What To Expect: A Post Election Timeline

Dear Editor:

An Election Day recap might normally seem an easy feat, but chances are that such a roundup will not be available for some time. Early voting amounted to nothing more than a bust in Queens, where just 35,361 residents participated over the week-long charade. This figure is under 20% of the votes cast leading up to Election Day citywide. The pandemic made requests for absentee ballots a simplified process. City Council candidates grabbed this opportunity to reach out to more voters and offered to arrange services to obtain, fill out, and deliver these votes. Queens saw 66,000 such requests, the most citywide, and the Board of Elections had already received back over 25,000 of these ballots by Election Day.

This election is by far the most far-reaching of any election in years, and the institution of rank choice voting only further complicated the process for an election system still hampered with COVID delays. The ranking system (RCV) potentially allows more radical views to remain in play as voters may opt to give these candidates a second or third ranking.

By midday Tuesday, the turnout citywide was light, to say the least. Poll workers were often sitting bored with no lines in sight. “With all the woo-ha about this election, it seems the candidates just did not resonate with the voters,” said a BOE employee at a local poll site. “We were anticipating a much larger turnout. Maybe the after-work crowd will be different.” However, with many still working from home, such a predication did not seem like a reality. The number barely clinched 200 well after midday at major Kew Gardens Hills sites.

Shortly after polls close on election night, voters are treated to initial tallies, but the real figures are not expected until sometime in mid-July. The results released Tuesday evening only reflect first-choice rankings, as absentee and affidavit ballots would need to be calculated prior to the release of any rank choice tabulations.

Looking ahead, Tuesdays are the days to keep in mind. On June 29, voters will find preliminary unofficial results of RCV released; these still will not include the absentees as they will only be released the following Tuesday, July 6. The final results will then follow the following week. Of the 221,008 absentee ballots sent out across New York City, 90,763 were returned by Election Day.

 Shabsie Saphirstein

Primaries in the Rearview

Dear Editor:

I would like to preface the following by making it known that I am not the Steven Saperstein who ran in the City Council District 48 race, nor have I ever met him. However, I have been called upon to rally voters for several popular races. It was a privilege to work alongside the candidates and highlight their attributes for the Jewish community. Each shined in his/her unwavering support of Israel and the values that we hold so dear. Due to absentee ballots and the possibility of Rank Choice playing a factor, the results of these races are far from being finalized. Still, the Jewish community at large should feel proud to have united alongside valiant leaders and supporters of our tradition.

I begin with our hometown hero Council Member James Gennaro, whose Special Election caught national attention and created a stir in all facets of the Jewish world. Jim, as we affectionately call him, and his wife Wendy have become friends and allies who understand the needs of the Queens communities in City Council District 24. Jim and his trusted staff are easily accessible and rise to the occasion as needed to defend our causes and champion our strides. The campaign never took for granted success and spent each day spreading the message further. The Jewish community especially has come out in large numbers to support Jim and this feat is keenly noticed.

Since the October day when Avi Cyperstein declared his candidacy in the race to replace Council Member Karen Koslowitz in District 29, I have stood alongside my dear friend as the campaign progressed. Day in and day out, often throughout the night, I worked with Avi to formulate tactics and techniques to best reach the voter base of the district. Moreover, the Bukharian Jewish community has never rallied together in a community race to such an extent. This is no magical feat and must be commended as a tremendous accomplishment on the part of all the community leaders involved. Avi prides himself on being a doer who dedicates his days to advancing the community that raised him. No matter the results, the Jewish community should feel immensely proud to have supported a born and bred prodigy of the community’s yeshivah system. No longer can an elected official turn a blind eye to the needs of the vast Orthodox community of District 29.

Assembly Member David Weprin has been a longtime friend to our community and his eye on a citywide position was very welcomed. I had the privilege to canvass Kew Gardens Hills with him for the Comptroller race and assisted in organizing his rabbinical endorsements. The energy seen in Jewish communities around the city for David is a testament to his achievements and likeability.

Elizabeth Crowley enlisted my help on her quest to be the next Queens Borough President. Her outreach to the Jewish community and her willingness to stand up against anti-Semitism is unwavering. Our conversations have always been meaningful, and her campaign’s momentum stems from continued interactions with our community.

Additionally, I have been outspoken in the City Council race in District 23 where Linda Lee has stood out as the most common-sense candidate. Our communications and her vibrant smile have been a constant presence. Her willingness to reason with the Jewish communities of Jamaica Estates and Holliswood has been a breath of fresh air.

Yet, it was the mayoral race that again put Kew Gardens Hills front and center, mostly due to the resounding influence of Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal. Contender Andrew Yang made an unprecedented four stops to the neighborhood, while Kathryn Garcia made two. Together with his wife Evelyn, the Yangs gained a deep understanding of the needs for a Jewish community like ours, and no matter the outcome, the Yangs will never forget our quaint neighborhood. My conversations with the Yangs were always warm and welcoming, and their passion to improve the city is genuine. Eric Adams also joined Bukharian leadership in Forest Hills, where he fostered his deep relationship within the area.

In all, it is the resilience of the Jewish community following the constraints of the pandemic that will ultimately shine as the solidifying markings that set forth the façade of tomorrow’s New York City.

 Shabsie Saphirstein

Dear Editor:

I couldn’t sleep last night; I was tempted to write this email at 3:30 a.m., just so I would be able to sleep. I think it was a good idea for Goldy to get in touch with Chaya after all the controversy Chaya’s letter caused. But I was stunned to read that Chaya is partly blaming her teachers for her attitude!

I remember when my own daughter was graduating high school and she showed me what a Hebrew teacher of hers wrote in her yearbook. She showed it to me because she said she was going to cross it out. It said something to the effect of “Your insights were wonderful to listen to, but just imagine how much more they would mean if you set your sights on something within Yahadus rather than the outside world.” I had no idea what that meant. My daughter, who is now a neurologist, told me that every time this teacher would talk about a story on the news or in the world, she sounded as if she was raised very insular, not really a part of the world. Yes, she would be knowledgeable in current events, but the way she presented facts was extremely one-sided and almost as if she was trying to let the girls know that the outside world isn’t a place for a bas Yisrael. My daughter said she and her friends would have debates with the teacher about how things in the world are not all bad just because they aren’t included in Torah miSinai. The conversations usually ended with the teacher saying something like: The girls were too young now to fully understand, or she had been out in the world and knew of these things first-hand, so there was no point in arguing. I was shocked about this. My daughter never mentioned anything like this all year to me. She explained that it wasn’t worth mentioning something because it was a losing battle because no matter what was said, the teacher held very firm.

I am shocked that over 20 years later, things in the yeshivah system haven’t changed. Usually cultures communities, ways of thinking evolve over time. We gradually accepted that the earth wasn’t flat, we learned that electricity can be used for good and to help make lives easier, and that television and the Internet aren’t full of bad, immoral images – it’s just the way one uses it that dictates what the screen shows.

I am shocked because I find myself sided with Chaya and why she thinks her way. At least she thought she was doing the responsible thing by asking her parents for help because she understood that it’s hard for a family to live on one income, but it really is laughable, but in a sad way. Besides teaching about halachos and mefarshim and translating p’sukim that no one has asked me about in 40 years, they owe it to prepare our children in a real way for the world and life that is ahead of them – and for the amount of money in tuition that they charge, it’s a chutzpah that some don’t actually teach the teenagers that the world can be a wonderful place with wonderful people, and the good that people can accomplish while earning a decent living! My daughter is a neurologist, volunteers her time for Tomchei Shabbos and other chesed organizations even with her busy schedule, and brings my grandchildren along with her to teach them that there can be balance in the world. It’s not all or nothing, and I would hope that the yeshivah system would teach the same!

 Estee Berger
Far Rockaway, New York

Dear Editor:

The 2002 Democratic Party Primary Election Day has come and gone. This reminds me of “The Outer Limits,” a 1960s television show. With the end of round-the-clock commercials by politicians, political action groups, and pay-for-play special interest groups, we now return control of your television back to you until the November General Election cycle. No more candidates campaign mailings clogging our mailboxes and weighing down our hardworking postal employees. Finally, some peace and quiet!

Now if only all the winning and losing candidates would pick up all the thousands of campaign signs that litter our roads and highways to help clean up our environment. All can use leftover campaign funds to hire either the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts to collect this litter. They could pay our young people a nominal fee, which I’m sure would be appreciated.

Larry Penner