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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New York - City Faces Balancing Act As Hasidic Community Grows

New York - With latest population numbers showing ultra-Orthodox Jews making up close to one-third of the Jewish population in the city, scholars and political analysts say that city government will be forced to strike a delicate balance as clashes between Hasidic and secular cultures continue to flare up.
The NEW YORK TIMES Reports that as fast as ultra-Orthodox numbers are growing, so too is its political clout due to a “politically astute new generation of ultra-Orthodox leaders.”

WIth an almost exclusive ability to turn followers into “cohesive” voting blocs, grand rebbes of Hasidic sects are welding political power not seen in the city for generations.
“No one can deliver votes like a rebbe can,” said Samuel Heilman, a sociology professor at the City University of New York and scholar on the ultra-Orthodox.

“They are no longer an obscure group,” said Heilman.
Examples of the ultra-Orthodox power are becoming more prominent, say analysts, with prime examples being specific nights set aside in Brooklyn so that each mayoral candidate could personally relate their views to Hasidics on the controversial issue of metzitzah b’peh, and the policy-altering subject of using well water in the baking of matzos.

Rabbi David Niederman, executive director of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said many issues that the community butts heads with the city over are “core Jewish religious beliefs and will not change, but where there’s ways to work with the government, we will do that.”

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