New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoes anti-Hasidic bill

The recently re-elected New York State official vetoed a bill that was designed to keep ultra-Orthodox Jews out of specific communities.

Jewish Hassidic men walking in Eastern Europe   (photo credit: REUTERS)
Jewish Hassidic men walking in Eastern Europe
(photo credit: REUTERS)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a bill last week that she deemed antisemitic in nature, JNS reported on Thursday. This decision earned positive nods from Jewish organizations such as the Rabbinical Alliance of America.

Governor Hochul vetoed New York State Senate Bill S1810A, known as the Community Preservation Fund for the Town of Chester Bill. According to local media, this bill would have allowed the town of Chester, in New York's Orange County, to purchase land which would not be used for property development.

Critics of this bill believe the real purpose is to prevent specifically nearby Orthodox Jewish community expansion from reaching their neighborhood.

The Governor stated locally-known tensions between the town and the religious community.

“There has been well-documented tension in the town of Chester between local officials and members of a specific population of the Hasidic community which has also resulted in litigation. Similar unease exists in the neighboring area of Blooming Grove. In light of ongoing and historical tensions, it would be inappropriate to sign this legislation at this juncture and I am therefore constrained to veto this bill,” Hochul stated in her veto speech. 

Upstate New York farmland found in Chester, New York (credit: WIKIMEDIA)Upstate New York farmland found in Chester, New York (credit: WIKIMEDIA)

Chester and other neighboring communities had similar issues, not only with antisemitic behaviors but with attempts to keep specific groups out, JNS reported. Both Westchester and Orange Counties, New York had recorded incidents of threats to the homes of Jewish residents, but also of active efforts from some communities to keep specific Jewish groups out.

Chester was one of those communities

Chester had previously been accused of discriminating against the town’s Hasidic community. In 2018, then-Town Supervisor Alex Jamieson was caught on tape saying, “We need to keep the Hasidics out.”

Governor Hochul had the bill brought to her attention by specific Orthodox community members, who later praised her move against antisemitism. 

The Rabbinical Alliance of America released a statement that said, “Legislators bear the responsibility to examine, and veto if appropriate, proposed legislation prior to its enactment. They have a moral obligation to ensure that a proposed law will not have a discriminatory impact.” 

The community members appreciated the Governor coming to their defense. This was an action that they believed helped make them feel more at home in the New York State community.

“The Rabbinical Alliance of America applauds Governor Hochul for stepping in where the legislature failed and preventing the discriminatory Community Preservation Fund for the Town of Chester Bill from becoming law. By doing so, Governor Hochul has averted a law that would have caused friction in the community and enabled interested parties to target the Hasidic community with discriminatory actions.”