Amid the cacophony of drumbeats, rhyming protest chants and spirited debates, an outspoken activist blogger vows to keep the Jewish presence in downtown Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park beyond its highly publicized Sukkot. “We have a traditional egalitarian minyan and we will continue with Shabbat dinners as long as we can,” said Daniel Sieradski, 32, a self-described “Orthodox anarchist,” with a long resume of social causes and online campaigns.
The Brooklyn resident catapulted into national headlines on Sept. 30, a week into the Occupy Wall Street protest, by organizing an outdoor Shabbat potluck dinner, which was then followed a week later by Kol Nidrei where the reddish-bearded Sieradski donned the kittel, amid a crowd of 1,000 protester worshippers. Sieradski’s wife Morissa brought vegetarian cholent and his mother Jennette Friedman supplied challah for the praying protesters. “My mother and father in Teaneck are going through foreclosure and I am going to bat for my parents,” Sieradski said. “This is what it means to be an eved Hashem.”
Chabad of Wall Street donated the initial pop-up sukkah as a non-political gesture to promote religious observance, but with a growing crowd, Sieradski later brought in a larger sukkah, complete with a portrait of legendary Jewish anarchist Emma Goldman. “If I can’t dance with a Torah, it’s not my revolution,” Sieradski writes on his Facebook, paraphrasing Goldman.
Jews Racial and Economic Justice, the Park Slope-based Kolot Chayeinu, and the gay synagogue Beth Simchat Torah cosponsored the sukkah project. Among the few Orthodox speakers speaking at the sukkah was Uri L’Tzedek Director Rabbi Ari Weiss, who spoke on the Jewish commitment to social justice. “One can be Orthodox and engaged in social justice. We should not penalize the wealthy, but the poor are getting poorer and this is something that we have to protest,” said founder Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz.