Mayor Adams to meet with 55 women rabbis who are concerned he’s only hearing from Orthodox Jews


(New York Jewish Week) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is meeting with 55 Jewish women clergy on Thursday who are concerned he is only getting advice on Jewish affairs from the mostly conservative-leaning Orthodox communities of New York City.

“We are a diverse and pluralistic community, and we want to introduce him to some of our people’s key leaders,” Rachel Timoner, the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, told the New York Jewish Week.

Timoner is the author of an email obtained by the New York Jewish Week, which was sent to dozens of people who will be attending the meeting. It outlines the goals and talking points of the upcoming discussion. Timoner confirmed to the New York Jewish Week in a separate email that the “meeting is happening.”  

In the group email, Timoner said that this will be “the largest, and perhaps the first meeting of Jewish women and female-identified clergy with a New York City mayor ever.” 

The attendees of the meeting represent movements from all boroughs, including three seminaries, and more than 20 synagogues, schools and communal organizations.  

Timoner added the goal of Thursday’s meeting is for the mayor to see “that the vast majority of New York’s Jews are liberal and progressive.” 

“In particular, the concern was that his administration was only consulting haredi leaders, as if they spoke for the whole community,” Timoner said.  

Timoner already has a relationship with Adams. She gave the invocation speech at a commemoration of the mayor’s first 100 days in office, where she brought up issues like housing, homelessness and budget squabbles.  

Adams had broad support from the haredi Orthodox community during his campaign for mayor due to his tough-on-crime policies and the relationships he had built over the years as Brooklyn borough president. He counts Joel Eisdorfer, a Hasidic Jew and political activist, as a senior advisor — one of three Orthodox Jews appointed to the Adams administration’s senior staff.

The majority of American Jews have consistently identified with the Democratic Party in recent years, while the Orthodox minority has leaned Republican. In the New York area, the large haredi Orthodox community often courts ties with and supports sympathetic Democrats.  

Timoner said the meeting is a result of advocacy by the New York Jewish Agenda, a progressive Jewish group founded in 2020.

“New York Jewish Agenda exists, among other reasons, to achieve recognition by elected officials of the pluralistic, diverse Jewish community of New York, making the case that the majority of Jews in New York are liberal or progressive and often have a different set of priorities than do our haredi brothers or right-leaning siblings,” Timoner said.  

Timoner said that they will discuss a handful of issues at the meeting, including combatting antisemitism and hate violence, climate change, affordable housing, closing Rikers Island and health care, including mental health and abortion access.

Timoner added at the end of the email, “Thank you all so much again for agreeing to participate in this meeting.  I know it will make quite a statement to the mayor and expand his understanding of the Jewish people of New York.” 

Adams did not respond to request for comment.