Yang is close to winning the support of powerful New York Orthodox leaders
The Adams campaign claimed that at least one of the twelve and a half rabbis listed as endorsing Yang were “not allowed” to speak on behalf of their congregations. “The person listed under ‘Munkatch’ has no institutional authority to endorse Yang,” Adams adviser Menashe Shapiro said.
Yang’s Orthodox liaison David Schwartz disputed the charge that Munkatch’s endorsement of Yang was illegitimate, and pointed to reports in Jewish media indicating that the rabbinical endorsements claimed by Adam’s campaign had been falsified.
The intensity of the struggle for Orthodox support underscores the political importance of The Rabbis of New York. And after extensive state and city scrutiny of yeshivas in recent years, the approach to religious education is central to their support.
“The yeshiva issue has gained more visibility than ever before,” said David Bloomfield, professor of education at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center and advocate for greater oversight of secular education in the yeshivas.
He criticized what he sees as “political catnip” used by candidates to “win over a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders, whose approval could easily translate into thousands of constituent votes.” He said the emergence of the yeshivas as a “major political issue in this campaign” is a first – and a testament to the growing importance of “winning the single interest voting blocs”.
Yang first floundered in the secular education debate in the yeshivas in February, asserting “parental choice” and calling for redressing what he sees as a “complete lack of trust” between the Haredi Orthodox community and the government. from the city.
Adams visited a yeshiva in Borough Park in March which had been one of the schools subject to a 2019 investigation by the city’s Education Department into some schools that did not meet secular education standards. He returned from his visit to the Brooklyn yeshiva “really impressed with what he sees”, Shapiro said. In April, Adams continued with a series of visits to Orthodox communities in the five boroughs, hoping to build a coalition of support.
“As president of the Brooklyn Borough, Adams already has a natural connection with this community,” Shapiro said. “He has worked closely with this community for years.”
But Adams also isolated some leaders.
In 2008, he defended Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam known for his anti-Semitic remarks, by criticizing the late Major Owens’ decision to denounce the controversial figure. In 2015, Adams dismayed Hasidic residents of South Williamsburg by backing an offer to allow a local event space in the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank to acquire a liquor license, even after hundreds of neighbors declared themselves opposites. And in 2017, Adams’ opposition to an 1,146-unit apartment complex in the Broadway Triangle was decried by Orthodox community leaders like Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn as barely veiled anti-Semitism.
“No other politician has been as disrespectful and involved in our community as he is,” said an Adams community insider – who requested anonymity to speak freely – adding that the Williamsburg rabbis are leaning towards approval from Yang in the coming weeks.
Shapiro said the claims were a “false and slanderous lie, possibly spread by the shaken Yang gang.” He said, “Eric has a great relationship with the leaders of Williamsburg” and will likely be back in the neighborhood to meet with the community leaders this week.
Although the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg has deep internal divisions, Yang’s targeted appeal to community interests – primarily a hands-off approach among the yeshivas – might be enough to unite factions in the community that previously disagreed. Politics.
“There is generally a political detente between the two sides of Satmar,” said Council member Steve Levin, whose district includes parts of Williamsburg. “It will be interesting to see if the opposing Satmar camps come together to support a candidate for mayor.”
Levin, who endorsed mayoral candidate Maya Wiley, said he “was not surprised” that his neighbors at Hasidic Williamsburg found a “compelling candidate” in Yang.
“His more moderate positions are attractive in this community, and the fact that he is clearly willing to engage with them and try to understand their issues,” he said.
When pressed last week for specific promises Yang made to the Orthodox community – including how or whether he will respond to a December 2019 survey by the city’s education ministry that found that a number of yeshivas did not meet the state’s education requirements – Eichenstein said his “Many conversations” with the former presidential candidate convinced him that Yang would be a “no excuse” lawyer.
“Andrew Yang has shown that he understands the uniqueness of our community and that he wants to work with us,” Eichenstein said.