[VIDEO & PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE]
NYC Councilman David G. Greenfield (D-Brooklyn) was joined by dozens of Jewish community leaders today to protest the creation of the one so-called “Super Jewish” district that was drawn to replace the six senators currently representing the predominantly Orthodox neighborhoods of Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush and Kensington. At a press conference in Borough Park, Greenfield ripped the proposed district drawn by New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment as the product of a backroom political deal that will only serve to dilute the voice and power of the largest Orthodox Jewish population in the United States of America.
“Let’s be clear, this is not a Super Jewish district but rather a Super Ghetto district that if allowed to remain in place will cause the Jewish community to lose multiple voices in Albany. That will mean less services, less funding and less political power for America’s largest Jewish community right here in Brooklyn. Quite frankly, it will be very easy for the political establishment to marginalize the one senator representing the entire Jewish community. Right now we have six senators representing the Jewish community, and to go to one simply makes no sense. We need at least two, if not three senators, to maximize the community’s political power. That’s why I urge the Governor to recognize this proposal for what it is – backroom politics at its worst – and to veto it,” said Greenfield.
Greenfield was joined at the corner of 16th Avenue and 45th Street outside his district office by dozens of local leaders and representatives from community groups to demand that LATFOR go back to the drawing board and produce district lines that serve the public’s best interest, instead of the political party or incumbent’s best interest. Collectively, these leaders represent tens of thousands of members of the Jewish community. Among those speaking out against dumping all of Brooklyn’s Jews into one Senate district were Chaim Deutch, founder of Flatbush Shomrim, Rabbi Chaim Goldberger of Satmar, Mendel Zilberberg of Community Board 12, community leader Rabbi Berish Freilich and Rabbi Yechezkel Pikus of Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush.
Also on hand were representatives from Chaveirim, Yad Ephraim, Boro Park Shomrim, Igud L’ Hachzokas Torah, Bikur Cholim of Boro Park and Bina Ezras Cholim. In addition, the leaders of local yeshivas including Belz, Gur, Boyan, Gan Yisroel and Satmar joined Greenfield for today’s press conference.
“Having just one person, no matter who that person is, represent us is a step backwards and a step in the wrong direction. I commend Councilman Greenfield for taking this issue up and speaking out against the proposed lines. Diversity in our society not only makes us stronger, but it brings us closer together,” said Chaim Deutch of Flatbush Shomrim.
“It is wrong to segregate people based on religion, race or any other factor. This isn’t about establishing a super district for Jews, it is about segregating us. We are all one people, citizens of the United States who just want to live our lives under a government that represents them. The community did not ask for this,” said Rabbi Chaim Goldberger of Satmar.
Last September, before the lines were drawn, Greenfield stressed two key points while testifying before LATFOR (the redistricting committee). He urged the committee to consider the local Orthodox community’s staggering growth over the past decade, when Borough Park was the city’s only neighborhood of 100,000 plus residents to see a population increase in the recent census, and to keep in mind the community’s unique needs and priorities. Greenfield encouraged the redistricting committee to ensure that the Orthodox Jewish community had “at least two but preferably three senators.” Unfortunately, the committee ignored Greenfield’s recommendations and instead proposes reducing the Jewish community’s representation to a single senator.
Today, Greenfield explained that if the Jewish community were split into two or three districts the community would still be the most sought-after constituency in each of those two or three districts. “If we have a choice to make up 30 to 40 percent of two or three districts or 70 percent of one district, I think it’s obvious that we want to be big enough to make a difference but not too big to be marginalized,” said Greenfield. As proof, Greenfield pointed to the recent election of US Congressman Bob Turner. While Jews made up only 23 percent of that district, because of Jewish interest in the seat, they made up 33 percent of the vote and clearly were the determining factor for Mr. Turner, who won with only 8 percent of the total vote.
Following today’s press conference, Greenfield sent a letter to Governor Cuomo explaining the reasons behind his request and asking the Governor to veto the lines as drawn. In that letter, Greenfield reiterated the negative impact that forcing an entire community into a single district can have, including the loss of a strong collective voice in Albany and reliance on one individual for services, funding and representation. Instead, Greenfield asked the Governor to split the local Orthodox Jewish community into two or three Senate districts to ensure the community is not marginalized or ignored.
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(YWN Desk – NYC)