The New York Times ran a piece today, Courting Jewish Voters, Weiner Faces a Challenge — and I commend them for not characterizing said challenge as “stiff” — about the mayoral hopeful’s standing (I did it) in the Jewish community:
As Mr. Weiner vies with a field of current and former officeholders to win the Democratic nomination for mayor, he is making an aggressive play for votes in the Jewish community, with an intense focus on the ultra-Orthodox community. He is the only Jewish candidate; he represented several heavily Jewish communities on the City Council and in Congress; and he has over the years staked out staunchly pro-Israel positions.
But ultra-Orthodox Jews espouse a strict code of moral behavior, particularly regarding interactions between men and women — some frown on even casual conversations between unrelated men and women — posing a challenge for Mr. Weiner.
The article touched on all sorts of interesting topics, and interviewed a diversely opinionated set of ultra-Orthodox Jews from around New York. But one interview struck me as especially noteworthy:
“The fact that the Munkacser Rebbe was willing to sit down with him meant he was being treated as a serious candidate,” said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the Borough Park neighborhood in Brooklyn that is the city’s largest Hasidic enclave. Mr. Hikind, who has not endorsed a mayoral candidate, said many Orthodox Jews admire Mr. Weiner as a fighter who was able to pick himself up and “get out of the mud” when his political career seemed unsalvageable.
“To underestimate Weiner is to make a huge mistake,” Mr. Hikind said. [Editor’s note: And nobody wants to be GOB.]
What’s particularly appropriate about Hikind’s defense of Weiner is that the article felt no need to mention the Assemblyman’s own past transgressions. Certainly, they were of a slightly different nature, but I would imagine that Hikind knows a little something about “getting out of the mud” himself — or more accurately, getting the mud off his face: