You think your family has issues? Consider the Weberman clan.
Nechemya Weberman was convicted December 10 for child sexual abuse in a landmark case that underlined the massive support he enjoyed in the Satmar Hasidic community. But it turns out that he is just one high-profile member of a sprawling brood, whose diverse activities have made them one of that community’s more notable families.
Besides the newly minted felon, the extended Weberman family includes an anti-Zionist who broke bread with Holocaust deniers in Tehran six years ago; an immigration attorney who got the Satmar rebbe into America after World War II, and a Yippie “garbologist,” famous for sorting through the trash of Bob Dylan, among other things.
From the Satmars’ perspective, the singular bad apple in the barrel may be neither the anti-Zionist nor the convicted child abuser. It is the garbologist, Alan Jules Weberman, a secular left-wing activist better known as A.J. Weberman, who has recently put up a website to trash his Hasidic relatives and the entire Satmar community.
Long before he took on his Hasidic relatives, A.J. Weberman’s associations with trashing were of a different nature. He dove into Dylan’s garbage during the course of a years-long obsessive pursuit of the composer and singer in the early 1970s. The garbage diving was just part of his fanatic and often eccentric research into Dylan’s life and the supposed hidden messages in his lyrics. Rolling Stone magazine referred to Weberman in June 2007 as “the king of all Dylan nuts.”
And that is but one of his claims to fame. A.J. Weberman, who is Nechemya Weberman’s second cousin, was also an early member of the Youth International Party, a group of left-wing activists whose founders included prominent 1960s agitators Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. Paradoxically, he is also a close associate of Jewish Defense Organization founder Mordechai Levy, whose fringe group is a spin-off of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane’s militant right-wing Jewish Defense League.