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Orthodox Jews of the Satmar Hasidim celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer in the village of Kiryas Joel, New York.(Photo by: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
Kiryas Joel to become 'Palm Tree,' the first Haredi town in America
In 2011, the 'New York Times' identified Kiryas Joel as the poorest place in the United States.
NEW YORK – In a referendum in the Upstate New York town of Monroe on Tuesday, a majority of the residents voted to separate from the village of Kiryas Joel.

This means that the Yiddish- speaking village, founded in the 1970s, will become a separate town in 2020, the first Haredi town in the United States. The majority of Kiryas Joel’s residents are Hassidic Jews who belong to the Satmar Hassidic sect. The town will be called Palm Tree, an English translation of the Satmar rebbe’s surname, Teitelbaum.

The referendum was imposed on Kiryas Joel as a compromise designed to end the land dispute between the Haredi community and the town of Monroe.

Tensions between the Hassidic community and its neighbors also arose over the former’s demand to run an autonomous educational system.

The Satmar Hassidim, however, view the referendum as an opportunity, and the village leaders praised its results.

“Today is a truly a historic day that will usher in a new era of peace and stability for all the residents of Monroe,” wrote the administrator of the village, Gedalye Szegedin, in a letter published on Tuesday.

“From the beginning, the petition to form the town of Palm Tree by separating the Kiryas Joel community from Monroe was submitted with a one and only goal in mind: to create a solid foundation for a lasting peace between the residents of KJ and the residents of Monroe.”

In New York’s Orange County, where Monroe and Kiryas Joel are located, there is another Hassidic village – New Square, of the Skverer Hassidic sect.

An estimated 23,000 people live in Kiryas Joel. One of them is Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, grandson of Rabbi Yoel (Joel) Teitelbaum, who founded the village in the 1970s and died in 1979.

Tuesday’s elections had another Haredi angle, in New York City. Kalman Yeger defeated Yoni Hikind and will serve as the 44th District’s representative on the city council.

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