Andrew Yang maintained his virtually unanimous support among Brooklyn’s Chasidic leaders, with the endorsement of activists of ten Chasidic groups in Williamsburg, including both Satmars.
The groups — which include Krasna, Klausenberg, Nitra, Pupa, Skver, Tzelem, Vien and Vizhnitz, as well as both Satmars, which are the two largest Chassidic groups in the city — will officially roll out the endorsement in an ad that will appear in Yiddish newspapers Wednesday, under the banner “Williamsburg United.”
“Mr. Yang stands firmly and openly against the unfounded threats to our education, and he says that he will focus on the outcome of the yeshiva education, rather than allow himself to be swayed by those who oppose it,” reads the ad. “This makes it incumbent upon us to support him.”
The endorsement is for Yang as first choice in the new ranked-choice voting system, with Eric Adams second and Scott Stringer third. In the actual ballot voters fill out, they may rank up to five candidates.
While Yang, an entrepreneur who has never previously held public office, has taken many positions favorable to the Orthodox community — including opposition to the anti-Israel BDS movement, tough on crime, and pro-business policies — none has been more important than his staunch stance in favor of yeshivas’ autonomy to create their own curriculum free from government oversight.
Yang said in a Hamodia interview in March that “the outcomes” for yeshiva students “are the same or better” than public school students’, so “why do people seem to have an issue around the way that these children are being educated?”
Rabbi Moshe Dovid Niederman, Executive Director of the UJO of Williamsburg, and a prominent activist in the Satmar community of the Rebbe Harav Zalman Leib Teitelbaum, discussed the endorsement process with Hamodia on Tuesday, and said that the specter of government regulation of the yeshiva curriculum had the greatest impact in the choice of endorsement.
“Jewish leaders sat down to discuss the community’s needs — and there are many needs,” Rabbi Nederman said. “But what topped the agenda, and became the deciding factor on whom to support, was the issue of our ability to continue what we have been doing for the last 70 years in this country: after fleeing persecution, we came to the United States so that we could continue our tradition of educating our children that has proven successful for thousands of years. Therefore, the consensus was to support Yang.”
Rabbi Niederman said that yeshivas “have an unbelievable track record in the United States for the past seven decades; very few groups can match the outcomes and quality of life of our yeshiva alumni,” and praised Yang “for his statements and unwavering positions even when pressed and ridiculed by opponents and the media.”
Adams, a former state senator who currently serves as Brooklyn borough president, has longstanding ties with Orthodox community members. But his position on yeshivas has wavered.
In response to a question about yeshiva education during an interview with Hamodia, Adams said “We have to create one standard, and give all of our institutions the support they need to meet those standards, and get clear understanding of why they believe there should be different method,” and that as mayor he would have no choice but to enforce the state education guidelines on private schools. Adams subsequently has visited a yeshiva and praised yeshiva education, and taken a position more in favor of yeshiva autonomy.
Also, some in the Williamsburg community dislike Adams for his siding with opponents of a large real-estate project, known as the Broadway Triangle, by a Chasidic developer.
Stringer, who currently serves as city comptroller and has been in public office for three decades, has sidestepped direct questions about enforcing government standards on yeshivas, telling Hamodia, “I want every child to get the education that he or she needs. And I’m going to work with the yeshivah community that I have strong relations with to make sure that we meet the standards that are applied.”
Stringer, who for years was considered a mainstream Democrat, has angered many in the Jewish community with a move to the Left in recent years, including endorsing several candidates who were supported by the Democratic Socialists of America.
Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants seeking to become the city’s first Asian-American mayor, had previously locked up the support of a coalition of activists from Boro Park Chasidic groups and yeshivos, including Belz, Bobov, Bobov-45, Ger, Klausenberg, Munkatch, Pupa, both Satmars, Yeshiva Darkei Chaim, Yeshiva Mevakshei Hashem, and Bnos Chaya.
Four weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary, Yang has received the support of every Chasidic group and yeshiva, and every Orthodox elected official, that has made an endorsement in the mayoral race, including Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein and Councilman Kalman Yeger of Brooklyn, and Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal of Queens.
The only Orthodox endorsements to have gone to other candidates thus far are by former Queens Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, who is supporting Stringer; and The Jewish Press, which endorsed Adams.
“Despite constant media criticism of his positions, Andrew Yang has continued to stand firmly with us and demonstrate that he is a friend to our community,” Rosenthal told Hamodia on Tuesday. “While we appreciate the outreach we have received from several candidates, Andrew has been most sincere and genuine on the issues most important us.”
“Andrew Yang is making the case to frum communities around the city how he will keep us safe, help our city recover, and finally make us feel like a partner in New York City’s government,” Yeger said. “For far too long, we’ve been cast aside, ostracized and disincluded. I know Andrew will change that, and that’s why frum communities around the city are coalescing around Andrew.”
Yang’s hiring of David Schwartz as his Jewish Community Outreach Director is viewed as a major factor in the coalescing of Jewish leaders around the candidate. Earlier this month, Yang co-campaign manager Chris Coffey said on a Zoom call with reporters, “The work that David has done in the Orthodox community has been miraculous.”
“If you had told me on January 13, when we got into this race, that we were going to be leading” in the Orthodox community, said Coffey, “I think folks would have said you’re crazy. And I think it’s a testament to our hard work, to David’s strategy, and we are really proud of it.”
In describing the demographics that constitute Yang’s base, Coffey said, “It’s an unusual coalition … I think we start off with Asians, Orthodox Jews and folks in Staten Island.”
Most recent polls have shown Yang and Adams in a tight battle for first place, with Stringer third. Other candidates with momentum are Maya Wiley, a progressive civil-rights lawyer and former MSNBC commentator viewed as having performed well in the first mayoral debate earlier this month; and Kathryn Garcia, a former city Sanitation commissioner, who had been mired in the low single digits before recent endorsements by The New York Times and Daily News. According to Politico, a poll by Emerson College/Pix11 that was to be released later Tuesday shows Garcia leading for the first time, followed by Adams and Yang.
The next mayoral debate, and the first in which candidates will appear in person rather than virtually, will be held June 2.