New York's Orthodox Voting Bloc Divided on Mayor Race

Brooklyn Orthodox Split Between at Least Three Candidates

Cracks in the Bloc: Satmar Hasidim are vowing to deliver Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox voters to Bill Thompson in the Democratic mayoral primary. But other groups are endorsing Christine Quinn and Bill DiBlasio has support in the community too.
josh nathan-kazis
Cracks in the Bloc: Satmar Hasidim are vowing to deliver Brooklyn ultra-Orthodox voters to Bill Thompson in the Democratic mayoral primary. But other groups are endorsing Christine Quinn and Bill DiBlasio has support in the community too.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published August 29, 2013, issue of September 06, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Whether or not Orthodox Brooklyn is strategically covering its bases, the effect of the scattered, long-withheld endorsements has been to force the candidates to pay attention. The fracturing of the Orthodox vote comes amid a campaign in which Orthodox issues have played an unusually prominent role.

Many candidates backed city aid to private religious schools, a perennial Orthodox priority, and criticized Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to regulate a controversial circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh. De Blasio, in a well-timed move in mid-July, issued a statement in his day job as the city’s public advocate criticizing a Saudi-owned airline for refusing to book Israeli passengers on flights at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. Weiner and Quinn both said in late June and early July that they believed the West Bank to be disputed territory, not occupied territory.

“All the candidates are addressing [our] issues,” said Sofer, whose Satmar faction is expected to make its own endorsement before the end of August. “It’s a phenomenal achievement, in my mind”

For Niederman, Sofer’s Satmar factional counterpart, the fractured vote is simply a political fact.

“We would love that we all go dressed alike, speak alike,” Niederman said. “It doesn’t work that way.”

Orthodox leaders said that they had had trouble settling on an endorsement. Niederman, speaking after announcing that his Satmar faction had endorsed Thompson, said that his group had been choosing among Thompson, de Blasio and Quinn up until the previous day. Dov Hikind, the New York State assemblyman representing Boro Park, praised both de Blasio and Thompson in mid-August, days before coming out for Thompson.

Sofer said that he had been in talks with representatives of Quinn, de Blasio and Thompson, and that his Satmar faction was bouncing back and forth. “In the morning, people [are] pushing this one; in the afternoon, people [are] pushing [that one],” Sofer said.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis.


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!
  • 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!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • 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.