New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang snagged the first endorsement by an Orthodox Jewish elected official Tuesday, receiving the backing of Queens Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal.
“There may not be a more important time for fresh leadership,” Rosenthal said at an appearance with Yang in Kew Gardens Hills. “Whoever takes the reins of City Hall next must have a bright, bold vision for this city. They must be independent, open to new ideas and willing to listen. Andrew Yang has constantly proved himself to be a creative problem solver who thinks outside the box.”
Yang said he is “deeply proud to receive this endorsement” from Rosenthal, and that “as mayor, I will be committed to making sure all members of New York’s Jewish community feel welcome and safe in our city, and will respect their right to religious freedom.”
Yang and Rosenthal were surrounded for the announcement by a contingent of students from nearby Shevach High School; subsequently, Rosenthal and other Jewish community leaders and activists took the candidate on a walking tour of the Jewish stores on Main Street, including a supermarket, candy store, Judaica store, cafe, and a food pantry in the midst of its pre-Pesach distribution.
Yang, an entrepreneur and former presidential candidate who has never held public office, has gained fame for unconventional proposals such as a “universal basic income” plan to give cash payments to New Yorkers, and a fare-free week of subways and buses; and for enthusiastic young supporters known as the “Yang Gang.”
In a phone interview with Hamodia Monday, in advance of Tuesday’s official announcement, Rosenthal said he is supportive of Yang both for the latter’s atypical proposals and because he is not part of the political establishment.
“New York City is facing multiple crises right now, and we need a fresh new look to move this city forward,” Rosenthal said. “Politics as usual isn’t going to bring New York back stronger than ever.”
According to Rosenthal, who said he had several private meetings with Yang prior to making the endorsement, the mayoral candidate also “met with Queens Jewish leaders two weeks ago, and they were impressed.”
“He took an unequivocally strong stance against the anti-Semitic BDS movement,” Rosenthal said, “and he has been proactive in reaching out to the Jewish community, signaling that he will be respectful of New York City’s diversity and religious liberties. His campaign has been constantly releasing bright, bold new ideas for the city, and I’m excited to be a part of the campaign.”
While no Orthodox official has made a mayoral endorsement prior to Rosenthal’s, Yang has been praised in the Orthodox community for his stances in favor of yeshiva independence and in opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Nechemia Hoch, a community activist who participated on the tour with Yang, told Hamodia, “We’re looking very closely at all the candidates, and we’re very proud that our Assemblyman, Daniel Rosenthal, is the first Orthodox candidate to make an endorsement in this race.”
Sorolle Idels, another Queens community activist on the tour, said, “Our community is looking for a champion for our causes, and if Andrew Yang steps up to the plate, then he has our support.”
While Yang visited the supermarket, one shopper was overheard saying to another, “Is he a Democrat? I’m not voting for him.”
On the tour of Main Street shops, Yang told Hamodia, “Dan’s endorsement means the world to me because he’s such a tremendous leader. He’s got a real vision to help the people in his community and the city, and so I’ll be thrilled to be his partner in City Hall trying to make people’s lives better every day.”
Updated Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 7:15 pm .