Montreal – A 24 year-old Hasidic woman said she is hoping to become a “uniter” as she embarks on her campaign to become the first Hasidic woman to hold a borough seat in the tension-filled community of Outremont, Quebec.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL (http://bit.ly/18DAilZ) reports that Mindy Pollak, a beauty salon employee who still lives with her parents and whose four grandparents all survived the Holocaust, called her candidacy “revolutionary,” due to the contentious relationship between Outremont’s Hasidic community and its secular neighbors, but added that “if we focus on what we have in common rather than what divides us, then we can work towards solutions.”
Ms. Pollak, who speaks fluent English, French, and Yiddish, got interested in public service when she co-founded “The Friends of Hutchison Street” with a secular friend on the heels of a highly contentious vote rejecting the expansion of a local synagogue.
Despite the fact that Hasidic men have served publicly on councils and appointed boards, Ms. Pollak is the first Hasidic person to ever seek elected office.
Ira Robinson, an expert on Hasidism and interim director of the Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies at Montreal’s Concordia University, said, “Frankly, I have never heard of a Hasidic woman going for electoral office elsewhere. This is something new, and it’s quite significant.”
So far, Ms. Pollak has managed to balance her Hasidic faith with the rigors of the campaign, but her candidacy has not come without its detractors, including one of her opponents, Pierre Lacerte, an acerbic blogger who has taken to calling Ms. Pollak’s efforts “pseudo neo-Gandhis.”
To that Ms. Pollak said that conflicts stem from “ignorance, fear and misunderstanding, a fear of what is different. We all share the same values, deep down.”