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Albany, NY - GOP Accuses Dems Of Attempting To Violate Felder's Religious Rights In Albany Vote

Published on: July 9, 2013 03:33 PM
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FILE - Felder in Albany - Credit: NY State SenateAlbany, NY - Amid swirling allegations that Albany Democrats deliberately stalled a Friday vote on late term abortions in an effort to prevent a Shomer Shabbos senator from casting his vote, one Republican Senator blasted his Democratic counterparts for what he termed their calculated efforts, calling it “a sad day for America.”

Senator Andrew Lanza, who represents Staten Island’s 24th Senate district, denounced Democrats for allegedly trying to prevent Felder from casting what would ultimately be the deciding vote, by delaying the vote in the hopes that Felder would be forced to leave Albany in order to make it home in time for Shabbos.

The vote in question took place on Friday, June 28th on a measure that would have decriminalized post 24th week abortions and was originally part of a ten part womens’ rights bill introduced by Governor Cuomo.  While nine parts of the bill had been voted on earlier in the week, as of Friday afternoon, the abortion issue had still not come up for a vote, leaving Democrat Simcha Felder with a difficult decision.  Should he skip the vote, leave Albany and get home in time for Shabbos?  Or stay at work in order to be able to cast his vote?

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While Felder is a Democrat, he made it clear immediately after his November 2012 election that he would caucus with Republicans in an effort to best serve his constituents, which in this case translated to a “no” vote on the abortion bill.

“Clearly what was happening here is that they wanted the late term abortion bill to pass,” Senator Lanza told VIN News.  “The Democrats have every right to believe that late term abortions should be the law of the land but let it come to a vote when all members are there and let democracy play out the way it is supposed to.  To use Simcha’s Sabbath observance against him and to use that to skew the vote, violates one of the sacred principles of our American system, the freedom to practice our faith and that should never, ever be used for personal gain, politicized or to be trampled upon.  It is clear that that is what they were attempting on that day.”

Lanza said that since Felder’s recent election to the state Senate, he has become one of the most respected members of the Senate, making the alleged move by the Democrats all the more disturbing.

“People look at politics as a game and forget that this is all about serving the public and making sure our government is good,” remarked Lanza.  “All too often people forget what really matters and it seems that on that day, certain people forgot what was important.  People have fought and died to protect our ideals and chief among those is the right to practice our faith.”

According to Lanza, there are rumors that Governor Cuomo was apprised of the situation as it was taking place.

“To his credit, Cuomo interceded,” said Lanza.  “He spoke to the Democrats and said ‘I hope this isn’t what you were doing because if it is, you need to back off.’”

Felder admits to being more than a little surprised when he was informed of the alleged plot by Democrats to take him out of the equation.

“I was horrified to think that that was the case,” said Felder. “I had been trying to leave at 12:20.  1:20.  2:20.  As it got later and later one of my colleagues said to me ‘I told you they were waiting for you to leave.’”

Eric Soufer, a spokesperson for the Independent Democratic Conference which brought the bill to the Senate floor dismissed the claims of an alleged conspiracy against Felder.

“The allegation is not true,” said Soufer.  “We thought the accusation was laughable.”

As the minutes ticked by, Felder consulted with a halachic authority and was told that because of the life and death nature of the abortion bill, he was required to stay in Albany and vote on the decisive measure.  It became readily apparent to Felder that events unfolded rapidly on the Senate floor once word got out that he wasn’t going home.

“While absolutely nothing had been going on for six hours, fifteen minutes after I said I staying for Shabbos the Democratic conference entered the chambers and the vote came up,” Felder told VIN News.

The bill was brought to a vote before the 63 person Senate just before 5 PM and with Felder’s vote against the measure, the bill failed to pass by a single vote.

With just over three hours left until Shabbos, Republican Senator Dean Skelos arranged for a staff member to drive Felder back home.

According to a spokesperson at Felder’s office, the senator had already clarified the halachic issues of making the 155 mile trek back to Brooklyn, knowing that if traffic conditions were difficult he might find himself spending Shabbos in Kiryas Joel, Monsey or Washington Heights instead of in his Midwood home.  Felder was also told that if he was already south of the George Washington Bridge by a particular time, he would be permitted to continue his trip, but would have to have his car door opened by a non- Jew upon his arrival home.

Felder’s family, upon hearing of the stalled vote, had already elected to spend Shabbos in Lakewood, at the home of the senator’s married daughter.

Felder, who arrived home at 8:05, just ten minutes before the onset of Shabbos, spent a good part of Shabbos with his mother, a resident of Borough Park.

“The miracle here is that this happened on the longest day of the year, giving Simcha enough time to get home,” observed Lanza.

Asked if he has ever seen any indication that his religious observances were being held against him in the Senate, Felder replied, “I haven’t seen anything like that but I am only here seven months.  But as I said in the past, I cannot understand why they just didn’t take the vote a day or two earlier.”



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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 09, 2013 at 04:14 PM Elliot Pasik Says:

Thank you, Senator Felder! And thank you, VIN and Sandy Eller, for this important story.

2

 Jul 09, 2013 at 04:26 PM Wise-Guy Says:

I think it's important to note that voting against such bills as "late term abortion" and "Gay marriages" is not necessarily a mixing of "Church and State".

In other words, it's NOT definitely the use of one's religious convictions in decisions regarding secular law. (Which would be "undemocratic".)

Why? Because it's the opinion and conviction of many people that such laws are immoral, even if you take religion out of the equation!

Btw, in contradiction to "common" opinion, the adage "A woman's body is her's to do as she wishes" is inaccurate and wrong!
That is why a woman (or man) is prevented from deliberately amputating a healthy limb, or committing suicide.

And that is why incest is (still) not condoned by law.

3

 Jul 09, 2013 at 04:26 PM BlueBerry Says:

Not Understanding Why He couldn't Stay In Albany For Shabbos. Home Sick? There Was A chance Of Being Michallel Shabbos You Stay In Albany! Absurd

4

 Jul 09, 2013 at 04:55 PM MarkTwain2 Says:

Reply to #3  
BlueBerry Says:

Not Understanding Why He couldn't Stay In Albany For Shabbos. Home Sick? There Was A chance Of Being Michallel Shabbos You Stay In Albany! Absurd

And wait in a line of hundreds of assemblymen and senators and aides for cholent!?

5

 Jul 09, 2013 at 05:08 PM Anonymous Says:

That's someone I'd vote for! Who puts principle before politics! I think any frum person who votes for abortion and same gender marriage is selling out and making a huge chilull Hashem

6

 Jul 09, 2013 at 05:37 PM Wise-Guy Says:

Reply to #3  
BlueBerry Says:

Not Understanding Why He couldn't Stay In Albany For Shabbos. Home Sick? There Was A chance Of Being Michallel Shabbos You Stay In Albany! Absurd

I'm sure he would have stayed in Albany for Shabbos if necessary.

But it would have been extremely difficult since he didn't expect this development earlier and was likely unprepared.

It might have been difficult to arrange Kosher lodgings and Shabbos-garments (and perhaps a Mikvah?) and perhaps a Minyan that Dahvins his Nusach etc. with such short notice.

I assume he weighed that option, if needed.

Anyway, Kudos to Simcha Felder!

7

 Jul 09, 2013 at 06:00 PM Mark Levin Says:

Reply to #3  
BlueBerry Says:

Not Understanding Why He couldn't Stay In Albany For Shabbos. Home Sick? There Was A chance Of Being Michallel Shabbos You Stay In Albany! Absurd

He said he asked a posek. He has poskim in his family whom he could have asked. You arent dealing with Joe from Connecticut here.

8

 Jul 09, 2013 at 06:40 PM Facts1 Says:

Paranoia!

9

 Jul 09, 2013 at 06:59 PM toomanyquestions Says:

Finally! a Frum Jewish politician in the news who is making a Kiddush Hashem. V"Cain Yerbu

10

 Jul 09, 2013 at 08:04 PM Sha1om Says:

Reply to #7  
Mark Levin Says:

He said he asked a posek. He has poskim in his family whom he could have asked. You arent dealing with Joe from Connecticut here.

Funny you should mention Joe from Connecticut, because he did the exact same thing once. VP Al Gore was his shabbos goy, as I remember.

11

 Jul 09, 2013 at 08:13 PM DRSLZ Says:

Reply to #7  
Mark Levin Says:

He said he asked a posek. He has poskim in his family whom he could have asked. You arent dealing with Joe from Connecticut here.

"Joe from Connecticut" also has a posek, and has asked him questions when conflicts arose.

12

 Jul 10, 2013 at 01:22 AM sushee Says:

Reply to #3  
BlueBerry Says:

Not Understanding Why He couldn't Stay In Albany For Shabbos. Home Sick? There Was A chance Of Being Michallel Shabbos You Stay In Albany! Absurd

looks like you have not been in albany unless you are a loner and like eating tuna fish for a shabbos meal especially when he had a rav telling him that he can go home who are you to judge!!

13

 Jul 10, 2013 at 07:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Joe from conn supported abortions and gay marriage as well as circulated a petition to keep Pollard in jail. You can't kasher Joe. And you can't compare Felder who is fully shomer Torah. Kudos to Felder.

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