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Op-Ed: Crown Heights: We Need to Talk

People are talking smack about you, this might come as a shock, so I wanted to just touch base. I’m only doing this because I care about you. I wasn’t going to say anything, but it’s what people out of town are thinking, I thought you should know.

The last few years there has been a huge exodus. People are moving to California, Monsey, Miami, and even Lakewood! When there are Lubavitchers moving to Lakewood, can we agree you have a problem? It’s not fun to talk about, no one likes airing dirty laundry. The thing is, if we want to be honest, this talk is a long time coming.

Why are people leaving? That’s the first question we have to ask. There are several reasons. Of course the big one, it’s not remotely affordable to live in Crown Heights. You can generally find a decent apartment somewhere when you’re first married, but as the kids get older, it just doesn’t work. There is no parking, sure, that’s a problem, and since Crown Heights is somehow pre destined to never expand its borders, there is a finite amount of space available.

In Boro Park, what was once a community that stretched from the mid 12th st and 16th avenue between the low 40’s to the high 50’s, now extends from the low 30’s to the high 60’s. In Monsey and other towns people have found new areas, new homes, new communities. Crown Heights did not ever succeed in this expansion, so we’re left with the same small map. Yes, some of you have bravely gone past Lincoln or even towards Rogers, but let’s be honest, 2 or 3 blocks isn’t gonna cut it. Less land, less availability, higher costs.

This is all very true, and I’m sure many of you will comment, people are selling out! Cashing in! Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it’s people who control the bulk of the homes in the center of Crown Heights either selling to friends or giving it to family, which maybe isn’t even wrong, but no matter how you look at it, there is too many people looking and no one really selling. The thing is, this isn’t why I’ve requested this little talk.

The real issue. It’s your tone, your attitude, you seem bitter. It’s no longer a warm place.

The tone has shifted to almost anger. No one wants to be painted with a broad brush. There are many very good people. Sadly, as is often the case, the majority is mostly silent. What’s left is a cauldron of people that shame their friends, their co-workers, shame their family members and of course, shame their neighbors. It’s normally shame that comes from whatever crisis of the month has taken over the town. Tznius, Eruv, Hashgacha, New Stores, Real Estate, and then there are things we shouldn’t even mention on a website that are all discussed, at Shabbos tables, the shul table, the kiddush club table, the streets of Kingston, in offices, and waiting on line to buy groceries.

Maybe it’s because it’s too hard to find a home for yourself, maybe it’s because the cost of living has gone up. Maybe you are regretful you aren’t “getting out” also, maybe because others have left and are posting about their new homes that are 3 or 4 times in size. Maybe it’s that you got another alternate side parking ticket. I’m sure you are going through a lot. We’re all human. The problem is, the atmosphere you are creating in Crown Heights all the shaming, the anger, the loshon hora, it’s hurting you. We all feel it.

It might be time for a break, maybe you need to rethink why there are those among us who feel so comfortable to speak badly about other Yidden. Maybe it’s because you are in a conversation where people all have something really witty to say about someone and you want your 5 minutes of fame!. You’ll get some cool points if you offer up someone else’s hardships to the gossip alter.

Honestly, it’s not important why, what is important is that the rest of the world notices and we’re all wondering, what happened. Crown Heights, the shining city of Chassidis, Light,  the place where people found meaning, and love, where you come for a Shabbos and leave recharged, happy, and feeling proud to be a Chossid of the Rebbe.

We miss you. We would want to hang out and get to know that Crown Heights again.

Signed,

A former neighbor, but a continued friend.

63 Comments

  • 1. Berel wrote:

    You are no friend. You are an arrogant phony. You’ve taken the pulse of our community from the comment section of the community websites and dressed up a scathing rebuke of our men woman and children in smug sarcasm, you shoot arrow at us and claim to be joking.

    Before G-d, name your community, your vaunted and proud community of enlightened and wise and positive do-gooders who can claim with authority that you are better than we are.

    Reply
    • 2. ^ Found you wrote:

      You must be one of the people he’s talking about in the article…

  • 3. I must live in a very different neighborhood than you did wrote:

    CH has lots of areas it needs to work on
    however
    the CH you describe as being a majority…
    is simply not the majority
    if thats the main part of CH you felt
    maybe some of those feelings came from your own outlook and attitude
    maybe yes
    maybe no
    i see plenty of beautiful things in crown heights
    not in minority
    and by the way, nothing has to have gone wrong with someones day for them to call out that something is inappropriate

    Reply
  • 8. Lost wrote:

    Thank you for such a wonderful post, a few comments:

    1) You seemed to have placed much thought and time in the writing of the article, what exactly do want to convey, as I am still lost?

    2) You begin with the affordabe housing crisis, and then veer…. to where exactly?

    3) What exactly do you want? by now im completely lost, are you another “just preach love” fellow? are you against basic halacha? are you writing an article against speaking Lashon Hara, while badmouthing Crown Heights?

    4) Your tone is extremely condescending, would you like to feel superior, if so then “you are fantastic, and better”! do you feel good now?

    Reply
  • 9. simple wrote:

    there is no leadership.

    Every community has politics and gossip.

    LH is not the issue every community talks about each other.

    the issue is there no community no leaders.

    PS you can all hate CH at the end of the day is the only place in the world every Lubavitcher comes back and eats and sleeps and spends time. so before you knock it there is something to be thankful for. for the people that host you!

    Reply
  • 11. Levy wrote:

    Regarding those who moved away from CH the REBBE said “by this one there was a fire by that one there was a robbery’.

    Reply
    • 12. Now i understand wrote:

      Now i understand why i had a fire. (Sarcasticly speaking)Please dont take Rebbe’s words out of context. At bare minmum let readers know where you come up with your wild conclusions(Sichos or letters refrence) “Levy”.

  • 15. WHAT'S THE POINT??! wrote:

    Why is such pointless, inconclusive nonsense, heading in no direction whatsoever, published by Crownheights.info?!

    Reply
  • 16. the point wrote:

    I think the point for those missing it, is people are too engaged in loshon hora and bad mouthing that is done for the sake of conversational content and not for the sake of bettering the community or the level of frumkeit.

    Time to stick our heads back into the sand!

    Reply
  • 17. Baruch wrote:

    Try another one!
    The problem is very very clear, the housing situation!
    It started many years ago with a individual in crown heights who the rebbe spoke about… And things just keep going south.
    Yes he gives a lot of tzedakah and helps many people out.
    But don’t take my money and give tzedakah. Especially when you don’t allow me into “your” buildings because I don’t know you.

    This has to do with the financial situation in our community.
    When familys are lacking that, you can’t blame them for anything else…

    Remember when it started!
    Remember the rebbe had a vision, and remember who the group of people who stopped the vision of the rebbe!
    The rebbe knew exactly what was going to happen… But others decided to do different.

    When homes have no money!
    The Chinuch and everything else is lost…
    (By most familys unfortunately)

    Reply
  • 20. Okay wrote:

    Yep, that’s it. It’s time for us each to make a real cheshbon hanefesh. We’ve gotta stop fooling around and fight the good fight because
    This galus has dragged out waaaaay too long.
    No more Op-Eds, just some real good action. No more bashing and no more comments.
    Seriously, I think we all know that if we each make a change internally we will change as a whole

    Reply
    • 21. Anonymous wrote:

      Agreed “okay”! I think the main thing is to have Ahavas Yisrael and Achdus! We are one nation! Galus is darker than ever and we need to be there for each other! If we put our problems and differences aside Moshiach would surely be here any second!

  • 22. Not usually a commenter but wow wrote:

    You accuse CH of negativity in the course of an op-ed that espouses nothing but the same. You offer what is at best, a hodgepodge of correlations to explain your assertions. You say that no-one wants to be painted with a broad brush, while using that same broad brush to paint this community. With no proof, or even anecdotal evidence, you blame the “mass exodus” on the negativity of the community. I don’t have the answer to the question at the beginning of the op-ed: why, indeed, are people moving away. But you sure don’t have it either.

    Reply
  • 23. G. A. Thrawn wrote:

    This article is snarky, poorly written, and intolerably self-righteous. More importantly, it lacks structure and a coherent argument. I fail to understand the utility of this piece or the motivation for submitting it.

    Reply
  • 24. Slownewsday wrote:

    Slow news day? Seriously… Let’s get some real news and hakoras hatov to the real ch……

    Reply
  • 25. crown heights resident wrote:

    no idea what you are saying. People move because they can not afford housing. however, once they move they love the calmness, the socializing between families, the easy shopping, driving etc. it is a much calmer easier life

    Reply
  • 26. WWTRS wrote:

    I can’t remember who it was but there was a Rebbe, not Lubavitch, who when asked what he says about an issue replied that he says Tehillim.
    Everything is from shomoyim except yiras shomoyim.

    Reply
  • 27. Housing? Nah wrote:

    Firstly the author is wrong
    Crown Heights today is very big.
    Extends south to linden blvd.
    Remsen village is part of ch
    If you really are desperate and you don’t need to live on Kingston and Carroll you can find housing (it’s not easy but it’s doable many succeeded with hashems help)
    The reason.I would want to move out is for my lack of answers I need to give my kids on why some yidden are dressed like…..
    I grew up in an area with little yidden and this was never a question. Here we have yidden who live in our holy shchuna and are lubavitchers belev vonefesh but look very far from it.
    Purim gave a blanket heter to be dressed like….
    ואין כאן המקום להאריך בדבר המצער כ”כ
    ומסיימים בטוב

    Reply
  • 28. Tract gut wrote:

    I moved from a physically beautiful city to live in crown heights and bh I love it. I feel so blessed to have met so many wonderful caring people here. I met people who invited me and my family for meals and they barely knew us. Over the years we have become good friends. There are so many people in this community working very hard to help others , hatzalah, all the organizations that make food for people, the organizations that help kallahs and young mothers, bikur cholim, shomrim, shmira, the schools, their prasth, forgive me for leaving out others there are so many. Depends what you look for.

    Reply
  • 29. What to say wrote:

    There was a Rebbe, not from Lubavitch when asked what he says about an issue, replied that he says Tehillim.

    Reply
  • 30. Out of Towner wrote:

    This op-ed is gehacked ah chainik. Author – if you have nothing smart to say, don’t say it. I am gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that 3% of the people that read this had even a remote clue as to what you are on about. The rest are still scratching their heads. You have created a lot of dandruff from all the head scratching. Let’s talk about that…

    Reply
  • 31. "moment of fame" wrote:

    Dumbest op-ed ever.
    u gotta give the people of ch the credit for allowing you the mic,
    and you gotta respect the people of ch for not accepting a word u said

    Reply
  • 32. The place so nice they sell the space twice. wrote:

    #Repost @nutritionbytanya
    ・・・
    ❗️Crown heights office update 
    As many of you may know and have seen discussed on Facebook, many store fronts were leased illegally by a dishonest real estate broker who is pending investigation and a revoking of her license. 
    Due to unfortunate circumstances including code violations by our landlord and being leased an illegal space by a dishonest real estate broker our space is no longer ideal. Please bear with us as we and our lawyer deal with this situation and as we search for a new space.
    We will continue to operate as usual and remain open until we resolve this.

    Look out for our products coming to supermarkets in the neighborhood after Pesach!
    Please message us with any leads for alternate spaces.

    Reply
  • 33. ex CHer wrote:

    Why are you writing this? You don’t live there any more. Neither do I, but not because of any of the reasons you cite. My children are still in CH and until Moshiach they have no intention of going anywhere & they are happy. Their children are happy.

    There is a lot wrong in CH since Gimmel Tammuz and I am the first to agree. But your assumption of people hating each other (as your op-ed seems to be saying) isn’t one of them.

    Reply
  • 34. What about Moshe R? wrote:

    A bunch of his friends and family broke away from their high community standards, and boy did he speak out!
    Do you remember him?
    Do you remember how angry he was? Smashing valuable property, and condemning the sinners in no uncertain terms!
    Don’t you remember him?
    His yhartzeit wasn’t so long ago, and his ranting really changed the community after that.
    They did teshuva. They rid the community of the sinners.
    They became frum again.
    That’s what we need now. Desperately.
    That everyone re-embraces the Torah. And becomes frum again.
    Like in the midbar!
    You remember Moshe now, don’t you!
    Stop worshipping your golden cow!
    There is only one Torah, one Moshe rabbeinu, One Chabad standard.
    Love it or leave it.
    Just stop trying to destroy it.

    Reply
  • 35. Proud CH'er wrote:

    Question: Why would someone living a happy life in a beautiful, perfect community outside CH take the time to write an op-ed so critical and obviously exaggerated?

    Reasonable assumptions:
    A. The writer lives in Crown Heights but is very unhappy about life in Crown Heights (perhaps they were on the receiving end of the recent “lashon hara” against the Chabad Zero crowd?) and decided to paint the whole Crown Heights with a broad negative brush. And the criticism will sound more credible if it was written by a “an outsider and caring friend”.

    or

    The writer left Crown Heights in hopes of finding another community where the grass is greener but the new community isn’t perfect either. So he/she will clear this up by writing an op-ed about how pale-looking the grass in Crown Heights looks in comparison to the grass in every other community in the world.

    Reply
  • 36. Uncle Mendel wrote:

    How would you convince someone to move to Crown Heights?
    1. Affordable housing?
    2. Good Schools?
    3. Reasonably tuition?
    4. Good Leadership?
    5. Acceptable Tznius on the streets?
    6. Achdus among our leaders? Our people?

    I could go on and on.
    After Gimmel Tamuz, I see no reason to tolerate the absence of all the above.
    But that’s me. And maybe you.

    Reply
  • 37. You can choose what to focus on wrote:

    CH has many positives that NO OTHER COMMUNITY HAS. There’s something for everyone – whether you are reb pinye korf or you are someone whose only observance is Shabbos candles.

    A diverse Chabad community means that everyone can find a group of friends on their level, their nusach, their sports team etc etc.

    There are so many shiurim, farbrengens, shuls, mikvahs, yeshivahs, sofrim.

    There is kosher food shopping, restaurants, parnassa opportunities, doctors, lower tuition than most schools elsewhere, public transpotation/uber/rentals.

    CH has the choshuve Chabad institutions of 770, JCM, The Rebbe’s Library, Children’s library, Suite 302 etc.

    CH is the home to the most amazing personalities from Reb Yoel to Rabbi Krinsky to Shimmy Weinbaum.

    CH got talent! Avremel, Benny, Eli Marcus, Meir Kay, Mendy Pellin, Chaim Fogelman, Chaim Hershowitz,

    Above all, CH has a vast majority of nice, normal, friendly people who are leading productive and happy lives. Open the Tzach List and you’ll see that 95% of the names are people who you’d be happy to spend time with.

    Come to CH, we’ll hook you up with a nice frum therapist (perhaps you can try Daniel Shonbuch) and you’ll learn how to lead a happy life by taking responsibility for yourself and by beginning to focus on the positive!

    hatzlacha:-)

    Reply
    • 38. Anonymous wrote:

      I love the last paragraph! Only someone with sense of humor can appreciate. Otherwise please skip it, it’ll hurt.

      A bitter attitude will travel with you even if you move across the world. A positive attitude will serve you well anywhere and everywhere!

      It’s all about what you choose to focus on. Practice complaining, you’ll find much to complain about. Practice gratitude, you’ll live a happy life.

    • 40. Yours is the Best comment do far! wrote:

      Yes. Everyone of us.
      We can all improve in something.
      Let’s do it!
      Make Chabad great again!

  • 42. Levi wrote:

    My 2 cents

    Yes, there is a ton of good and lots of good amazing people in CH and no one can take that away.
    But 2 things that I personaly cannot stand
    1) the tzinues issue is disgusting and in your face
    2) politics politics politics. Wherever I went people were talking about people..rabanim..schools..
    So you tell me to focus on the good? I should but for me these 2 points are louder then the good.
    May we all be happy and successful wherever you choose to live.
    Levi from Canada

    Reply
    • 43. hmmm... wrote:

      Levi from CANADA?????
      If you live in Canada how are meant to know what goes on here? k, you visit once in a while but do really know what goes on on a daily basis???? I’m from CH and I see what goes on and…

      …well ya you are right but still you shouldnt be writing stuff you dont know is 100% true…

  • 44. Live with the time wrote:

    Now is NOT the time to write (or publish) inane and controversial articles that disparage Yidden (is there ever a time?)

    We have just come from the Geulah of Purim and are preparing for the ultimate Geulah in Nisan.

    We must only speak positively and with Achdus.

    If we’ve learned anything from chumash shmot, it is that despite any issues, we must do Teshuvah, have bitachon, turn away from evil and do good, and realize that G-d can provide in the wink of an eye – instead of just complaining or gloating,

    Chag Kosher v’sameach

    Reply
  • 45. gghost60 wrote:

    i moved could not afford the rent. the ch community needs to be replaced. even a mop could do a better job!

    Reply
  • 46. CH Thinker wrote:

    The only valid point you bring out is expensive pricing. Crown Heights may have issue but we have the best compared to every community. We have the best…
    Restaurants
    School choices
    Community programs
    like nshei chabad
    Bikur Cholim
    Frienship circle etc
    We are a community with a heartbeat like no others.

    Reply
  • 47. The kangeroo wrote:

    The ahavas israel is great It explains Israeli politics.The light at the end of the tunnel is that of a speeding train.

    Reply
  • 48. rdz wrote:

    i left ch a while ago. i do miss many of the wonderful people that i used to see. regretfully, i was unable to buy a house and ended up moving away. i was lucky to find (relatively) affordable housing and live near a wonderful shliach. This does not work for everyone, but it does for me.

    Reply
  • 49. solutions please? wrote:

    I hear you – I too trade the comforts of suburban life for the pleasure of being on an area with the Rebbe’s bracha.

    but we need solutions

    if lashon hara is the issue – who is donating space for classes

    if high cost of rent is the issue – who is making a charity campaign to buy a building where teachers can rent at minimal costs like kollels do

    if space is an issue who is willing to fight to have our zoning laws changed so people can build a few stories above their homes.

    if lack of leaders is the issue who is willing to devote their own time and resources to be one

    if you don’t like the schools make your own

    solutions not belly aching will make for a productive future

    and appreciate those who are giving of their time and resources to give to our great community

    Reply
  • 50. Born and raised in da 'hood wrote:

    I’m so fed up with the bashing of our community. Yes, it’s challenging but how about talking about all the good that’s here? stop the negativity..your words did nothing but make people more upset..you offer no solution, just more frustration.

    Reply
  • 51. Shlichus wrote:

    You’re right. You should not be in Crown Heights. You should be on Shlichus! Everyone on Shlichus! No matter your occupation. You should be ufaratza from Crown Heights and be on Shlichus. Every Shul- Chabad House and Ashkenaz should have Lubavitcher Chassidim. Shlichus. Bring Moshiach. Leave Crown Heights and go on Shlichus.

    Reply
    • 52. NYC is Shlichus HQ wrote:

      You contradicted yourself in your short rant.

      If you can do Shlichus anywhere regardless of your occupation…then why the need to leave CH?

      Aderaba, NYC (and Brooklyn specifically) has a very high concentration of yidden who are thirsting for yiddishkeit and Chassidus. More than ANYWHERE ELSE in the world!

      I’ll try to make your point more comprehensible:
      Everyone. Should. Be. On. Shlichus!
      Even if you are an accountant, you can host a Shabbos meal for a family that does not yet observe Shabbos. Shlichus! You can do a Purim program. Shlichus! Teach a Chassidus shiur in BP. Shlichus! Bring another yid to the Ohel. Shlichus! If you mamesh can’t find any non-frum people, then you have a bigger problem and moving out of CH won’t solve that.

    • 53. NYC IS SHLICHUS HQ wrote:

      TO NYS is SHLICHUS HQ:
      You sound like a spoiled CH’er. Leave CH! Let’s see if you could survive. Sounds like you could not. Hence you stay in CH! I’m glad you are a Shilach There. I hope you stay in CH. We don’t need your ILK polluting our “Out of Town Communities.”

  • 54. Friend. Really? wrote:

    Dude, you sign your name as “A former neighbor, but a continued friend.”

    You’re no friend. CH got better when you moved.

    Reply
  • 56. emelit wrote:

    we do need a vaad which somehow will help us uphold the Rebbe’s values as far as real estate and rents, property issues, etc.
    there are many conflicting comments here, and I think that its because part of the article had truth and some was miscalculation
    in the end, we need the Rebbe’s values and directives in place.
    No shame and no blame, just
    Rebbe

    Reply
  • 59. Oy...... wrote:

    I guess the most revealing aspect of this entire post are the dysfunctional comments in response to the post.

    What a terrific experiment !

    It worked!

    It brought out exactly what he was claiming!

    Oy…..when will morons learn?

    Reply
    • 61. Agree wrote:

      I moved out as well, thinking I should have done it sooner. I check this site only when very bored to see this type of chatter. More like entertainment in a sad way.

  • 62. Please everyone speak/write like a mentsch wrote:

    Everyone should respect each other. Crown Heights is the rebbe’s shechuna. Wherever you are/live, is hashgocha protis. We are dugmaos chayos wherever we are.
    Good luck to us all.
    Moshiach now

    Reply
  • 63. whats your point? wrote:

    if you want something to change you need to constantly be acting on it and changing stuff. by writing something on COL.live isnt doing very much but people bashing eachother. Maybe talk to the real estate agents and build more housing in the outskirts of crown heights. My family is also planning on moving out bec. the rent is way too high. we have a small apt as of now and it is very expensive to buy a house so maybe talk to the real estate to make nice houses on the outskirts for alot less money

    Reply

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