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‘disenfranchising Jews’ Rabbi Obtains Court Order in Effort to Halt Sabbath Anti-poverty Elections

A Brooklyn Orthodox rabbi said today that he has obtained a court order giving the City Administration 20 days to reply to complaints against the scheduling of community anti-poverty corporation elections on a Saturday. Rabbi Sholom B. Gorodetsky, a Crown Heights delegate to the New York City Council Against Poverty, said he obtained the order from the State Supreme Court on Jan, 20 as “a first move to stop Sabbath elections.”

He charged that the poverty agency and the city’s Human Resources Administration “are clearly disenfranchising Jews from participating in poverty elections by purposely and maliciously scheduling them on the Jewish Sabbath.”

The Council Against Poverty voted Jan. 13 to allow the local anti-poverty corporations the option of scheduling their elections, to be held next April, either on a Saturday or a week day. That decision has already been protested vigorously by the B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League, the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, the Association of Jewish Anti-Poverty Workers and the Rabbinical Alliance of America.

Rabbi Gorodetsky also denounced a tentative compromise proposed by the city last week which would spread the elections over two days allowing observant Jews to cast their ballots on a Sunday or week day and other voters on Saturday. “As long as an election is held on the Jewish Sabbath there will be no compromise no matter how many extra days and nights are offered, no matter how many ‘house Jews’ push for it,” the Crown Heights rabbi said.

He noted that last year, in response to community protests, the NY City Council passed a unanimous resolution instructing the HRA and the Council Against Poverty never to hold another election on a Sabbath. He said that when given the option to select a voting day last year, 22 of the 26 local poverty corporations chose Saturday. In at least 16 of those poverty areas there were substantial numbers of Jews, Rabbi Gorodetsky said.

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