Why is the Alliance Lying?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Why is the Alliance Lying?

Updated 06/17/2008 - 9:56 am

It is not hard to understand the distrust many have of anything promulgated by the Hamp­tons Synagogue as the distaste for Rabbi Marc Schneier's ego-centric style and self-serving pronouncements have been grating on the Westhampton Beach community for the past two decades.

And it is apparent from at least one recent comment¹ from the Rabbi that he has learned little of the extra-temple populace in that time… or, like Deputy Mayor James Kametler and his inability to tell the truth, the man just can't help himself.

This had nothing to do with Mayor Conrad Teller's attempt to get the Synagogue's pro-forma request to establish an eruv chatzerot within the Village, but the longer the process went on, the more others began talking about it in mostly negative terms, which led to the erroneous and alarmist E-mails circulating through the business community the week of April 27th.

Shortly after the contentious May 1st Village Board Meeting, a political action group op­posed to the creation of an eruv was formed to discuss ways by which the Synagogue's plan could be thwarted.

Calling themselves the "Westhampton Beach Alliance for the Separation of Church and State²," they went public with a full page in the current Southampton Press Western Edition, and followed up with a direct mailing which arrived this afternoon.

(Mayoral candidate Tim Laube felt it nec­es­sary to make his own mailing today in an attempt to mitigate the damage done by the Alliance's intellectually dishonest advertisement last week.)

That issue with the newspaper advertisement has already been discussed, so let's look at the mailing which, among other things, urges advocates of a pub­lic referendum on the eruv to 'phone, fax or E-mail³ the Village Office.

The letter's major offense is that it repeatedly speaks of the non-existent "Constitutional principle of the Separation of Church and State," clearly the foundation of their entire brief against the eruv.

If the Alliance is talking about the "Establish­ment Clause" of the First Amendment of the Constitution to the United States, then let them do so without the fiction.

And at the same time the Alliance should ack­nowledge that there are relevant court cases, Smith v. Community Bd. No. 14 and ACLU of NJ v. City of Long Branch, which hold that an eruv does not violate that Establishment Clause, and instead are "religious accom­mo­da­tions by the government." (cf: Fisher Memo.)

Another issue is the residency bona fides of those who the Alliance is exhorting to not only demand a referendum, but apparently vote by absentee ballot in this Friday's Village election.

The Hampton Synagogue should have its eruv (and a Rabbi less intent on self-aggrandize­ment), and West­hamp­ton Beach should have an election free from the taint of ineligible voters attempting to rig the outcome.


¹.- In the June 4th edition of The Jewish Week, Rabbi Schneier spoke of the "nasty, ugly battle" with Village officials who he asserts tried to stop the Synagogue 18-years ago. It was the Rabbi who unilaterally escalated the confrontation with a Fire Marshal performing his job into a religious war.

².- For their hard-charging rhetoric, they might just as well have called themselves the Christian Citizens Council.

³.- The E-dress provided is that of Village Clerk Kathy McGinnis, and I'm confident in predicting that Mrs. McGinnis will be less-than-thrilled to have her Inbox inundated with messages from nutburgers like Irene Barrett who isn't even eligible to vote.


1. Clamqueen said...

They're lying because the truth is too boring. They want to stir the pot. I hope they get a real life soon. They live in paradise... enjoy it for goodness sake!

2. Victor Levy said...

Since the application for the eruv has been withdrawn for at least the Summer season, this would be a good time for everyone to take a deep breath, sit in a lawn chair and relax while we all learn something about what is going on with this application. While it is unfortunate that the Alliance attempted to make the debate part of the Village election in their inaccurate and misleading Southampton Press advertisement, there is no doubt that reasonable people who support the Alliance have concerns about the eruv project that need to be addressed.

The Rabbi has stated that he wishes to educate and inform the community about the eruv, and I would think that the Alliance would welcome his efforts to learn more about what a eruv is and is not, and what, if any, affect it might have on the whole community. I realize that there are those who do not want to be confused by the facts, but hopefully they will be in the minority. There are, I believe, a few facts that all involved should consider:

  1. Everyone who has been to Stony Brook University, most of Manhattan, much of London, most of Plainview and a host of other locations around the world have entered and left an eruv. I suspect you never knew it, suffered no ill affects and noticed no difference in the local population.
  2. This is not the establishment of a religious border; rather I see it as an accommodation to those who are members of the Orthodox Jewish faith. We make many accommodations based on religion in our municipalities, and some are even paid for by local taxpayers. Think about Christmas trees - erected, lit and at least partially paid for by all the taxpayers. Police escorts for church funerals, services on the Village Beach at Easter, a Saint Patrick’s parade on Main Street; all of these traditions are, just as they should be, accommodation made without question of religion by neighbors for other neighbors.
  3. Some who oppose the Eruv are fearful that it will result in the community becoming so influenced by Orthodox Jewish community members that stores and restaurants will close on Saturday. I don’t see that any reasonable person could imagine the demographics or the economics of our little resort village could allow such changes.
  4. Last, but certainly not least is that no matter what the Village Board decides, or a referendum indicates, it seems that the Federal Courts have decided that we will be expending money for no reason because we cannot stop the eruv. I do not believe the cost of a futile court action should be borne by the local taxpayers, and the Village Attorney has indicated that more than one court decision supports the position that we would lose in such an action.
All of us, myself included, need to calm down and have a reasonable dialog on this issue. Hopefully the Village Board will exert some leadership to facilitate such discussion over the summer months.
Reasoned discourse should trump irrational action… I am saddened that you are not in the running for Village office this year.

3. Morris Tuchman said...

Great update three paragraphs from the end!

Thank you… it was there; it just had to be found.

4. Joyce L. Donneson said...

Not living or voting in the Village I find it very disconcerning that Board members have been unable to explain clearly and rationally their perspectives the way Vic Levy has. Too bad for the Village he is not running.

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