Term-limited Councilman Rory Lancman resigned his seat on Wednesday for a new position created by Governor Andrew Cuomo - Special Counsel for Ratepayer Protection - which represents the interests of consumers in relation to utility companies and telecom providers. With his departure from City Hall, a nonpartisan special election will determine the next Council Member to represent the district with the largest Jewish population in Queens.

In the week preceding Shabbas Shuvah, the daily chart of coronavirus hospitalizations shared by Governor Andrew Cuomo showed a rise in patients. On Tuesday, September 22, there were 470, and a week later there were 571, with more than one percent of people tested statewide reporting positive results. “Twenty ZIP Codes average a positive test rate of five percent – about five times the statewide average,” he wrote. “We know how this virus spreads and we know how to stop the spread. Local governments MUST enforce compliance.”

There is a mountainous region populated by an ethno-religious group with centuries of history but not one country recognizes its claim to that region. If you thought that I was referring to the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, you may not have heard that there is a war happening at this time in Nagorno-Karabakh. Internationally, this Caucasus region is regarded as part of Azerbaijan, but nearly all of the people living there are ethnic Armenians who have their own self-declared state, the Republic of Artsakh. In the course of the past month, Azerbaijan has been fighting a war to recapture Karabakh and restore land to ethnic Azeris who were expelled from there a quarter century ago.

With most City Council Members facing term limits in 2021, many of them have begun searching for their next jobs before their terms expire. The political news site City & State reported on Thursday that Councilman Rory Lancman is seeking a position in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, citing unnamed sources close to Lancman.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shaken many long-held assumptions about the Jewish community as it confronts a crisis of leadership, finance, and faith. In Queens, the divisions within the Jewish community were laid bare last Monday when Governor Andrew Cuomo declared in a press conference, “We’re going to close the schools in those areas tomorrow, and that’s that.”

In his daily briefing on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that six neighborhoods will be subject to a hyperlocal testing and tracing effort on account of an uptick in positive cases. Coinciding with the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, these locations are identified with Orthodox Jews: Borough Park, Midwood, Flatbush, Williamsburg, Far Rockaway, and Kew Gardens.