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Fidler Losing Rabbinical, Other Endorsements

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Councilman Lew Fidler has recently lost a number of prominent rabbinical endorsements.A number of prominent individuals – including several rabbis – have withdrawn their endorsement of City Councilman Lew Fidler, the Democratic candidate for State Senator in Southern Brooklyn, who is running for the newly vacant position against Republican David Storobin. The sudden change of heart by the rabbinical leaders is apparently based on Fidler’s liberal position on social issues.

Rabbi Haim Benoliel, rav of the B’nai Yosef shul in Flatbush and one of the 266 people originally listed as having endorsed Fidler’s campaign,, has gone so far as to sign a letter that states it is forbidden by Torah law to vote for Fidler due to his positions, which include support for gay marriage. “It it therefore considered to be a great Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) and Assur (forbidden) to vote for or to provide funding, campaign assistance, public recognition or any type of support to Councilman Lewis Fidler,” the letter states. “To do so would amount to being mesiy’ayah ovrei aveirah (assisting transgressors of the Torah’s commandments).”

Another congregational rabbi in Flatbush who had previously endorsed Fidler, Rabbi Shlomo Churba, has pulled his support as well. While the rabbi’s son Dovid would not offer the reason for his father’s revised stance, Joseph Hayon, a political liaison for the group Jews for Morality, reported that he spoke with Rabbi Churba and was told that the rav withdrew his endorsement because of Fidler’s backing of same-sex marriage. According to Hayon, the rabbis desired to “send a message to Albany and Washington that we will not vote for any candidate who pledges to vote for gay marriage…even if they give us $15,000,000 or supply us with $5,000 education tax credits.” Highlighting the gravity of the issue, Hayon said further that he is still getting requests from Orthodox Jewish leaders asking him how to get their names removed from Fidler’s list of endorsers.

Jack Benton, a former Republican District Leader, claims that he only offered his support to Fidler in an offhand way, and was now a solid supporter of Storobin. Moreover, a number of others who were initially listed as Fidler backers have apparently requested that their names be removed from the list. One of those is Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, Dean of Sinai Academy, who – according to a source – did not personally authorize the use of his name, and has a policy of not endorsing political candidates. Rabbi Shlomo Wadiche’s name has also been removed from the list.

While these withdrawals obviously offer a poor reflection on Fidler’s popularity among some of his constituency, the Councilman is still generally perceived as the stronger of the two candidates. The special election takes place on March 20.

Some of the information used for this article was obtained from the New York Observer.

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