Zeldin Endorsed by 2 Queens Orthodox Jewish Groups

By Reuvain Borchardt

Gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin with Rabbi Hayim Schwartz of Queens Jewish Alliance. (QJA)

QUEENS — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin has snagged the first endorsements of the race by Orthodox Jewish groups, getting the support Wednesday of the Queens Jewish Alliance and a group of Far Rockaway activists.

“Our city is under attack and nothing is being done,” QJA founder Sorolle Idels told Hamodia. “A vote for Lee Zeldin is a vote for the security of our elderly, the protection of our children, and for all of New York’s safety on the streets. Only a foolish person would keep the status quo.”

“Our children’s chinuch is at stake,” Richard Altabe, a Far Rockaway activist and leader of the endorsement group, said in a statement. “We need a governor who respects the rights of parents to choose a school that best fits their values. Lee Zeldin is committed to keeping government out of the decisions that must belong to school leaders and their parents.”

QJA is a group of political activists and rabbis from Central Queens including Alan Sherman, Meshulam Lisker, Jennifer Martin, Rabbi Hayim Schwartz and Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld. The Far Rockaway group includes Mordechai Dicker, Naftali Soloman and Dr. Moshe Lazar.

Zeldin, a Long Island Congressman, has campaigned heavily among the Orthodox, appealing to the community’s law-and-order views on crime and opposition to the state Education Department’s recently passed regulations on the secular-studies curriculum at private schools.

The Orthodox community typically holds Republican values, on policies including social issues, religious liberties, and crime, though it has at times supported friendly incumbent Democrats, particularly those expected to win by large margins. 

Democratic incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native and former lieutenant governor who took office last year when Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid scandal, built a good relationship with Jewish leaders while in office. However, in recent months she has angered the community by her refusal to take a stance on the education regulations, noting only that the Education Department operates independently from the governor. Zeldin, on the other hand, has criticized the regulations and expressed support for parental and school rights in setting the curriculum.

“We need a change,” QJA member Rabbi Hayim Schwartz told Hamodia. “We need someone in Albany who will listen to our problems and deal with them. Kathy Hochul has not addressed at all the yeshiva issue. She has not addressed the bail issue. She has not dealt with why so many people are running from New York — we’re the highest-taxed state in the country. And she doesn’t seem to get it.”

While a Republican has not won statewide office since 2002, some polls have shown the race to be in the single digits two weeks before Election Day.

Zeldin has focused his campaign on the issue of rising crime, which Republicans (and moderate Democrats) blame on a bail-reform law passed by Democrats in 2019. As governor, Hochul rolled back parts of the bill, but refused calls by Republicans (and Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams) to call a special session of the Legislature this summer to further roll back the reform.

Zeldin with Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld of Queens Jewish Alliance. (QJA)

Hochul’s ads had focused almost exclusively on Zeldin’s pro-life views, but as polls have shown that no more than 15% of the electorate views this as their most important issue, and with her campaign in trouble in a deep blue state, she recently began hitting Zeldin on what is likely a far greater liability: Zeldin’s support for former President Donald Trump, and his vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden in two states.

The major Orthodox communities in Brooklyn have not made endorsements, and some or all may choose not to endorse. Regardless, an overwhelming majority of the community is expected to vote for Zeldin.

Zeldin, who has campaigned far more aggressively in the community than Hochul, is planning to visit Boro Park and Midwood on Sunday.

Arie Lipnick, a senior campaign aide for Zeldin, told Hamodia, “As Lee Zeldin continues his campaign to protect New Yorkers’ wallets, safety, freedoms, and the quality of our childrens’ education, he’s proud to have earned the support of the Queens Jewish Alliance, the Far Rockaway Jewish Political Action Committee and countless others in the Jewish community who will vote to Save Our State on November 8.”

Early voting begins October 29.

Click here to read Hamodia’s interview with Zeldin. Hochul’s campaign has not granted Hamodia an interview despite repeated requests.


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