The New York Times has termed Brooklyn’s orthodox Jewry a rising power in the city, with the help of the Internet, while the influence of the Catholic church is dwindling.
In a feature article under the headline “The Powers of New York,” journalist Liz Robbins wrote, “It is not as if the Jews of Brooklyn suddenly had opinions. But in recent years, they have discovered a forum to share them – the Internet – and a place to express them: the polls."
She noted that in last year’s special election to replace Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner, strong Orthodox Jewish support for Republican Bob Turner, a Catholic, helped him upset his Democratic rival and win the first GOP representation in the district in years.
The district’s voter registration is 3-1 in favor of the Democrats, and the vote was seen as a referendum on President Barack Obama’s support, or lack of support, for Israel.
In a state Senate election last year, a group of rabbis helped the Republican candidate defeat his Democratic opponent, who supported same-sex marriages.
The Times noted that both contests were widely covered on popular Jewish websites and was debated through social networks.
“The Orthodox community has emerged as a stand-alone force that needs to be reckoned with,” public affairs consulting company director Ezra Friedlander told the New York newspaper.
Jewish support for Jewish mayor Michael Bloomberg “really makes the Orthodox Jewish vote the last true swing vote in the city,” Councilman David G. Greenfield was quoted as saying.
“The Orthodox community, led by younger social media-aware voters, tends to focus on social services like tuition assistance for yeshivas, busing and housing, but votes socially conservative on issues like same-sex marriage,” Robbins wrote. “Their numbers are growing. According to the census, since the previous count, Borough Park was the one neighborhood in the city with more than 100,000 people that grew, by 5.2 percent.”
The influence of the Catholic church, on the other hand, is falling, according to the Times survey.
“Nobody calls the cardinal’s residence on Madison Avenue ‘the Powerhouse’ anymore, wrote journalist Sam Roberts. “Nor has any recent leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York been called ‘the American Pope,’ as one predecessor was.
Other than orthodox Jewry, the Times survey of the “power” highlighted Mayor Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov,. Chris Christie, whose name is being mentioned as a possible running mate with Mitt Romney.