‘The Jew in Rockland’ is a “Shanda”




Letter to Editor of Rockland Voice
From County Legislator Lon Hofstein

While viewing the video ‘The Jew In Rockland’ one word kept popping into my mind over and over again. The word was “shanda,” which is a Yiddish word for shame. I found everything about the video to be shameful and I hope that anyone else that happens to watch this misguided video feels the same way about it. While the producers hoped their video would cast shame on the good citizens of Rockland, it is the producers themselves that should be ashamed for trying to portray Rockland County as a place of bigotry and intolerance when nothing could be further from the truth.

The opening of this video consists of an attack on a FaceBook page that goes by the name ‘Block the Block Vote’. I have visited this page and have found, at times, there are comments posted that I find offensive. I also noted that there is a footnote at the bottom of each post that states any anti-Semitic commenters will be banned from the page. This comes across to me as evidence that the owners of this page do not condone anti-Semitism.

Voting “as a bloc” is a term used to describe a group of voters that are strongly motivated by specific common concerns that they deem important to the welfare of the entire group. These concerns, which could be limited to one single issue, tend to dominate their political philosophy, causing them to vote the same way in large numbers in elections.

As Americans, we all value our rights to freedom of speech, free enterprise and the right to practice religion as we choose. The producer of this video has the same right to free speech as the author of the “Block the Block Vote” facebook page. Whether or not any individual is offended by the content is a different issue.

The video then proceeds to make an analogy of life as a Jew living in Rockland to that of the life of a Jew living in Nazi Germany. This is an egregious insult to the people of Rockland. The portrayal of the Holocaust as a comparison to life as a Jew in Rockland County is an insult to our intelligence. As a man of the Jewish faith whose great grandparents were victims of the Holocaust, I was ashamed that the producers of this video, as fellow members of the Jewish faith, would insult the memory of our ancestors in such a deceitful and dishonest fashion.

I believe the intention of this video was to provoke division in our community for the political gain of the producers, yet all it achieved was to create disappointment and anger in many members of our community, myself included. However, that anger is directed at the makers of the video themselves and not at any ethnic group or religion the producers might mistakenly believe they represent.

It is very easy to hide behind the anonymous nature of social media. It is easy to forget the damage that can be done when something like this goes viral. I encourage everyone to express their beliefs, but to base those expressions on facts. Producing a video that portrays our great county in a terrible light, in no way based upon factual reality, to promote political rhetoric does nothing but cause harm and division. Thankfully, the vast majority of people in Rockland County are more interested in working together to solve our collective problems than they are in creating division, fear and mistrust to advance their own agendas. I believe that anyone who knows anything about Rockland County will agree.

We should thank GOD we live in a GREAT COUNTRY AND A GREAT COUNTY!!!

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  • Brian

    Lon, Thank you for standing up and condemning this video. What I find offensive about this situation is just because people disagrees politically with the Orthodox community, that alone does not make them an anti Semitic. Political discourse is part of our democratic tradition. We have political and financial issues in our county that need to be discussed and debated and changes need to be made. We should not fear this debate and the we should not fear the changes that need to be done in order to right our county. In the long run we will all benefit.

  • Susan C Montemorano

    It is all too easy to wave the anti-semitic card – but it is only done to stop communication and deflect from the issues!
    And it is also all too easy to hide behind religion!
    Seems to me the problems we face here actually have very little to do with religion – in this case it’s all about a community that abuses it’s privileges as Citizens of Rockland County – and then wonders why people get upset.
    We are ONE community – we all need to behave responsibly, contribute to the common good, and be good neighbors!

    • Tom

      It is a well know fact that in Rockland County the Hasidic people look for ways to screw the county in bringing frivolous lawsuits( taxes etc) that they are obligated to pay but never do, even when judgements are handed down. This is a repeated action by the Hasidic people causing Rockland County millions of dollars in court cases and then will settle 5 yrs or so down the road. They look for easements on their properties as they feel every property is some kind of Synogogue

    • AK

      The anti-Semitic card is waved far too often when their actions are questioned, merely as an attempt to shame those posing the questions into silence. I believe this time the effort to paint detractors as Nazis was a spectacular failure. This video has been roundly condemned and its producers have become a laughing stock. There is also no basis for a claim of anti-semitism, considering secular and reformed Jews question this behavior as well. They are roundly condemned by those of the producers’ community as self-loathing, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I know many of the faith that are secular who are appalled by the behaviors of this particular sect, and also distance themselves from the video. Not to paint this with too broad a brush, but we saw this happen during the recent negotiations with Iran- where Bibi Netanyahu waved a thinly-veiled anti-semitism claim at the United States and the P5+1

  • MIke

    To all secular Jews here who are encouraging the name calling of the OJs’ as a whole, and are laser focused to collect and publish the perceived shortcomings of the few. Remember, you guys are being called by the same names like fraudsters, pigs, sucking the system, disloyal and disrespect to host country, with figures like Madof, Goldman sacks, Lehman and others (all non OJ’s). So just look yourself in the mirror.