Hasidic Jews migrating to Jersey City raises questions

Senior+Kendra+Brown+sits+with+Rabbi+Avi+Schnall+and+schoolmentor+Clarence+%E2%80%9CCoach+C%E2%80%9D+Collins.+Schnall+said+that+conversations%C2%A0are+very+important+in+helping+current+Jersey+City+residents+and+the+Hasidic+Jews+moving+in+understand+each%C2%A0other.+Photo+by+Brandyn+Rampersad
Senior Kendra Brown sits with Rabbi Avi Schnall and schoolmentor Clarence “Coach C” Collins. Schnall said that conversations are very important in helping current Jersey City residents and the Hasidic Jews moving in understand each other. Photo by Brandyn Rampersad

Senior Kendra Brown sits with Rabbi Avi Schnall and schoolmentor Clarence “Coach C” Collins. Schnall said that conversations are very important in helping current Jersey City residents and the Hasidic Jews moving in understand each other. Photo by Brandyn Rampersad

Senior Kendra Brown sits with Rabbi Avi Schnall and schoolmentor Clarence “Coach C” Collins. Schnall said that conversations are very important in helping current Jersey City residents and the Hasidic Jews moving in understand each other. Photo by Brandyn Rampersad

Kendra Brown, Managing Editor

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Senior Kendra Brown sits with Rabbi Avi Schnall and schoolmentor Clarence “Coach C” Collins. Schnall said that conversations are very important in helping current Jersey City residents and the Hasidic Jews moving in understand each other. Photo by Brandyn Rampersad

A group of Hasidic Jews has arrived in Jersey City and plans to stay. In the past several months, 50 Hasidic families have moved into the Bergen-Lafayette, Greenville and Martin Luther King neighborhoods, according to Avi Schnall, a director of Agudath Israel of America, a Jewish community organization. However, their presence is not welcomed by some local residents.

Schnall said the Hasidic community migrated from Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“The prices in Williamsburg are skyrocketing due to the supply and demand,” Schnall said. “In Jersey City it’s affordable, it’s attractive and it’s very diverse.”

So far this year, 50 families have moved into the MLK neighborhood, following 11 families that came in April of last year, but more are coming, Schnall said.

Schnall said the Hasidic community plans to live here in a “harmonious” way.

“They would save the community money,” Schnall said. “No crime rate. You would never hear [about] a Hasidic guy arrested for drugs or killing anyone or for any crime. They keep to themselves, they are no harm, get along with one another and are politically active. They just want to live in harmony as much as possible.”

Senior Aleishka Ferrer said she is happy that the Hasidic Jews are moving into a community in Jersey City.

“We barely see any Hasidic Jews around my area,” Ferrer said. “They like to upgrade things and make it better. We need that around here.”

Ferrer said some residents may be bothered by the Hasidic Jews due to houses being put up for sale.

“If someone doesn’t own a house, and the owner gives away their house, then the ones that live there have to move out,” Ferrer said.

Schnall said there were incidents where the residents were asked to sell their homes.

“[We] had a meeting with City Council President Rolando Lavarro and local activist Michael Griffin and others. It was this big group for a meeting to make a No-Knock residence [policy] to protect the residents from being harassed by buyers to sell their homes,” Schnall said.

Schnall said this kind of issue is not an example of a community.

“We want to live in peace and harmony. We will approach these realtors because they are giving the community a bad name. No one should be harassed to sell their house. It’s not a representation of this community,” Schnall said.

Schnall said community means to him a society of people helping each other.

“Doesn’t mean for a specific community or based on ethnicity. But the life of each other,” Schnall said.

Freshman Lameck Nyambane said the whole situation is misunderstood by many people.

“Anyone is free to move where they find is fit for them and their families,” Nyambane said. “If it was a different group or a specific race, they would do the same thing, and people would still have something to say about it.”

Ferrer said it depends on how the residents in the community see it.

“Some might see it as an improvement to their society and others as a way of getting rid of people,” Ferrer said.

Schnall said he thinks the existing community has a lot of unanswered questions.

“They need more education because there’s a lot of myths around,” Schnall said.

Sophomore Jennica Bruny said local residents have to understand some of the Hasidic Jews affordability.

“If someone can’t afford a home in a specific place, then they have the right to live where it’s most comfortable,” Bruny said. “But if they are just buying homes, knowing a family lives there, then it’s a whole different situation.”

Junior Anisha Williams said they should only stay if they really need to.

“If they really need a home, then they can stay,” Williams said. “Some of them are good people, and some others aren’t in general, and they could possibly take some homes away from people.”

Computer teacher Barry Sussman said he used to live in downtown Brooklyn and the Hasidic Jews didn’t pose a threat to anyone.

“I think everyone has the right to live where they want,” Sussman said. “We live in a free market economy. It’s just we have the right to live. The Jewish community doesn’t bother anybody. They just stay to themselves and live by their religion.”

Schnall said the Jewish community sacrifices a lot to live in Jersey City.

“Kids are being bused to Williamsburg for school. We would have to take a train to New York for our groceries because we eat kosher food,” Schnall said. “They just want to live a long, quiet life and not bother anybody. They don’t like the press, but they should engage in these conversations.”

Schnall said the community and local residents should get to know the Hasidic community.

“Come get to know us,” Schnall said. “Engage in conversations with us.”

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