Mitz-Vote

Amid Diversity, Worries About Jews and Gays

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share

PROSPECT HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN — When Julia Watt-Rosenfeld went to P.S. 9 in Prospect Heights to vote in the presidential election two years ago, she waited for nearly two hours in a line that went around the block. On this election day, though, she was in and out of the polling site in minutes.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen
Julia Watt-Rosenfeld said turnout at her polling place was much heavier two years ago.

“It’s really quiet and I’m scared that people aren’t voting today, that people don’t feel like their vote counts. I’m worried about what’s going to happen nationally,” said the 39-year-old community organizer who said that, as a Jew, she takes seriously “the call to repair the world.”

“If Republicans regain the majority (in Congress), it may affect us deeply for a long time,” she said. “I’m concerned about the needs of working class New Yorkers, and issues of schools, healthcare and immigration.”

A light but steady stream of voters at the Brooklyn elementary school included many Jews in this gentrifying neighborhood.

Robert Silverman, an actor who identified himself as a political conservative, is in the political minority in Prospect Heights, where many new restaurants and bars have opened in the past few years to cater to the influx of new artists, writers and public servants flooding into the area, which until recently was largely populated by West Indians and African Americans.

Being Jewish feels more like an issue in this election than in others because “I don’t think this government is very pro-Israel, though the American people are,” said Silverman, who declined to give his age. He voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, even though he described the candidate as “kind of obnoxious,” because of one issue: Park 51, the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. “I didn’t vote for Cuomo because he supports the mosque,” the actor said.

For many of the Jewish voters here, however, Paladino’s anti-gay focus during a meeting with Haredi Rabbi Yehuda Levin, led them to feel that their only choice for governor is Andrew Cuomo. “The bigotry coming from people like Paladino, which is so outrageously insensitive to other people, is slanderous,” said Peter Gordenstein, 54, a real estate broker who has lived here for a dozen years.

Several voters expressed concern about what they said is increased racism, both veiled and explicit, in this year’s political campaigns.

“There have been a lot of charges of elitism,” said Raul Rothblatt, 45, a musician and founding member of a new political club, Prospect Heights Democrats for Reform. “One generation ago, when my grandmother was a Jew in Budapest, Jews were hearing that language, which was turned into anti-Semitism. It’s true for the anti-Muslim sentiment, too. When there’s talk against brown-skinned people with big noses, you wonder when is it going to be Jews they’re talking about?”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Carl Paladino, Park51, Prospect Heights

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.