New Square, New York

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New Square (Yiddish: ניו סקווער, Hebrew: שיכון סקווירא‎) is an all-Hasidic village in the Town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States located north of Hillcrest; east of Viola; south of New Hempstead and west of New City. Its inhabitants are predominantly members of the Skverer Hasidic movement who seek to maintain a Hasidic lifestyle.

Contents

History

New Square is the anglicized form of Skvyra, a town in Ukraine, where the Skver Hasidim have their roots. The village was established in 1954, when twenty families moved from the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York City to a 130-acre (0.53 km2) dairy farm under the leadership of their Rebbe, Yaakov Yosef Twersky. The founders planned a group of five-room cottages and streets named after Presidents of the United States. The founders intended to name the settlement New Skvir; a typist-generated error Anglicized the name.[2] In 1958 the settlement had 60 families.[3]

New Square's neighboring communities began to protest against the development of New Square as the non-Jewish people and Jewish people wanted single-family homes in a manner described by Jerome R. Mintz, author of Hasidic People, as "well-delineated" as opposed to "a crowded and disorganized urban sprawl." The concerns were related to property taxes, sewage systems, property values, and control of school districts. Town of Ramapo leaders discovered that one Cape Cod-style house had a synagogue in the basement and that secret private businesses existed in private homes. Many families occupying single-family houses said that they belonged to extended family. The town authorities found that some of the houses had multiple unrelated families living together. In 1961, when the community asked for a building permit so it could expand the basement synagogue, the town attorney requested the condemnation of the entire New Square community, citing that it threatened sewage lines. In response the community requested incorporation as a village.[4] When New Square applied for incorporation, the Town of Ramapo refused to process the application and sued the Hasids for the deeds to the streets and sewage systems. The Hasids refused to turn over the deeds unless the town processed the application.[2] In July 1961 New Square incorporated after the New York Supreme Court ruled in favor of the village.[4]

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