Upstate New York’s increasing Orthodox Jew population

Kyla W., journalist

South Fallsburg, Sullivan County, NY – With the winter season well underway, thousands of members belonging to the Orthodox Jewish community have already returned to their urban homes after migrating to
rural Sullivan County for the summer. Nevertheless, the amount of Hasidic civilians seeking permanent residence in the town of Fallsburg continues to increase steadfastly with each coming year, and in turn, has been a source of conflict with more secular members of the district.

According to the 2017 data from the United States Census Bureau, Sullivan County’s harbors around 75,485 residents, 12,977 of which are located in the town of Fallsburg, with the population statistics representing the number of residents in the area from October through May. However, as summer approaches, thousands of Orthodox Jews migrating from northern urban regions arrive in Sullivan County to spend the warmer months in privately owned bungalow communities. The massive migration attracting thousands of Hasidic Jews has been known to dramatically increase the county’s population, in which it once tipped over 300,000 in three months.

While most residents of Fallsburg are unbothered by the significant increase in Orthodox Jews, their presence is not always received with open arms. Recent local reports reveal that many Fallsburg residents feel as though their community’s expansion to create more permanent forms of residence threaten the prosperity of the small businesses owned on South Fallsburg’s Main Street. Those fears have been realized as many of the family-owned restaurants in the downtown area are closing due to increased competition from newly opened kosher establishments such as T-Spoons, Venetian Cafe, and Sprinkles Kosher Pizza. With many of the original eateries now closed, downtown South Fallsburg is left with only two family-run restaurants; Ming Moon Chinese restaurant and Hacienda “La Margarita” Mexican Grill.

While many family-owned businesses are experiencing the detrimental effects of the growing Orthodox Jew population, industrial contracting businesses are booming due to the excess demand for bungalow
construction and repairs. Furthermore, the Hasidic communities looking for permanent forms of residence are also interested in building Hebrew schools, synagogues, and summer camps. In recent months, however,
towns within Sullivan County have begun to enlist stricter zoning regulations upon such communities to stifle their rapid expansion. These new laws require a minimum 250 feet space between the cabin and road,
31 feet of land between each cabin, as well as uniform construction of any additional cabin upon a property.

As tension between the Orthodox Jewish Community and the fearful secular residents of Fallsburg continues to increase, individuals from both sects have begun making strides to unify their opposing communities. A crisis hotline, instituted for the sole purpose of managing the conflict between Jews and locals, has recently been suggested by the Committee to Build Better Summer Relations and adopted by the town. From this point on, however, any form of peace lasting peace between the groups is not guaranteed as officials suspect their discord far too overwhelming.

Works Cited

Israel, Steve, and The Times Herald-Record. “Fallsburg Fallout: A Divided Community Strives for Summertime Unity.” Recordonline.com, Recordonline.com, 15 Dec. 2010,
http://www.recordonline.com/article/20010729/news/307299994.

Mark, Jonathan. “A Serpent In Catskills’ ‘Garden?’.” Jewish Week, 8 July 2015, jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/a-serpent-in-catskills-garden/.

Reiter, Eli. “My Hasidic Community Taught Me to Avoid Non-Jews, but I Decided to Live Differently. What If They Were Right?” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 24 Dec. 2019, http://www.jta.org/2019/12/24/opinion/my-hasidic-community-taught-me-to-avoid-non-jews-but-i-decided- to-live-differently-what-if-they-were-right.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Sullivan County, New York.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, 2017, http://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/sullivancountynewyork/INC110218.

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