By Yehuda Ceitlin, COLlive Editor
Crown Heights was a political battleground Tuesday night, as New York’s mayoral rivals courted the Chassidic residents of the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was greeted by the communal leadership, while his Democratic challenger William Thompson Jr. took to the streets.
“Do people of the world know who is the mayor of Paris or Rome? No!” Bloomberg’s host, real estate mogul Sholom Ber Drizin, said in his remarks.
“But everyone knows who is the Mayor of New York,” Drizin flattered the billionaire who has spent $65 million on his campaign for a third term. (Disclosure: Bloomberg for Mayor 2009 Inc. advertises on COLlive.com)
The Mayor was at ease in Drizin’s large Sukkah on Eastern Parkway, eagerly stretching his hand to the popcorn bowl – his “greatest extravagance.”
Indeed, local leaders know him well as Eliyahu Cohen, Executive Director of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, pointed out during the reception.
“We were the first community that stood behind Mr. Bloomberg when our Vice Chairman Chanina Sperlin endorsed him in 2001,” Cohen said.
Crown Heights Political Action Committee officially endorsed the mayor this round, but that didn’t stop the cash-strapped Thompson from coming to Kingston Avenue.
As thousands of men and women from all over Brooklyn were participating in the Simchas Beis Hashoeiva, the city’s former comptroller made his rounds.
“Wow, the size of this stage has grown since my last visit here,” Thompson told the crowd at the celebration funded by the Community Council – though none of its members were present.
Back at Drizin’s Sukkah, Bloomberg knew which buttons to press when he spoke about his parents and their appreciation for Yiddishkeit.
The richest man in town then whipped out his wallet and showed the cash he had: a single dollar bill from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.