California Jewish caucus’ primary endorsements are a diverse bunch J. – The Jewish News of Northern California

Posted By on May 25, 2022

Among the Jewish candidates running for seats in the state Assembly in the June 7 primary election, seven now have the endorsement of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

The 19-member caucus announced its endorsements Tuesday of seven Jewish Democrats running for the California Assembly four of whom are women. The list includes Jews of color, Jews who identify as LGBTQ, and one, Christy Holstege who is a Jew by choice, according to a press release. Holstege recently completed a one-year term as mayor of Palm Springs.

Two of the candidates are running in the Bay Area.

Jennifer Esteen, 41, a nurse who is running for public office for the first time, would become the first openly gay Black Jew in the Assembly if she prevails in the primary and then the Nov. 8 general election. She is running in District 20, an area ranging from Fremont to Castro Valley that includes 500,000 people.

The other endorsed Bay Area candidate is Steve Schwartz, 56, a farmer and nonprofit director in Sebastopol running for the Assembly seat in Marin Countys District 12 against three other Democrats. He is the son of a Holocaust survivor.

Dawn Addis (Central Coast), Daniel Hertzberg (San Fernando Valley), Josh Lowenthal (Long Beach) and Andrea Rosenthal (Palmdale/Lancaster) also have the endorsement of the caucus, which serves as a voice in the Legislature for Californias Jewish community and works to support vulnerable communities through its tikkun olam agenda.

In addition to the seven already mentioned, the caucus also endorsed its own current members who are seeking reelection in Legislature, though not all are running again.

We have a number of people who are retiring, said Jesse Gabriel (Woodland Hills), the caucus chair, referring to Assemblyman Richard Bloom (Santa Monica) and State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (San Fernando Valley).

He added that Marc Levine, who is running for California insurance commissioner, has vacated his Assembly seat (which Schwartz is running to fill). Meanwhile, state Sen. Steve Glazer, (Contra Costa County) is running for state controller, but should he lose, will still serve in the Legislature.

Gabriel noted that the caucus didnt endorse every Jewish candidate running to serve in the Legislature. Some didnt choose to apply for the endorsement, and others the caucus declined to endorse for a variety of reasons, Gabriel said.

Given our commitment to pluralism and inclusion, we are also particularly proud that our slate reflects the beautiful diversity of our Jewish community.

The seven candidates being endorsed are people that we think are going to be good partners in working with us to advance the Jewish communitys top priorities in the state capital, Gabriel said.

Gender parity is something the caucus is striving for, Gabriel said, and the four women on the endorsement list reflect the groups effort to affirmatively recruit and support Jewish women running for office. The caucus currently includes four women, all of whom are running for reelection: Susan Rubio in the Senate and Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Blanca Rubio and Laura Friedman in the Assembly.

Given our commitment to pluralism and inclusion, we are also particularly proud that our slate reflects the beautiful diversity of our Jewish community, Gabriel and Sen. Scott Wiener (San Francisco), the caucuss vice chair, said in a joint statement announcing the endorsements. Wiener is not up for reelection as his term is set to end in 2024.

One underrepresented voice that Gabriel feels is missing from the caucus is that of Mizrahi Jews (Jews from North Africa and the Middle East). He notes that his Southern California district has large communities of Persian Jews and Jews from the Middle East.

If you look at our slate of candidates, thats a noticeable absence, Gabriel said.

Fighting antisemitism, strengthening Holocaust education and uplifting vulnerable Californians are all core values and goals in the caucus, he added. Deepening the California-Israel partnership is also part of the caucuss core.

When candidates applied and interviewed for the caucus endorsement, they were asked to talk about their views on Israel, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and if theyve spent any time in Israel, Gabriel said.

He mentioned how in June 2019, at the California Democratic Party State Convention in San Francisco, a group of pro-Palestinian activists lobbied the Democratic party to put language in the party platform that would deny Israels right to exist as a Jewish state.

Weve pushed back very, very fiercely on those types of things, Gabriel said. Understanding that the people that we endorse and support would be allies and partners in our work to make sure that were standing up against antisemitism and those types of things were very important, Gabriel said.

The outcomes of the June 7 primary election, and then the Nov. 8 general election, will determine how much the caucus is able to grow, if at all.

A lot of this [election] depends on whether we get bigger or smaller, Gabriel said. So thats a good reminder for everybody to go vote.

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California Jewish caucus' primary endorsements are a diverse bunch J. - The Jewish News of Northern California

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