Not a nice slice! Orthodox Jews fear severing Midwood council district will hurt

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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.”

New York City Districting Commission hearing. Thursday, Jan, 10. 6 pm – 9 pm at St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St., between Court and Henry Streets. Written comments can be submitted prior to the meeting to NYC Districting Commission, Attn: Jonahtan Ettricks, 253 Broadway, Seventh Floor, New York, NY, 10006, or e-mail hearings@districting.nyc.gov.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

Updated 11:46 am, January 7, 2013: Story updated because we botched the numbers.
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Reader Feedback

Tikkun Olam? from Brooklyn says:
They are worried about the demographic change that would result. But, really blaming the Gays as one. The Gays are the ones that make neighborhoods beautiful and should not be discriminated against. Maybe the housewives shouldn't use florists, because many are gay. Maybe, the housewives shouldn't hire decorators for their houses, because most are gay. Maybe they shouldn't get their hair done, because most are gay.
Bottom line is that Gays are in your family and everywhere you go. Get over it already! Live the values of Judaism and treat others the way you would want to be treated. Shtetl's don's help with Tikkun Olam. Remember, don't hate because you have no idea whats happening in your own backyard! Literally!
Jan. 8, 2013, 1:45 pm
Andrew from Warbasse says:
"Left leaning Russian Jews in Brighton Beach"? "Gay marriage is not a concern for the Russian voters"? What planet are you living?

Russians voted for Republican Bob Turner over Democrat David Weprin, for Republican David Storobin over Democrat Lew Fidler, for Republican Mitt Romney over Democrat Barack Obama.

I don't think that Orthodox Jewish community can complain about the lack of political representation. Senator Simcha Felder, Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Councilman David Greenfield are great voices of the Orthodox community while there are no Russian Americans in City Council.
Jan. 9, 2013, 2:05 pm

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