Op-Ed: Why Did Yitzchok Pindrus Endorse David Weprin?

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As the campaign to replace Anthony Weiner for NY-9 heats up, both candidates rolled out their endorsements. After receiving a key endorsement from former Gov. George Pataki this week, Bob Turner, the Republican candidate, announced the support from Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Hikind’s support is noteworthy as he crossed party lines and endorsed Turner over his orthodox-Jewish counterpart in the Assembly. David Weprin countered those with Sen. Charles Schumer’s endorsement. Nevertheless, the biggest shocker of all came soon thereafter: Yitzchak Pindrus, the orthodox-Jewish Deputy mayor of Jerusalem endorsed Weprin.

In a letter addressed to the Jewish community, Pindrus claimed that Weprin will be a reliable friend who won’t cave into the Obama administration’s pressure. “David has never been afraid to speak in our defense and has always displayed courage when Israel needs to be defended,” he stated.

The question is unambiguous: How does Pindrus, a deputy mayor in Jerusalem, get into the picture? Furthermore, how can someone who claims to represent the Degel HaTorah, the party founded by Rav Shach Zt”l, meddle into foreign affairs and support someone who displayed disgust with everything Rav Shach stood for? Further, this is the same Pindrus who was fighting the gay parade in Jerusalem by holding a simultaneous “donkey parade”.

The answer is simple: Yitzchak Pindrus, which is a former mayor of Beitar Illit, is a long-time client of Ezra Friedlander’s firm The Friedlander Group.

Politicians hire The Friedlander Group to get the Jewish vote. Consequently, the accustomed system for Friedlander was: contract with candidates, get the establishment behind him/her, and arrange community leaders’ endorsements and bingo. This scheme, however, is on a collision course.

It all began with John Heyer.

In 2009, a young man named John Heyer ran for the 39th District of the New York City Council. Heyer received widespread support among the Jewish brethren for sharing common values, and a grassroots campaign erupted. It was, perhaps, the first time in history that the community defied the establishment, and Heyer was indeed beating the other leading candidates in Boro Park. Friedlander went ballistic and wrote an opinion for the Yeshiva World News in support of Brad Lander.

“There are those in the community who make the argument that we as a community should support candidates who share our core values.  That is a position I agree with”, Friedlander declared.  “In this specific election— as opposed to a city wide election where all likeminded voters can unite—only a candidate who espouses liberal positions on social issues can and will win this race” he wrote. A week later, he wrote another desperate opinion in the Yeshiva World News stating that Heyer is not in sync with the community and won’t be able to advocate for our needs.

Brad Lander won the election but lost Boro Park.

Things got worse for Friedlander when the youth in Jewish communities became more involved in politics. The November 2010 midterm elections were approaching, and many statewide offices and candidates Congress were on the ballot. Some races were deemed close, and the Jewish vote was vital for Friedlander’s clients. In a frantic move, Friedlander wrote a controversial opinion in the Hamodia which pleaded that Jews divorce religion upon entering the poll booth. “Recently, our community has taken a strong interest in elections and political campaigns,” he noted. “We’ve seen members of our community debating on whether to support candidates who hold certain positions on social issues that do not conform with our standards.  The issues range from abortion to same gender marriage”, he continued before declaring: “Campaigns are all about winning.”

“Certain organizations have been pressured by self-proclaimed askanim not to engage with elected officials who don‘t share our Torah ideology,” he lamented, and condemned those who wish to make a difference. “All you need to do is sign on to a blog or write an anonymous letter to the editor,” he cried. He finished with the most shocking statement yet: “let’s not drag our proudly held religious beliefs into it.”

However, the community listened to Rabbanim over Friedlander, and they voted for the candidates that vowed to defend our core values.

With support diminishing for Weprin amongst our community, Friedlander decided to pull out his last stop. In an exchange with David Lobl, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for The Friedlander Group, he claimed that politicians should not invoke religion during a campaign. “Members of Congress represent Congressional Districts, not religions,” he avowed and suggested that we look at issues. Yet, when challenged to cite Weprin’s positions, he steered clear.

Weprin cannot run on the issues vital to our community. His attempt to conceal his support for the President and Obamacare went futile, and he displayed that he’s oblivious to the danger of Washington’s spending spree. In an interview with The Jewish Week, Weprin blasted those concerned about his positions as “coming from individuals outside the district, in Brooklyn and Lakewood [in New Jersey] and Monsey [in Rockland County].” Yet, when he realized that the DNC troops from all over the country are ineffective, he had to go until Jerusalem to get support.

However, we are smarter than petty politics. We will send Washington and Friedlander a message for once by voting Turner.

Dave Hirsch is a political analyst and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Many african americans voted for Obama because Obama was one of their own. For the first time we finally see Jews using their heads and voting on torah values and issues that will effect the community as a whole and vote against Obama policies.

    We also finally see Jews NOT voting for their own. Jews look at the whole picture and are sick and tired of the food stamp mentality and entitlement mentality.

    Weprin has been aorund for 30 years and what has he done for jewish causes? Some people say Weprin is a good person because he flew to Israel in solidarity. What does flying to israel have to do witht he price of tea in China?

  2. Excellent points made. Friedlander is at a serious crossroads here. if he cant deliver the Orthodox vote, he’s finished. As it is, even a close race in this district shows Friedlander had better start smelling the coffee.
    2 points of my own are A) Friedlander correctly knows he can buy votes by offering “kickbacks” in the form of Government programs. The 9th District is one where that holds less sway as there are far fewer recipients of these programs. We can better afford to be fiscal conservatives in Flatbush and Queens than in Boro Park and Williamsburgh. Tax and spend is a perfect fit for those that abuse the system as well as for those that only seek to take.
    B) Friedlander incorrectly assumes that morals will not matter in the election booth. The future for us is with the Conservatives though we may not always see eye to eye. The Conservatives have become far more reliable on Israel and are generally more aligned with the America we envision for our future here until the arrival of Mashiach bbe. Friedlander has a strong future in his field if he slowly comes over to our side.

  3. In all fairness a large number of frum people genuinely like receiving patronage and handouts from the government, which is probably a good reason to be a loyal Democrat. IF the “tea party” takes over, the taxpayer goose will stop handing out its golden eggs.

    Ask around. How many would gladly give up tuition assistance, school transportation, section eight housing, food stamps and WIC, etc, – in order to keep goyim and frei Jews for registering as “legal” their halachically disgusting relationships. Is it a surprise that the frum community prefers the party off the believes in handouts and bailouts, even if it is also the party of abortion and prohibited sexual activities.

  4. Thank you Mr. Hirsch for putting the 2 together and exposing the Friedlander relationship with Pindrus. It made zero sense that a member of Degel Hatorah would support a left-leaning candidate like David Weprin. It now all makes sense. Pindrus was just doing his friend, Mr. Friedlander a favor.

  5. Thank you Mr. Dave Hirsch for exposing Ezra Friedlander.

    A23. There is no Loshon Horah in attacking someone for views openly expressed in the media. Go ask your Rov.

  6. The frum residents of CD9, for the most part (as already pointed out, but worth repeating) are not the ones getting handouts. Many are homeowners, strapped with mortgages, many tuitions (assistance only being something worked out with individual yeshivas, not the government) to pay, jobs in every sector et al. Friedlander has nothing to offer this district. Hopefully he and Weprin can ride off into the sunset together. And this endorsement ranks up there with Weprin’s endorsement by Boozer of the rock band Sha Na Na. Like, who cares?

  7. Dear jewish brothers,
    As a yid who follows the entire Torah to the best of my abilities, this entire debate leaves me with a broken heart. On the one hand the Torah tells us “V’ahavta Leraocha Komocha”, that you must love your fellow friend as much as you love yourself. There is no question that David Weprin is a friend to our entire community, and thus we are obligated to love him as we do our own selves.
    Another thing the Torah tells us is “V’ish Asher Yishkav Es Zachor Mishkivay Ishah, Toeivah Asu, Shneyhem Mos Yamusu, D’meyhem Bam”, And if a man has relations with another man , both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. The Torah also says “Lo Sechalel Es Sheim Kadshi”, And you shall not desecrate My Holy Name. Obviously the Torah in no uncertain terms forbids any jew from participating in toieivah, as it carries the most extreme punishment, death. As far as a jew even recognizing toeivah as being a legitimate form of marriage, that would clearly go under the category of undermining The Holy Name Of Hashem!
    All us yiden must always support and love each other, but not at the expense of Hashems Holy Name.David Weprin,is as I am sure a very nice and decent person but to vote for him would cause an unbelievable Chillul Hashem.
    The ultimate Kiddush Hashem would be, to show the world that as yiden we stand up for the Torah value system and no political reosoning can justify Chillul Hashem…
    Let’s make that statement this Tuesday, by voting against Chillul Hashem and make sure that our morales aren’t comprimised.

  8. To 14

    That’s not true. I am not an expert, but I have heard from big people that the halacha is goyim believing in Christianity is for them not considered avodah zara, for a Jew yes.