Monday, May 07, 2012

How powerful are the Orthodox Jews?

How powerful are the Orthodox Jews? Very, says the New York Times in a special issue of Metropolitan that discusses NYC power brokers. Orthodox Jews, are listed with the Catholics, as the only important religious power blocs. See the full article, with my cheppering, after the jump.

It is not as if the Jews of Brooklyn suddenly had opinions. (Haha! Zing! Jews have opinions! Zowee, the Times is funneee!) But in recent years, they have discovered a forum to share them — the Internet — (Not if the Gedolim get their way!) and a place to express them: the polls.

When Bob Turner, a Republican, defeated David I. Weprin, a Jewish Democratic candidate, in a special election for Anthony D. Weiner’s Congressional seat in September, with heavy Orthodox support, it was seen as a vote on President Obama’s position on Israel.

When Councilman Lewis A. Fidler, a Democrat from south Brooklyn, failed to win outright a seat in a special State Senate election in March (the vote count is still held up in court proceedings), it was partly because David Storobin, the Republican candidate, criticized his opponent’s support of same-sex marriage, and a vocal group of rabbis supported him.

Both races were covered* extensively on the Web sites of Voz Iz Neias (“What Is News,” in Yiddish) and Yeshiva World News,(aka the worse site in the world, or "made for morons, by morons") and debated on Twitter and Facebook. (*Covered is an odd word choice. Don't you mean "using almost nothing but articles written by other people, and taken from other publications, with no extra commentary or insights provided,  in express violation of both halahca and copy-write law?" That's wordy, sure, but accurate.)

Amid the special circumstances of the elections, one outcome was clear: “The Orthodox community has emerged as a stand-alone force that needs to be reckoned with,” said Ezra Friedlander, who runs a public-affairs consulting company. (This just in: Earth round. I don't know where you have been sleeping, Ezra, but the Orthodox community has been a "stand-alone force that needs to be reckoned with" for ages, and Jews in general, have had a ton of NYC clout since LaGuardia was a mayor, not an airport.)

Though Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn are registered mostly as Democrats, their recent history, and their support of Michael R. Bloomberg in the 2009 mayoral race, “really makes the Orthodox Jewish vote the last true swing vote in the city,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield, who represents Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst. (Uh huh, because Bloomberg is such a bonafide Republican. You left out how the Hasidim are almost always going to vote Democrat, both for the sake of the "programs" and for the sake of the bed in which the Democrats and Hasidic leaders are sleeping in together.)

The Orthodox community, led by younger social media-aware voters, tends to focus on social services like tuition assistance for yeshivas, busing and housing, but votes socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage. (Just like Evangelical Christians. Aren't we proud?) Their numbers are growing. According to the census, since the previous count, Borough Park was the one neighborhood in the city with more than 100,000 people that grew, by 5.2 percent.

The Orthodox influence will likely be diluted on the state level, at least, by redistricting, which has concentrated the Orthodox of south Brooklyn into a “Super Jewish” district.

But in the city, the group’s impact on the 2013 mayoral election could be significant in the Democratic primary, and perhaps more so if Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly decides to enter the race on the Republican side.

“I don’t think the Orthodox community has made up its mind who it will support,” Mr. Friedlander said. “No candidate should take the Orthodox community for granted.” (Really, Ezra? If a cop is running against an open lesbian (Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, who already has Bloomie's endorsement) you don't know who the OJ community will support? Memo to the NYT: Why don't you find someone who actually, um, knows something to add the exotic ethnic color to your silly little articles?)

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