I wrote a post about the Supreme Court decision last night and I started thinking and writing about the Hasidics. And I realized I don't personally know any Hasidics nd in fact, I had never spoken with one. I see them sometimes in L.A., but I've seen Hasidics in New York, Israel, Belgium, France... I ran into one in Singapore once and in Mumbai. But I never spoke with one. What I know about Hasidics is what I've read-- or gleaned from a couple of TV series, Shtisel and Unorthodox, both of which became pandemic staples when we were are starting to stay in the house last spring. So I decided to call some friends who live in Hasidic neighborhoods to ask about personal interactions.
If you read the San Francisco Weekly story this week about the release of a compilation from my old 415 Records indie label, you came across a brief interview with Sally from The Mutants, whose song, Insect Lounge, is the second on the CD. But after the San Francisco punk scene dissipated, Sally wound up moving away and settling down in Williamsburg, one of the New York neighborhoods with lots and lots of Hasidics. So I called her to ask her about her interactions with Hasidics in her neighborhood. Basically, it was the same as everyone else I asked-- the Hasidics they've had interactions with have been hostile, vehemently opposed to any kind of assimilation and bigoted-- insular assholes who work the system for themselves and shun everyone else who isn't a Hasidic. Or so it would seem. But...
After her career as a chanteuse ended, Sally worked as a bookkeeper in a brothel, located in a ritzy brownstone across from the UN. This morning she told me that a third of the clients were Hasidics. I was stunned. She said they were so prevalent that when the NYC vice squad tried to bust the place, they sent a plainclothesman dressed as a Hasid. She also told me that almost every Hasid who came through the door was very explicit about not wanting "a Jewish girl."
I spoke with my sister today as well and she said there are lots of Orthodox Jews in her Manhattan Beach neighborhood but not many Hasidics. However, she reminded me, until fairly recently she worked in a school in Borough Park, the Hasidic capital of Brooklyn. But Hasidics don't send their kids to public school so she had almost no interactions with them in the school setting but she did in the school's neighborhood. She's Jewish but she said the Hasidics are an entirely different breed and were not accepting of her as a coreligionist or even as a co-human. She told me that no matter how many times she went to one of their stores, they were never friendly or welcoming or even polite. They would never talk with her and always slammed down her change on the counter, avoiding any contact.
There are about half a million Hasidics in the U.S. and biggest American Hasidic communities are in Brooklyn (Williamsburg, Borough Park, Midwood...); Rockland County (Monsey); Kew Gardens and Far Rockaway in Queens; the Five Towns in Nassau County; New Jersey (Lakewood and Passaic); Baltimore; and L.A.'s Fairfax district, Pico-Robertson and Hancock Park.
All of these neighborhoods are in tolerant blue districts that voted overwhelmingly for Biden-- except the blocks the Hasidics live on. In Far Rockaway, Queens, for example, the Rockaway Peninsula was overwhelmingly pro-Biden, but these three electoral districts of the 23rd Assembly District were Trump bastions are where the Hasidics live (right on the border with Lawrence in Nassau County, another Hasidic stronghold that was all in for fascism in November). Far Rockaway's Hasidic neighborhood:
ED-27-- Biden- 3.95% (20 votes vs 528 for Trump)
ED-28-- Biden- 15.91% (64 votes vs 366 for Trump)
ED-39-- Biden- 18.8% (100 votes vs 438 for Trump)
Much of Williamsburg-- particularly the part the Hasidics live in-- is part of the 50th Assembly District. The 50th-- which also includes Greenpoint-- is one of Brooklyn's most progressive... and in a movement kind of way. Bernie beat Hillary in the 2016 primary here, even though she won Brooklyn as a whole. And the district just kicked out a corrupt old status quo Assemblyman, Joseph Lentol, an unwavering servant for the Satmar Hasidic sect power-broker, Rabbi David Niederman, and replaced him with progressive reformer Emily Gallagher. Now look at this map:
The blue election districts are the ones Biden won. The red ones are where the Hasidics live-- and the only ones to have backed Trump. The Assembly district has 102 election districts. Only 24 voted Trump-- the Hasidic neighborhood-- like this half dozen:
ED-70-- Biden- 4.86% (11 votes vs 233 for Trump)
ED-71-- Biden- 0.75% (1 vote vs 133 for Trump)
ED-73-- Biden- 3.81% (14 votes vs 349 for Trump)
ED-74-- Biden- 2.75% (12 votes vs 421 for Trump)
ED-77-- Biden- 6.46% (23 votes vs 358 for Trump)
ED-82-- Biden- 9.17% (23 votes vs 294 for Trump)
It was the same everywhere I looked; you could trace Trump's wins in otherwise Democratic counties by finding their Hasidic neighborhoods. I mean just one vote against 133 for Trump in the 71st election district of a powerfully blue Assembly District that had just kicked out the corrupt Democratic incumbent and replaced him with someone more like AOC! That's amazing.
Not related, but an interesting tangent: while I was studying the New York results (which are still not finalized), I came across some other information you might find as note-worthy as I did. In 2016, Hillary won New York's 29 electoral votes by beating Trump 4,556,124 (59.01%) to 2,819,534 (36.52%). Trump appears to have done 5 points better this year-- 41.66% to Biden's 56.86%. There were 2 counties that flipped from Clinton in 2016 to Trump this cycle: Dutchess and Clinton. And there were 4 counties that flipped from Trump to Biden: Essex, Renselaer, Saratoga and Broome.
Want to know more about the Hasidics, a primitive, fearful and hate-filled tribe of cultists among us? Watch this clip: