Lhota Plays Up Jewish Roots In Pitch To Jewish Voters

(Wednesday, September 4th, 2013)

Joe-Lhota_Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota is ahead in the polls and ranking up support from the media outlets ahead of the GOP primary for mayor of New York City. But so is Bill de Blasio securing his spot, as of now, in the general election.

As a Republican, Mr. Lhota is considered a long shot against any of the Democratic candidates. Nonetheless, if the election actually turns out to be a choice of ideas and policy proposals, Mr. Lhota might as well have a shot in turning the race into a competitive battle of ideas, especially if he secures the support of mayor Bloomberg.

While Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson, the two possible Democratic nominees for mayor, are both seen as favorite candidates in the Jewish Community, Joe Lhota has so far struggled to get his name known or gain traction, despite his fiscal positions and experience.

Last night, during a radio interview with Zev Brenner, Mr. Lhota played up his Jewish roots, first reported on YWN, and addressed the issues of great concern to the Orthodox Jewish community.

“I am very proud of my heritage and I’ve known even since I was a kid that my grandmother (Ita Steinberg) was Jewish,” Mr. Lhota said. “To me, I think it helped me become part of the fabric of New York. I Celebrate my Jewish Heritage.”

Mr. Lhota then turned to the host asking for advice of how to deal with the fact he’s Jewish, according to the law, but was raised as a Roman Catholic. “I always thought that if I go out there and said ‘Hey, I’m Jewish because my grandmother was Jewish yadi yada yada’ that would be pandering for Jewish votes. But tell me, what is the right thing to do?” he asked. “Because I’m hearing different messages from different people, I hear in the Jewish community, especially in the Orthodox community, they want me to play it up. If necessary I’ll play it up. But just so you know, going into it, I’m not a big panderer on anything. I may have been misguided with my thoughts on that,” Mr. Lhota stressed.

“I see nothing wrong by saying you have a special connection to the Jewish community,” Mr. Brenner responded.

Mr. Lhota also addressed two issues at great concern to the Orthodox Jewish community – School vouchers and Metzitzah B’peh. In both cases, Mr. Lhota expressed his standing with the community on these specific issues that have been talked about a lot on the campaign trail.

“I have been a supporter of vouchers going back 24 years ago,” Mr. Lhota said. “I still believe it’s an important tool we should have. I don’t think we can get it done in Albany, but it doesn’t mean we should take it off the table.”

In the meantime, Mr. Lhota said he supports the bill passed in the NY Senate that gives tax credit to parents who send their kids to schools other than public school – regardless if they are a yeshiva, parochial school or a private school. Yet, it is up to Speaker Silver and the State Assembly to approve the bill.

On Metzitzah B’peh, Mr. Lhota said he’s opposed to the regulation. “I believe that the request for parents to sign a piece of paper goes too far.,” he said. “There should be a piece of paper that explains what the risks are. But no one needs to sign anything to follow their religious practice. It is wrong and it’s a violation of our constitution to do it.”

“I will reverse, as soon as I’m mayor, the rule that people have to sign on the dotted line their understanding of what the risks are,” Mr. Lhota pledged.

Listen to the audio:

(Jacob Kornbluh – YWN)

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