The City Council’s Jewish Caucus yesterday voted unanimously to elect Councilmember Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Homecrest) as the new Chair of the 14-member caucus.
Councilmember Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills, Forest Park, Kew Gardens, Rego Park, Richmond Hill) was elected vice chair, and Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill) was elected secretary.
“I’m honored to have the confidence of my colleagues to serve as the Chair of the Jewish Caucus. I’m looking forward to building on the exceptional work of Councilmember Mark Levine, who served as Chair for the last four years,” said Deutsch.
Deutsch grew up in poverty as the son of Holocaust survivors, and worked his entire life starting as a pizza maker at a kosher pizza shop, and he credits this working-class upbringing in shaping his worldview.
He has been active in his community since a young age, and has developed a reputation as a unifier, bringing together people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. At Wednesday’s meeting, he stressed his intention to lead the Jewish Caucus in forging respectful, close relationships with communities across New York City.
Deutsch laid out his legislative and budgetary priorities that are important to Jewish communities in all five boroughs. These include funding programs for poverty-stricken New Yorkers, ensuring that Holocaust survivors have the resources they need, fighting anti-Semitism, and advocating for policies to benefit the most vulnerable.
Levine also gave Deutsch a vote of confidence.
“From tackling anti-Semitism to advocating for great social service agencies to supporting Israel–the City Council’s Jewish Caucus has critical work to do in the years ahead. I am very much looking forward to working closely with Councilmember Deutsch in his new role as Chair, and with all my fellow Caucus members, on behalf of our community,” said Levine.
Two of the caucus members – Helen Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) and Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park, Bensonhurst, Midwood) – did not attend the meeting so they did not cast their vote.
Rosenthal’s office said the council member didn’t attend as she has been ill all week, missing several inaugurations of colleagues, among other events. She did attend yesterday’s regular stated city council meeting, but left to get home and take care of herself right after the meeting, said her spokesperson.
Yeger, whose district is one of the largest and most important religious Jewish constituencies in the city, did not respond to several texts, emails and phone calls for comment.