Yeah, y’all. From NY1, April 4:
An angry mob of Hasidic Jews confronted police outside a Brooklyn station house Tuesday night after officers arrested an elderly Hasidic man.
Hundreds of Borough Park residents rushed the 66th precinct station house chanting “No justice, no peace” to protest what witnesses say was the rough treatment of an Hasidic business-owner by police.
Two garbage fires were set during the melee, which stretched for several blocks and closed numerous streets. Police, however, were able to contain the crowd by 9:30 p.m. and no injuries were reported.
Police sources say the protest was sparked after officers approached 75-year-old Arthur Schick, who was talking on his cellphone while double-parked in front of his family-owned bakery on 16th Avenue at around 6:30 p.m.
When police attempted to handcuff Schick, two other Hasidic men tried to step in. A crowd then formed, and the scene quickly grew unruly.
Protesters threw garbage and hundreds of residents blocked the street around Shick’s Bakery.
Community witnesses say the melee started because police dragged Schick from his car, roughly put him into a police van, and twice slammed the door on his leg.
Witnesses say Schick is a respected businessman who may not have immediately complied with police because he is hard of hearing.
“We saw him being pushed by the police against the car, then they grabbed his hand and put him into an arm-lock and violently manhandled him,” said Sariel Widawski. “This is a very busy day in Borough Park – we’re all preparing for the Passover holiday – and everybody was a witness to it. They started screaming at the police to leave the old man alone, but they kept on manhandling him and refused to stop.”
The heavily-Hasidic neighborhood has been the scene of tension between residents and authorities in the past. In 1978, more than 60 police officers were injured when a group of Hasidim stormed the 66th precinct house after an Hasidic man was fatally stabbed by a street robber.
The New York Times noted today:
The Hasidic population on Borough Park has sometimes had tense relations with the police. In 1999, several hundred angry residents poured onto the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of a mentally disturbed Orthodox Jewish man, Gidone Busch. Mr. Busch was fired upon at least 12 times when he threatened neighbors with a hammer. Residents said the police used excesive force.
The Times also notes April 5 that a fractious sucession struggle in Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidic sect may be coming to a head:
Hasidic Rabbi’s Grave Illness Raises Succession Issue Between 2 Feuding Sons
For seven years, the largest sect of Hasidic Jews in New York has been riven by a power struggle between two sons of the ruling rabbi over who will succeed him when he dies.
That day may be close at hand. Moses Teitelbaum, the 91-year-old grand rabbi of the Satmar Hasidim, is severely ill.
According to Satmar leaders, he has been hospitalized since Thursday and is on a respirator. He is being treated for spinal cancer, as well as for an infection apparently caused by radiation treatment, the failure of his one remaining kidney and a stroke.
He is in critical but stable condition at Mount Sinai Hospital, , said Joel Weiss, a spokesman for one faction of the Satmar sect, which is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and numbers more than 60,000 worldwide. One indication of the gravity of Rabbi Teitelbaum’s condition is that the Satmars declared an official day of prayer for their leader yesterday, gathering in synagogues, schools and at the cemetery in Orange County where his predecessor is buried.
Another is that his feuding sons, Aaron and Zalmen Teitelbaum, are both at their father’s bedside, facing each other for the first time in several years, Mr. Weiss said.
The bad blood goes back to 1999, when the grand rabbi chose Zalmen, his third son, to take over the sect’s main congregation in Williamsburg. He had previously named Aaron, his eldest son, to run the second-largest Satmar congregation, in Kiryas Joel in Orange County.
Zalmen’s supporters claim that the move made Zalmen the de facto heir. Aaron’s supporters say otherwise. The dispute has spawned a never-ending court battle and periodically erupted in the streets and synagogues of Williamsburg.
There is much at stake. In Hasidism, an ecstatic, mystical brand of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, the grand rabbi is revered as a god-king and holds profound sway over members’ lives. In the temporal realm, the Satmar grand rabbi controls a real estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, a powerful network of schools and social services and a famed matzo factory.
In 2004, a judge in Brooklyn refused to rule in the Satmar dispute, saying that the matter was for the grand rabbi to decide. But the grand rabbi has been silent.
Samuel Heilman, a distinguished professor of sociology at Queens College who studies Orthodox Jewish sects, said he did not expect the grand rabbi to clear up the succession issue now. Hasidic leaders are often reluctant to choose their successors, he said.
“They often have many sons and they want to keep them in the business, so succession is a real problem,” Professor Heilman said. “Or the guy doesn’t believe he’s going to die. There are so many variations on this theme.”
The Lubavitcher Hasidim have not chosen a successor to their last grand rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died in 1994. Last year, the death of the head of the Bobov Hasidim set off a succession battle between his half-brother and a son-in-law.
Professor Heilman said that the Satmars were probably the largest Hasidic sect in the country and certainly the biggest in New York.
Moses Teitelbaum himself was chosen by the sect’s board of rabbis after a contentious interregnum in 1979, when the previous grand rabbi, his uncle Joel Teitelbaum, died childless without naming a successor. In his 27 years at the helm, Moses Teitelbaum has presided over explosive growth of the communities that Joel established in New York after fleeing the Holocaust and helped his followers fight off pressure to assimilate, Professor Heilman said.
Now the Satmars have two boards of rabbis, each claiming legitimacy. Mr. Weiss, the spokesman for Aaron’s faction, said it was unclear what would happen next. “This time it won’t be so smooth, so straight,” he said.
The Satmars, we have noted, are a common if incongruous sight at pro-Palestine protests in the New York area, because they are anti-Zionist and view the establishment of the state of Israel before the coming of Messiah as apostasy.
See also WW4 REPORT #28