In Williamsburg, chasids and hipsters
are increasingly working out alongside
Taking a mid-afternoon break from running his busy Williamsburg restaurant, David Lowey hustled over to a new Bushwick gym and hopped on an elliptical machine, pedaling vigorously in his full Satmar regalia.
Tzitzit dangling from his black pants and payes swinging over his ears, the 290-pound 26-year-old breathed heavily, as he scrolled through the day’s Daf Yomi Talmud page online, from a touch-screen computer panel in front of him.
Newest City Council member marks his victory, but has some powerful enemies.
Assistant Managing Editor
In his decisive victory in last week's hotly contested City Council race in Brooklyn, David Greenfield made good use of some powerful friends who helped him carry the day.
They included former Mayor Ed Koch, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, whose endorsements gave his candidacy credibility; Sephardic community leaders who quickly filled his campaign coffers; Brooklyn's Democrat chair, Vito Lopez, who provided ground troops to get out the vote, and Mark Botnick, a former aide to Michael Bloomberg, who helped corral the mayor's endorsement.
A dozen clown-cloaked cyclists reeled through the heart of chasidic Williamsburg one morning last week, boasting cone-shaped orange hats and marking their territory in a citywide battle to reclaim their lanes. Though a group of Satmar chasids stood by snapping photos of the clowns, there was an underlying current of frustration about the bike lanes within the close-knit Orthodox community.
But it’s not just about the clowns.
Satmar chasidim make a pilgrimage to Williamsburg every Shavuot to celebrate the holiday with their rebbe, Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum.
This week, unexpectedly, they also mourned with him.
The rebbe's brick house in the Brooklyn neighborhood, down the street from the main Satmar synagogue, was a shiva house following the deaths in a two-alarm fire of his granddaughter, Sarah Blima Halberstam, 20, and her 5-month-old daughter, Chaya Esther.
In the course of a conversation in a kosher pizza shop, Isaac Abraham whips out a pen and paper and draws a layout of Flushing Avenue in Williamsburg to show how the rerouting of traffic from the closed Brooklyn-Queens Expressway 20 years ago was harmful to the area.
“Heavy trucks ruptured the foundations of the synagogue and schools,” he recalls. “It was impossible for anyone to get anywhere. People were silent for six, seven months until we found out the truth — that the contractor walked off the job.”