Anti-Israel hasidic sect joins progressive Jews in helping to elect Democratic governor

Several Orthodox groups endorsed Kathy Hochul’s Republican challenger, Lee Zeldin, in the tightest race for leadership of New York in decades.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Kathy Hochul became the first woman to win the governor’s seat in New York Tuesday in part due to the Jewish support she received from voters as diverse as Satmar hasidim and progressive Democrats.

Israel National News reported Wednesday that the Democratic governor-elect called the wife of Satmar leader Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum immediately after her victory was confirmed to thank him for the group’s support. Teitelbaum, who leads the majority of Satmar, as well as the head of the New Square sect had endorsed her last week.

Non-religious and politically progressive Jewish groups, which are solidly in the Democrats’ camp, largely supported Hochul. This also made a difference in the state that has the largest number of Jews in America and is a constituency that traditionally goes out to vote in large numbers.

Hochul has come out strongly against antisemitism, announcing in June her administration’s endorsement of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of Jew hatred and providing tens of millions of dollars in security funding for nonprofit organizations.

She has touted her pro-Israel credentials, which include support for the state’s anti-BDS law that led New York to pull $111 million in investments in Unilever when the conglomerate’s Ben and Jerry’s subsidiary decided to boycott Israel.

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The governor also signed legislation this past summer to provide Holocaust education in public schools and require museums to acknowledge that art that had been stolen from Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

It was, however, the tightest race in decades as Jewish Republican Lee Zeldin crept within five percentage points as of 3:15 a.m. Wednesday in a contest he had never led in the deep blue state. The former Long Island congressman also received significant Jewish backing, including some 20 hasidic groups and yeshivas.

He also received a $9 million injection of cash from billionaire Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress.

Antisemitic attacks have been skyrocketing in New York. Zeldin’s tough-on-crime stance long with his strong support for Israel in Congress, pro-life views and backing of the right of religious schools to choose their curricula were all factors that attracted Orthodox Jews.

Hochul had neither endorsed nor rejected the regulations, which she said were made by an independent body, the Department of Education. In a neutral letter last week to Orthodox leaders, she said that “Jewish schools will always be treated with fairness and respect.”