State Sen. Simcha Felder Easily Wins Re-Election

BROOKLYN -
State Sen. Simcha Felder voting on Tuesday in Boro Park. (Benjamin Kantor)

State Sen. Simcha Felder easily won a third term in office in Tuesday’s election.

Felder, a Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, ran on the Democratic, Republican, Conservative and Independent lines.

While there were two token opponents running against him — Councilmember Jumaane D. Williams running on the Working Families Party and Reform Party candidate Luis Rivera — neither actually campaigned for the State Senate position.

Mr. Felder is widely considered a hero in the Orthodox community for his achievements of behalf of yeshivos, but has been attacked by liberals groups who are unhappy with his conservative political views, his Torah-guided stance on moral issues and his alignment with Republicans. He won the Democratic primary in a landslide.

Mr. Felder, who is known for his unassuming approach to politics, made headlines last April after he won a substantial legislative victory for the Orthodox community in changing an obscure New York State law regarding education in private and religious schools.

Those seeking to force changes in the ways that yeshivah students receive their education had argued the wording of the old law meant that yeshivah students must spend as many hours a day in secular studies as public-school students do, and must learn each of the numerous subjects taught in public schools.

Had this element been successful in their efforts to get state or city governments to enforce this reading of the law, it would have been devastating to the rights of parents whose foremost desire is that their children receive a traditional Torah chinuch.

The new law, carefully crafted by legal experts under the guidance of leading Rabbanim, describes the obligatory secular studies subjects in a way that ensures a comprehensive English education, while not contradicting Torah beliefs. It calls for the state to take into account the “entirety of the curriculum,” and whether “the curriculum provides academically rigorous instruction that develops critical thinking skills in the school’s students.”