Anyone who follows northern Brooklyn politics enough quickly learns that there is an incredibly sharp political divide between the two rival factions in Hasidic Williamsburg, where the larger faction favors candidates backed by Brooklyn’s Democratic leader Vito Lopez and the smaller one favors candidates he opposes. With both factions turning out in record numbers in last Tuesday’s election where incumbent Rep. Nydia Velázquez thumped the Lopez-backed candidacy of Councilman Erik Dilan, that smaller faction decided to take a small victory lap today.
In a press release blasted out by George Arzt Communications, the same firm that worked for Ms. Velázquez’s campaign, Rabbi Moshe Indig, a power broker in the the “Aroni” Satmar sect, declared his faction’s ongoing success over Mr. Lopez.
“Though Velázquez lost in Williamsburg, the margin was slim among the Satmar – 47 percent – 43 percent – because of the support of the Aroynem,” the statement declared, with Rabbi Indig adding, “This marks a new era in Brooklyn. In a short period of time the Aroynem have surged and matched the influence of the Zaloynim.”
The rabbi pointed to past victories as well, including Dan Squadron’s successful campaign for the State Senate in 2008 and Lincoln Restler’s bid for the state committee in 2010.
“In the last 3 years whoever the Aroynem have endorsed and supported in Brooklyn, have won,” he declared (This isn’t technically true, as there was another council and district leadership race apiece that went Mr. Lopez’s way in that timespan).
View the full statement below, which Brian Krapf, Executive Vice President at George Arzt, described as a “favor to Rabbi Indig” as opposed to anything from Ms. Velázquez’s campaign:
THE SATMAR PEOPLE IN BROOKLYN FLEX POLITICAL MUSCLE IN NYDIA VELAZQUEZ RACE
AROYNEM SECT NEUTRALIZE IMPACT OF RIVAL ZALOYNIM IN
VELAZQUEZ LANDSLIDE VICTORY
(Brooklyn, NY: Friday, June 29, 2012) Any perceived advantage Brooklyn Democratic Chair Vito Lopez thought he had in Williamsburg’s Satmar Jewish community were strongly dispelled after 20 -year incumbent Nydia Velázquez easily cruised to reelection to Congress this week.
Lopez who tapped City Councilman Erik Dilan to challenge Congresswoman Velázquez, no doubt believed the lockstep support of his longtime allies, the Zaloynim, would be able to deliver all of Williamsburg to Dilan and a potential devastating blow to Velázquez’s reelection hopes. However, the Zaloynim’s rivals in the Satmar community, the Aroynem, who have grown in power since the communities split in 1999, voted en masse for Congresswoman Velázquez, helping her secure her landslide victory.
We certainly delivered a strong political message across the state with Nydia’s victory,” said a leader among the Aroynem, Rabbi Moshe Indig. “Williamsburg is no longer under the complete control of the Zaloynim – the Aroynem has just as much power and influence.”
Though Velázquez lost in Williamsburg, the margin was slim among the Satmar – 47 percent – 43 percent – because of the support of the Aroynem.
“This marks a new era in Brooklyn,” said Rabbi Indig. “In a short period of time the Aroynem have surged and matched the influence of the Zaloynim.”
The Aroynem point to the establishment of their social service organization the JCC of Williamsburg, which rivals the Zaloynim-controlled UJO headed by Rabbi David Niederman, as proof that the Aroynem are on equal footing with their rivals. They have also grown in numbers in Williamsburg and Borough Park in recent years. The Aroynem have 30,000 members in Brooklyn, and 15,000 boys and girls in their Brooklyn school district.
They also point to their successful support of other political leaders including State Senator Daniel Squadron. The Aroynem helped Squadron defeat incumbent State Senator Marty Connor who was backed by Vito Lopez and the Democratic organization. They also helped elect City Councilman David Greenfield and District Leader Lincoln Restler. It is widely reported that the Aroynem now have their sights set on the defeat of City Councilman Steve Levin.
“In the last 3 years whoever the Aroynem have endorsed and supported in Brooklyn, have won,” said Rabbi Indig.
The Aroynem have also exerted their power in Sullivan, Monticello and Orange Counties; Kiryas Joel; Monsey; Spring Valley; along with the Williamsburg and Borough Park sections of Brooklyn.
One of the more recent fights has involved 4 summer camps in Ulster County to which both sects send their children. Both the Aroynem and the Zaloynim laid claim to the camps and the disputes reached the courts. The court ruled they hand no grounds to adjudicate the dispute and urged both sides to negotiate an equitable solution.
While many urged that the Aroynem and Zaloynim to split the camps equally, Vito Lopez tipped the scales toward the Zaloynim with a visit to the Ulster County Executive, Mike Hein. With Lopez at the meeting was Assemblyman Joe Lentol, Councilmembers Steve Levin and Erik Dilan. After the Lopez-applied political pressure, Hein awarded all 4 camps to the Zaloynim in May 2012. The Aroynem have again gone to court, this time arguing Ulster County did not have the authority to award the camps. The case is ongoing.
Following the death of the Satmar Rebbee, Moshe Teitelbaum in April 2006, a succession feud erupted between his sons, Aaron and Zalman. Followers of each brother believe they are the Rebbee’s true successor. As a result these dual communities exist within Satmar communities such as Williamsburg.