Thursday, 22 October 2015

Yishuv turf wars – UOHC v Gratt

Canvey1  Canvey2 

Canvey3Think what you like of Osher Gratt and his dreams but you cannot deny that he leads from the front, he has put his name on the line and, by way of interviews in the popular Kol Mevaser telephone newsline, he tends to address the public directly. He has also invited the public to subscribe and join his New Jerusalem.

True he seems to have a weakness for officialdom, doesn’t appear to be the best team player and falls headfirst for anything with a grand name to it. From the country’s ‘top managing agents’, to titled architects through to the Bank of England and a major property company all have been enlisted for you know what though not where. And this for a community whose idea of great architecture is the maximum extension you can get into your back garden while avoiding encroaching on your neighbour’s land. But never mind, he is a dreamer and you must take them as they come. It’s a shame that the whole world may be told of the location of this utopia except for those who are supposed to be living there one day but then it’s his project and if you don’t like it don’t join it.

If there is however one thing for which I’d cheer Gratt to the rafters it’s for steering a tchum shabbos away from the rabbonim and the local grubby institutions. Like the immigrants to the New World he does not want to be ruled by the Old and who can blame him.

But now the empire is striking back with a spoiler of its own in the shape of a settlement in Canvey Island backed by UOHC. Its involvement is rather strange given that when Eliezer Schneebalg moved to Edgware he was told that Edgware is not London. Competition though does wonderful things and the thought of Gratt taking dozens of young families from UOHC’s heartland seems to have sent shivers up its bekitshes.

Since it’s UOHC backed it naturally carries all its hallmarks such as a committe to which no one will put their name. The committee will operate under the supervision of the rabbonim and so a bum deal is all but guaranteed. I’m not making this up and it’s there in the initial notice:

“all the communcal facilities and the the educational institutions etc… are expressly to be used only by those who assist and not by those who hinder and we needn’t say more”

Indeed they don’t and if you still feel like moving there then you’re probably not reading this. But just in case you’re still in doubt do remember that this is a UOHC project and so unlike Gratt there is no mention of an eiruv.

But let’s finish on a lighter note and which is bound to cause much mirth amongst the locals. Here is how the UOHC committee views the Canvey Islanders:

“The local population is on the whole white English citizens, friendly and peaceful with a normal family lifestyle, not of the cheap sort but on the other hand neither are they people who look down (snobs).”

I might be showing my age that I remember when Essex girl jokes were all the rage but with this new yishuv the term may well acquire a whole new meaning.