Memory Lane: Boro Park and Politics, an old story
Although our readers may be
exhausted from politics by now, we return once again to the
relationship between Boro Parkers and their elected officials—this time to 13th
Avenue and 48th Street in the year 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson came
here, along with his running mate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The year 1964 saw the campaign for reelection of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was, of course sworn into his first term after John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas—and that year that Kennedy’s brother Robert was running for the Senator of New York. At that time he was the Attorney General of New York, and he needed the help of the president—which came in the form of a whirlwind campaign schedule in which the president lauded Mr. Kennedy.
The following is from the New York Times on October 14, two days before the politicians’ appearance in Boro Park:
“President Johnson will arrive here today to open his drive for the state's 43 electoral votes and to help the campaign of the Democratic Senatorial candidate, Robert F. Kennedy.
It took no small amount of forensic effort to discover that the photograph of the president and the senatorial candidate is taken on the corner of 48th Street and 13th Avenue—which was by then already a main thoroughfare in Boro Park. The brick wall behind the crowd is still today the façade of “Uniquely Yours” Jewelry, at 1310 48th Street.
Another detail in this picture is a dignified face that stands out from the crowd of the eclectic mix of Boro Parkers of yesteryear; a young Rav Yeshayahu Kenig, the Yoka Rav of Boro Park, zt”l.
A Holocaust survivor who came to Boro Park early on, the Yoka Rav was a Hungarian Rav in the truest sense; a phenomenal recall of even obscure teshuvos, a wide bekius in every area of Torah, with a special love for the Torah of the Chasam Sofer… and “told it like it is.” No nonsense. That was the way it was back in Hungary. The Divrei Yoel, Rav Yoelish of Satmar, was known to have directed his halachic queries to the Yoka Rav.
The Yoka Rav left this world in the spring of 2016, at the age of 94.
But on that fall of 1964, the Rov—and masses of Boro Park residents—came out to greet the president of the United States who came to visit our shtetl.