Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) applauded the announcement of a settlement today at the upstate New York school district of Pine Bush, which agreed to pay $4.48 million and enact broad reforms in curriculum and training to settle a lawsuit by five Jewish students who had been victims of pervasive anti-Semitism.
In November, 2013, Hikind called on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the years of anti-Semitic incidents that had occurred in the Pine Bush Central School District in New York State—incidents that have been tolerated by the district and ignored by local officials. “We have a national dialogue about equality for everyone and tolerance for all lifestyles, as well as the long-term damage that bullying does to a child, but in Pine Bush we discovered the worst type of bullying,” said Hikind. “It was taught by parents, tolerated by the school district, and it went on for years without interference from local officials. We are hopeful that this proposed settlement will bring not only justice for the victims but a lesson to the perpetrators that this type of behavior will not be tolerated, nor will school districts that allow these situations to go unanswered and unpunished.
“Sadly, the overt anti-Semitism that was permitted to occur in Pine Bush is merely a reflection of covert, less obvious but equally damaging anti-Semitism that is occurring in other communities in our State, specifically in Bloomingburg and East Ramapo. We’re still waiting for justice in these communities.”
Hikind noted that two weeks ago, a lawsuit alleging that the upstate New York town of Mamakating discriminated against Hasidic Jews was deemed worthy to proceed by a federal judge ruled. The lawsuit, upheld by U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, alleges that the 400-person Village of Bloomingburg and the 12,000-resident Town of Mamakating, in which Bloomingburg is located, violated federal civil rights and fair housing laws by trying to stop the development of 396 townhouses that cater to Hasidic Jews and by rejecting the conversion of a nearby house into a mikvah ritual bath.
“At the request of the residents in Bloomingburg, I spoke to the Town Supervisor of Mamakating and tried to make it clear how important this mikvah was to the practice of the Jewish religion,” said Hikind. “Sadly, there are people in that community who are working hard to make the lives of their Hasidic neighbors miserable.
“Similarly, residents in East Ramapo were so determined to stop the natural growth of their Hasidic community that they’ve done everything possible to prevent the growth of the Village of Kiryas Joel. They even found themselves a champion in an elected official who had the audacity to cast aspersions on these residents and citizens by publicly stating that their right to vote, as registered voters of the State of New York, was ‘questionable.’
“Indeed, when you call into question the voting rights and other rights of certain members of the community because of their mode of dress or their customs, there can be little doubt about how you actually feel about them.
“So whether it’s overt hatred or covert, it’s all part of the same sickness. And we must all remain vigilant in denouncing and eradicating this type of behavior.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)