Split in Jewish Satmar Community Helped Velazquez Win

Written by City & State on . Posted in Politics.


Nydia Velazquez should thank the Aronite faction of Williamsburg’s vote-rich Satmar religious sect for fending off a strong challenge from Councilman Erik Dilan in yesterday’s primary, according to Velazquez supporters.

The south Williamsburg Satmar Jewish community is split between two rival brothers, Zalman Teitelbaum and Aaron Teitelbaum — who control the community’s Zalmanite and Aronite factions. The brothers have been at odds for years over control of the Satmar empire, previously led by their father, Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaumm and even got into a war this year over control of upstate Hasidic summer camps, which oddly played into the congressional race.

The Zalmanite faction, which is larger and has asserted greater political power in the past, has been affiliated with Brooklyn Democratic leader Vito Lopez, who was supporting Dilan. But the Aronite faction appeared to show new political strength this election, according to its leaders, though Dilan appears to have won the overall vote among Satmars. Velaquez’s campaign estimated a 60-40 split in favor of Dilan.

Still, Aronite leaders say that yesterday’s turnout was a benchmark for their community.

“We turned out a huge block vote for Nydia,” said Gary Schlesinger, executive board chairman of UJCare, an Aronite social services group.

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