Monday, April 10, 2006

Goshen to be next Kiryas Joel?

That's what Chabad thinks! ROL: When First Presbyterian Church pastor David Kingsley first went to the village Planning Board a year ago in order to make church renovations, he thought it would be easy.Then he found out that downtown zoning didn't allow for the meditation garden and youth center his church wanted.No matter. The village wants to change the zoning law to allow religious groups to locate or expand in the downtown business zones, in accordance with federal law. But since Chabad of Orange County entered the zoning fray several months ago, the focus has been fixed on this group of Orthodox Jews, with most residents saying the shopping district isn't the place for a synagogue. Chabad is again expected to dominate the conversation at a public hearing tonight at the Goshen Senior Center. The turnout is expected to be too big for the Village Hall. But few people seem to know that the change in zoning would affect four of the village's five churches, in addition to the synagogue. At Goshen United Methodist Church, there are no immediate renovation or building plans. But with a growing congregation, the Rev. Virginia Hoch doesn't rule it out. The church opened a preschool five years ago, and Hoch said there will eventually be a need for a Christian kindergarten, probably requiring an addition to the building.In the fall, the Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic and Episcopal churches sent a letter to the village supporting the zone change.At the last public hearing, Kingsley stood up and told people how the zoning change would benefit his church. But he's not sure people really heard him."Dead silence," he said of the reaction. Rabbi Meir Borenstein said people think Chabad will bring in outsiders and turn Goshen into the next Kiryas Joel. But he said his intentions are to preach to those already in the area who might have strayed from the faith. "They think they'll wake up one morning and there will be people in black hats everywhere," Borenstein said. "That's not our goal......
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