Garbage dumping in Kiryas Joel stems from dispute over unauthorized weddings
Chris McKenna • Times Herald-Record
KIRYAS JOEL — The garbage-dumping that nearly blocked a main road in Kiryas Joel and led to disorderly conduct tickets for four men over the weekend stemmed from an ongoing fight over a wedding hall just outside the village where dissident community members have held services since January.
For several weeks, zealots had been littering the village with fliers denouncing the nine young couples who have wed at the B'Nai Yoel hall in Woodbury without the approval of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, the leader of Kiryas Joel's main congregation and grand rebbe to one faction in the divided Satmar Hasidic movement.
Enraged that the fliers had photographs of the grooms and phone numbers for the couples, their families and the rabbis who officiated, protesters sent out a text message last week declaring a “Code G,” the signal to dump bags of household trash on top of any piles of fliers too numerous to remove.
The goal was to force the village to collect both the garbage and strewn leaflets.
Joseph Waldman, a dissident leader who said he was not involved with the protest, explained the reasoning behind the tactic on Monday and said he didn't condone it, even if he sympathized with the frustration that led to it.
“There's a very understandable reason behind it,” he said. “It became a desperate situation.”
Waldman said callers have been harassing the people whose numbers were listed in the fliers.
Dissidents resorted to dumping trash only after repeatedly complaining to the police and coming under attack while trying to pick up and remove the fliers, he added.
The leader of Kiryas Joel's main congregation countered Monday that dissidents have often distributed similar fliers against their targets – including him last winter, while the two sides were battling over a dissident synagogue that has been shut down by court order.
“The streets were white every morning with fliers against me and others working under me, listing all our numbers,” said David Ekstein, president of Congregation Yetev Lev. “I don't think you have seen me throwing garbage on the streets ‘to force the village to remove them.'”
The garbage dumping did force a street cleanup, as intended. By Monday, as a result of those labors and two days of torrential rain, the streets in Kiryas Joel were mostly clean.
[Hat Tip: Burich.]