Two Orthodox Jewish candidates have been elected to Zurich’s municipal council, winning seats in elections last weekend.
According to Hamodia, Anthony Goldstein and Jehuda Spielman, members of the FDP.The Liberals party which has the largest number of members of any party in the country, each garnered substantive vote totals. They also received a historically high number of votes from the haredi community in Zurich, which in the past has always had a relatively low voter turnout. In this case, the community voted together, supporting both candidates for the first time. In the past, there have been Orthodox Jewish lawmakers in local Swiss councils, but they have not received similar unanimous support from the religious community.
Goldstein, 72 and Spielman, 26, will serve on the municipal council, which has been compared to the city council of a large city in North America in terms of its governing powers.
Spielman, an accountant and father of a two-year old son, grew up in a family of 12 children in Zurich’s Wiedikon district.
He ran in the election with the campaign slogan “Live and Let Live” and will represent the same district that he currently lives in.
Spielman told Swiss French language newspaper 20 minutes in January that he was running in order to encourage people from all walks of life to learn about each other, saying he wanted to “break down prejudices.”
“A large part of the Jewish community is very well integrated, they have jobs, they live like any other Swiss person,” he said.
But he added that most Orthodox Jews do not feel like they are part of the country’s political process.
“Politicians often do not dare to approach Orthodox Jews,” he said. “It is important to clear up misunderstandings and discomfort. If my candidacy can induce more Jewish people to vote, then I will have done something positive for integration.”
The city of Zurich has approximately 6,000 Jews.