Dem Cries Foul On Halloran’s Yom Kippur Fundraiser (Updated)
Matthew Silverstein, a Democratic NYC Council candidate, sent out a press release today excoriating Republican Councilman and congressional hopeful Dan Halloran for holding a fundraiser on Sept. 25 – the eve of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
The event, according to a Facebook posting, is taking place from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Safari Beach Club on Bell Blvd in Bayside, Queens. Actor Tony Lo Bianco is scheduled to attend. He’s currently appearing in a play called “The Little Flower,” in which he plays NYC Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
Silverstein, who is planning a run for Halloran’s Council seat in 2013, said he was “deeply offended” by Halloran’s plan to raise campaign cash on “Erev Yom Kippur.”
Technically speaking, the holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement, during which Jews fast and ask forgiveness for the sins of the previous year, starts at sundown with a solemn prayer called Kol Nidrei. The fast lasts through sundown the following day.
“As a Jewish constituent of the Councilman’s I am outraged by his lack of sensitivity for our holiday and traditions,” Silverstein said. “Councilman Halloran claims to be a strong supporter of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”
“It’s hypocritical when a candidate for public office claims to be a supporter of the State of Israel and then schedules a political fundraiser on the holiest day of our faith. Holding an event of this type on Yom Kippur is disrespectful, and insulting to Jewish voters.”
“I call upon Councilman Halloran to reschedule his fundraiser and to issue an apology to all his Jewish constituents. I would like to remind everyone that this is further reason why Councilman Halloran is the wrong choice to represent the 6th Congressional District in Congress and is the wrong choice to represent the 19th Council District in the New York City Council.”
I emailed Halloran’s campaign for a comment and have not yet heard back.
Halloran is running in the newly drawn NY-6 Brooklyn/Queens seat against Democratic Assemblywoman Grace Meng. The district is home to an estimated 30,000 Jewish voters, and both candidates have worked hard to try to woo this potentially powerful voting bloc by repeatedly and vociferously stating their support for Israel. Halloran also traveled to Israel back in August.
Neither Halloran nor Meng is Jewish. The councilman has faced questions about his practice of Theodism, a neo-Pagan faith that attempts to reconstruct pre-Christian, Germanic tribal religions.
A Meng spokesman said the assemblywoman’s campaign did not coordinate with Silverstein on his release slamming Halloran’s event and declined to comment.
Often, even non-Jewish politicians and candidates in New York City refrain from holding political events on the Jewish High Holy Days to avoid offending potentially powerful allies and voters. Those who are Jewish themselves -even nominally so – tend to abstain from politicking on the holidays.
Israel was a key issue in last year’s special election for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat in the now-nonexistent NY-9 (it was eliminated in the redistricting process, and parts of it are now in NY-6). Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, for whom Israel is a make-or-break topic, endorsed Republican Rep. Bob Turner (who isn’t Jewish) over Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin (who is) in that race to send a message to the Obama campaign.
Koch has since endorsed Meng, (although he backed her opponent, Assemblyman Rory Lancman, in the June 26 primary), citing Halloran’s past support of GOP presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul as a key factor in his decision.
Paul, a libertarian, thinks the US should reduce its support for Israel, making him a “dangerous and alarming” candidate for any would-be member of Congress to support, in Koch’s opinion.
UPDATE: Apparently, Halloran was unable to be reached for comment because he was with the Israeli delegation at the UN speaking to both the Israeli Ambassador and Deputy Foreign Minister. He was a VIP guest attending a conference on Jewish Refugees and the ongoing persecution of Jews in the Arab states, hosted by the World Jewish Congress.
The campaign did send a comment from Joel Schnurr, former Northeast Political Director of AIPAC, who said:
“I am not at all offended. If Halloran was a Jewish person violating his faith then that would be a different issue. But as the democratic party loves to keep pointing out Halloran isn’t Jewish, so who cares?”
The campaign also took a swipe at Silverstein saying it did not recall receiving press release “condemning (Assembly Speaker) Shelly Silver’s fundraiser on September 11, for Grace Meng’s campaign,” adding: “Perhaps it was mailed from the event and got lost.”
That’s a little bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison, as Sept. 11 isn’t a religious holiday, but the point is nevertheless taken.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on September 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm, and is filed under Congress, Downstate NY, Fundraising, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|