Could New York City Lose Its Last Remaining Jewish Congressman?

But the rise and fall of Jewish influence is a clear, familiar arc in a city that has absorbed waves of immigrants, who grew in numbers, economic power and, eventually, political stature — only to be supplanted by those who followed. It happened to the Dutch, English, Germans, Irish and Italians, and now to New York’s Jews, who at their peak in the 1950s accounted for a quarter or more of the city’s total population and gained footholds at all levels of government.

Since then, large numbers of Jews have left the city, said Daniel Soyer, a historian at Fordham University who has written about New York Jewish history, bringing the present population to just over 1 million. At the same time, many American Jews began to assimilate and secularize, weakening the shared identity that drove them to vote as a cohesive group and elect their own candidates; some left the Democratic Party, their longtime home.

The exception has been ultra-Orthodox communities in Brooklyn and the lower Hudson Valley. But while they have succeeded in electing their own to state and local offices, they exercise less sway at the congressional level.

Successive cycles of redistricting have not helped, forcing New York to shed congressional seats and fracturing Jewish enclaves between districts. Mr. Nadler’s current seat, New York’s 10th District, had been deliberately drawn to connect Jewish communities on the West Side of Manhattan with Orthodox ones in Brooklyn’s Borough Park. This year, the court mapmaker severed the two areas.

“When I was in Congress, you could have a minyan in the New York delegation,” said Steve Israel, a Democrat who once represented Nassau County and parts of Queens in Congress. “We went from a minyan to a minority to hardly anybody.”

The dwindling was gradual, and in some cases merely a matter of chance. In 1992, Bill Green, a liberal Republican from the Upper East Side, lost to a young upstart, Ms. Maloney. The same year, Representative Stephen J. Solarz saw his Brooklyn district cracked in redistricting and lost in a bid for a neighboring seat drawn to empower Hispanic voters.

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