All the firms intimately or tangentially associated with the Afghan Ammo scandal -- 22-year-old Efraim Diveroli's AEY Inc., his father Michael Diveroli's Worldwide Tactical, and his uncle Bar-Kochba Botach's Botach Tactical -- are listed in federal contractor databases as "disadvantaged" or "minority owned." This implies that the owners must be Hasidic Jews, because only Hasidics, not Orthodox Jews in general, qualify for affirmative action.
Leaving aside the issue of whether Hasidic Jews should qualify for ethnic preferences, which they have since a Reagan Administration decision in 1984, are the Diverolis and Botaches Hasidic enough to list themselves as eligible for affirmative action?
Granted, this entire debate is absurd, but it's fun ... and a lot of taxpayers' money rides on the question of just how hard it is to declare yourself one of those officially privileged "disadvantaged Hasidic Jews."
Congressman Henry Waxman has scheduled hearings into the AEY scandal, but, you know, I have this strange hunch that the hearings, if they ever happen, aren't going to get into any of the fun stuff. The press hasn't yet touched even the most obvious fun stuff, like Efraim being the nephew of Michael Jackson's rabbi or Efraim's mom being being involved in a Michael Jackson fundraising scam. The original NYT article, for example, left the entire ethnic angle out.
The most famous member of the family is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who appears to be the brother of Efraim's mother, Ateret Diveroli, a mother of five. (Efraim is described as "the eldest of five.") A 2001 Slate.com article "Who is Shmuley Boteach?" by Benjamin Soskis says:
To understand why Shmuley Boteach is one of the world's most prominent rabbis, you ... simply have to scan the dedication to one of his latest books, Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments. "To Michael," it reads, "who taught me of humility." Michael, of course, is none other than Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, and Boteach manages to slip references to their relationship into most of his interviews and writings. The rabbi is currently co-authoring a parenting book with the blanched superstar and sponsoring a Jackson-led charity dedicated, unbelievably enough, to ensuring that children receive appropriate amounts of affection. ...
Despite Jackson's lesson in humility, he approaches self-promotion with religious fervor. As he told one reporter, his own Eleventh Commandment is "Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition."
Shmuley learned his talent for outreach from the experts. Though he had been brought up in a modern Orthodox home in Miami and Los Angeles, as a teen-ager he became increasingly involved in the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch, or Chabad, movement. Founded in 18th-century Russia as an offshoot of Hasidic Judaism, the Lubavitch are dedicated to making Jewish ritual accessible to even unlearned Jews. When Chabad moved its base to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, after World War II, its emphasis on outreach to secular Jews intensified; ...
When Shmuley was 13, he met the movement's charismatic leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom some considered then to be the Messiah and still do today, even after his death seven years ago. The Rebbe, as Schneerson was called, bestowed upon Shmuley a generous blessing—friends joked that perhaps Shmuley was the Messiah—and later dispatched him, at age 22, to Oxford to serve as a religious emissary. ...
As Shmuley's stature on campus grew, his relations with the Lubavitch leadership began to fray. The L'Chaim Society attracted as many non-Jews as Jews—its president one year was an African-American Baptist—and his peers felt Shmuley was spending too much time courting gentiles, thereby diluting outreach efforts and possibly even encouraging intermarriage. Shmuley replied with what would become his signature defense: that broadening the visibility of Judaism to the general public would inevitably, if circuitously, attract Jews. "To get Jews interested in the Jewish world," he later said, "you have to get the non-Jews interested. The Jews will follow what the non-Jews are doing."
Few in the Orthodox Jewish establishment agree. In 1994 Shmuley was officially rejected by Crown Heights after inviting Yitzhak Rabin to speak at L'Chaim against the orders of the Rebbe, who strongly opposed Rabin's land-for-peace position. The penalty was largely symbolic, since Shmuley had become a master fund-raiser (using British parsonage laws to purchase a second home in North London) and was financially independent.
So, this says that the home presided over by Yoav Botach, Shmuley's father and owner of Botach Tactical, where Efraim Diveroli's mom grew up, was "Modern Orthodox" rather than Hasidic. So, how do they qualify for federal affirmative action purposes as Hasidic?
Perhaps Shmuley converted the rest of the family for awhile, but now he's apparently not a Hasidic anymore, so how do these firms keep going on claiming to be Hasidic?
I suspect more federal contractors will be signing up as disadvantaged Hasidics when they realize that the whole beard and hat thing isn't a federal requirement.