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“Everyone is welcome in New York. The despicable and antisemitic rhetoric used at a Rockville Centre board of trustees meeting has no place in our state,” Gov. Kathy Hochul stated.

By World Israel News Staff

A New York woman who proposed changing her community’s zoning laws in order to keep Orthodox Jews from moving to the area and who publicly lamented the “transformation” of neighborhoods with influxes of religious Jews has been publicly blasted by the state’s governor for her remarks

Interior designer Michelle Zangari made suggestions at a Rockville Centre Board of Trustees meeting on Monday night last week on how the township’s officials could amend zoning laws, specifically to ensure that their community would not be inclusive of observant Jews.

She said the Long Island village should make changes in order not to become like the nearby, heavily Orthodox neighborhoods of the Five Towns.

“I’m asking you to amend the [zoning] code,” Zangari said during the town hall meeting. “So a synagogue cannot be on every residential street like they are in the Five Towns. Please believe me and other Five Towns transplants who know what can happen because we watched it.”

Rockville Centre must introduce an amendment to its zoning code that bars houses of worship on residential streets, Zangari continued. She then bemoaned the year-round presence of a large menorah on the front lawn of one building in her old neighborhood.

“Many of the surrounding neighbors assumed it was maybe a Chanukah decoration left up too long,” Zangari said. “However, I know all too well. That is not the case. The menorah is a standard symbol in synagogues.”

The menorah, she said, triggered a very “emotional” reaction for her, as it symbolized the negative “transformation” and takeover of her community by Orthodox Jews.

“As you might imagine, existing residents of those areas are less than pleased when neighboring homes used as small synagogues started to grow in [terms of] congregants, resulting in large crowds during the Sabbath,” she added.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray told Zangari that he and the board were “very concerned” with her points, namely that Orthodox Jews would move into the town, and said he and his colleagues would be examining ways to amend the zoning laws.

After a video of the meeting went viral on social media, the governor of New York publicly denounced Zangari’s comments.

“Everyone is welcome in New York. The despicable and antisemitic rhetoric used at a Rockville Centre board of trustees meeting has no place in our state,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a tweet Sunday.

“We must root out hate wherever it rears its ugly head.”

Calling her comments “offensive and un-American,” Bruce Blakeman — Nassau County’s chief executive — stressed in a tweet that it was the “duty of responsive public officials to condemn the type of antisemitic hate speech that was in evidence at the Rockville Centre Village Board Meeting. I am hopeful that the Members of the Board will also respond forcefully in this matter,” The Algemeiner reported.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY) called Zangari’s comments “inappropriate and hurtful.”

Zangari did not respond to requests for comment from JTA, and has reportedly deleted her social media profiles.

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