I am so tired of the high-minded pretenses of Agudath Israel of America (aka Agudah). Insiders know that the most honorable and distinguished rabbinical figures steer clear of Agudah. Its Council of Torah Sages includes Aaron Shechter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin, a man who scoffs Jewish law by his decades-old contempt citation (lo tzayis dinah) by the now-deceased Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Agudah is an orthodox lobbying and grant-seeking organization. It has done some good things like supporting legislation to protect Sabbath observers in the workplace. But its annual rite of spring, a gala fundraiser, is not a religious event. It is a venue for politicians to court Jewish votes and for orthodox, social-program entrepreneurs to chase the pork while chewing the kosher chicken.
Agudah put politicians in the middle when it unleashed inflammatory attacks on Conservative and Reform Jews, consigning them to the dust bins of history. Perhaps they are on the way to oblivion. Right now there are more non-orthodox, Jewish voters in NYC than orthodox voters. Mayor Bill Di Blasio should have pushed back. But he cravenly evaded responsibility by claiming he didn’t hear the comments because of Rabbi Perlow’s lousy English and the fact that he was schmoozing. Of course, Jacob Perlow, with a B.A. from Brooklyn College (cum laude) is a competent English speaker, and Di Blasio had opportunities to read the offending texts in the New York Times. Di Blasio will pay for this duplicity as he paid in backlash for his attempt to speak to AIPAC in secret to avoid offending his liberal base which leans toward J Street. Agudah doesn’t care. It convinces political operatives from Albany to D.C. that it has the power to get politicians to compromise themselves rather than offend Agudah. In turn this keeps the Orthodox entrepreneurs in-line and willing to toe the Agudah line.
Disgraced former Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes also played footsie with the orthodox leadership, trading the safety of their sexually abused children for orthodox endorsements. We now know that that Kol Tzedek program headed by Henna White was a ruse. Henna’s job was taking care of the Jewish vote. In fact that seems to have been the job of almost everyone in the 19th floor executive suite. The recently released NYC Department of Investigation report establishes that over a million dollars of public funds were used to pay for Hyne’s electoral campaign and loads of folks on the 19th floor were using their email during working hours to support the campaign with materials, strategic planning, outreach, etc. The named culprits include Amy Feinstein, Dino Amoroso, Lance Ogiste, Jerry Schmetterer, Anne Swearn, and Henna White. Judge Barry Kamins was also caught in this web, in violation of judicial ethics and the law.
Do treat yourself to the full text: The New York City Department of Investions Report of findings regarding misconduct by former Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, Justice Barry Kamins and others
I kvelled to see so many things I said about Hynes confirmed by the texts of their own emails.