Town of Palm Tree Administrator Gedalye Szegedin announced late Thursday, March 19, that the Town of Palm Tree/Village of Kiryas Joel has passed emergency resolutions to protect the residents during this unprecedented public health crisis.
“The actions taken today by our leaders, even beyond the demands of the state government, will hopefully contribute to the overall health of the community,” Szegedin said in a press release in response to questions from The Photo News earlier in the day.
Consistent with orders issued by the governor, the public school and all private schools in the town are now closed until further notice.
In addition, after discussion with the White House team of the President of the U.S., the religious leaders of the community have instituted a most aggressive complete lock down of all synagogues, ritual bath houses and all other centers for prayer, libraries and study halls in order to avoid large gatherings in the community.
Szegedin emphasized that this is the first time in the over 40-year history of the Kiryas Joel community that these religious sites were locked down from public access.
Szegedin also noted that in this difficult time, a number of important community organizations have stepped in to help residents with their needs. He applauded the work of KJ Hatzolah Volunteer EMS who continue to provide the finest emergency medical care, the Ezras Choilim Health Center who serves the medical needs of the community, the KJ Public Safety Dept, the KJFD, the Chaverim, which assist sresidents in a variety of non-emergency services, Bikur Choilim, which assists families that are hospitalized, Tomchei Shabbos, which sends food packages to the need, and others too numerous to list.
All residents are reminded to maintain social distances of at least six feet in all public spaces as well as the need for frequent hand washing and other hygiene measures.
“The mayor and other leaders of Palm Tree are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of our residents by taking emergency actions as required by the law and with guidance from the CDC and other medical authorities, but far more aggressive action may be needed and is under consideration” Szegedin said. “Together we can persevere through this difficult time."
Palm Tree is comprised of what previously was the Village of Kiryas Joel, plus 200 acres annexed from the Town of Monroe. This Hasidic community is home to at least 25,000 people and is in the midst of a housing explosion which you can witness simply by driving along the Quickway between Chester and Harriman.
Meanwhile, Monroe Town Supervisor Tony Cardone said there are lessons to be learned from the situation.
"I hope the community takes away from this the importance in following rules and guidelines put in place by the State and the County, as not doing so jeopardizes the health and well being of everyone," Cardone said. "There has been a big void in the mindset and realization in following rules, all for selfish reasons. Palm Trees private schools were open too long, the social gatherings went on too long. Does it really take a call from the Presidents office to understand the severity of the guidelines put in place? If so- it’s too late and places addition burdens on us all. Think about our the additional stress on the medical community.
"This crisis has been a wake up call for our municipal leaders and the major majority of us have heeded the warnings and recommendations of our County Leaders and Public Health Officials from the very start," Cardone added. "Valuable lessons from this pandemic will assist us in keeping our communities safe and healthy. Lessons each and every municipal leader must follow. God Bless us all as we get through this ... and we will get through it."