Leading members of the Queens Jewish community came out in force for Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal last Tuesday evening, October 25, at the Kew Gardens Hills home of Shimmy and Sorolle Idels. The message to the community was clear: Do not have down-ballot anger if voting Republican, and make sure to vote for Rosenthal, who was redistricted to a much wider Conservative base.
“Daniel’s leadership is needed now more than ever. He is a refreshingly commonsense, principled, pragmatic politician in an age of political nonsense, standing as strong critic to senseless political movements like Defund the Police and the DSA,” stated Rep. Richie Torres in his heartfelt remarks, praising Rosenthal as one with “courage, wisdom, and empathy.”
“It is about the willingness to speak up when you think something is not right,” stated Rosenthal, who has often uses his position as an elected official to deliver trendsetting remarks.
In 2019, Rosenthal famously voted no on bail reform laws, and remains opposed to the laws that are widely viewed as the cause for rampant crime in New York. Rosenthal similarly voted no on congestion pricing, “because we thought something was off.”
Rosenthal has been on the forefront of calling out acts of hatred, most recently when newspaper periodical dispensers at Aron’s Kissena Farm were defaced with swastikas moments after Yom Kippur. His powerful stance on the DSA is directly in line with the values of the Orthodox Jewish community, of which he and his wife and daughter are proud members. “When the DSA came into office and started spewing anti-Semitic sentiment and trying to get into the mainstream of the Democratic Party, we knew something was off, and we all stood up together.”
Rosenthal acknowledges that it is the community’s support that allows him to rack up accomplishments. He is indebted to the civic leaders and laypeople who are willing join him to speak up in shul, on the checkout line, at the bagel store or supermarket, or more publicly on social media.
As our assembly member, Rosenthal spends significant time in seclusion of Albany. He gave attendees an insider’s look into happenings in the state Capitol. “You have the echo chamber of Twitter, reporters, and Progressives that are sometimes so loud that you think that is the reality. We all know that is not the reality; we see it in the election results. You cannot support good housing, quality of life, criminal justice, or safety bills in 240 characters. Real life is more complicated than that.”
Rosenthal did not shy away from the recent pessimistic attitude and genuine concern of New Yorkers. Rosenthal expressed in his introduction for Congress Member Richie Torres, the program’s headliner who excitedly speaks of his visit to Eretz Yisrael: “There are very few people who can see through the noise. They have to stick out their necks with much more to lose than myself to speak up for the Jewish community, and every New Yorker who cares about quality of life, safety, and the economic benefit of their families.”
In his remarks, Torres stated, “Dan Rosenthal has a special place in my heart. I have tremendous respect for him, and I trust him implicitly. He has a virtue seldom seen in politics – he has integrity; he says what he believes and does what he thinks is right.” Torres, who due to redistricting has picked up the frum community of Riverdale, then addressed the Queens Jewish community directly: “Dan has your back when he speaks. He is man of his word; you can take that to the bank.
“We are living in a time of extremism and anti-Semitism where the Jewish community is the target of religiously motivated hate crimes,” acknowledged Torres, who invoked President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” adding, “The greatest threat to the Jewish community and to pragmatic politics does not come from extremes, but from the cowardness and silence of the center that lives in fear of the extremes.” “I have seen far too many good people that are silence in the face of extremism and antisemitism. What I appreciate about Dan Rosenthal is that he stands up and he speaks out and he never chooses silence or expedience.” Torres pointed to May of 2021, when Rosenthal called out his colleague, “Just like Hamas, my Assembly colleague wants to wipe Israel off the map.” DSA Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest had shared an altered map of the Middle East, erasing all Israeli territory and labeling the country as Palestine, and had the Dome of the Rock prominently featured. Torres explained that there is a concerted effort by the DSA to take over the Democratic Party from within by posing ideological litmus tests on issues like Israel because their leadership realizes that the two-party system in America is so entrenched and there will never be a viable third party. They then desire to cleanse the party of those who fail their tests – elected officials like Rosenthal and Torres. Torres compared their efforts to those of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party in Britain. Torres spoke to the Jewish community: “People are shocked that I am an advocate against anti-Semitism. There were Jewish-Americans who died in a march so that people who look like me can have the right to vote. So, when I see anti-Semitism, the least I can do is stand up and speak out. One need not be Jewish to speak out against anti-Semitism; and one need not be Black to speak out against anti-Black or anti-Asian racism. We are all morally interconnected.”
Notably present were State Senator Leroy Comrie; Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman; Council Member Lynn Schulman; former Council Members David Greenfield and Barry Grodenchik; District Leader Shimi Pelman; and Community Board Members Meshulem Lisker (Area 1 Chair), Jennifer Martin, Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, and Jacob Weinberg. Rep. Grace Meng, a stalwart supporter of Israel and Jewish causes, is also up for reelection and was unavailable due a virtual debate with her challenger. Others included David Aronov, David Berger, Keith Felsenfeld, Golda Fried, Jeff Kohn, Pesach Osina, Howard Schoenfeld, Rabbi Hayim Schwartz, Yaakov Serle, Bernie Shafran, Rabbi Yeruchim Silber, and Shalom and Victoria Zirkiev.
Torres concluded: “The Achilles heel of many elected officials is the pathological need to be loved. For Dan, integrity matters more than popularity.”
By Shabsie Saphirstein