Jewish Presence in N.Y. Legislature Still Strong, Despite Decline in Numbers

96 percent of the legislature’s 213 lawmakers have a Jewish presence in their district.

UpstateNYer / Wikimedia Commons

The number of Jews in the New York State legislature is on the decline in the wake of this month’s elections and due to resignations and retirements, the website of the New York-based Jewish Press reported.

Last year, there were 27 Jews in the 150-seat Assembly, the New York legislature’s lower house, including 11 women and one Republican, the website noted, but after this month’s election, that number is down to 23. One of the new legislators, Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat representing a district on Long Island, is the great-nephew of comedian Mel Brooks.

“There are more observant Jews in the state legislature than any other time – at least five in the Assembly and one in the Senate,” the report noted, adding that one Jewish member of the Assembly, 28-year-old Nily Rozic of the New York City borough of Queens, was born in Jerusalem.

As of mid-week, it was still unclear whether another Jewish member of the Assembly, Didi Barrett, had retained her seat in a squeaker of a race against Michael Kelsey, who is not Jewish. In the state Senate, the number of Jews declined by one as State Senator Lee Zeldin prepared to take up a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives following his Congressional victory this month.

“Underlying democracy is the permanency of change,” Assemblyman Charles Lavine, the president of the New York chapter of the National Association of Jewish Legislators, was quoted as saying. “While there are fewer Jewish members of the state legislature now, there will be more in two years and the years to come.”

Fully 96 percent of the legislature’s 213 lawmakers have a Jewish presence in their district. “The newly elected lawmakers and the current members of the legislature stand up strongly for Jewish principles and Israel,” Assemblyman Levine added.