While not all residents of Brooklyn’s so-called “Super Jewish” District — a.k.a. State Senate District 17 — are Orthodox Jews or Russian immigrants, the candidates clearly have put a lot of emphasis on Orthodox voters.
Democrat/Conservative candidate Simcha Felder, according to his campaign manager, E. O’Brien Murray, does not have a web site because few in what Murray described as “the community” use the Internet, and many are actively hostile to it. In that case, a website seemed likely to be more trouble than it’s worth, particularly since, Murray said, you constantly have to update it.
Felder’s flyers promote him as “the only heimishe” candidate for state senator. (The word means “homey” but its nuances are debated on various Jewish and Yiddish blogs.) The video on You Tube accompanying a jingle promoting the Republican candidate, State Sen. David Storobin, shows Storobin with a number of rabbis and does not include a single bare-headed man, let alone a woman.
As Storobin traveled from polling site to polling site this morning, he wore a lapel pin reading, “I am a proud black hatter.” The slogan came in response to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s boast in a recent interview that, in regulating a circumcision practice that involves sucking blood from the baby’s wound he had demonstrated the backbone to stand up to “10,000 guys in black hats outside your office, screaming.”
Both candidates have opposed the regulation although Felder, a longtime Bloomberg ally, was slower to speak out than Storobin. The two candidates also condemned Bloomberg’s comment — Felder in a joint statement with Councilman David Greenfield called it “offensive and derisive language aimed towards our community.” That has not stopped Storobin from trying to link Felder and Bloomberg. In particular, Storobin has charged that by supporting the extension of term limits as a key City Councilmember, Felder helped give us Bloomberg’s third term and, one assumes, its regulation of circumcision.
Outside P.S. 99 in Midwood this morning a number of Hasidic men came up to Storobin to express their support. One young man stopped Storobin to complain that he had been unable to vote for him, apparently because he lives on the wrong side of 18th Avenue, but said he had tried to persuade many of those who could vote for Storobin to do so. “I like your pro-family and anti-gay stance,” he said. “The other things are important, but we really need that.”
While Felder says “only God knows” the outcome of the election at this point, his staff maintained he also has lots of support. “This is his community,” Murray said as Felder waited in line to vote in Kensington. “People know him. People love him.”
(Disclosure: I am a District 17 resident who is neither Orthodox nor a Russian immigrant.)