By Avi Lesches
In 2018, New York City’s budget was $85 billion for all of the City’s programs and expenses for a population of about 8.5 million residents. The Crown Heights Jewish community consists of about 10,000 people. If we were treated as equals with the rest of the City’s inhabitants, the average member of our community would have received benefits of about $10,000 per citizen, which is $100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars) in benefits for the whole community. (This money is exclusive of Food Stamps, Social Security, or the military, which are federal programs). Does our community receive benefits in that amount? Not even close!
Instead, our community is marginalized and disregarded. We are treated like we hardly matter. While we do receive some benefits from the City, it amounts to mere pennies on the dollar.
In almost every local election, even those who are considered ‘good’ candidates do not offer to help our community in a substantial way. They may offer us an extra police car in front of 770, a sympathetic tweet in favor of Israel (though they have almost no influence over foreign policy), and perhaps they may even come to Simchas Beis Hashoeva for a photo op, but nobody pays as much as lip service to our most important issues. For example, school vouchers, which is the most important issue in our community, is not even in the conversation.
In the upcoming Democratic primary, there are a number of candidates with a fair chance of winning who have explicitly stated that they will enact policies that will directly harm our interests, including many self-declared socialists who are vocally anti-Israel, some even bordering on antisemitism and are in favor of defunding the police, higher taxes, and are anti-business. There is even a Republican, who should be our friend, who openly says that he intends to investigate the yeshivas.
The most effective thing we can do is to come out strong and vote. That is the only way we can force them to recognize us. If we don’t show up in force, we will experience more of the same. Partially due to our low turnout we don’t have much clout. The more we vote, the more influence we will have. If we show up in droves along with the other frum communities, we might be able to make headway towards more significant policies that can help our community substantially.
Please go out and vote and encourage your friends and relatives to do the same. In the past, other communities did not take voting seriously and they are paying for it now. Let’s not make the same mistake.