Friday, June 18, 2021
He’ll get you out of jail for Shabbos: Posters pop up in Brooklyn calling on Borough Park community to support aspiring judge
Get out of jail free — and in time for Shabbos!
Campaign posters touting an aspiring Brooklyn judge bizarrely claim candidate Charles Finkelstein will help spring Jewish suspects from lockup before Shabbat if they're arrested on a Friday, even as he seeks a seat in civil rather than criminal court.
Finkelstein is one of three civil court candidates in the borough's June 22 primary, and a Borough Park poster put up by the "Committee for the Good of the Community" asserts the 56-year-old is the most deserving vote in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood.
"A policeman stops you on a beautiful Friday afternoon and he arrests you, God forbid, and brings you to the jail ... If we have someone inside, that is the easiest way to get you out before Shabbos," read one poster written in Yiddish and seen by the Daily News.
The poster also asserted Finkelstein has a "good chance to win... even if he doesn't get the votes of the Blacks or the women."
If non-Jewish voters support either of the two Black women candidates running against Finkelstein, as the sign suggested, the Jewish candidate can win with just over one-third of the vote.
"Their votes will be divided between two candidates," the flier said. "That means that Mr. [Finkelstein] needs to get only 34% of the votes to win, and he has a good chance to do that. We only now seek to get out the masses of votes for Charles Finkelstein and thereby assure that we will have a good friend (in the) court house."
The word used to describe Black people in the missive is "tinkele," which literally translates to dark, and is considered by some Yiddish speakers to be a derogatory way to refer to Black people. Others said it is not necessarily racist depending on context, but Finkelstein insisted that he never signed off on the message either way.
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"I don't speak Yiddish and it's not authorized," he told The News. "That's not the way I speak."
The former Brooklyn prosecutor and defense attorney shrugged off the promise to spring his Jewish constituents from jail cells in time for Saturday services.
"Anyone who gets arrested close to Shabbos, you try to expedite it if you can help them to get out," he said, adding that courts try to get people out "before Christmas or New Year's" as well.
"But as a judge, I wouldn't make any calls. And there's no calls to make," Finkelstein explained.
Running against Finkelstein are two Black women, Igna O'neale and Casilda Elena Roper-Simpson, seeking the Civil Court seat that handles lawsuits, divorces and other matters.
Finkelstein ran for civil court in 2012 and lost to Steven Mostofsky, whose son Aaron was arrested in the Capitol riots in January.
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