Not a nice slice! Orthodox Jews fear severing Midwood council district will hurt
Orthodox Jews fear they’ll get less political pork if a plan to split their Midwood council district becomes law, and are calling on the city to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Residents of the 48th Council District, which is represented by Michael Nelson (D–Midwood), claim that necessary funding to local community groups will dry up if the city Districting Commission’s succeeds in splitting Southern Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish stronghold into two different district — moving a portion of the voting block to the 45th Council District, which is represented by Jumaane Williams (D–E. Flatbush).
“Jewish communities should not be sliced and diced,” said David Pollock, the associative executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “It minimizes their ability to catch the attention of elected officials.”
And without that attention, residents fear necessary community groups that get subsidized with city dollars will be left high and dry.
“We have our own organizations that need support from the city council,” said Josh Mehlman, Midwood resident who would be switched from the 48th to the 45th council district. “We have our own interests and our own community groups that deserve funding.”
Residents also fear the move will make the new 48th District a lot less conservative thanks to the fact that it would absorb a large community of left-leaning Russian Jews living in the Warbasse apartments in Brighton Beach — even if they agree on international issues like the state of Israel.
“The Orthodox are concerned about values issues, like homosexuality,” Pollock claimed. “Races being fought over gay marriage and those kind of things are not too much of a concern for the Russian voters.”
Still, the new lines are not yet drawn in stone, and the city says the residents will have be able to voice their concerns at a public hearing on the plan at St. Francis College on Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights on Jan. 10.
“They will have an opportunity to come and testify regarding that,” said Carl Hum, the executive director of the Districting Commission.
And those against the plan are sure to be there to speak their minds.
“We’re extremely worried,” said Shimon Lefkowitz, who lives on Avenue I in Midwood, and would be taken from the 48th district and put into the 45th. “This is something that caught us all by surprise. We’ve always been able to vote in numbers and this is being taken away from us.”