Miriam Friedlander (April 8, 1914, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – October 4, 2009, Manhattan) was an American politician from the Bronx who represented the city council district in New York City's Lower East Side and Chinatown from 1974-91.
Friedlander was born to a Jewish family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1914. Her father, David Sigel (Sigelovytch), was an office worker, insurance salesman, and political activist in the immigrant foreign language clubs. Her mother Hannah Lipman (Goldotsky) was fluent in Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, and English. Miriam moved with her family to The Bronx as at the age of five in 1919. She graduated from Evander Childs High School in 1931 and New York University's College of Education in 1935. In 1939, she married Mark Friedlander, and their son Paul was born in New York City in 1943. The marriage ended in divorce in 1954. Her brother Paul died in 1938 fighting for the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War, according to a 2008 profile published in The Villager, a community newspaper in the Lower East Side.
In 1973, Friedlander won the Democratic primary for the Second Council District, which then included SoHo, Chinatown, the East Village and the Lower East Side, by a mere 48 votes, defeating four opponents. She had to defend her seat the following year, due to a court-ordered legislative reapportionment. In the Democratic Party primary election she defeated a then-little known lawyer named Sheldon Silver, by just 95 votes.
William K. Dobbs, a longtime gay activist who got to know Ms. Friedlander in the 1970s and 1980s, described her as a strong, and early, advocate of gay rights.
"When she made a point, it was a physical action,” he said in a phone interview. “She’d pull her arm back and crook her elbow. She was a real brawler as a politician, and she fought fiercely in what she believed in.”
Miriam Friedlander died on October 4, 2009, aged 95.
- "Miriam Friedlander, 1914 - 2009 | Jewish Women's Archive". Jwa.org. 2009-11-12. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
- Chan, Sewel (October 8, 2009). "Miriam Friedlander, Former Councilwoman, Dies at 95". The New York Times. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
Theodore S. Weiss
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