Friday, November 15, 2013


Maybe it started years ago when the Grand Dragon of the KKK moved to town. Or it could've been when those flying saucers were spotted just over the tree tops. Was it in the flouride in the water? Or has it always been part of the fabric of these rural towns scattered throughout our entire country? In any case I wasn't too surprised when I read in the paper that the school system in Pine Bush was in deep shit over incidents of anti-semitism involving students and staff. What was surprising was that a day after a NYTimes article exposing this behavior was published, NY Gov. Cuomo and the Feds instituted investigations in Pine Bush. Back on the mountain, the roofers had finally showed up at the shul, so I had my afternoon free. I jumped in the car and headed for Pine Bush.

   You can blame racist spacemen or KKK dragons, but from where I sit this probably all started with Bloomingburg. Bloomingburg is a hardscrabble little place, about the equivalent of Walden in Orange County. The people are beaten down, working poor, old farmers, hillbillies and struggling business people. It's a town you drive through, on the way to somewhere else. A few years ago a well-heeled Hasidic developer hired a local to act as a front man for a housing development he was planning. This is not uncommon in these parts. This guy put before the board a proposal for an upscale little community of swimming pools, golf course and limited units. Glad that anyone  would want to build here, the town board passed the plans. Did I say anybody? Well that's not entirely true.
    As it turned out the proposed (and now passed) development was a 300 plus unit Hasidic enclave, complete with girl's school. When this all came to light, the local shit hit the fan. And, surprise, Bloomingburg is in the Pine Bush school district. What followed was a ground swell of disapproval. And as any Jew in town will tell you "It's not anti-semitism. I'm Jewish!" And they would be right. What it is is anti-Hasidism. Like fat people, you can still ridicule Hasidim, without anyone saying boo. The problem being is that when mom and dad are home ragging on the "Jews" for ruining their "lifestyle", they don't always make a distinction between the many sects. Kids are nothing more than imitating monkeys. Before you knew it swastikas are carved in desks and some poor chubby kid is being punched in his stomach.

I pulled the car into the school parking lot just as I remembered I had my 12 ga. turkey gun in the trunk. Hopefully there would be no incident that would cause anyone to pop my trunk and throw me in jail. I pressed the button and an elderly woman's voice asked me for ID. I told her I had none. Then I realized she was not talking about school ID. I showed my driver's license and was buzzed in. The woman at the folding table informed me that I would have to talk to someone at the administration building. Lucky for me it was right across the parking lot.
   The kids eyeballed me as I crossed between the big yellow buses. I could read their minds. Was he a reporter, a cop, a JEW? I got buzzed in by another nice old lady. As she explained to me that the superintendent was in a meeting, a woman came out from behind a closed door. "There she is." the nice woman said. I turned and introduced myself to the Pine Bush school system super. "I'm a local Jewish writer." I told her, extending my hand "I'd like to get your side of this story." She looked me up and down. "Funny, you don't look like a writer." I had no idea what that meant. Then she apologized that she had her hands full and could not talk to me. "If you go to our website, it's all there." And then she went back into the noisy room. Will the Feds and Stateys get to the bottom of this? I doubt it. It runs too deep. Time to get back in the woods. Opening day is tomorrow. Hope everyone is ready.    


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