How the Hasidic Community votes

How the Hasidic Community votes

So many people assume that Hasidim, like other conservative groups, vote on religious values issues. They assume that Hasidim care about gay marriage and abortion because that’s a Christian conservative political issue. I often explain the distinction between Ultra-Orthodox Jewish attitudes towards politics and that of the Conservative Right. While the conservative right considers the law as a source of moral law and instruction, Hasidim see the Torah as the source of moral law. They also don’t consider that which is outside of their community their moral concern. So Hasidim vote largely based on the interest of the community.

They vote like a union, collectively advancing the interest of the whole by voting as one, and supporting candidates seen as favorable to that union.

Here are some of the pre-primary election (for Governor of New York and Attorney General of New York) posters in Hasidic Williamsburg in 2018.

This poster urges people to vote for candidates who “understand and respect our rights.”
In the red part it cries, “We need to ensure that the government officials don’t give in to their provocations!” This refers to Yaffed and other activist efforts that have been trying to force change in Hasidic boy’s schools through legal action with the city and state.
The poster says, “In the current elections some far left candidates are running, and it is expected that they will have less understanding of our religious rights, and there is a terrible danger that they will buy into (not monetarily!) the empty provocations.”

This is another poster appealing to people on the grounds of preserving Hasidic education. It says, “Our holy education is under attack by vicious elements. The attorney general candidate ‘Tish James’ promised to fight discrimination and vicious attacks on religion in particular.”

Again—this is about defending Hasidic education status quo. “The future of Orthodox Judaism is on the line! Every registered Democrat in the entirety of New York State is asked, for the good of the public and the individual, to vote in the primary elections this Thursday for Letitia (Tish) James.”

This is from the newspaper and it lists the following reasons to vote for Tish James: “from parks to the eruv (wire to allow for carrying on Shabbes.) From education to building yeshivas. From businesses to social services, there are hateful elements on the street (within the population?) and in the government who aim their hate against pious Jews. An Attorney General has the choice to god-forbid join the hate, or to defend the rights of the local people and to treat with empathy in judgement when someone messes up with the law.” (Gay/abortion/Israel issues much? Ha!)

“Investigations! Abloves (??), arrests!”

I have no idea what abloves means; I sometimes wonder if some standard Yiddish speaker wrote these, because I’ll often have to ask German speakers to translate some words for me, like “tzil bret” in this one, which I didn’t know was a shooting target. This poster promises to go after serious crime.

This poster advocates for Simcha Felder and is another warning about the far left’s lack of religious understanding. “If you stay home, you elect left-liberals.” The poster warns that this can mean no door-to-door transportation (for the kids, to school (Williamsburg is known to be a hub of school buses), no millions in funding for the community, danger to the traditional education.

This is another ad for Simcha Felder, thanking him for helping the community, especially with the breakthrough of the “school bus transportation program.” “The program helps substantially with the safety of our children, and helps with the high transportation costs of the parents.”

​In other words, you can see why people would want to vote in the bloc. Hasidic voters benefit personally from their candidates.


Orthodox politics: on Trump

Apocryphal stories about Trump

Anatomy of the Hasidic Yiddish newspaper

Kavanaugh allegations and Hasidic censorship

  • Sina Dener
    Posted at 22:14h, 12 October Reply

    Dear Frieda,

    I very much like and appreciate your site / blog – it is very informative; I have learned a lot about Hasidism, especially the Satmar Hasidim, whom I consider particularly interesting and fascinating.

    I have several additional questions:

    1. What do Satmar and other Hasidic groups think about issues like abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and same-sex marriage? Are all of them completely opposed to it, or are there different views?

    2. What is your personal opinion on YAFFED, and its efforts to introduce more secular studies in Hasidic boy schools?

    3. Is there a large Satmar community in Jerusalem? If yes, in which neighborhoods do most of them live? Mea Shearim, maybe?

    4. Which other Hasidic groups have a significant number of followers in Williamsburg and Kiryas Joel? Are all Hasidic groups residing in Williamsburg anti-Zionist?

    Thank you very much, and keep up the good work you do!

  • Yoel
    Posted at 16:17h, 07 November Reply

    “Ablovas” means something like “police searches”, and it’s a term used more by Yiddish literature in Russia, I guess it’s from some Slovic/Russian similar term.

  • Yoel
    Posted at 16:52h, 07 November Reply

    Reply to Sina Dener

    In regards to 1, orthodox jews are basing their opinions on the Torah and Halacha, according to which same sex marriages are prohibited while the others you have mentioned might have a place sometimes based on the specific circumstances.

    However orthodox jews usually believe in full separation of church and state and thus usually hold the view that the government shouldn’t mix in all these.

    Besides same sex marriages which while the orthodox jews have mostly an issue with the government explicitly legalizing it and sometimes have issues voting for candidates that are pushing it strongly as they consider that the voter might be responsible for legitimizing a sin, still they don’t really care so much in general what the American law says because the Ultra Orthodox don’t think they are to be affected of it…

    In regards to 3, there isn’t such a big Community of Satmar in Jerusalem and those that are live all over Jerusalem but many Meah Sheorim people and most communities that follow the Eidah Hachardis are very similar to Satmar and keep close ties to them.

    In regards to 4 the biggest group in Williamsburg besides Satmar is Pupa, while Kiryas Joel is almost exclusively Satmar.

    Most other chasidim in Williamsburg that aren’t Satmar are not that extreme as Satmar regarding Zionism but are also usually not pro zionism, besides probably some very small groups

    • Frieda Vizel
      Posted at 17:26h, 07 November Reply

      Very good and informative comment. Thanks.

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