Amber Adler – a candidate for New York City Council District 48 in Brooklyn – sees a campaign obstacle as an opportunity. Adler, an Orthodox Jew, was prohibited from placing an advertisement with her image in local Orthodox newspapers.
According to a story in Politico, the papers – Hamodia, The Jewish Vues, and the Flatbush Jewish Journal – did so because “men must ‘guard [their] eyes’ against immodest and potentially arousing images”.
But Adler is not deterred by the slight and even continues to stand up for the Orthodox community.
“I hear a lot of stereotypes about the Orthodox Jewish community that are just inaccurate,” Adler said. “Women are working here, women have degrees, women are educated, women are really striving to do all they can for their families. They are active in the community.”
Adler’s advertisement in the three papers features her sons, who were allowed to appear in print, and sends a message that defines the campaign.
“Mommy will keep you safe, improve quality of life, create affordable childcare, expand educational opportunities, support seniors,” Adler said of the message she sent in her ads. “Keep housing affordable.”
Adler says this focus on bread-and-butter issues in this area – including Chinese and Pakistani communities – has kept her competitive despite obstacles relating to her gender.
Other Orthodox Jewish women however, are outraged at the censorship.
Adina Miles-Sash, a.k.a. Flatbush Girl, a Brooklyn-based Orthodox Jewish feminist with 55,000 Instagram followers, supports Adler for the District 48 seat, believing that she has the best opportunity to represent women in the community without alienating more conservative elements.
“She is willing to swallow this sort of censorship, for the sake of having an opportunity to lead a community that is in such desperate need of an advocate like her,” Miles-Sash said.
Miles-Sash says efforts to accommodate local customs – including hiring a male announcer to lead campaign announcements since women are prohibited to sing in public – could lead to lasting success.
“It is activists like me who whistle blow on the kind of misogyny that I’ve seen,” Miles-Sah added. “But it’s also precisely why we need moderates like this to sort of create that peaceful… rhetoric and engagement between all sides.”
Adler doesn’t want the race defined by the publishing restrictions. She’s been able to advertise her image in local Pakistani newspapers, and says her race is about combating stereotypes in the community, not creating new ones.
“There are a lot of opportunities when it comes to breaking stereotypes and breaking glass ceilings,” Adler said.
None of the Orthodox publications responded in time for publication.
District 48 includes the South Brooklyn neighborhoods of Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Midwood.
Also running for the Democratic nomination in District 48 is Binyomin Bendet, Mariya Markh, Boris Noble, Steve Saperstein, and Heshy Tischler.
The primary election will be held tomorrow, June 22.