Interview: Frum FlatbushGirl Challenges For District Leader Seat

Adina Miles (@flatbush_girl) at her Flatbush house
Adina Miles, an Orthodox Jewish social media personality, is running for District Leader in AD-45. (Photo by Tsubasa Berg)

Depending on with whom you speak, social media star FlatbushGirl, a.k.a. Esther Adina Miles Sash is either a heretic Orthodox Jewish woman, a cutting edge comedienne or just a ditzy comic doing strange things.

But one thing is for sure. With 38,000 Instagram followers, Sash is a serious candidate for female Democratic district leader where she is challenging longtime district leader Margarita Kagan in the 45th Assembly District.

Kings County Politics (KCP) sat down with Sash last week to get her views on politics, the district leader race, religion and more in the following edited interview. Up close, Sash is intelligent, charming and engaging. She holds a master’s degree in Medieval literature from Brooklyn College. The same school where her mother, psychology Professor Rona Miles, was recently named the third favorite professor in the nation on the webiste,

KCP: So how many petition signatures did you get to get on the ballot for the Sept. 13 Primary?

Esther Adina Miles Sash: I got around 3,000 signatures and my opponent submitted 4000. On her petitions she had listed [Assembly member Steve] Cymbrowitz, [District Leader Ari] Kagan, and some of them even had [State Sen.] Simcha Felder on it. So I think for me to get 3,000 with just like you know two judges on there, and with her [Margarita Kagan] riding the coattails of other people, speaks volumes about the kind of power I can generate.

So you’re running against a person and people who are entrenched, that really know the political game…

Right, but do any of us really know the rules of this political game? We’re all just making it up as we go along, right, so it’s who can fake it the best, right.

Adina Miles (@flatbush_girl) campaign poster
Adina’s campaign poster on Kings Highway (Photograph by Tsubasa Berg)

How important do you think it is for an elected official within the frum and Hasidic community to address the opioid crisis, both within that community and the greater community?

I think it’s extremely important, and I think part of showing one’s commitment to fixing that problem is actually removing the stigma against less dependent drugs. So to obliterate the conversation around weed, around marijuana, is to basically create a breeding zone for obliterating the conversation for drugs that really can kill a person.

Part of having this conversation is actually recognizing , what is the youth interacting in, what kind of drugs is the youth consuming and which drugs are a problem and which ones are less of a problem. And I feel like we just lumped them all into one breed, of anything is just bad, and a lack of that distinction is just making things more of a breeding ground for danger.

I’ve heard from some in the frum community that you’re not really frum because of some of the things you make light of as FlatbushGirl. Do you consider yourself a frum?

I consider myself frum.

So how do you react to Orthodox Jews that see your Instagram FlatbushGirl persona and say, ‘She’s not really religious.’

I say that you should use this [her Instagram persona] as an opportunity to challenge yourself to have self-awareness. You know it’s funny, I had once a women who told me something like, ‘Oh, in the times of Meshach (the Jewish redemption), you’re not gonna be able to wear anything from your wardrobe because it won’t comply with the standards of modesty’, and I said, ‘You know what? There are people in Israel – in very close minded communities – who would say the same thing about your wardrobe.’

Everyone perceives themselves that they are in the middle, but there’s always someone who’s more stringent than you. And just like you wouldn’t want them to strip you of your right to consider yourself a frum Jew you can’t do that to someone else.

The district is diverse with a growing number of Muslims, Chinese and Christians as well as Jews. As a district leader would you feel comfortable say going into a mosque and campaigning or anywhere?

That’s actually very interesting. I think you are allowed to go to a mosque, right. You’re allowed to go to a mosque I think. I think you’re not allowed to go into a church. I guess i would consult my rabbi just to get some sort of formal approval. But for my insides, my insides tell me whatever it takes to create peace and connections between neighbors I’m going to do it. Whatever it takes.

Adina Miles (@flatbush_girl) on Avenue M

What do you see the role of a district leader being?

The role of district leader is two-fold. It’s a volunteer unpaid position that requires you to invest thousands of hours and dollars to even try to obtain that role. That shows a certain level of heartfelt commitment to the role. So there’s no ulterior motives, at least for now. Obviously it’s a stepping stone, but for right now for what it is, for the short-term, it’s just completely volunteer. So I think that kind of filters through who is willing to put in the work and not get anything out of it. Who is willing to model for others what it means to make positive change, positive influence in our community just for that sake, just in of itself, that goal.

And second, I think i am perfect for this role because I have 38,000 followers on Instagram and that just shows a certain propensity to be able to rally an audience around me. I know how to make my message resonate. I know how to get people to unify for a cause and for a belief and for having that I’m also able to represent my people before the politicians.

If I can go to someone’s office and knock on the door. If my opponent for example, Margartia Kagan knocks on the door of Simcha Felder and he doesn’t answer the door, right, whats she gonna do? She’s gonna call her male district leader. But if I’m standing at the footsteps of the door and I’m streaming  to 38,000 people and I’m like knocking on the door and I’m like guys, he’s not answering me, this is the person who represents us, then I have power in my hand that I can utilize for good. It’s not only about showing people how I do my makeup and what dress I’m wearing and what shoes I’m wearing, but it’s also about influencing them to use their platforms for good.

I work with several very smart frum women that are the right hand to a frum male elected official. Do you think it’s time for orthodox females to step up and run for elected office?

I think that our girls are not modeled enough on what it means to be female leader. I think that within our community we have somehow associated things like being in the spotlight as being synonymous with being an attention whore, as being a slut. We have completely demonized women who want to put their faces out there to be a positive influence and change and that has made many women shy off from the spotlight.

They [women] want to be modest, they want to be timid. Yet these are power houses of women. If you open up their doors to their home, they are running their homes. They are no-nonsense. They are powerhouses, but when they open the door they present themselves timidly, modestly, which is associated with being more quiet and coloring within the lines.

I think it’s time to show people a new frame of reference for what it means to be an orthodox female.tographs by Tsubasa Berg