A dispute between City Hall and Albany over funding for New York's Holocaust museum has placed the institution in an uncomfortable political spotlight, making some Jewish leaders uneasy.
"People are embarrassed by the bickering between the mayor and governor over the museum," said one official of a major communal organization, who requested anonymity to avoid friction with either official. "As much as they admire and respect this institution, they are uncomfortable that government dollars are required for its expansion."
A foreshadowing of the debate that could result from the state's recently passed charter schools bill, and proposed tuition voucher programs, played out last week in a free-wheeling panel discussion that touched heavily on issues of race and religion.
Jews across the state have a higher opinion of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani than other groups, but most would choose First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton if the two squared off in a Senate race, according to a recent poll.
The survey of 513 New York State voters conducted by Marist College in Poughkeepsie found that 63 percent of Jews would choose the Democrat Clinton, while only 36 percent would support the Republican Giuliani. The mayor took more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote against Jewish Democrat Ruth Messinger in winning re-election in 1997.
Four Orthodox candidates for City Council in Brooklyn will have to defend their signature petitions in court next week as a fifth Orthodox contestant tries to knock them off the ballot.
The candidates claim Irma Kramer is seeking to avoid a split in the Orthodox vote in the Feb. 16 special election to succeed Anthony Weiner, who was elected to Congress last year. "It is shameful and pathetic that Irma is trying to exclude other Orthodox Jews," says Yehuda Levin, one of the candidates. "She did not challenge the liberal, secular Jews."
Among the more interesting objects on Anthony Weiner's desk is a jar-sized capsule containing a formaldehyde-encased baby shark. But he insists there is no significance to the decoration. It doesn't represent his youthful, tenacious political style or the eat-or-be-eaten world in which he lives and seems to thrive.
"It was just an interesting gift" from a friend, he says, adding that, if anything, it reflects his philosophy that "you have to move forward to live."
The final status of Jerusalem, Iran's growing missile capability and a declared Palestinian state are likely to become hot-button political issues over the next two years, according to pro-Israel activists looking toward the 2000 Senate campaign.
Although the security of Israel always plays a major role in New York political campaigns, upcoming developments could make the race to succeed retiring Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan a contest of unprecedented attention on the Jewish state.
Ruben Franco, the chairman of the New York City Housing Authority who is reportedly on the verge of being fired, has earned high marks within the Jewish community during his tenure. "He's a real mensch," said Isaac Abraham, a Satmar chasidic activist closely involved in public housing issues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "He has been great in resolving many differences between the Jewish community and the Latino community."
It was a year of bluster and blunder, ascent to higher office and descent to name-calling. This year's collection of political stars includes big-spending Democrats, a loose-lipped senator, irresponsible Council members and an attorney general whose motto of "never say die" probably killed his career.
Fueled by boredom and loneliness and lured by the dazzle of blackjack tables and slot machines, an increasing number of Russian immigrants are taking daylong excursions to Atlantic City, such as those that ended in deadly crashes over the past week.
While the American public continues to look kindly on Sen. Joe Lieberman — with his religious observance either a non-issue or looked upon favorably by Christians — Jews on the right and left continue to make him a target of their religious and/or political agendas.
Are these negative stories on Lieberman fair game, or efforts to embarrass him? And why are they coming primarily from Jewish media?