UPDATED CLARIFICATION: In Borough Park There Are Laws And Then There Are Laws
You don’t need to be a Talmudic scholar to understand that the bigwigs at Borough Park yeshivas and nonprofits are raking in the big bucks while poverty-stricken Orthodox Jewish families are given the shaft.
And every Thursday afternoon before Shabbat when these bigwigs leave boxes of food on the doorsteps of impoverished Jews while they pick their pockets for yeshiva tuition, it doesn’t seem to live up to the highest form of Talmudic charity or tzedakah.
But that’s the way politics and economics goes in the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community. They take care of their own as long as the top get theres.
Which also helps explain why the neighborhood’s top yeshiva and non-profit bigwigs signed on to a full-page ad in the Jewish newspaper Hamodia wishing City Councilman David Greenfield a Mazel Tov (Good Luck) at his new gig heading the Met Council on Jewish Poverty and pledging support for his hand-picked successor, Kalman Yeger.
Considering how much taxpayer money some of these organizations received through Greenfield’s city council office coupled with the fear of losing financial support if they don’t support Yeger, signing on to the ad was the least they could do. Even if it does border on illegal for non-profits to be directly involved in campaign advertisements, particularly if they are getting government funding.
But the legality or lack thereof is besides the point. The message behind the ad is to let the community know that Yeger’s coronation to the city council is a done deal. That there’s no use in fighting the inevitable.
And for now, the ploy seems to be working. Yoni Hikind, a therapist by trade who works with some of the community’s most troubled youth including those with substance abuse issues, told KCP that he’s always wanted to follow in his father, Assemblymember Dov Hikind’s footsteps, to help people and do good things for the community.
“Running for office is something I’ve been considering for 36 years,” said Yoni, “but I have to take a look [at running for the city council seat] and see what’s involved.”
For two days, Yoni said he’d get back to KCP with a photo and more of his plans, but for now he hasn’t. Ditto for the Hikind family ally, Democratic District Leader David Schwartz, who some would like to see run, but who has ruled it out for now.
Real Estate attorney and Republican District Leader Nachman Caller is said to be looking at running, but surprisingly JPUpdatesPublisher Moshe Friedman called KCP saying he was Caller’s spokesperson, although sources say that he secretly supports Greenfield.
“The bottom line is there is no outrage over [Greenfield] handing someone the seat. Nobody wants to run. Maybe people think David Greenfield can deliver even more at the Met Council,” said Friedman.
It’ still too early to know for sure where all this will lead, but one thing is for sure. When it comes to following the letter but not the spirit of the law, the powerful in the orthodox and Hasidic community of Borough Park have it down pat.
It leaves one wondering how they follow Talmudic laws.
Editor’s Clarification: The Hamodia ad was paid for by Yeger For City Council, and not the people listed on the ad.
Alright already, I acknowledge I may or may not have taken a few angry cheap shots at Yeshivas and Kalman Yeger. That said, I’ve been in the journalism game long enough to know when you go down the rabbit hole of apologizing for something you’ve written it only makes matters worse. So I’ll own what I’ve written, lick my wounds and move on.
Regarding, Mr. Yeger, I personally believe it is always better to have a spirited campaign of ideas with at least two candidates, but if this is who Borough Park wants to represent them in the city council, so be it. I’ll put any anger I may or may not have aside, put on my most objective hat and henceforth judge Mr. Yeger on his merits.
Regarding the comments on this website as well as from people who personally called me that said or insinuated I am somehow anti-Semitic and/or endorse the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, you are even more off base than any comments made about Yeshivas and the leadership of Borough Park.
I went to cheder and was bar mitzvah at Skokie Central Traditional Congregagtion, an orthodox shul, which is still going strong. In Skokie, where I spent my entire childhood into early adulthood, we were always a tight-knit Jewish community. The intent of this column, as misguided as it may or may not have been, was to stand up for the poor Jews struggling to come up with tuition money. That’s a far cry from me writing or insinuating in any way that there is a grand conspiracy of my people, whom I love and support, to own the world. If these comments didn’t hurt so much they would be laughable.