for a group that just wants to get together and pray.

This is fascinating

In the neighborhood where I live there are also a couple of clergy. Most of the time their homes seem to be used, as, well, homes. There are times when lots of cars are there. Have no clue if they are throwing a party, having a wedding, or holding a church meeting.

Since its doesn't happen with regularity -- I don't think that anyone cares one way or the other. If it were happening, say, 3 days a week at 7 am every morning -- maybe it would be different. How could you "prove" its a "church function" say -- and that its disruptive?

Once in while, other neighbors have large parties, weddings, etc -- that are a bit disruptive -- but I think we're all tolerant of that.

Regardless of what one thinks about the rabbi -- I have the feeling the proof is going to have to come from the detractors of this plan that they are non-biased and as objective as possible in trying to defeat this plan.

Posted By: footballmomThe for sale signs are already up

Shows you lack of credibility. I look on regularly and get an e-mail for everything added. There is no rash of sales.

Posted By: footballmomNo one ever addressed the rabbi's denial that this was to be a shul.

Do some research on the site. You will see that I strongly denounced Rabbi Bogomilsky for operating a shul in stealth (though some under a different screen dame I stopped using about a year ago). But now that he is going before the town to legitimize what he is doing i think Federal law is on his side and at a minimum he deserves a fair hearing by the board.

Also I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding about what Chai centers do. The Lubavitch are big on outreach (to other Jews, no Jewish group proselytizes non-Jews). So this center will mostly cater to non-Orthodox Jews who are attracted because there is no dues or commitment and a on-day a week religious school (typically many are two-day a week).

As a result the institution most likely to be hurt by the Chai Center is B'nai Isreal.

Rabbi Bogomilsky's Chai Center has been around since at least the late '90s -- but at a different location, on Millburn Avenue in the big white house opposite the high school. It hasn't had any noticeable impact on other religious institutions, and I am not sure how many non-Orthodox Jews it has attracted in the 10+ years it's been in town. I know the neighbors on the streets surrounding his Millburn Ave. location were upset about some traffic issues. Has he sold the Millburn Ave. house? Does anyone know why he is moving? What's the background on that?

Somehow Maplewood survives having a Chabad synagogue without great waves of flight, potential bigotry or fear. It has grown a bit, but is in no danger of transforming its part of town.

Footballmom, your attacks on religious organizations for expressing support to those in need do indeed border on bigotry.

Can you imagine if someone attacked the Catholic Church, the Baptists, the Unitarians or even B'Nai Israel for inviting to dinner and offering support to those of similar religious backgrounds who have been divorced or gone through personal crisis?? But since it is ultra-orthodox Jews, you are comfortable portraying it as a conspiracy. You have gone well beyond discussing zoning to expressing xenophobia.

Whether the shul in question is in the right location in town I do not know, as I'm not an expert on Millburn zoning. However, I'm very comfortable having a mountain between myself and your attitudes.

Posted By: footballmomLook how you call proselytizing "outreach." Their proselytizing approach is uniquely aggressive and you're whitewashing it.


"uniquely aggressive" and you say you are not bigoted?

What is "uniquely aggressive"?

Inviting people for Friday night dinner?

Setting up vans and asking people if they are Jewish and if yes "have you put on tefillin today?"

In fact nothing they do is aggressive and no it is not proselytizing because they do not approach someone who is is not already Jewish.

I hope they do get their 3 acres and can build as of right, but until then they deserve the same fair hearing as everyone else, and there shot in court, including Federal court, if the so choose. That is the process.

Posted By: footballmomFOR SALE. a few houses down.

"Signs" become one house. Not exactly a panic.

oh my -you are in deep Broigus

yes, going after vulnerable people who are in personal turmoil either in towns or students on college campuses is UNIQUELY AGGRESSIVE. especially if it has strings of loyalty to the group. this applies to any group who does this.

Your post was extremely shocking, broigus.
What you describe: "setting up vans and stopping people to ask if they are Jewish" or not , that's UNIQUELY AGGRESSIVE. I have not seen these vans but would be alarmed if I did. Is this going on in our town? Has anyone seen what broigus describes, which he believes to be as a good thing? Do they have a license for that, sitting in "vans" and "asking people if they are Jewish" or whatever it is you're describing as a good thing, but I disagree. That can't be a good thing. For any group, no matter what their background or belief system, interrogating people about their religion and religious practices from vans sounds terribly, terribly disturbing and frightening. Where are these vans? Are they parked or driving by people? I would call 911 if I saw this.

You said that they only approach "people who are already Jewish" from "vans." But they are approaching STRANGERS! and how do they know if someone is "already Jewish?" I can't tell someone's background or religion is by looking at them, nor would I want to, nor would that ever cross my mind. How do they know if their targets are Jewish? WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU SAYING? This is so offensive that I cannot believe it. Please spell that one out, please no sidestepping as you've done with the rabbi's lies about just a group of friends praying, that is was not a shul. You've really 'stepped in it' here, broigus. Spilling too many beans, too many company secrets, it seems! And if I look at people, I don't know their religion by looking at them, nor would I ever want to because it would be none of my business. If I wanted to be around people of a particular faith in order to pray, I would go to that particular church or synagogue, I would not approach strangers on a street based on their appearance from a van! And it's just so offensive that I can't even believe anyone would use that as an example of a benign practice of this shul.

If what the shul is offering is so fabulous, shouldn't it just stand on it's own? why then the HARD SELL? No one I have heard opposing this shul had criticized anyone for their beliefs. But why do breaking zoning laws and sitting in "vans and asking people if they are Jewish," as broigus describes, part of anyone's right? Questioning strangers from a van is nothing I have seen, but since you are bringing it up as an example of a good thing they are doing, I have to tell you it sounds really scary to me. You brought it up, so answer this: Are they questioning children walking to school? Teens? Are they near schools, sports fields, parks and playgrounds? Where are they doing this exactly? Who are they questioning? based on what? Broigus, you have alerted us to another serious problem, so thank you or that. This need further investigation.

If there is such a need for this chabad shul, why don't the people just materialize from the community - without the aid of importing them or this desperate hard sell?

So they try to talk to other Jews to grow their membership? That's the worst thing they do? I thought parking was the concern.

Posted By: broigusbecause they do not approach someone who is is not already Jewish.
How can you tell someone's religion by looking at them?

Let me rephrase - they approach people and ask them "are you Jewish" and if you say "no" (which quite frankly is what I do say) they do not pursue the matter further.

And no I have never seen the Mitzvah Tank in Millburn. Typically I see it Manhattan.

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