Judge Cassandra Johnson Speaks To The Jewish Community

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

 Much has been shared on the ongoing election for the vacancy at the Queens County Surrogate’s Court. Supreme Court Justice Cassandra A. Johnson, a candidate in this race, has been a regular at Jewish community functions. With Primary Election Day on the horizon, I took a few minutes to talk with the candidate on her observations of our community.

The judge was moved by the tight-knit community feeling she found as she moved throughout the various Jewish neighborhoods, calling it a “true beauty” that is not often found in today’s fast-paced world. Judge Johnson was keenly aware and inspired by our various organizations and associations, noting that they “not only foster civic engagement and assisting in the community, but serving in a way that addresses food insecurity, public safety, and educational needs,” particularly stirred by the attention given to our Jewish youth.

I was privileged to meet Judge Johnson in various capacities from a public safety patrolman to a journalist, a local political influencer, and a regular Queens citizen.

Judge Johnson took to heart how the Jewish community takes great care of each other while promoting an environment where the community works hard to nurture and raise their families. The judge observed that while our Queens Jewish community is quite large, we act like a united big family, stating, “It is wonderful to see how everyone within the Jewish community is connected.” At the many events the judge attended, she was introduced to community leaders, and many new faces. At each function, Judge Johnson found it touching that there was widespread support for others in the community.

Our conversation began with a focus on the judge’s direct impacts from interactions in the Jewish community. Throughout her visits around Queens, she further reasoned, “Part of my responsibility as a judge, and certainly something that I have taken on as part of this campaign, is educating people about the role of judges generally, but also the very important role that the Surrogate’s Court plays in the lives of everyday citizens.” These discussions provided a platform for Judge Johnson to walk residents of Queens through the numerous courts where she had served. “It is of great significance to have a holistic and well-rounded understanding of how the courts work and the different matters that they hear,” explained the judge. “While many courts operate similarly, it is meaningful to know the differences for the types of matters that people may seek to address, especially those available in the Surrogate’s Court.” The judge made clear that she along with her colleagues are available with their “court doors open.”

Judge Johnson’s presence has been quite steady because “it is an important part for the people to know that their judge is a real person who has a grasp on their surroundings and distinctly understands how each community behaves.”

A pinnacle highlight of Judge Johnson’s campaign was a visit shared with the Chazaq Organization. She began with a stop at their food pantry in Kew Gardens Hills, where she assisted in the food distribution and was reminded of times when she had done the same in her own neighborhood. “Serving the clients was very special. Knowing that our assistance was helping local families meet their needs is quite extraordinary.” The judge enjoyed the walk along Main Street to Chazaq’s headquarters on Jewel Avenue, where she met the many faces behind the organization’s monumental work, including a serious conversation with CEO Rabbi Yaniv Meirov. Afterwards, the judge stopped by local businesses where she met shoppers and business owners who were each “so welcoming, positive, and excited that a judge who sits on the Queens Supreme Court had chosen to meet them.” These interactions once again pointed to the Jewish community’s unparalleled connection with one another. Her visit to Max & Mina’s ice cream parlor stood out as most unique. “It was nice to meet and greet entrepreneurs who have become deeply rooted in the fabric of the community.”

Judge Johnson concluded, “It is often easy to forget that we are one Queens. We serve each other and are interconnected. We are one and must move our communities forward together. I really saw how people come together throughout Queens’ different communities rallying behind what is just and what is fair, both pillars that I stand for and that are represented in our courts.”

For Judge Johnson, her campaign became “something beautiful that went full circle.”

Early voting continues, and Primary Day is this coming Tuesday, June 25.

By Shabsie Saphirstein