Hydee Feldstein Soto was profiled in The Jewish Journal as part of her campaign to become Los Angeles’ first female City Attorney. Feldstein Soto is the only Jewish candidate in the race, and spent her legal career overcoming institutional hurdles to become one of the country’s most respected attorneys
See the following excerpt from the Jewish Journal and sign up for updates on Hydee’s Campaign here.
Meet The Only Jew Running For LA City Attorney
Had you asked Hydee Feldstein Soto five years ago if she’d ever consider running for public office, she’d likely have asked if you were joking, then returned to structuring and negotiating multibillion-dollar contracts for her legal clients.
“I have never aspired to be a politician,” she told The Jewish Journal on a video call. “It’s not something I ever wanted to do.”
And yet, after three-plus decades working as a lawyer in several private practices, Feldstein Soto is doing exactly what she never expected she’d do—campaigning to become the next City Attorney of Los Angeles.
If she were to win, she’d be the first woman to hold the position, which was created in 1850. She’d also be the first Latina Jew to serve as Los Angeles City Attorney and is the only Jewish candidate running to succeed Mike Feuer, a progressive Jew who will be termed out.
Feldstein Soto’s journey to this point has been unconventional, yet remarkable.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she spoke Spanish at home and English in the classroom. Though her mother wasn’t Jewish (her father was), she started studying Torah at age 11. As a teenager, she converted to Judaism, which she says is as much a part of her identity as “having five fingers on my right hand.”
“I’ve always felt like a Jew,” Feldstein Soto said. “It was just part of my life; I never really questioned it.”
But growing up Jewish in Puerto Rico forced her to reconcile both aspects of her identity at an early age. While fellow Puerto Ricans used disparaging words likening her to a foreigner due to her last name, members of her own synagogue similarly invoked Yiddish-based tropes referring to non-Jews.
“Until I converted, I kept thinking I fit in nowhere,” she said. “As I matured and grew into my own skin, I got to the point where I viewed that as a plus. I owned both parts of my heritage.”
At age 17, she moved to the United States to attend Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. She later attended Columbia University School of Law, graduating in 1982.
Thus began a career in financial law, which includes everything from commercial finance and lending to restructuring and bankruptcy. She even served as general counsel for an entertainment company.