Jack Hidary, Yeshiva Educated Sephardic Jew, IPO Millionaire, Spanish Speaker, to Run for NYC Mayor; Could Make for Three Way Jewish Race (INTERVIEW)

July 16, 2013 7:20 pm 10 comments

Jack Hidary. Photo: Screenshot.

New Yorkers will have another chance to elect a Jewish candidate to the mayor’s office to follow Michael Bloomberg, when Sephardic yeshiva graduate, entrepreneur, IPO millionaire and Spanish speaker from Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, Jack Hidary formally announces his candidacy as head of the “Jobs and Education” independent party at a start-up incubator, in Manhattan, on Wednesday.

In an informal interview with The Algemeiner, by the Shabbes table of Chabad-Lubavich HQ’s Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Hidary answered practice questions from the rabbi’s varied guests to prepare for a political campaign starting today, to convince 600,000, or so, New Yorkers that they should give him the city’s top job.

As a young man, Jack Hidary left a neuroscience fellowship at the National Institute of Health to form an early internet marvel with his brother in 1995, spearheaded its IPO in 1998, remade his company into DICE, one of the nation’s top job sites, connecting five million people to work, then plowed profits into new ventures, most since sold. As a successful technologist, he was invited to join those elite non-profit coalitions working to save the world, including the Clinton Global Initiative, World Economic Forum, National Renewable Energy Lab, Google X Labs and the X Prize Foundation.

As a political novice on the local level, Hidary first got involved in the business community by helping small businesses grow and championing new models of education by joining Partnership for NYC, Citizens Budget Commission, and ABNY. He was a board member of Trickle Up which helps thousands of entrepreneurs start small businesses each year and launched, as well as funding education programs and many, smaller community projects.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg greets Jack Hidary in 2008, after Hidary helped support a bill that brought more hybrid taxis to NYC. Photo: Screenshot, Jack Hidary

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg greets Jack Hidary in 2008, after Hidary helped bring more hybrid taxis to NYC. Photo: Screenshot, Jack Hidary.

In 2005 Hidary entered the political trenches with then-City Councilor David Yassky to push through City Hall a plan to buy high-MPG hybrid taxis with the aim of saving drivers gas money while improving the quality of NYC air. Encouraged by a meeting with Mayor Bloomberg in 2008 (see photo) and welcomed into social and philanthropic circles where his ideas to improve quality of life for New Yorkers might be adopted, Hidary says he recognized this year as his opportunity to achieve elected office, in what could be a big year for Jews seeking political office in New York.

If Anthony Weiner, the Jewish Congressman who resigned after covering up a “sexting” escapade, wins the crowded Democratic primary, the two Jews could face-off in a three-way contest including the Republican candidate, possibly former NY transportation chief Joe Lhota, Jewish on his mother’s side, but raised Catholic, and well-regarded by the Jewish community.

Questions of religion and, more precisely, morality, have already taken hold of New York City’s election debate, as Weiner’s tears of repentance were echoed by Eliot Spitzer, the former Jewish Governor of New York who resigned after being caught as “client #9″ in a prostitution sting, and the latest candidate for  the City Comptroller position, after filing just in time for last week’s deadline.

(Spitzer is running in the Democratic Primary against Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President, also Jewish, from New York City’s Upper West Side who, as far as the media is aware, is neither a “sexter” nor whoremonger. The only scandal there, is that Stringer, a life-long local politician with a modest war chest, has already been outshined by Spitzer’s national stature and reach, plus tremendous family wealth, which seem to overshadow the poor choices of his personal life, already digested by voters through a loosely fictionalized CBS drama, “The Good Wife,” about the wife and family of a governor who steps down after being caught with prostitutes.)

The fact that two candidates emerging from job-losing sex scandals will both be on the ballot this year, and both are Jewish, has dominated newspaper headlines in New York. Of note was the cover of the Jewish-owned The New York Observer newspaper which carried the headline: ”The Boxer Rebellion: Disgraced Duo Transforms the Election Cycle,” with a questionable caricature of the two pols; note the long noses and bulge in Weiner’s boxer briefs.

“If you want to be a leader like Moses, and you can’t even check off the first Ten Commandments, then you’ve got a lot of work to do,” was one refrain The Algemeiner overheard at the table on the question of adultery.

Religious New Yorkers, especially, have expressed their doubts about post-scandal Weiner, who was seen trying to shore up what would have probably been widespread support from the Jewish community, before his adulterous behavior, in a photo op with the grand Borough Park rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Leib Rabinovich, the Rebbe of Munkach.

The entrance of Hidary, 44, never married, a practicing, Orthodox Jew, a graduate of the Yeshiva of Flatbush, Queens – “with 12 years of Jewish education,” Murray, his younger brother, business partner, and campaign manager, as well as fellow Yeshiva grad, philanthropist, classical musician and photographer, notes – could quickly change the tone of the debate, and add depth to the discussion about what values are important for New York City.

The first articles written about Hidary’s possible candidacy compared him to Mayor Bloomberg, because of the obvious similarities: their wealth, Jewish background and even physical similarities (see photo).  But while Bloomberg’s swagger grew from years as a bond trader for the legendary Salomon Brothers on Wall Street and then from Bloomberg LP, a multi-billion dollar media company that started with a computer for bond traders called a Bloomberg machine, Hidary’s humility and tone still reflect his yeshivish roots and family business approach to life.

And while Bloomberg was sometimes ridiculed for his big idea solutions (ban trans fat foods, ban Big Gulp sodas, double the price of cigarettes) most have helped the city. As an internet entrepreneur, rather than look at what can be legislated out of our lives, Hidary takes this generation’s approach: how can we make life easier in our city by letting www.nyc.gov and smart phones make the once impossible seem obvious.

“Street parking has improved, somewhat, in that we no longer use quarters, instead we can pay with tickets with machines, but couldn’t it be done so much better?” Hidary asks. “What if I said you could pay by smartphone, that would be easier. But the problem raises more questions. Why is it that in Midtown, in the middle of the day, the meter costs the same as out in front of your house, in the middle of the night? Why don’t we fix that, too? Because we have the technology. How?  What if prices were higher where demand was higher, like in Midtown at midday, and lower, or even free, in residential neighborhoods at night? We could make that happen.”

Other campaign ideas can be traced back to his experience at Yeshiva of Flatbush and what parochial schools mean for families:

“As an alum from a non-public school, I know the financial burdens to keep the doors open are greater than ever, as today’s computers and technology simply cost more than old fashioned pencils and paper. At some private schools, technology costs are 25% of their budget. What if we develop public-private partnerships? Why? Because what we’ve seen on everything from playgrounds to community centers, is that public finances can build those assets, and private users can pay in a fee-for-service model during off hours, one building could be used all day. For example, what if a yeshiva didn’t have to build a mega computer lab? But one was built by the city next to the school, the students used it during the school day, the school paid for their time, and other people used it in the evening. Or, in cases like in our city’s local public schools, where students and activities are over by mid-afternoon, private groups could use that space for classes in the evenings.”

His point is that fixed assets are hard to come by, but technology increases the ability for people to coordinate and come together to form old fashioned communities, albeit in unconventional ways, to make the most efficient and complete use of the city’s resources.

While certainly not yet well-known across the city’s five boroughs, within his community, the Hidarys are regarded as long-time New Yorkers. His great-grandparents came to Ellis Island as Jewish immigrants from Syria; his great-grandfather, Moses Hidary, worked as both a barber and teacher. In the 1920′s and 30′s, grandfather and namesake, Jack Hidary was peddling tablecloths, which became the basis of a textiles business that is now 70 years old and continues to thrive in the garment district.

The first Jack Hidary moved the family to Brooklyn and co-founded the Ocean Parkway Sephardic community near Coney Island that thrives there today.

The neighborhood approach and entrepreneur detail extends to his political campaign. Campaign manager and strategist Murray Hidary explains that even though there may be 8.3 million New Yorkers, only about 1.2 million are expected to vote in the election. In 2009, Bloomberg was re-elected by defeating Bill Thompson (who is also running in the Democratic primary this year) with only about 50,000 votes; 585,000 versus 534,000.

The Jewish community is one of the strongest voting blocks in New York, with about 400,000 expected to turn out, and most of those in Brooklyn. The Sephardic community there brings a solid 70,000 votes.

The Manhattan based, entrepreneurial, internet-focused, upwardly mobile contingent, where Jack Hidary is also expected to attract supporters, carries another 200,000 votes.

His other secret weapon to become Mayor is his Spanish speaking bonafides, valuable for addressing New York City’s 850,000 registered Latino voters. Hidary’s grandmother was from Colombia, and he speaks the language fluently — “and we’re not talking ‘Bloomberg Spanish’ here, either,” brother Murray noted, for the record, (which The Algemeiner, also a fluent Spanish speaker, thought was just hilarious, as if the Mayor’s company would want to trademark his infamous gringo accent!)

Humor aside, Jack Hidary is serious business; the guy is a contender. Me parecia honorable, simpatico, serio, de muy buena familia, muy trabajador. As the campaign gets underway, he is about to enter what will probably be the most intense few months, ever, in his shoot-for-the-stars and do it, life. On Wednesday, Jack Hidary begins a race to win the honor and responsibility to run New York City, and possibly become its next Jewish mayor.

10 Comments

  • sheila rabinowitz

    hi jack, i was your english teacher at flatbush yeshivah in the 5th and 7th grades. you were a quality child and i am sure that you are a quality adult

    do you remember running for president when you were in my fifth grade class?
    i guess that you began your political career under my instruction(just kidding)

    with fond memories miss rabinowitz

  • Jeff Rosner

    Why are saying Weiner is a Jewish candidate? Other than his name, there is nothing Jewish about him, no Jewish wife, no Jewish mother, no Jewish home, plus a Moslem wife!

  • Hello everyone, You do have yet another choice for a Jewish Candidate for Mayor. I am good friends with Mayor Bloomberg, and have attended events at his house with the likes of Senator Lugar, Mayor Cory Booker, Senator McCaskill, Bill Clinton, Mrs. Felix Rohatyn, and Senator Brown. Please visit my Campaign website http://www.ceceiliaberkowitz.com I am a Wharton Graduate with an MBA, and recently taught an MBA Corporate Finance course at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City. Last year, I taught Business Calculus at CUNY Baruch College and International Finance in the Economics department of CUNY Medgar Evers in Brooklyn.
    I also work for four years at Medows CPA, PLLC, where I am a Manager and was quickly promoted to Senior Accountant.

    Jonathan Medows, The Owner, has an MBA from NYU in Finance, an accounting degree from NYU, and Big 4 accounting firm experience. He also has a Rabbinical degree and his family is religious. His wife, Marsha Medows, is a pediatrician. His friends include Stu Loeser, the former Press Secretary to Mayor Bloomberg, and Baruch Herzfeld.

    I hope some of you will also support my Campaign for NY Mayor. I want to incorporate good and educated political views, and continue to represent the Jewish community among other New Yorkers in government.

  • Wish I were a NYC resident so I could vote for him.

  • Penina Zeitchik

    Excellent idea.Finally someone I could be proud of to represent us.It was a pleasure to have both brothers as my students.

  • Joshua Levitt

    The Algemeiner updated this story on Wednesday morning to include additional color from the gracious and welcoming Shabbat luncheon by Rabbi Berkowitz this past weekend.

  • Nice article, informative, well done – thanks Algie

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    Hamas Commander Reportedly Urges Hezbollah to Join Forces Against Israel

    JNS.org – Five months after Israeli forces tried to assassinate Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif in Gaza, Deif appears to have signed a letter that the terrorist group claims he wrote in hiding. The letter, addressed to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, expressed Deif’s condolences for the death of Hezbollah terrorists during Sunday’s reported Israeli airstrike in Syria. Deif is said to have survived multiple assassination attempts, but he has not been seen in public for years. According to the Hezbollah-linked Al-Manar [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    Shlomo Carlebach Musical Has the Soul to Heal Frayed Race Relations

    JNS.org – The cracks that had been simply painted over for so long began to show in Ferguson, Mo., in November 2014, but in truth they had begun to open wide much earlier—on Saturday, July 13, 2013. That is when a jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of culpability for the death of a 17-year-old black man, Trayvon Martin. The cracks receded from view over time, as other news obscured them. Then came the evening of Aug. 9, 2014, [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    ‘Homeland’ Season Finale Stirs Controversy After Comparing Menachem Begin to Taliban Leader

    A controversial scene in the season finale of Homeland sparked outrage by comparing former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin to a fictional Taliban leader, the UK’s Daily Mail reported. In the season 4 finale episode, which aired on Dec. 21, CIA black ops director Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham, justifies a deal he made with a Taliban leader by referencing Begin. He makes the remarks in a conversation with former CIA director Saul Berenson, a Jewish character played by Mandy [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Placing Matisyahu Back Within a Life of Observance

    Shining Light on Fiction During the North Korea-Sony saga, we learned two important lessons. The first is that there are two sides to this story, and neither of them are correct because ultimately we should have neither inappropriate movies nor dictators. The second is that we cannot remain entirely fixed on the religious world, but we also must see beyond the external, secular view of reality. It’s important to ground our Torah-based thoughts into real-life activism. To view our act [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    Nine Decades of Moses at the Movies

    JNS.org – Hollywood has had its share of big-budget biblical flops, but until now, the Exodus narrative has not been among them. Studios have brought Moses to the big screen sparingly, but in ways that defined the image and character of Moses for each generation of audiences. The first biblical epic In 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille left it to the American public to decide the subject of his next movie for Paramount. DeMille received a letter from a mechanic [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    Exodus on Screen (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – The story of the Exodus from Egypt is a tale as old as time itself, to borrow a turn of phrase. It’s retold every Passover, both at the seder table and whenever “The Ten Commandments” is aired on television. But the latest adaptation—Ridley Scott’s epic film, “Exodus: Gods and Kings”—fails to meet expectations. Scott’s “Exodus” alters the source material to service the story and ground the tale, but the attempt to reinvent the biblical narrative becomes laughable. Moses [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Lifestyle ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    ‘Jewish Food Movement’ Comes of Age

    JNS.org - In December 2007, leaders of the Hazon nonprofit drafted seven-year goals for what they coined as the “Jewish Food Movement,” which has since been characterized by the increased prioritization of healthy eating, sustainable agriculture, and food-related activism in the Jewish community. What do the next seven years hold in store? “One thing I would like to see happen in the next seven years is [regarding] the issue of sugar, soda, and obesity, [seeing] what would it be like to rally the [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.