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 Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.