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Kiryas Joel opens gender-segregated, residents-only playground
Hasidic children in the Village of Kiryas Joel can now enjoy playing outside while maintaining standards for modesty in a massive gender-separated playground that opened Friday.
Built on 283 acres just outside the village in the Town of Monroe, the playground -- built by the village and accessible only to its residents -- was constructed with special financing obtained by the mayor, Rabbi Abraham Wieder, according to bholworld.com, a site dedicated to Orthodox Jewish news. It was unclear whether the land is publicly or privately owned. County and village officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The park boasts four sections: one for boys and another for boys and their fathers, both marked by blue equipment. The other two have jungle gyms dolled up in pink paint to designate a play area for girls and the other for girls with their mothers.
To offer an extra "modesty buffer," a series of hills separate the boys and girls sections.
Modesty is one of the many facets of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic life, which include guidelines about acceptable clothing and keeping the sexes separate.
A sign at the front of the "Riach Hachaim project" on Larkin Drive says it has been paid for by the residents of Kiryas Joel, and that no federal or state funds were used.
"The Riach Hachaim is dedicated and reserved exclusively for the use by residents of the Kiryas Joel community, proof of residency is required, all others are ordered to leave, violators may be prosecuted for trespassing according to law," the sign reads.
A list followed with other parks throughout Orange County, in neighboring Monroe and Woodbury, that are accessible to non-Kiryas Joel residents.