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Brooklyn, NY - Mishpacha Magazine Profiles Rabbi Niederman Of UJO, Calling Him One Of The Most Effective Diplomats In The Orthodox Community

Published on: January 18, 2010 10:08 AM
By: Mishpacha Magazine by Yisroel Besser Exclusive reprint permission to VIN News
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This Weeks Mishpacha Magazine Profiles Rabbi Niederman Of UJO, Calling Him One Of The Most Effective Diplomats In The Orthodox CommunityThis Weeks Mishpacha Magazine Profiles Rabbi Niederman Of UJO, Calling Him One Of The Most Effective Diplomats In The Orthodox Community

Brooklyn, NY - Americans -along with the rest of the civilized world- are obsessed with diplomacy. The fact that the ineffectual United Nations is still respected by many, that the greater populace of New York is willing to forfeit their best parking spots and accept the gridlock and traffic, proves that the common citizen still maintains a deep-seated reverence for those engaged in trying to solve international problems. The recipient of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize dolled out annually to the person “that has done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations”- a prize that includes a medal, personal diploma, and a sum of money (currently 10 million Swedish crowns)- is hailed as a hero.




Reb Moishe Duvid Niederman never got a cash prize, and in his humble office, I saw a set of chumashim, piles of paperwork, and a pair of Rabbeinu Tam’s tefillin, but no diploma.

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UJO OfficeUJO Office

Yet he is, without doubt, one of the most effective diplomats that the Orthodox Jewish community has. No, he hasn’t mastered the art of the furrowed-brow and insincere expression of sympathy, and neither is he the back-slapping, jovial type- yet he has network of international connections and has brokered deals involving prisoners of war, global superpowers and despotic regimes. Tapped by the Satmar Rebbe, Rav Yoel Teitelbaum, Rabbi Niederman represents much of what has made Satmar in to the force it is: he is fiercely loyal to the Rebbe’s ‘shitta’, even as he navigates a web of diplomatic contacts with skill.

I am meeting with Reb Moishe Duvid in his son’s home, on an idyllic road just beyond the southern tip of Kiryat Joel, and I am looking forward to connecting with him here, far away from his Brooklyn office.

This is my second chance.

Photo Credit Shimon GifterPhoto Credit Shimon Gifter

FIRST MEETING
Several weeks earlier, I had arrived for an interview- which had been scheduled months in advance- at the headquarters of United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg, which Reb Moshe Duvid heads, accompanied by photographer Menachem Kozlovsky.

As I walk up the grassy lawn for this follow-up meeting, I remember the first one….

We are led through a maze of humble offices until that of the boss- the simplest one yet. Reb Moshe Duvid is a study in contrasts. The archetypical macher- on two phones, surrounded by assistants, one eye on the computer screen- he still manages to project an air of complete calm and tranquility. The activity around him never ceases, yet he is completely unruffled.

The conversation begins pleasantly enough, and he attempts to answer our questions despite the steady interruptions from phone, Blackberry and a bevy of staffers that keep entering.

He has an uncanny ability to complete a phone call and return to the exact place in the conversation that we left off at, often to the word.

The phone rings yet again, and here, as I watch closely, the first hint of tension crosses the tranquil features. He motions to me with his hand, asking for patience, as he begins to dial a series of numbers, all the while paging various assistants to his office.

Rabbi Niederman issues instructions to his right-hand man David KatzRabbi Niederman issues instructions to his right-hand man David Katz

Some sort of crisis is taking place here, before my eyes.

On one phone he speaks to a friend in the state department in flawless English, briefly putting him on hold to consult with a Yiddish-speaking rov on another line. I strain to follow the trail of conversations and I gather that the F.B.I has just ‘picked up’ a Yid- seemingly from a foreign country, visiting America with his family-  for some offense, and the good rabbi is trying to ensure that his legal rights are met. He wants them to hold off questioning until the accused has a lawyer with him, and he is quietly making arrangements for the family, the wife and children waiting at home for their father- who isn’t coming home so fast.

At the first opportunity, he suddenly remembers that we are there. He looks troubled. He clearly isn’t interested in proceeding with his negotiations while being recorded and photographed, but is far too refined to say anything. I take the high road, offering to reschedule our appointment for another time- it’s obvious that he won’t be free anytime soon- and with a pained smile, he accepts.

Now, we are trying again. Here, far from the rush and pressure of the office, the computers and phones and foot traffic, maybe we will get in a few quiet moments.
THE REBBE ZT’L                                                    
Of course, I open the conversation by reflecting on the legacy of his spiritual mentor, the great man that lies buried in the sprawling town of Kiryat Joel, the Satmar Rebbe zt’l.

He smiles wistfully. ‘The Rebbe had a tremendous distrust of journalists, of the media. One of my earliest memories is how, just before the Rebbe left to Eretz Yisroel on his nesia in 1959, there was a tremendous crowd in the old beis medrash, there to see him off.” When Reb Moshe Duvid says the words, “the alte beis medrash” a look of pure nostalgia crosses his face. “There were television cameras on hand, a relative novelty, to report on the large crowd and the Rebbe’s leave-taking. I recall how, just as the Rebbe stepped out of the beis medrash, a chassid screamed in a panicked voice, ‘Rebbe, televizia!’ The Rebbe jumped back in to the safety of the beis medrash, far from the cameras.”

The Rebbe represents so much to Reb Moishe Duvid.

“I remember calling my mother on that black day- 29 Av- when the Rebbe passed away,  and she was crying, ‘oy, Moishe Duvid, what will be with us? How will we go on?’ My mother, who lost her parents, siblings and three of her own children in the war- her entire world was taken from her- yet she had the strength to rebuild. But when the Rebbe left us, she felt like there was no tomorrow.”

“That was the overwhelming feeling amongst the chassidim; how can we exist without the Rebbe?”

Rabbi David Niederman of UJO Williamsburg and Attorney General Andrew CuomoRabbi David Niederman of UJO Williamsburg and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo

BEGINNINGS
How did it all start? “It was the early nineteen seventies and there was much to be done for our brethren in Russia- they were looking to escape that oppressed regime, but there was nothing by way of infrastructure to help them get out, to facilitate their immigration, to meet their spiritual needs. The Rebbe called on me to head the nascent organization, Rav Tov, which was established specifically to help Russian Jewry.”

It was a job that involved more than just high pressure and long hours; it meant boarding a plane and flying overseas at a moments notice, it meant clandestine meetings in the shadows of European hotels, establishing relationships with the UN and other middle-Eastern governments, and it meant that Reb Moshe Duvid, who is blessed with a large family, rarely saw his young children.

“That was what made it too hard, missing Shabbosos with them, having to leave to Europe just after megillah reading on Purim to Dublin- I had many disappointed children at home.”

He went in to the Rebbe and asked to be relieved of his duties at Rav Tov. “It’s too hard.” The Rebbe was unmoved. “Everything in life is ‘hard’- that’s not a reason to give up the job.”

Rabbi David Niederman of UJO Williamsburg attended political event with Mayor Bloomberg and other dignitarysRabbi David Niederman of UJO Williamsburg attended political event with Mayor Bloomberg and other dignitarys

Then the Rebbe paused for a moment, and began to repeat, as if to himself,  ‘Rav, Tov,” drawing each word slowly, ‘Rav, Tov- much good”, asking “ vi ken mir farlozen Rav Tov, how can one contemplate leaving Rav Tov?”

So Reb Moshe Duvid stayed on, creating, in effect, an organizational superpower, one which eventually branched out to helping yidden in other hostile countries as well, notably from Iran. With the recent mass exodus of families from Yemen’s tiny Jewish community, it became clear that Rav Tov- or Satmar- was capable of accomplishing the rescue and absorbing the kehilla and helping its members re-establish their lives.

Rabbi Niederman is hesitant to discuss his own efforts- the high moments, the low moments, the intrigue and drama- of his role in Rav Tov. He does, however, agree to talk about the state of Satmar diplomacy today and his current position as the head of United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg- which serves the needs of a community comprised of Satmar, Pupa, Skver, Vien, Klausenberg, Tzehlim, Spinka, Vizhnitz chassidim and many other locals.

U.J.O

U.J.O. is a social services organization serving the housing, medical, and advocacy needs of the residents of Williamsburg and the surrounding neighborhoods. They guide elderly and new immigrants through the process of obtaining government assistance, help the ill and infirm navigate the sea of available medical services, assist new businesses in getting started, and try to ensure that there will be adequate housing for an exploding population.

That’s on an organizational level. On a personal level is a known ‘ba’al tovah’, constantly being sought out to use his connections to help individuals or institutions. 

at Legislative breakfast with Mayor Bloombergat Legislative breakfast with Mayor Bloomberg

He plays that game differently as well. A close associate of Rabbi Niederman’s expounds. “Rabbi Niederman and I once met with an extremely connected individual that had great influence with a certain politician. Whenever someone would ask him a favor, however, he would worry that he would ‘use up his connections’ and would think three times before helping them. Rabbi Niederman later remarked ‘our attitude has to be different; if someone is in power and we have a connection with them, we have to use it as soon as someone asks us to. That’s why Hashem gave us that connection, to help, and one never knows for how long it will last. Politics is so fickle, things change so fast, that we don’t make those cheshbonos; if we can help, we help.”

Rabbi Niederman has become a central figure in the battle to protect sacred Jewish sites in Eastern Europe, and has also emerged as a leading advocate for Orthodox Jews in the prison system.

ADVOCATE
I ask him about this last role, playing devil’s advocate. “There are many that feel that, when a yid is found guilty of a crime, perhaps it isn’t a favor to run and cry foul. They feel that the very fact that we have such an advocacy network in place makes people in out community less afraid of engaging in shady business, knowing that here are askanim that will help them.”

Rabbi Niederman contemplates this for a long moment. “First of all, I have to tell you- though it isn’t appropriate to disclose names and details- that it’s happened, not once and not twice, that innocent people were accused and we were able to help them. Second of all, the people who are all self-righteous and indignant about all the yidden in jail…I am sure that they don’t want me to check their tzitzis! I wonder just how clean they are.”

With Gov. Paterson and city council candidate David GreenfieldWith Gov. Paterson and city council candidate David Greenfield

“And there is another point as well. Just because someone is a thief, and indeed worthy of our scorn, it doesn’t meant that he isn’t obligated in taryag mitzvos and halacha. It’s easy to be cynical and say, ‘oh, a big tzaddik, first he steals and now he wants to hear megilla’ but the fact is, an inmate, regardless of his misdeeds, does need to eat kosher and keep Shabbo, which are his constitutional rights.”

While I am playing devil’s advocate, I ask Rabbi Niederman something else; can it be that the efficiency and effectiveness of the social services organizations helping young families with medicare, medicaid, section 8 and a plethora of other programs are likewise creating more problems? Can it be that by making it easier to get by without working, these young would-be breadwinners remain handicapped- never being forced in to the workplace- and growing accustomed to receiving help from Uncle Sam?

“Our attitude was never that the programs implemented by our benevolent government are a ‘lechtachila’; they aren’t. They are a means to allow people to get the point where they can help themselves.”

Reb Moishe Duvid expounds “The Satmar ideal was always to work, to be gainfully employed and pay taxes; not the opposite. Chaza’l tell us the benefits of a ‘neheneh m’yegia kapav, and that yafeh talmud Torah im derech eretz- that hard work in conjunction with a serious kevias ittim l’Torah brings blessing. The Rebbe had a dream ‘oifshtein a dor- to establish a generation- of ehrliche baalebatim, and historically, our tzibbur has always worked hard. Every decade brought its industry, and we were always leaders. First it was in the needle trade, then retail, electronics, and more recently, real estate and mortgages. We met each one head on, becoming pioneers, and then, inevitably, each industry collapsed for various reasons; manufacturing went to foreign countries, retail was swallowed up by superstores, the mortgage bubble burst, and we were left with korbanos, struggling families with no income. Then, we turned to government programs for help while our young families regained their footing. No one can say that Satmar chassidim are afraid of hard work.”

WILLIAMSBURG
I ask Rabbi Niederman, who is the ‘go-to guy’ for politicians eager to find favor with Williamsburg voters bloc, about the political effectiveness of Satmar. “It’s not just the numbers. It’s that in most New York City neighborhoods, there is diversity amongst the residents, so what concerns one citizen isn’t that important to his neighbor. In Williamsburg, we may not all be Satmar chassidim, but we share values. When it comes time to vote, we unite to ensure that our legitimate needs are met.”

Rabbi Niederman is quick to point out that the organization he heads, U.J.O, is not synonymous with Satmar at all. Its board of directors is comprised of representatives of all the local chassidic groups and its clients are neither exclusively chassidic or Williamsburg residents. Indeed, a cursory glance around the waiting room proves it; at the time of my visit, there was a Lubavitcher chassid learning Tanya, an elderly Russian woman reading a newspaper in her own language, and a clean-cut student waiting for help.

“We are there for anyone in the neighborhood and beyond. But for the most part, our constituents feel as we do and that translates in to some degree of influence.”

How does one know when to exert that influence and when our role- guests in an alien, though friendly, land- dictates that we accept the will our hosts? We are in golus; do we really have the right to make so many demands?

“Making demands is a last resort, and we never look to flex our communal muscle,” he answers, “ we prefer to work things out diplomatically. I will give you an example. A major company placed indecent advertisements on billboards throughout our neighborhood. Instead of shouting at them, we explained that advertising is a means of winning friends and customers; through using images that we found offensive, they were actually alienating a very significant group of people, counter to what they wanted. They understood and took down the billboards.”

Rabbi Niederman is quick to point out that U.J.O is not a lone operation. “Boruch Hashem, we have a generation of Orthodox askanim, and we partner with so many other organizations and agencies to advance the common good; it’s not just U.J.O.”

He is passionate about the responsibility of the tzibbur to vote. “Aside for the basic obligation of hakaras hatov, it makes such a difference- even if not to you personally- but to your brother, your neighbor, another Yid. The politicians play close attention to who voted and how they voted and it’s important to remember that.”

INTERNATIONAL
Rabbi Niederman is a unique figure in that he intimately familiar with the avenues and alleys of New York City politics and bureaucracy even as, at the very same time, he fills the same role on an international level as well.

One of the Rabbi’s close friends is William Rapfogel of the Metropolitan Jewish Council on Poverty. He reflects on Reb Moishe Duvid’s ability to multi-task. “ I remember clearly one day that exemplifies the many dimensions to Rabbi Niederman. He asked me to accompany him to meet with the UN Ambassador from Turkey about a Rav Tov issue; while we walked to the meeting we were both calling and e-mailing the Governor’s office about funding for UJO social services.  As soon as the meeting ended, we began talking about preserving cemeteries and then he raised the needs of Yemenite Jews who needed to escape persecution (that would lead to my putting him touch with officials at the US Department of Homeland Security that I knew).  In less than 2 hours we were cutting across local, national and foreign affairs.”

Though Rabbi Niederman has made it clear that the details of his diplomatic adventures are off limits, and too much information about his contacts and methods can jeopardize ongoing efforts, I cannot resist asking him which politician has done the most for the Jewish people, in his experience.

“We have many friends in various foreign governments and among them, the Austrian government is one of the most committed to helping the Jewish community. I would single out a leading Austrian politician, Alois Mock, who is somewhat of a hero to Iranian Jewry, though few people have ever heard of him. He was vice-chancellor, and later foreign minister of Austria, and it was he that opened the doors to Vienna wide, allowing Iranian refugees en route to a new life a place to escape to. There was nothing that he wouldn’t do for us, no favor that was beyond him. He was more than a friend; when an independent activist requested his assistance in negotiating for captured Israeli soldiers, he filled that role as liaison with distinction. I was once in Europe and was trying to obtain a meeting with him. I heard that he was in Dublin, so I traveled there. He was told that I had come to Dublin specially to meet with him, and he hurried over to my hotel.”

“There were four hundred Jewish families trapped in a certain country that needed help, and together with him, we created an organization called International Refugee Assistance, all in one day, with which to help them. We assembled a list of famous American politicians and celebrities to serve on the board of directors, and got to work. He was instrumental in that campaign.”

“It’s interesting,” Rabbi Niederman reflects.“ When we talk about Austria, everyone thinks about Kurt Waldheim and the countries history- I always point out that, over the past sixty years, Austria provided the first stop to freedom for the persecuted Jew, and they continue to do so- Hakadosh Boruch Hu chooses his shlichim to help us.”

I ask him about some of the American politicians he has dealt with over the years. “President Reagan was a great friend. We met at length and he expressed a strong belief in open immigration, an ideal which he subsequently implemented.”

Has Rabbi Niederman ever had to ‘meet the enemy’ for the greater good? “Well, I once met with notorious Austrian politician, Jorge Haider. It was at the time when his influence was steadily increasing, and as much as the Jewish establishment didn’t want to recognize that he might very well ascend to real power- due to his families connection with the Nazi party and his own racist views-, the possibility was real. The cooperation of the Austrian government is crucial to our efforts, and it was important to me to have open dialogue with him. A mutual acquaintance arranged a meeting when Haider was visiting New York:we both agreed that if asked, we would deny having met. We had a very interesting conversation and and the next day,a leading New York daily reported unconfirmed reports of the meeting, but ‘both parties denied knowledge of any meeting.”

STAFF
What kind of people does Rabbi Niederman look for as U.J.O employees? “We have all sorts on staff, ranging from chassidic to modern Orthodox to a non-Jewish building planner, but they all have one thing in common; compassion. We don’t have time for too many staff meetings, but whenever we get together, I have a standard drasha. ‘Everyone has a peckel’ I tell them, ‘and I am sure each of you has pressures in your personal life. When you are sitting behind your desk here,however, those problems don’t exist; the only issue is the one of the person sitting across from you. The people that come in here need help, and we are here only for that reason: to help.”

“Not all of our staffers have to share our hashkafos, but they to have to share our commitment.” With obvious pride, he indicates a staffer, David Katz- a graduate and musmach of Yeshiva University- an institution not known for its adherence to the Satmar worldview. “You know where he’s from” he jokingly says, “but we couldn’t manage without him.”

‘Yes, U.J.O is an equal opportunity employer,” David deadpans.

A key player in U.J.O, and an intimate of Rabbi Niederman’s,  David is a highly intelligent, very pleasant young man. His connection with the Rabbi goes back to when he was a staffer of U.S. Congressman Ed Towns, with whom Rabbi Niederman works closely. Rabbi Niederman has an eye for talent, and in David Katz, he saw someone that could help the tzibbur. When David got married and moved to Eretz Yisroel to study in the Gruss Kollel, Rabbi Niederman maintained contact with him. When he moved back to America this June, he was immediately hired by U.J.O, where his official role is to work towards safeguarding Jewish sacred sites abroad, but unofficially, he is one of Rabbi Niederman’s right-hand men.

I ask David what most impresses him about his employer. “Rabbi Niederman has a remarkable ability to engage people in dialogue, even people with different viewpoints. His openness and willingness to work with others is refreshing, and that’s how he gets results. Rabbi Niederman is a textbook example of how to forge unlikely alliances.”

BRIDGING GAPS
David is being literal. There is actually an entire chapter in a book- called The Activists Handbook- devoted to the lessons learned from relations between Rabbi Niederman and his counterpart in Williamsburg’s Hispanic community.

Relations between the two communities that reside in the neighborhood- chassidic and Latin American- have always been tense, with mutual distrust and wariness, each side convinced that the other is receiving a disproportionate share of the scarce public resources that flow to the community. Various puns on the name of the street that separates the two enclaves, Division Avenue, have appeared in print throughout the eighties and early nineties.

Then came the incinerator.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard incinerator project would be an easy way to get rid of the cities trash and create energy at the same time. The problem, of course, was that burning toxic and non-recyclable materials reduces them to ash that endangers people’s health. Incinerator’s emit hazardous chemicals in to the atmosphere, including lead, mercury and dioxin.

In September of 1991, then-mayor David Dinkins announced that the city was going forward with the plan. In addition to the proposed facility, there was already a local transfer- facility for toxic, flammable and radioactive waste- a proven hazard. The city ignored the fact that the company, Radiac, had an expired permit and could not meet minimum buffer-zone requirements.

The anger in both communities- chassidic and Latino- was great. It was if the city had decided that, because Williamsburg was a low-income neighborhood, its inhabitants and their children were less deserving of clean air.

In the book (p. 86), the chapter on Coalition Activism describes how a Latin community leader formed a group to combat the proposed incinerator:  One day, El Puante founder Luis Garden Acosta received a visitor: he was stunned to see Rabbi David Niederman in his offices, offering to help lead a march through Latino streets to galvanize the community into action. “So astounding was Niederman’s gesture, that Acosta compared the visit to Nixon’s first trip to China: thus was the necessary contact made for the two often-warring parties to work in coalition against the incinerator plant.”

The book speculates on the reason’s for the Rabbi’s success. “His background of negotiating with often hostile foreign world leaders to achieve freedom for Jews in areas such as the Middle East gives him a perspective on international and ethnic cooperation that helps him in his work at UJO.”

In time, the alliance formed by Rabbi Niederman and his Latin-American counterpart resulted in 907 Driggs, a prototype of co-operation- a government funded housing project shared by the two communities.

A New York Times article from just after its opening, in the late nineteen nineties, says “Two months ago, 11 Hasidic, 8 Hispanic and 2 black families began moving into a six-story apartment building at 907 Driggs that was rehabilitated by United Jewish Organizations, a Hasidic social service agency, and Los Sures, which fills the same role for the Hispanic community. The joint effort was undertaken against a backdrop of longtime tensions between Williamsburg’s Hasidic and Hispanic residents, two burgeoning communities competing for a shrinking housing supply. In the last 15 years, the local populations of both groups have increased by more than 50 percent, according to community estimates. The groups have battled in the streets and in the courts over housing.”

“The executive director of United Jewish Organizations, Rabbi David Niederman, said 907 Driggs marked a new era of cooperation. ‘‘We have proven what we have been saying,’’ he said. ‘‘There is responsible leadership on both sides that not only could coexist but could work together.’’

Today- though the two communities still find themselves battling for funds and resources- there is an openness and readiness to communicate and work towards mutual understanding.

David Katz credits Reb Moishe Duvid for breaking down the barriers erected by four decades of distrust.

WITHOUT COMPROMISE

If Rabbi Niederman was somehow miraculously relieved of his duties at U.J.O and Rav Tov and free to devote himself to any one political cause, where would he focus his efforts.

His answer is a lesson in the Satmar view of diplomacy. “My dream is to establish a office where we can focus exclusively on working- on a communal level- for services, and – this is crucial- we can work for our good with no compromises. Our tzibbur has to learn that it’s acceptable to demand that our legitimate religious rights practice mesorah be met without apologizing for that. There is always this perception that it’s somehow wrong to insist on things and that isn’t true.”

He shares an example. “Recently, a city agency wanted to implement a program that would call for all kindergarten teachers to be college graduates. This is something that simply would not work in our community because college is considered unacceptable . Our teachers are simply not going to college. So I told a friend in that agency just that; hayo lo sehiyeh, this will never happen. He saw that I was really committed and, after discussing it, understood where coming from. Diplomacy doesn’t meant acquiescing to every proposal, it means being direct and fair. He heard me and quietly dropped the plan. He knew that if I said that it wasn’t an option, then it wasn’t worth pursuing.”

Rabbi Niederman is reflective. “That, in a nutshell, was the Rebbe’s vision; a tzibbur of yidden unashamed that certain things are simply not negotiable, even as they are responsible citizens of the country we live in.”

THE PERSON
How are Rabbi Niederman’s personal role models? Was his home and background a factor in his decision to devote himself to tzarchei tzibbur?

The question gives him pause. “My father was a real ‘beis medrash yid’. He worked hard all day and went straight to learn after work. I wouldn’t have imagined him as an askan, but then, when we sat shiva for him, the Satmar historian, Rabbi Shlomo Yaakov Gelbman (author of the definitive work on the Rebbe, Moshian Shel Yisroel) shared something astounding with me. He said that there are letters from my father to the Rebbe, written in the war years, where my father advises the Rebbe of which documents are available, how they can help various people, and what their cost is; a visa for this one, a passport for that one. I had a new appreciation and insight in to my father, how when he was able to help yidden, he was a true askan, though we didn’t see his activist side.”

How does Rabbi Niederman deal with the lack of personal space? How does he deal with the fact that the he cannot step in to shul for mincha without being besieged by petitioners for his help and advice? He laughs when I tell him that some of his staff members have mentioned that- to their chagrin- his door is always open, and people literally walk in off the street and in to his office.

“Once, I was going through a rough time trying to work out a thorny U.J.O issue, and a dear friend of mine told me ‘Moishe Duvid, everyone has pressures and rough times. The Aibishter has chosen to send you yours by placing the problems of the klal on your shoulders, rather than giving you personal ones.’ It’s that thought that keeps me going.”

David Katz adds something. “He also has a good wife; she sees when it’s enough and makes sure that the phone is turned off and he gets a few minutes of peace.”

Rabbi Niederman is motivated by an ideology of helping, more than anything else, and shows his stubbornness when people try to pay him for his services. Rabbi Gelbman recalls how Reb Leibish Lefkowitz, the Rosh Hakahal in Satmar told him about the frustration involved in trying to send an expensive gift to Rabbi Niederman at the time of a simcha. “Not only does he refuse to take money on a regular day: he won’t even accept a gift in this situation.”
                                      *******************************
Exclusive reprint permission to VIN News from Mishpacha Magazine



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Read Comments (46)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:11 AM Anshel Says:

I thought this article was such a kiddish hashem to see a loyal honest public servant who never got rich or jobs for his kids just doing his heilege work.

2

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:14 AM Penn St Says:

I knew him in yeshiva he was a frimme bucher the rebbe zy'a saw further then all of us

3

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:16 AM m. f. Says:

Yes, he is a woderful person helping every yid who needs help hashem should give him a lot of koach to do chesed for klal yisrael

4

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM RUVEE Says:

I cant beleive Mishpacha got him to agree his is so humble but I have to say that really 'got him' great job!

5

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:20 AM Anonymous Says:

The Real Askanim who really work to help the klal don't need any PR magazine writeups......

6

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:22 AM focus Says:

having delt with rabbi niederman when my cousin from israel needet to get emergency health coverage, all i can tell u is that he's a true tzadik.
i'm actually suprised that he had time to give an interview as he's one of the busiest people i've ever met.

7

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:23 AM Zissy Solomon Says:

True, that he is a gevaldige askan. His accomplishments are well documented. However, since he aided with the Zali faction in williamsberg, he lost a tremendous amount of supporters. A mistake he himself regrets dearly. A public figure should cater to all. Nevertheless he is a great guy. Chazak cemitz

8

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM Gershon Says:

Great piece. We need heroes like that!

9

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:32 AM Itche Says:

Zissy

He doesnt 'belong' to Zali, he was forced by the bullies to take sides or die,. I am not a Zali or Aroni but my nephew is a big Aroni and Moishe Dovid helped him greatly just three weeks ago.

10

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:32 AM Ronnie Says:

A portrait of a real askan, a kiddish Hashem and a kiddish Satmar

11

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:33 AM GAM ZI Says:

THATS TRUE !! AND GOD SHOULD BLESS HIM 4 ALL THE GOODS HE DOES !

12

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:37 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

The Real Askanim who really work to help the klal don't need any PR magazine writeups......

have you realized that he's in askunos for 40 yrs. and this is the first magazine writeup about him

13

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:41 AM Slick Willie Says:

If he would be a diehard Zali he wouldn't have missed the opportunity in thousands of words to push his rebbe, you see he is just an ehrliche yid trying to help yidden

14

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:42 AM Cat in Hat Says:

What an enjoyable read. I bought the magazine because of it I never realized how professional it is.

15

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:42 AM Anonymous Says:

The very existence of a asking like R' Niederman, is of grate pride to orthodox yiden al over the United States. I lives in a modest apartment, don’t have any cherry lights, and different placards to abuse parking, just a regular guy. I watched him once davening, and I think he is a erlecer yid.

16

 Jan 18, 2010 at 10:59 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

The Real Askanim who really work to help the klal don't need any PR magazine writeups......

Yeah yeah, the real askanim are probably busy exerting their jealousy-fueled comments on an article about a righteous man. Tell me, smarty, what have you done for the community lately?

17

 Jan 18, 2010 at 11:14 AM PMO Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

The Real Askanim who really work to help the klal don't need any PR magazine writeups......

You're right. He doesn't need it... we do. In all the craziness lately between different groups fighting over silliness, here is a guy who really puts his money where his mouth is. He has built an strong one-man force of honesty, ahavas Yisroel and ahavas H" that has done so much good. Every child should want to grow up and be such a great man.

I can point to very little that I disagree with him on (higher education, for example). Unlike most of us, he is well adept at learning about business, law, politics, culture and the ways of the world on his own. He studies what he needs in the moment and with such an incredible mastery, it is hard not to be impressed. That is a skill most of us, sadly, do not have. Although he didn't go to college, he is one of the most well educated men in our community.

His story is inspirational to everyone who hears it... so why not tell it again and again and again.

18

 Jan 18, 2010 at 11:19 AM m. klein Says:

the article quotes rabbi N. "just before the Rebbe left to Eretz Yisroel on his nesia in 1959", as my memory serves this incident happened the other time the old rebbe's nesiay to E. Israel, maybe '65 or so.
anyway thanks for bringing this free article.

19

 Jan 18, 2010 at 12:24 PM Gitty Says:

A remarkable article on a remarkable man.

20

 Jan 18, 2010 at 12:33 PM willi boy Says:

Tzadik of a person! Wishing him all the best and may he be zoiche to go on with his heiligeh arbet!

21

 Jan 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM Anonymous Says:

when a askan becomes a poltician he loses my support.

22

 Jan 18, 2010 at 01:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Was also great to have mentioned that his key aide is a Yeshiva University musmach and student...

23

 Jan 18, 2010 at 01:11 PM Anonymous Says:

He is a politician Not a Askan, don't you see his PR machine of commentator's that are out here?

24

 Jan 18, 2010 at 02:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #23  
Anonymous Says:

He is a politician Not a Askan, don't you see his PR machine of commentator's that are out here?

If you will sit around commenting on blogs all day (including myself), at least don't have the chutzpah to besmirch people who actually work on your behalf.

25

 Jan 18, 2010 at 02:08 PM Boroparker Says:

I don't know him maybe heared or saw his name here and there .. But one thing I say if there are 23 comments (so far) and everybody Is so positive I'm sure he does a good job I think we should learn from him not only the askonos but also how Everybody likes him thats quiet difficult

26

 Jan 18, 2010 at 04:41 PM willi boy Says:

Tzadik of a person! Wishing him all the best and may he be zoiche to go on with his heiligeh arbet!

27

 Jan 18, 2010 at 05:34 PM willi boy Says:

No one comes close to the good work this man does...

28

 Jan 18, 2010 at 06:25 PM Anonymous Says:

# 21 wrote: when a askan becomes a poltician he loses my support.

and then what?...

29

 Jan 18, 2010 at 06:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Hes a wonderful man

30

 Jan 18, 2010 at 07:13 PM Project Askun Says:

What a great kiddush hashem Reb Moishe Duvid creates with his respect and humble way he approches all of the political arena and he is admired by all who come in touch with him. Above all is the care and sencere he show to anyone approaching him fot assistance. Not everytime he can help everyone, but will never talk down to anyone. Reb Moishe Duvid CHAZAK CHAZAK

31

 Jan 18, 2010 at 08:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Itche Says:

Zissy

He doesnt 'belong' to Zali, he was forced by the bullies to take sides or die,. I am not a Zali or Aroni but my nephew is a big Aroni and Moishe Dovid helped him greatly just three weeks ago.

he helps any person doesnt have to do zali or aroni, I know him personly and he was not forced in to anything, such a person as moishe dovid you cant tell what to do

32

 Jan 18, 2010 at 08:27 PM Yankee Says:

I am related to his son. and the shabbos sheveh broches he came late Friday night to daven, the next week i asked his son, you father comes home late from work on Friday that he could not make the davening. he told me that on sheveh bruches he does not know what happened but this shabbos he was at the airport to pick up a 21 year old girl who was held up for immigration reasons and had to stay over shabbos at the airport. so he went to pick up that the giirl should be house arest at his home over shabbos, and after shabbos he took her back to the airport, BTW that Friday was fast day. and he was not able to drive home he took a cab and of course the was working from in middle of the night to locate the girl. their family in Antwerp did not know what happened that she did not arrive in the us for shabbos. Great work. i understand that the cab cost him money not just time. GREAT WORK 24 HOURS 365 DAYS. And helps anyone he could.

34

 Jan 18, 2010 at 08:15 PM Goldie Says:

I remember years ago he was Moiser Nefesh mamesh for my uncle. He left NY on Purim and he had to be in Israel the next day. It was when Goldstein killed in a church. When had to meet a diplomat at a place when he went into the building Arabs surrounded the building to kill him. and he had to leave by a underground garage. and my uncle was able then to come to the US for medical problems. and B"H had a refueh shleimeh

35

 Jan 18, 2010 at 09:27 PM Anonymous Says:

My cousin was here for treatments from London, and could not renew his green card. After trying so many sources everyone has turned him down. However R'niederman was the only person willing to help him out, and didn't even wanna take a penny! Chazak !

36

 Jan 18, 2010 at 11:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Zissy Solomon Says:

True, that he is a gevaldige askan. His accomplishments are well documented. However, since he aided with the Zali faction in williamsberg, he lost a tremendous amount of supporters. A mistake he himself regrets dearly. A public figure should cater to all. Nevertheless he is a great guy. Chazak cemitz

I can attest to the last paragraph of this article.
I was doing business with Rabbi Leibish Lefkowitz and i went to visit him in Kessler Institute of Rehabilation in West Orange NJ.
While i was there, Rabbie Niederman was there, i did not know who he was, but Rabbi Lefkowitz told me afterwards who this was.
While i was waiting to speak to Rabbi Lefkowitz I overheard him asking Rabbi Niederman HOST SHOIN OF PESACH TZI MACHEN??? All Rabbie Niederman kept and saying is ZORG DICH NISHT FAR MIR

37

 Jan 18, 2010 at 11:44 PM Drei You own KOP Says:

Typical Satmarer Politishin (Yes, spelled as per the Rebbis Shitah). No Rebbi ZT"L ever tapped him for anything. Self made successful Shvitzer. Became popular when challenging the Medinas Israel in bringing over people from the Soviet Union Bloc countries to Israel to pursuade them to come to the Rebbi'S Medinah (Umerika).

Typical Ungarisher Hassidishe Askan that R&Ds; on how to beat the system. Experienced accusations similar to Governors Paterson & Spitzer (not necessarily as bad, nisht a goya, endersh heimish). Lets be Don that you are innocent until proven guilty.

He is a Kanoeee like Pinchas ben Elozor, will support anti-internet shit-tah to the extremes, but will exploit it for this and other blogs for their Interessa.

In summary after all the above, I agree to call him a Most Effective Diplomat/Politishin In The Satmar Community

Yours TRULY,
Drei Dir a Kop

38

 Jan 19, 2010 at 06:28 AM Anonymous Says:

Needless to add, anybody, yes ANYBODY in need of help or legal assistance, from HEAP, F.S. Health insurance, to legal aid lawyers, immigration etc.. You name it,
he is the address
, 24/7.

39

 Jan 19, 2010 at 08:53 AM mottel Says:

So I don't know this R' Biederman, but hey it's a nice article about doing good things for other Jews. I assume most of the people on here are frum - so if you have nothing positive to say, don't say it. Aside from the pashkvil aspect of these anonymous comments it is stam loshon hora, people use it to say bad things hiding behind the cloak of anonymity and in the process bring disaster bruhniyus to the world r"l.

Learn the laws of shemiras haloshon!

40

 Jan 19, 2010 at 10:14 AM Missy Says:

I was personally helped by this man. When all the lawyers and big people were holding their hands up and giving up, he didn't. He persevered and ended up being the right shliach for me in a mission deemed impossible by bigger people.

To all those negative posters, you are just coming across as jealous individuals.

41

 Jan 19, 2010 at 12:14 PM Anonymous Says:

the Rebbe's yartzeit is 26 Av, not 29 Av

42

 Jan 19, 2010 at 04:29 PM Emmes Says:

Reply to #39  
mottel Says:

So I don't know this R' Biederman, but hey it's a nice article about doing good things for other Jews. I assume most of the people on here are frum - so if you have nothing positive to say, don't say it. Aside from the pashkvil aspect of these anonymous comments it is stam loshon hora, people use it to say bad things hiding behind the cloak of anonymity and in the process bring disaster bruhniyus to the world r"l.

Learn the laws of shemiras haloshon!

Motty, start being pragmatic and stop always talking about stam loshon hora. This is a blog where people have a right to state the truth or to state fiction (Sheker), and where both may be challenged. Motty, you prefer a blog and magazine interviews where people promote themselves and their good deeds - of course lshem shomaim. (Metoch shivocho ba liday genuso).
Motty, pardon me, if you are not a Shota, how much longer will you be reading these blogs and Mispachah, if all you read is self-promotion with exaggerations.

We know the Skwerer Rebbe also gave an interview to Mishpacha and stated that in his New Square, there is no problem with bochurim going astray. Then this Blog reported 2 weeks ago regarding the demonstrations and police arrests in New Square and the Emes Meretz Titzmach.

If I wanted to challenge the many lies and fakes in the interview above, it would take many computer screens to read it all. I just wanted to give our many naive frum people a little neurological exercise.

I am not anti Skwer and not anti the many good components of Satmar.

Hezoharu min hatzvuim (and some think that this is what it takes to be a chosid of Skwer or Satmar.

43

 Jan 19, 2010 at 04:38 PM Shlomo Yaakov Gelbman) Says:

Reply to #38  
Anonymous Says:

Needless to add, anybody, yes ANYBODY in need of help or legal assistance, from HEAP, F.S. Health insurance, to legal aid lawyers, immigration etc.. You name it,
he is the address
, 24/7.

Boro Park and Flatbush have multiple of these type of offices. Competing for Government grants? I read the Rebbe ZT"L wanted normal honest parnosos paying taxes erliche.
Now, all of a sudden the Moshian Shel Yisroel is all about Heap and F.S. - legal Aid lawyers.

44

 Jan 19, 2010 at 06:44 PM Williamsburgher Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

when a askan becomes a poltician he loses my support.

Read #9 and give credit where it's due. I also don't like when an asken takes a side, but he nevertheless does deserve our thanks anyway. Although I voted the last two times not for his candidate, I still condemn those who tried to smear his reputation. I disagree with him on many things but still like him.

45

 Jan 19, 2010 at 06:47 PM Williamsburgher Says:

Reply to #23  
Anonymous Says:

He is a politician Not a Askan, don't you see his PR machine of commentator's that are out here?

Look, someone who saves a Jewish life is a asken, period. He has saved many lives so he becomes an asken times x.

He has a right to be a politician just like you. He didn't sign a contract with you to keep quiet.

46

 Jan 19, 2010 at 11:47 PM Richie Says:

R Moshe Dovid is the last of a breed, a quiet dignified man who gets the job done

47

 Jan 21, 2010 at 01:46 PM monroe Says:

He is a gr8 man who helped my brother in prison they didn't let him daven and have tfilon so he went over (it was in a other state) and he told for the warden that he is not leaving before he tell him that my brother will not have a problem with daven and having tfilon and kosher food chazak! You should see a lot of naches hshem should help you in all your work

48

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