Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Rival Satmar sects join forces to back Yang first, Adams second 

Brooklyn's two competing Satmar Hasidic sects are uniting to endorse Andrew Yang for New York City mayor, according to two sources familiar with the decision.

An ad is expected to run on Wednesday in several Yiddish newspapers that will list Yang as the community's first choice for mayor, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams as the second choice and City Comptroller Scott Stringer as third.

More than a dozen community leaders will sign the ad, the sources said, requesting anonymity ahead of the official announcement. They will include rabbis from the usually opposing Satmar factions known as the Zaloynim and Aroynem. The two groups split contentiously in the early 2000s after the death of the sect's leading rabbi and have backed competing candidates in local elections.

But the moment calls for political unity, said Rabbi David Niederman, head of the powerful United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and a leading figure in the Zaloynim community. Concerns about if and how elected officials will follow up on the findings of a 2019 Department of Education probe that found several yeshivas not meeting the city's legally required standards for secular education has united the often competing factions, said Niederman.

"Education is the key to ensuring our community can continue our cultural and religious norms," Niederman told POLITICO. Yang was the first mayoral candidate to address the yeshiva issue, weighing in on the debate over secular education at yeshivas in February by affirming his commitment to "parental choice" and cultural autonomy.

POLITICO reported the move was likely earlier this month. The Forward first broke the endorsement Monday night.

Sources close to the matter also say Eric Adams assumed a "threatening" tone with community leaders when he learned that his endorsement was not a given. In an interview with a popular Orthodox magazine earlier this month, Adams warned community members that "The worst thing you can do right now is abandon your old friend." He compared Yang to a "shiny new toy" and himself to stock in Microsoft.

Menashe Shapiro, with the Adams campaign, strongly denied the candidate adopted an aggressive stance in meetings with Jewish community leaders.


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