Monsey

New rules for Ramapo taxis and car services amid swirling allegations of driver misconduct

Newly established town commission requires a partition between driver and passengers and bans tinted windows

Poster for Arrive, a new Haredi-owned car service / Credit: Shtetl

Oct 30, 2023 8:00 PM

Updated: 

A new set of rules for taxis and car services in Ramapo was published last week, following widespread concerns about safety issues and allegations of inappropriate driver behavior, as Shtetl previously reported. The allegations against drivers remain unspecific and unverified. The ads containing the new rules were published in Haredi community bulletins, though it was unclear whether the ads were placed by the town.

The regulations were issued by the Town of Ramapo’s new Taxi and Limousine Commission, which was created in March. The rules require a partition separating the driver from the passengers as well as background checks for drivers. They also include a ban on tinted windows, among other requirements.

Taxi and car service regulations
New taxi and car service regulations

The new rules were published in three Monsey magazines last week. The ads, which contain numerous copy errors, appeared in the Monsey Mevaser, the Monsey View, and Community Connections, all English-language weekly magazines serving the area’s Haredi communities. In the Monsey Mevaser and the Monsey View, the ads contained the official Town of Ramapo logo.

The ads mention “unfortunate incidents” involving taxis and car services, echoing recent unverified claims. In September, a Ramapo police officer told Shtetl that the Ramapo Police Department has “not received any calls about taxi cabs involving women.”

Reached for comment, Ramapo town clerk Maureen Pehush said she didn’t know whether the town itself had placed the ad, noting that placing such ads is “not something the town clerk’s office handles.” 

Despite no evidence of assaults, at least two Haredi-run car services have been widely publicizing their services as an answer to the community’s safety concerns, and suggesting that passengers are safer with drivers working for Jewish-owned companies. One of them, Motty’s Car Service, placed an ad in Community Connections, announcing the purchase of a new fleet of cars “upon orders from rabbis and activists” and saying they are now hiring drivers for well-paid positions. 

Motty's car service hiring new drivers by order of rabbis
Motty's announcing new car fleet

In an interview on Kol Mevaser, a Yiddish-language telephone hotline, Josef Margaretten made allegations similar to those that appear in the ad – but he did not describe any specific incident that would amount to sexual assault. Margaretten is the leader of Chaverim of Rockland, an Orthodox volunteer-run emergency services organization. He also serves as a constituent services assistant for the Town of Ramapo.

Another speaker on Kol Mevaser, Rabbi Eliezer Kraus, made similar claims, alleging severe sexual crimes. Many users on anonymous Yiddish-language internet forums reviewed by Shtetl either echoed these concerns, or seemed to believe the situation even more severe than what the leaders described.

In an interview with the Monsey View, Mendel Neiman, the owner of Arrive, a Haredi-run car service launched earlier this month, said, "If only there were enough paper to describe all the incidents that have occurred, no Monsey resident would step into a single one of the non-Jewish car services.”

The Taxi and Limousine Commission consists of six members, at least three of whom work within the Orthodox Jewish community – Margaretten, Morton Silberberg, and Joshua Hans – according to a list of members shared by Pehush.

Silberberg is a member of the Town of Ramapo’s Commission on Ethics. He is also part of the Jewish Council of Rockland, a Monsey-based organization that advocates for Orthodox Jews. Hans is the Captain of Hatzoloh of Rockland County EMS, an Orthodox volunteer-run emergency medical services provider. He is also the Program Coordinator for the Town of Ramapo’s Office of Emergency Preparedness and Safety.

Many of Monsey’s Hasidic women are discouraged – and in some cases, prohibited – from driving cars. Thus, they rely heavily on taxi and car services. 

Lauren Hakimi is a journalist whose work has appeared in The Forward, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, New York Jewish Week, WNYC/Gothamist and more. She graduated from CUNY Hunter College with degrees in history and English literature. Hailing from an Iranian Jewish community on Long Island, she looks forward to shining a light on stories that matter to the Jewish community. Follow her on Twitter @lauren_hakimi.