Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Large Satmar Wedding Just Got A Lot More Costly

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were more than just a little peeved with the Satmar community this week after news reports disclosed a secret wedding in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday, November 8 that allegedly had as many as 7,000 uninvited guests who heard about the event through word of mouth.

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The wedding celebration featured the grandson of the community’s Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum. The wedding was for Joel Teitelbaum and his bride Miriam.

Both top elected officials called the joyous occasion irresponsible, illegal, immoral, a disgrace, disrespectful to the community in the midst of a pandemic and deceptive since the rabbinic leaders are said to have promised not to hold such a ceremony which could turn into a superspreader event infecting attendees and others with the coronavirus.

New York City Health Commissioner David Chokshi publicly condemned the crowds at the nuptials and leveled the Yetev Lev synagogue on Hooper Street with a $15,000 fine. Officials at a New York Fire Department engine and ladder company next door turned a blind eye and did not take any initiative to proactively investigate the singing, dancing, shaking and jumping around in the bleachers by thousands of attendees because they were not given any orders to do an inspection.

 

Senate Democrats Crowing Over Election Wins

Senate Democrats are likely to have at least a 42-member conference when the new session begins in January. The Senate session will begin the year with the most lopsided division in the chamber’s history. Never before has the upper house had a veto-proof supermajority of one-party rule.

The shift in power essentially occurred over a two-year period. Since 2018 there have been 31 new members elected to the 63-member legislative body with Democrats taking over traditionally Republican-held seats throughout the state, as an aging GOP conference saw consistent losses as long-tenured members retired.

In order to achieve their goal of gaining a supermajority, the Democrats needed to hold onto their newly-minted members and flip some seats held by retiring Republicans. In this month’s election, where one race is still undetermined, four Republican-held seats from retiring members flipped to Democrats and two Democratic-held seats from retiring members were retained. Two Democrats elected in 2018 and 13 Democrats elected in 2019 all retained their seats.

The Republicans, it turns out, did not appear to put up much of a fight. In six races Democrats faced weak opponents who couldn’t raise much money and could not articulate the law and order messaging some republicans found to be key arguments for victory. Four freshman Democrats either ran unopposed or had minor party opposition. One bright spot for the Republicans in this election cycle is they defeated two freshman Democrats.

From a seniority standpoint only 10 Senators, 8 of them Democrats, are in the upper house for more than 10 years. The average age of the state Senators is 50 years old, ranging in age from 30 to 81, and they stay in office an average of six years.

After decades of criticism that the state Senate is only made up of old straight white men, the ceiling of a monolith gender-based, ethnic legislative body has been broken. This Senate session is shaping up to be one that includes the most diverse members from various cultures, ethnic backgrounds, religions and race. There will be 18 female Senators – and eight Jewish Senators, down from nine. State Senators and their ancestors hail from a veritable United Nations of countries including Guyana, Croatia, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, China, India, Costa Rica, Colombia, the Caribbean, Jamaica, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Ethiopia and other African countries.

Over in the state Assembly, the expression “the more things change the more everything remains the same” aptly applies. Some new members were elected, longtime incumbents were shockingly defeated and a few seats flipped between Republican and Democratic party representation. For the most part, however, the 150-member, Democratic-controlled, lower house is still firmly in the hands of the Democrats as the party is holding onto a supermajority with more than 100 seats.

One of the longtime incumbents who lost this year was 76-year old Ellen Jaffee (D – Suffern, Rockland County), who served the Rockland County Jewish community since 2006, often running unopposed. Jaffee will be succeeded by 34-year old Michael Lawler (R – Pearl River, Rockland County). Lawler tested positive for the coronavirus at the end of March.

With the loss of Jaffee and another Jewish incumbent, David Buchwald (D – White Plains, Westchester County), who ran for an open congressional seat, there are now 21 Jewish members in the state Assembly. One of those is new to the Assembly: Anna Kelles (D – Ithaca, Tompkins County).

Both houses can now override a gubernatorial veto but some observers believe that will only be a powerful weapon in an arsenal that will likely never be used. Even though there is a stronger far-left wing in both houses, Governor Andrew Cuomo played down any possibility of a revolt saying he helped get many of these members elected and has developed personal relationships with many key members.

As the far-left from Democratic Socialists gain more power in the legislature, the Conservative Party is seeing their legislative ranks shrink.

“The governor has a lot of methods of creating influence in the Legislature,” State Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar told The Jewish Press. “They (the legislature) would have to be declaring war on the governor and most stuff gets worked out behind closed doors, which I don’t always agree with. The Legislature operates with a fly swatter while the governor operates with a pick axe.”

Next up, Republicans and Conservatives are already interviewing candidates to try to unseat two powerful and well-financed statewide incumbents, Cuomo and senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D – Prospect Heights, Brooklyn) in 2022.

 

Israel-based Agriculture Firm Wins New York Business Award

Soos Technology, an animal science company based in Kidron, Israel, was named the $1 million grand prize winner of Grow-NY, a global food and agriculture business competition.

Every year, commercial hatcheries around the world produce 15 billion chicks: 7.5 billion are females that can lay eggs and 7.5 billion are males that have no commercial use and are therefore exterminated after they hatch. This practice involves major animal suffering and abuse, and a huge waste of energy, water, incubation space, and production capacity that could be used to ensure better nutritional security globally, according to company officials.

Soos has developed artificial-intelligence-driven software that controls customized incubation cells affecting the sex development process in chicken embryos through temperature and humidity controls, CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels and sound vibrations, according to the company profile.

The competition requires that winners commit to operating in the Central New York, Finger Lakes or Southern Tier region for at least one year, committing to growing their innovative products and creating jobs in New York state.

“With our Grow-NY prize money, we plan to create more than 20 high-paying research and engineering jobs in the next two years, by building the NY Poultry Research Hub, which will connect academic research with poultry startups and corporations to commercialize validated research. We are thrilled to put down roots in the Grow-NY region,” SoosTechnology CEO Yael Alter said in a prepared statement.

“The innovations this company has helped drive are creating a lasting economic impact on New York’s agribusiness as we continue our work to build our economy back better,” Cuomo said.

 

Coronavirus Update

Governor Cuomo says we are not experiencing a second wave of coronavirus because in order for that to happen the virus must mutate and attack as a new deadly disease. However, the death rate in New York resulting from rising coronavirus infections soared from 330 (11 deaths per day on average) in October to a projected 760 deaths (25.3 deaths per day on average) in November.

Cuomo explains the rise to more people traveling to visit loved ones and the cold weather where gatherings are mostly indoors and maskless.

Cuomo cautions New Yorkers not to let your guard down, maintain social distancing, wear a mask and to battle virus fatigue. Do not get complacent.

A vaccine for the general population is not expected to be available for at least another six months. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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Marc Gronich is news director of Statewide News Service. He also operates the website JBizTechValley.com. He has been covering government and politics since 1981. His Albany Beat column appears monthly in The Jewish Press.