Boruch (Boris) Noble, a Midwood community activist, has announced a run for the Democratic primary for the 48th City Council District, on a platform of improving community security, promoting government accountability, and reforming property-tax assessments.
Noble, the second candidate to officially declare for what is expected to be a crowded race to replace the term-limited Chaim Deutsch, announced his candidacy Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Hamodia.
“There are many issues out there that need to be addressed,” says the 35-year old candidate, “and I’m able to build coalitions with diverse groups.”
Boris Novogrebelsky immigrated with his family from Ukraine as a 5-year-old in 1990. He had a bris several months later, becoming “Boruch,” and the family got U.S. citizenship a few years thereafter, changing their last name to “Noble.” Boruch attended the Mirrer Yeshiva, Yeshiva Toras Emes and Shor Yoshuv, then Brooklyn College.
Noble, a husband and father of three, currently has a civil service job, ensuring compliance for city contractors.
From 2012 to 2014 he worked for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and his successor Eric Adams as housing policy advisor, Russian liaison and Jewish liaison, an experience “that got me really into the political scene,” he says.
His Jewish and Russian experiences harmonized again recently, when Noble was asked to deliver the simultaneous Russian translation at the Siyum HaShas on Jan. 1, 2020 – during which he also celebrated his first time completing Shas, as well.
Noble has for years been active in local politics, building relationships and connecting community leaders with local elected officials and candidates – an experience he says will serve him well in the City Council.
“A single councilman is very weak,” says the candidate, “because you’re one of 51. I feel like the opportunity is right for me to step up to do what I feel like I’ve been doing already, but now do it in an official capacity.”
Noble’s local Democratic connections range from moderates to progressives, as he says it is important to build bridges with people in power, regardless of whether community members agree with them on most issues.
“I don’t agree with them on everything, but I’m facilitating dialogue, and it’s important to have that dialogue,” says the candidate. “At the end of the day, they still are in positions of decision-making. And some of those very people that are saying, ‘Why is Boris hanging out with them?’ have called me and asked, ‘Can you set up a meeting with me and them?’”
Noble says security would be his “number one issue” as councilman – an issue that recently became personal for him.
Late on the night of July 16, Noble was walking near his home in the heart of Midwood when, he says, a teen walked up to him and, wordlessly, struck the right side of his head with a blunt object. Noble’s smile now reveals a broken tooth, and he still suffers jaw pain. The perpetrator has not been caught, and several times during the Hamodia interview, Noble receives calls from the Anti-Defamation League, which is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.
The candidate says he supports “re-funding the police,” following cuts to the NYPD in the city’s most recent budget – but he wants the funding targeted specifically to ensure more uniformed officers on the streets. He also supports lowering the minimum threshold for city funding of private-school security guards, to 100 students from its current 300.
Shootings and murders have been soaring in New York City over the past several months. There is an ongoing battle between those who advocate for police reform and those who argue the NYPD has been held back from properly policing the city.
Noble believes that “everything comes down to moderation.”
“Like stop and frisk,” he says. “If it was used in moderation, I don’t think it would have the backlash it had. It was used to a point where people felt like it was every time, every day. Anything out of moderation, it leads to chaos.”
Noble also wants to reform the “Build It Back” program established to help areas like Brighton Beach recover from Hurricane Sandy, which he says has been “a disaster – because there no accountability.”
“It all comes down to one word,” says the candidate. “If I had to say what’s my platform: accountability.” He believes that hiring “mega contractors getting these billion dollar contracts” is far less efficient than giving people whose homes were destroyed direct payments to hire contractors as they see fit.
Noble is the second candidate to join the race, after community activist Amber Adler declared late last month. Other potential Democratic candidates for Deutsch’s seat include Deutsch’s wife, Sara; David Heskiel, a community liaison to Deutsch and police chaplain; Heshy Tischler, a community activist and radio personality; Lenny Markh, chief of staff to Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, or his wife Mariya Markh, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio; Jack Plushnick, an aide to Deutsch; Inna Vernikov, an attorney and activist; and Steve Saperstein, a special education teacher and community activist, who recently became a Democrat following unsuccessful runs as a Republican in the 2017 general election against Deutsch and in the 2018 general election for the 46th state Assembly seat against Mathylde Frontus.
Boruch Noble on other issues:
Property Taxes: “In a few years, New York City property taxes will rival those of Long Island. They keep going up – but not because the City Council voted on raising them. It’s the obscure system of assessments, where they say your house is worth $1 million, though when you go on Zillow, they tell you your house is worth $850,000. How are they assessing it? Based on the commercial property a block away from you? Assessments have to be completely reformed to not include commercial properties, and not to include new properties nearby.”
The newly passed “diaphragm bill” banning police from sitting or kneeling on an arrestee’s back or stomach, and which has been sharply criticized by police: “I would vote to overturn the diaphragm bill as it’s written. If you have someone violently resisting arrest and the police officer feels like, I don’t want to G-d forbid violate the diaphragm law, he’ll let him go, and you’ll have a violent person out in the street as a result of it that – that to me is the ultimate danger.”
Exchange on the issue of sanctity of life:
Where do you stand on sanctity of life?
“I’m a religious person, I’m married with three kids. This is a very fraught issue. Not much that I do will change any laws, so as long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, I’m not sure anyone can do much.”
(Repeated) Where do you stand on the sanctity of life issue?
“Let the courts decide.”
While it’s true that much of it is in the hands of the courts, there’s still a lot in the hands of legislators.
“I’m personally pro-life. Absolutely.”
As a legislator, to the extent that legislators can make laws about sanctity of life one way or the other, what would you do?
“I would actually do what I believe my constituents want, and that is pro-life legislation … [but] I try to limit myself to getting involved in stuff that I feel like I can make a change. And even if I can’t make a change, I can make noise, without limiting myself from doing other stuff.”
You mean, without doing something that will so anger your colleagues in the Council that they won’t want to work with you on something else?
“At the end of the day, you want to pick your battles when you’re a councilman, because you have a limited number of initiatives you can push. Unless you’re the Speaker or the chairman of a powerful committee, you’re going to have to work as a team, and that team, in New York City, will be dominated by progressives. Out of 51 councilmembers now, 26 exactly, more than half, are people of color. You’re going to have a Council body in 2021 that’ll be even more likely to be progressive and probably even more people from communities of color. So you don’t want to be the outlier that always is voting no. You want to feel like part of a team in order to get legislation passed – especially when you’re going to have very important legislation for the frum community.
Closing statement: “I’m basically a regular guy, living in Midwood, struggling to pay all my bills, pay tuition, rent, pay for food – kosher food isn’t cheap! – driving a minivan, of course. And trying to keep my head above water, but at the same time, make an impact.”
Updated Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 2:29 pm .