Eight years ago Dawn Zimmer was a stay-at-home mom and freelance photographer.
This week, the 45-year-old Democrat, elected the first Jewish mayor of Hoboken, N.J., in 2009, made the front page of The New York Times.
Since last week, when she accused Gov. Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor of trying to make Superstorm Sandy recovery funds contingent on her backing a real-estate project favored by the administration, Zimmer has been in the spotlight. Coming on the heels of revelations that the governor’s aides blocked access to the George Washington Bridge as payback to another Democratic mayor, Zimmer’s allegation has prompted an FBI investigation.
The Times article, which focuses on Zimmer’s political ascent and reputation both for honesty and not always being “the easiest person to bond with,” does not mention the mayor’s Jewish identity. However, other articles about her have noted that she converted to Judaism several years ago.
A 2010 piece in the Hudson Reporter said the Unitarian-raised Zimmer and her husband, Stan Grossbard, agreed when they were dating to raise their children Jewish but that Zimmer felt uncomfortable converting just for marriage.
However, a few years after their two sons (now 12 and 13) were born, Zimmer and Grossbard, who runs a family diamond-and-jewelry business, took an introduction to Judaism course at the United Synagogue of Hoboken. The family now sets aside Friday nights for family time. They are also frequent donors to the synagogue.