As the only Jewish candidate in the race, Anthony Weiner is making an aggressive play for votes in the Jewish community, with an intense focus on the ultra-Orthodox community, the NY Times writes, in an extensive profile, Monday morning.
“I don’t feel [the sexting scandal] is going to affect his being mayor,” Mr. Benenfeld, a clothing store manager in Midwood, told the Times. “He got over it. He got therapy. His wife forgave him. We’ve moved on, just as we did with President Bill Clinton. I don’t judge a person by his personal life.”
While many of the candidates – such as William C. Thompson Jr. and Bill de Blasio – rely on their long history working with the community, Mr. Weiner, who’s seeking to get a chunk of that votes, appears to be making progress, according to the Times. He is often welcomed warmly in Jewish settings. And he recently met with the grand rabbi of Munkacs, Moshe Leib Rabinovich, who bestowed legitimacy if not quite an imprimatur by stating, according to a Hasid who was there, that Mr. Weiner had a record of helping the community. (Mr. Weiner once aided the Munkacs sect by getting the State Department to help secure Jewish grave sites in the town of Munkacz, Ukraine.)
“The fact that the Munkacser Rebbe was willing to sit down with him meant he was being treated as a serious candidate,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, told the Times. Mr. Hikind, who has not endorsed a mayoral candidate, said many Orthodox Jews admire Mr. Weiner as a fighter who was able to pick himself up and “get out of the mud” when his political career seemed un-salvageable.
“To underestimate Weiner is to make a huge mistake,” Mr. Hikind said.
“When he was involved in the neighborhood, he was very good,” said Ephraim Nierenberg, 50, a real estate manager. “He helped every constituent out.”
But still, in Borough Park, residents seemed divided over what to make of Mr. Weiner.
“He committed something pretty horrendous, for a person who is supposed to be a role model,” said Dolly Rabinovich, an Orthodox Jew, though not Hasidic.
“The scandal made him someone I cannot trust,” said Rabbi Yaakov Klein, 50, a teacher at Yeshiva Ohr Yitzchok in Midwood, as he shopped at Pomegranate, a kosher specialty foods emporium. “His integrity is lacking. If you’re trusting him with public matters, you want his personal life to be beyond reproach.”
Yaakov Kornreich, a journalist for Jewish publications who is associated with the Midwood-based “yeshivish” or “black hat” community, said it will be hard for many Orthodox Jewish voters to forgive Mr. Weiner for marrying a non-Jew. Mr. Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime personal aide to Hillary Clinton, is Muslim, though Mr. Kornreich said that her particular belief is not as much an issue as the fact that she is not Jewish.
“There’s a feeling that he betrayed the Orthodox community, its values and standards, by marrying out of the faith,” he said. “He literally crossed a red line that is enforced in this community.”