Op-Ed: A United Vote Is Needed In Monsey


[Op-Ed By Yossi Gestetner]

As frum Jews, we often take for granted the freedoms that we are privileged to enjoy.  Our community simply assumes that our elected officials will take the necessary steps to ensure that we can practice our religion in accordance with the tenets of our faith.

Unfortunately, it is the assumption that everything will be okay that can potentially get our community into trouble.  If the wrong individual is making decisions that affect the future of our frum community, we are in for a very rude awakening.

For the past 11 years, the residents of the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County have been especially fortunate to have an individual in Town Hall who understands the needs of our community and who has expended a tremendous amount of energy and effort to make certain that the members of the Orthodox Jewish community in the Monsey and Spring Valley area can live their lives with peace of mind.

Under the leadership of Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, the frum community has enjoyed enormous growth.  Our shuls and yeshivas are thriving primarily due to his efforts.  Supervisor St. Lawrence has demonstrated time and time again that he is willing to make the tough decisions necessary to improve the lives of Ramapo families.  He has never shied away from the issues that impact the Orthodox community, and he has often encountered unwarranted criticism from some individuals outside of the frum community for his efforts to address the needs of all Ramapo residents, including the Town’s large and vibrant Orthodox community.

In the upcoming Democratic Primary on Tuesday, September 13th, Supervisor St. Lawrence is facing a challenge from an individual who has been an outspoken opponent of the Orthodox community.  Robert Rhodes is the Chairman of Preserve Ramapo, which is a political group that has been fighting Supervisor St. Lawrence and the frum community for the past decade.  Robert Rhodes and Preserve Ramapo have vehemently opposed our shuls and yeshivas and have worked hard to try and prevent the growth of our mosdos.  Rhodes opposed the new Yeshiva of Spring Valley building.  He spoke out against the expansion of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim and supported the eviction of dozens of yeshiva bochrim and kollel families, which would have left them homeless.  Robert Rhodes has openly decried the population growth in the Orthodox community and suggested that a study be conducted to determine how to inhibit their growth.

As he embarked on his campaign to become Town Supervisor, Robert Rhodes once again proved to the heimishe community that he does not care about their interests when he selected Emilia White as one of his running mates.  White and her husband have led the charge to silence the voices of the Orthodox community in the East Ramapo School District.  Together with Robert Rhodes, White has displayed an utter disregard and outright disdain for the rights of parents with children in yeshiva.  They have publically disparaged the members of the frum community who have dedicated themselves to improving the education of all Ramapo children.

It is imperative that the frum community collectively stand up on September 13th and support Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence and his two running mates, Councilman Daniel Friedman and Brendel Logan, who have a proven track record of working on behalf of the community.  Our community must soundly reject Robert Rhodes and his running mates Emilia White and Patricia Wooters.  The Orthodox community needs to say “no” to the type of hatred and divisiveness that Rhodes preaches.  The future of our community and our Mosdos depends on it.

Yossi Gestetner is a New York-Based Writer and Marketing Consultant in the Orthodox Jewish/Hasidic Communities. His Firm “Gestetner & Co” Serves Political, Charitable and Corporate accounts. Yossi can be reached via [email protected]

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.



  1. As a life-long resident of Monsey, I am disgusted at what my hometown has become. You can put up all the apartment buildings you want but do you really think the infrastructure problems will resolve themselves? Where is the waste supposed to go? (And I’m not just talking about the garbage, the non-recycled grocery delivery boxes or even the still-smoking disposable grill someone left at the park on Sunday.)

    You want to talk about illegal housing? No one would have been threatened with homelessness if they hadn’t played games and illegally moved into apartments that were not supposed to be occupied. This happened on Horton-Bates and again at Chofetz Chaim. A few years ago when the authorities tried to enforce the laws on Horton-Bates, they were called Nazis. That’s an insult to my grandparents and everyone else who knew real suffering.

    The current supervisor does not care what the electorate thinks. I’m just waiting for the Boulders to go bust so the stadium can be given away to one of the local chassidishe groups. I really don’t know who to vote for, though, since the opposition candidate is as odious as the incumbent. I guess I’ll start a write-in campaign …

  2. this has got to be one of the most disturbing articles on ywn …… that you cant see that st lawrence is one of the most crooked politicians ever. anyone whether viznits or any other group knows that all they have to do is write a check to him and get what ever they want how exactly is this good for jews He will eventually go down and trust me he will take down alot of “frum” jews with him

    MODERATORS NOTE: Filthy language removed from your comment — no need for that.

  3. ChanieE, I agree with everything you wrote. Besides, fraud has been done to favor the election of St. Lawrence. Letters have been circulated within the electorate in the past elections claiming to have been signed/endorsed by chashuve rabbanim. Two were on record (Rabbi Yakov Horowitz of Darchei Noam and Rabbi Tropper of Kol Yakov) denying signing such letters endorsing St. Lawrence.

  4. Forget about the dirt. What about thr taxes? The taxes (county,Town and East Ramapo) have risen tremendously.

    There are some people who are trying to do something about it but they have no chance against the establishment.

  5. I agree with ChaniE, St. Lawrence is just paid off. There really is no candidate here. I know of one such instance on Grove St where the whole street was upset how Bobov wanted to build. I’m not sure if there was even one supporter of it. But he got it approved even after the whole block came to the hearing to protest it. The answer is cash that’s given to him by every mosod. Its awful what’s happening to Monsey and St. Lawrence is the reason. I won’t be voting for anyone.

  6. Chanie makes a number of valid points. The quality of life and environment in Monsey has gone downhill over the past decade as the frum commnities and mosdos seem fixated on paving over and building on every piece of land they can get their hands on. While Rhodes may have antagonized many askanim because of his principled views on limiting development, he has worked tirelessly to protect the enviroment and preserve open space. I don’t think most yidden really want Monsey to look like Willy or BP or C’V Lakewood. They need someone on the Board of Supervisors who will provide an alternative view on development issues. You can’t really squeeze more yeshivos and kollels into Monsey nor do you need them

  7. to #2 Well said. What I would add is the potential for another 1000 families moving in on both sides of 306 near rt 202. The 1000 families does not include the possible doubling of that number with the illegal apartments that always seem to follow these developments. Traffic on rt 306 will be grid locked as it already is on the southern part of 306 near maple. There is already water pressure issues in south monsey from overuse especially eruv shabbos.

  8. Unfortunately, these comments have validity. “Development” has gone way too far. Also, have too many people receiving govt assistance in Rockland. Were gov’t assistance programs intended for people who choose not to work?! Everyone should vote – feel free to vote for me as a write in candidate.