News Roundup – Mon. 1/25
Now it has an official name: the Great Williamsburg Bike Wars. (Although without a Wikipedia entry its status as a real war is somewhat suspect.) And tonight at 7:30 pm the debate is on at Pete’s Candy Store on Lorimer Street: Hasidim vs. Hipsters. Representing the hipsters: Heather Loop (of Topless Bike Ride fame). Representing the Hasidim: Isaac Abraham. Representing the Traif Bike Gesheft: Baruch Herzfeld. Baruch, you’re one of us! Remember your people and don’t sell out!
Unpious.com doesn’t have staff available to attend the debate, but we would appreciate any first-hand accounts. A blow-by-blow would be awesome. Send updates to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brotherly love is always a beautiful thing, but especially when it’s between feuding brothers over the leadership succession of their sect. The brothers Mendel and Srultche Hager were seen attending a Bar Mitzvah together, schmoozing amicably as if all was well in the Vizhnitz court. And while the images may be deceptive – we all know there’s no real love lost between the two – they deserve credit for a display of unity that Satmar or Bobov just can’t muster. Is it Moshiach’s tzeiten, or does Vizhnitz just have a knack for providing sensational images?
Two weeks ago I posted Pat Robertson’s take on the calamity in Haiti and wondered if we could ever top that. Well, we have! Our very own Avi Shafran blames a comic strip artist. I kid you not. Shafran thinks Eli Valley’s strip in last week’s Forward, which mocks Orthodox outreach efforts, violates the Chofetz Chaims exhortations against evil speech. And in a literary flourish only Shafran can manage, he closes his article saying, “Hatred and the misuse of the holy power of speech are not small evils. We would understand that they shake the very earth under our feet.” Literally.
Jerusalem cemeteries always seem horribly confounding. My own frustrations were generally on Har Hamenuchos, with the terraced hills of row after row of gravestones seeming virtually identical, it’s always been something of an adventure finding a particularly sought-after gravestone. But it’s the more venerable cemetery, the far less organized and much beleaguered Mount of Olives, that will now be somewhat more navigable. A new project will list all known gravestones, upwards of 200,000 in all, in an online searchable database, to make visiting easier. Indeed, using Yad Avshalom as a guidepost towards any particular spot on that unwieldy mount of ancient tombs had proven faulty many a time. Hopefully, the database will make it easier for the Messiah too, when he comes to raise those old bones from the dead.
New York State Assemblymember Dov Hikind is king and kingmaker of Borough Park politics: so the conventional wisdom has been for decades. But his era of peerless rule is now in question. The Hasidic community recently chose conservative Democrat John Heyer for city council in a district that covers a small portion of Borough Park, and spurned Hikind’s choice of pro-choice and pro-gay marriage candidate Brad Lander.
Now Hikind had no choice but to back longtime civil servant Joe Lazar in the special election to succeed Simcha Felder for the 44th District City Council seat – instead of his first choice, Civil Court Judge Noach Dear – to placate the Hasidic community, who were considering putting up a candidate of their own. But all is not well in Hikind headquarters. David Greenfield, who got his political start working as Hikind’s chief of staff, is putting up a serious challenge for the city council seat, which essentially turns this election into a referendum on Dov Hikind’s political influence. Kings don’t last forever, Dov. And while, personally, I have no beef with the esteemed assemblyman, it does seem like an intense political fight worth watching.Printable Version