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Dec 16, 2015

Gutterman needs to learn to dance

Yaakov Gutterman, mayor of Modiin Ilit, has an interesting position on Haredi housing.

Gutterman thinks it is wrong to build Haredi cities and towns. Rather, Haredi neighborhoods should be built in existing cities. Cities should be given [tax and other] incentives to build housing and attract Haredim.

Gutterman explains the problem is that people think that Haredim do not work and are not creative and do not pay arnona, and that being the case they obviously do not want to bring such people to their cities. As well, anybody possibly bringing many Haredim to his city is worried that by changing the demographics he is putting his own position as mayor at risk in future elections.

Gutterman says the only thing that will work is to give tax incentives, as well as working to abolish the stigma, and instead of thinking Haredim will ruin their cities, they will realize that Haredim will bring blessing to their cities.
source: Kooker

Gutterman is right, but only partially, I think. Those are concerns, and they should be dealt with. Haredi communities should join other cities, in addition to having their own cities that are [mostly] Haredi.

What Gutterman does not mention is another concern city officials have when approached about building for Haredim, and I've heard this a number of times - they are worried that the Haredim will change the style and culture of those cities. They are worried that if they bring in neighborhoods of Haredim they will suddenly find themselves with signs about tzniyus, women being censored, problems on the buses with women being intimidated or sent to the back, roads closed on Shabbos, and in some places maybe fights over businesses on Shabbos and kashrut issues, etc. etc..

In other words, there are more concerns than just demographics and arnona. They are often concerned about changing the atmosphere and bringing in people who will act against the lifestyle the previous residents want and always lived by.

To that end, whatever can be done to educate the relevant mayors and people as to how and where those concerns are unfounded should be done. However, it is also, at least partially, true. Haredim live a different lifestyle, and bringing in significant numbers will naturally effect change in the city -0 change that they may see as undesired.

Breaking stigmas and changing attitudes should not just bea one way street. According to Gutterman, the cities, the mayors, the secular, should be made to understand that Haredim are good and productive. And of course paying them off with tax incentives also helps. According to Gutterman, it is incumbent on everyone else to get used to the Haredim. I would say it is also incumbent on the Haredi community to learn to get along with everyone else. Find a way to convince others that you can be good neighbors, that you wont demand closing their streets on Shabbos, that you won't throw pashkevilim all over the streets every Friday afternoon, that you won't harass their women about tzniyus, and whatever else.

It takes two to tango.

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  1. So the stigma is that Haredim don't pay arnona. And the solution is to give them tax incentives (i.e. discounts on arnona)? How does that remove the stigma exactly?

  2. the tax benefits would be to the city. tax "nekudot" for all the local residents, or whatever. not arnona discounts (though qualifying people, including haredim, would continue to get arnona discounts as per whatever tables are in place in any given city based on income...).

    1. The tax benefits would last only until the next budget cut. The arnona discounts will last forever.

  3. He still hasn't explained why other mayors should believe that Charedim will be a net gain, economically. I would think that mayors are more likely to look at Bet Shemesh as an example of what will happen to them than Modiim Ilit.

  4. no, he didnt explain.
    I understood him to be rfererring to the bracha via the tax incentives the city will benefit from for bringing haredim in. Thats how I understood it in context.
    of course he might have been referring to the general bracha to be received as a result of increased torah study in the city.
    another option is from his perspective the bracha of having a non-violent, non-criminal, relatively peaceful community added to the city

  5. Oops. Bad day to present Haredim as non-violent, non-criminal and relatively peaceful: http://www.timesofisrael.com/undercover-cop-busts-ultra-orthodox-drugs-weapons-ring/

    (Not generalising. Just commenting on the timing)

  6. LOL. I was thinking of that as I was writing it, which is why I added "from his perspective" to that point :-)

  7. So the government should pay cities to compensate for the negatives that they see in inviting them. Why more subsidies?

  8. it isnt really to compensate for the negatives (while really it might be, of course Gutterman thinks there are no negatives)... governments give incentives for all sorts of things they want to encourage and promote. If they would want to encourage cities to build haredi neighborhoods they would give incentives for those cities to do so. and if they want haredim to move to those places, they'll give incentives to the haredim to do so


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