A Satmar Rally To Endorse Mayoral Candidate Bill Thompson Veers Off-Script

Heckler Detained by Hasidic Activists in Brooklyn

Hustled Away: Zimmerman was protesting Satmar Hasidic community leader David Niederman when he was hustled into a Judaica shop by Satmar activists.
Josh Nathan-Kazis
Hustled Away: Zimmerman was protesting Satmar Hasidic community leader David Niederman when he was hustled into a Judaica shop by Satmar activists.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published August 27, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Hasidic activists accosted a man who disrupted a rally by Satmar Hasidim endorsing New York City Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, briefly detaining him inside a nearby Judaica store.

The careful stagecraft of the event went awry as one Hasidic speaker concluded praising Thompson and Satmar Hasidic community leader David Niederman took the podium. A man later identified as Zimmerman shouted criticisms of Niederman, the rally’s organizer. Onlookers quickly grabbed the man and shuffled him forcefully away from the gathering at the corner of Rodney Street and Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, the Satmar’s Brooklyn base, and into a store around the corner.

“This is wonderful,” Niederman said of the disruption, shortly before Zimmerman was hustled away. “Democracy is all about freedom.” “

Niederman is a leading figure in the larger of the two Satmar factions in Williamsburg, though Zimmerman’s criticism did not appear to be related to the dispute between the Satmar sects.

The men grabbed Zimmerman and shoved him into Bais Hasefer, a gifts and Judaica store on Lee Avenue around the corner from the rally. A large group of Hasidic men and reporters gathered around the storefront. Shouting could be heard inside the store, though it did not appear that Zimmerman was being harmed.

After a few moments, a man not dressed in traditional Satmar garb exited Bais Hasefer to demand that reporters stop photographing the incident.

“I’ll break your camera,” the man said to this reporter. He then flashed an identity card with what looked like a police seal in the corner. He declined to produce the card for further inspection, and later declined to identify himself.

When asked by this reporter if he was threatening him, the man said: “Yes.”

The man who had been hustled away was seen leaving Bais Hasefer on his own after roughly five minutes.

Bystanders asserted that the man, who later identified himself with the single name Zimmerman, was mentally ill. He appeared to be well known among the Williamsburg Satmars.

Before he was accosted, Zimmerman shouted that Niederman does “not represent traditional Jews.”

Approached after the rally, Zimmerman was exceptionally reserved. “We are traditional Jews and we are against the immorality,” he told the Forward.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.